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Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

CHAPTER SIXTEEN:
SIGNS, LEAVEN, A ROCK, A REBUKE,
AND SELF-SACRIFICE

[“Who Am I?”]
(Key word: Congregation)

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Signs of the Times

|| Mark 8:11-13; Luke 12:54-56

MT16:1 Here in Magadan the Pharisees and Sadducees approached Jesus to tempt him, requesting some display as a sign from heaven.[1] MT16:2 But Jesus answered them, saying, “When evening comes you say, ‘The red sky means[2] fair weather.’ MT16:3 And at dawn, ‘Gloomy winter for the sky is red.’ Surely you know how to distinguish the face of the sky but signs of the times[3] you are unable. MT16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign[4] and no sign will be given it save the sign of Jonah.”[5] With that Jesus departed leaving them behind.

*

[1] A sign from heaven: Compare notes on Matthew 12:38.

[2] Red sky means: The ancient sailors saying: “Red sky at night – sailor’s [shepherd’s] delight; red sky in the morning – sailor take warning.” [א, B, Syc,s, Arm omit verses 2, 3]

[3] Signs of the times: The only occurrence of the phrase and generally rendered as it is. Luke 12:56 puts it, “how to examine this particular time.” (NWT)

[4] Generation seeks a sign: Compare Mark 8:12. Without prophetic support the opposers of Jesus wanted some sign from God proving the Nazarene was a prophet. One wonders how much more they wanted to prove the carpenter was the Messiah. Of the four Gospels it is John who uses the word “signs” the most. Compare John 2:11, 23; 3:2; 4:48; 6:2, 14, 26; 7:31; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37; 20:30. Jesus does not perform signs merely because someone or a group demands this of him. In the end the signs did not move most people. Some agreed that Messiah could not perform more signs.

[5] Sign of Jonah: See notes on Matthew 12:39.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

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Related

  1. Blind to the Signs.
  2. Picture of the Week 05/29/18

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Already in the previous chapters we could see how the Pharisees where interested in bringing Jesus into a bad light. We find that they again want to trick him. For the second time they wanted to test him by asking to show them a miracle [sign] from God [heaven; possibly a sign in the sky, but more likely a Jewish way of saying “from God”] (see also Mt 12:38-45 + Mt 22:23 + Mr 12:18 & Lu 20:27).

Human beings for ages made use of signs in heavens to know what weather would arise the next day. Therefore Jesus having come at Magadan, somewhere on the western side of the lake, answered them:

“·At sunset [In the evening] you say we will have good weather, because the sky is red. And in the morning you say that it will be ·a rainy day [stormy; bad weather], because the sky is red and ·dark [threatening; overcast]. You see ·these signs in [the appearance of] the sky and know ·what they mean [how to interpret them]. ·In the same way [or However; On the other hand], you ·see the things that I am doing now, but you don’t know their meaning [cannot interpret the signs of the times]. ·Evil and sinful people [An evil/wicked and adulterous generation] ·ask for [seek; demand] a miracle as a sign, but they will not be given any sign, except the sign of Jonah [see 12:40; Jon. 1:17].”

Then Jesus left them and went away and warned his apostles to be careful for the dangerous permeating power of the influence of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Only a few weeks before, and not more than a few miles away, Jesus had severely censured the Pharisees as hypocrites and violators of God’s word {#Mt 15:6,7} and had spoken of them as blind guides of the people, unworthy of notice. Yet the dissembled hostility here indicated was not first awakened by that censure, for they had already accused him of being in league with Beelzebub. {#Mt 12:24}

Pharisees and Sadducees were groups in Jewish religious and political life absolutely opposed to each other, but they are frequently mentioned together in the Gospel, {# Mt 3:7 16:1,6,11,12 22:34 } united in their opposition to Jesus. {cf. # Joh 7:32 }

