â€œWoe unto them! . . . trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.â€ (Jude 1:11-12)
Many illustrations in Scripture compare the responsibility of trees to bear fruit and the responsibility of Christians to produce righteousness. The reason for the frequent comparisons is that â€œa good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruitâ€ (Luke 6:43). It is easy to tell what kind a tree is because â€œevery tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapesâ€ (Luke 6:44).
Jude is making the point, however, that there are â€œtreesâ€ planted amidst the orchard of Godâ€™s Kingdom churches that have withering â€œfruitâ€ or have already been rooted up as worthless, fruitless, and twice-dead. These trees have absolutely no place among the healthy trees. At best they scar and mar the beauty of the orchard, and at worst they spread their decay and rot throughout it.
Another very important point is that trees that have withered or cannot produce good fruit are not salvageable. All of nature demonstrates and reinforces the eternal principle that â€œevery good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruitâ€ (Matthew 7:17). Such dead, fruitless trees are to be â€œhewn down, and cast into the fireâ€ (Matthew 3:10).
The common thread in all of these several pictures by Jude is the damage that can be done by ungodly â€œtaresâ€ among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30), fig trees that should be providing nourishment but do not (Luke 13:6-9), and plants that are choked by â€œcares of this world, and the deceitfulness of richesâ€ (Mark 4:19). All of these can spread the â€œleavenâ€ through the whole â€œlumpâ€ and undermine the work of God (Galatians 5:9). HMM III