on Mark 11 :13
For the time of figs was not yet - Rather, For it was not the season of gathering figs yet. This I am fully persuaded is the true sense of this passage, ου γαρ ην καιρος συκων. For a proof that καιρος here signifies the time of gathering the figs, see the Lxx. in Psalm 1:3. He bringeth forth his fruit, εν καιρω αυτου, in his season; i.e. in the time in which fruit should be ripe, and fit for gathering. See also Mark 12:2 : - And at the season, τῳ καιρῳ, the time of gathering the fruits of the vineyard. Matthew 21:34 : - When the time of the fruit drew near; ὁ καιρος των καρπων, the time in which the fruits were to be gathered, for it was then that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servants to receive the fruits; i.e. so much of them as the holder of the vineyard was to pay to the owner by way of rent; for in those times rent was paid in kind.
To the above may be added, Job 5:26 : - Thou shalt come to thy grave in Full Age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season; κατα καιρον, in the time in which it should be reaped.
When our Lord saw this fig tree by the way-side, apparently flourishing, he went to it to gather some of the figs: being on the way-side, it was not private, but public property; and any traveler had an equal right to its fruit. As it was not as yet the time for gathering in the fruits, and yet about the time when they were ready to be gathered, our Lord with propriety expected to find some. But as this happened about five days before that passover on which Christ suffered, and the passover that year fell on the beginning of April, it has been asked, "How could our Lord expect to find ripe figs in the end of March?" Answer, Because figs were ripe in Judea as early as the passover. Besides, the fig tree puts forth its fruit first, and afterwards its leaves. Indeed, this tree, in the climate which is proper for it, has fruit on it all the year round, as I have often seen. All the difficulty in the text may be easily removed by considering that the climate of Judea is widely different from that of Great Britain. The summer begins there in March, and the harvest at the passover, as all travelers into those countries testify; therefore, as our Lord met with this tree five days before the passover, it is evident, - 1st. That it was the time of ripe figs: and, 2ndly. That it was not the time of gathering them, because this did not begin till the passover, and the transaction here mentioned took place five days before.
For farther satisfaction on this point, let us suppose: -
I. That this tree was intended to point out the state of the Jewish people.
1. They made a profession of the true religion.
2. They considered themselves the peculiar people of God, and despised and reprobated all others.
3. They were only hypocrites, having nothing of religion but the profession - leaves, and no fruit.
II. That our Lord's conduct towards this tree is to be considered as emblematical of the treatment and final perdition which was to come upon this hypocritical and ungodly nation.
1. It was a proper time for them to have borne fruit: Jesus had been preaching the doctrine of repentance and salvation among them for more than three years; the choicest influences of Heaven had descended upon them; and every thing was done in this vineyard that ought to be done, in order to make it fruitful.
2. The time was now at hand in which God would require fruit, good fruit; and, if it did not produce such, the tree should be hewn down by the Roman axe.
1. The tree is properly the Jewish nation.
2. Christ's curse the sentence of destruction which had now gone out against it; and,
on Mark 11 :13
Afar off - See the notes at Matthew 21:19.
on Mark 11 :13