Parable of the barren fig tree

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Jan Luyken etching of the parable, Bowyer Bible.

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (not to be confused with the parable of the budding fig tree) is a parable of Jesus which appears in Luke 13:6-9. It is about a fig tree which does not produce fruit.


The parable is as follows:

He spoke also of this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

— Luke 13:6–9, King James Version


In this parable, the owner is generally regarded as representing God, who had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and came seeking fruit. The gardener (vinedresser) is God. [1] Fig trees were often planted in vineyards so to put all the ground to use.[2]

The fig tree was a common symbol for Israel, and may also have that meaning here,[1] and the tree in the parable may refer to any Christian who has trusted Christ as their personal Saviour. In either case, the parable reflects Jesus offering his hearers one last chance for repentance, showing His mercy and long suffering toward people.[2] "These three years" logically refers to the period of Jesus' ministry, or simply that it had been given sufficient time, and should have already started to produce fruit. It was given full opportunity to have become fruitful and productive.


Although the parable is found only in Luke's gospel, there is no strong argument against authenticity. A majority of the members of the Jesus Seminar voted it authentic.[2]

Parallel in Matthew and Mark

The Cursing the fig tree appears as an episode in the life of Jesus rather than as a parable, but it has very similar wording as the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Timothy Maurice Pianzin, Parables of Jesus: In the Light of Its Historical, Geographical & Socio-Cultural Setting, Tate Publishing, 2008, ISBN 1-60247-923-2, pp. 235-237.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Peter Rhea Jones, Studying the Parables of Jesus, Smyth & Helwys, 1999, ISBN 1-57312-167-3, pp. 123-133.