19 … and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.
20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?”
21 And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it will happen.

NASB  Matthew 21:19-21

19 When evening came [Late in the morning], they would go out of the city.
20 As they were passing by in the morning [early in the afternoon], they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.
21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.’
22 And Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God.
23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him …’

NASB  Mark 11:19-21

SAB Contradictions 170 and 171 

A visitor wrote:

“I am having trouble with the stories of The Triumphal Entry, The Temple Cleansing, & the Cursing of the Fig Tree. The times, event order, and days ‘seem’ to be jumbled between the gospel accounts. I am a Christian who wants to understand and uphold Scripture.”

In this article we will consider the questions concerning the Cursing of the Fig Tree.
The subjects are found in the chapters: Matthew 21, Mark 11. In our comments we only mention the verses.


Did the disciples see the withering of the fig tree on the first day after the Glorious Entry (Matthew) or was it the second day thereafter (Mark)? It seems as if the gospel writers were confused about their writings.
And so: when did the Fig Tree die? The first or the second day after the Entry.

The Cursing of the Fig Tree, Matthew

This remarkable deed of Jesus is connected with many misconceptions.

Early in the morning of the day after the Triumphal Entry Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. He cursed a fig tree as it didn’t provide him fruit. A fig tree gives much fruit at harvest time, nevertheless there is always some fruit throughout the year. For that reason it was a very popular tree. It seems that Jesus rebuked the tree as disobedient to God, who had ordered plants and trees to produce fruit according to their nature.
Matthew (vv. 20-21) tells us that the disciples immediately saw a change in the tree. Certainly the leafs appeared to droop.

The Cursing of the Fig Tree, Mark

(Updated) Mark also reminds the cursing of the fig tree, however he doesn’t speak about the first reaction (And-sentence, 11:15) of the disciples, but later on he gives their reaction. Having taught in the temple that morning Jesus leaves late, that is: at the end of the morning (v. 19, Greek: õpse = late; generally translated here: ‘late that day’, ‘in the evening’ instead of ‘late that morning’). Now there are two options for v. 20, (1) they passed the fig tree early in the afternoon before the midday rest and had a conversation about it, or (2) they returned to the temple, still early in the after noon, after the midday rest or siesta and had a small talk about it. This return in the afternoon is often wrongly translated as a return to the temple early in the morning of the next day (v. 20, Greek: prõi = early; can be ‘early in the morning’, ‘early in the year’ or ‘early in the midday’ etc.).

Mark’s description of the reaction of the disciples therefore is in the afternoon (20-26). It is clear that the tree was further withered ‘from the roots up’ (20), much more than the beginning of the drying up that morning (Matthew). Now it had to withstand the heat of the day.
Luke and John don’t speak a word about this episode; they pass the events connected with the fig tree with ‘And-sentences’ (Luke 19:47, 20:1 and John 12:37, 13:1).

N.B. The meaning of ‘And-sentences’ is often not a seamless, continuous succession of events, but often a disconnection of events.

The Cursing of the Fig Tree, Matthew and Mark

Establishing the fact that Matthew and Mark are speaking about the same day, the day after the Glorious Entry, is important as there are many similar occurrences in their descriptions. In current Bible translations the later day of Mark seems a repetition of the former day as described by Matthew, which is in no way convincing. Moreover, Matthew remarks that ‘after that day’ none of his opponents dared to ask Jesus anymore critical questions (46). How then is it possible that Mark repeats all sort of questions to Jesus the day thereafter? No, Mark is speaking about the same day as Matthew.


Matthew tells of the Cursing of the Fig Tree and Jesus’ Teaching about it early in the morning before they entered Jerusalem, on the day after the Glorious Entry. Mark gives the moment of the Cursing the same as Matthew, but he gives a (second) teaching of Jesus about it, early in the afternoon of that same day, when the disciples draw Jesus’ attention again to the withered tree.

Answering SAB

880  When did Jesus curse the fig tree? The day after the Glorious Entry (Matthew and Mark).
881  When did the cursed fig tree die (Matthew and Mark)? The day after the Glorious Entry, immediately after the cursing.

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