Luke 13:6-9 and Waldenström's Commentary

Gospel Lesson for New Year's Day

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

[Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström's comments from the Swedish text, 2nd Edition, 1902.—Ed.]

Verse 6—But1 he told2 this parable: Someone had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.

1. The parable of verses 6 through 9 is found only in Luke. The Lord wants to emphasize that it is very important for people to immediately change their attitude because God's patience was soon at an end—just like the owner of the vineyard's patience with the unproductive tree was at an end. Christ's appearance is God's last try to call the people to a change of attitude before judgment comes.
2. He has been speaking to those who in verse 1 had told him about the deaths of the Galileans.

Verse 7—But he said to the vineyard worker: "Look, for three years1 I have been coming looking for fruit on this fig tree, and I have not found any. Cut it down. What good is it as it makes2 the earth unproductive?3

1. The fig tree usually bore fruit in the third year.
2. Verbatim: for what reason does it?
3. By taking up space and sucking nutrition from the earth, the barren tree is not of any use. Also, it causes great harm by preventing the ground from bearing the fruit it otherwise would.

Verse 8—But he answered and said to him: "Lord, let it stand even this year until I have dug around it and fertilized

Verse 9—and if it should bear fruit in the coming year;1 if not, you can cut it down.2

1. The Lord [the vineyard worker] interrupts the sentence to urge that if it bears fruit in the coming year, it is good and can continue to stay.
2. If Jerusalem does not change its attitude, it will fall victim to destruction (see verse 35) just like the unproductive tree. An application of the details of the parable (the three years, the fig tree, the ground which is not productive, the digging, the fertilizing, etc.) is not the point of the parable. What the Lord wants to portray is the need for a quick change of heart. The parable should not be understood in any other way.