The Scribes and Pharisees had asked a sign from him in #Mt 12:38, and were refused. Now the Pharisees and Sadducees make a similar demand specifically for a ‘sign from heaven’ (so also #Mr 8:11), and get {#Mt 16:4 } exactly the same refusal as before. {#Mt 12:39 } They might be thinking of such signs as when Moses gave bread from heaven, {#Ps 78:23 ff.; #Joh 6:30 f. } Joshua made the sun and moon stand still, Samuel brought thunder and rain in time of harvest, Elijah repeatedly called down fire from heaven, and at Isaiah’ s word the shadow went back on the dial; comp. #Joe 2:30 ff. Origen conjectures that they regarded signs on earth as wrought in Beelzebul. {#Mt 12:24 } Probably some Jews really expected celestial signs of Messiah’s approach; but the present request was made from bad motives. Jesus promised “great signs from heaven” in connection with his second coming, {#Mt 24:29 f.; #Lu 21:11,25; comp. #Re 15:1 } and predicted that the false Christs would show great signs. {#Mt 24:24 }

Jesus later also would warn for those who

shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.

and for those who

tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. {Matthew 23:13-36}

Also today there are people who have false images of the Kingdom of God or who present false images of the Kingdom or how people would or would not be able to reach heaven. Also to day there are ‘preachers‘ or ‘clergy‘ who claim to be speakers of God, but talk about a totally different god than Jesus had and also have their teachings full of heathen and philosophical thoughts.

For those who believe the sayings of those priests and pastors Jesus in this chapter let an answer come to us, which we should take at heart. When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi [25 miles north of Lake of Galilee near Mount Hermon], he asked his followers [disciples],

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

First of all in his question we hear Jesus already giving an indication he is a son of man. At the time of Jesus many had heard about him and some had seen him at work, but where not quite sure who he really was. Some said Jeshua (Jesus) was John the Baptist whilst others said he was the returned Elijah, who they expected in the end times [Mal. 4:5], and still others said he was Jeremiah or one of the prophets [Deut. 18:15]. {Matthew 16:13-14}

We find Simon Peter giving the reply which should also be on our lips, namely that Jesus is

the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God. {Matthew 16:16}

Jesus called Simon son of Jonah blessed, because no person had taught him that. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to him but we learn that it was the heavenly Father Who showed him or revealed who Jesus is. Once again in the Word of God it is made clear that Jesus is not God. But the time seemed not yet ready to have many to know that he is also the Christ or anointed from God [Messiah].

Soon it was all going to change, because from that time on Jesus began telling [showing; making it clear to] his followers [disciples] that he had to go to Jerusalem, where the Jewish elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law [scribes] would make him suffer many things [greatly]. He then also told them he must be killed and then be raised from the dead on the third day. But Jeshua (Jesus the Christ) also gives some hope, because he tells them

The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels. At that time, he will ·reward [repay; give back; judge] them for what they have done [Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12]. {Matthew 16:27}

Jesus promises that he tells them the truth, and warns

some people standing here will not die [L taste death] before they see the Son of Man [Dan. 7:13–14] coming with his kingdom.” [This may refer to the Transfiguration which follows (17:1–8), Jesus’ resurrection, or the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70.] {Matthew 16:28}

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Preceding

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 13:24-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Field and the Harvest

Matthew 15:1-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tradition and the Heart

Matthew 15:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: 4000 Fed

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Additional reading

  1. Was Jesus Religious
  2. Looking for a shepherd for the sheep and goats

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Related

  1. Jesus warns some pharisees
  2. Live and let live – how could hat work?
  3. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the religious elites, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus
  4. God’s True Feelings About False Religion.

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 12:38-42 – Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

|| Luke 11:29-32

MT12:38 Some of the scribes and Pharisees[1] responded to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign[2] from you.” MT12:39 Jesus answered them, saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation[3] keeps seeking for a sign; and, no sign will be given it other than the sign of Jonah.[4] MT12:40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish[5] three days and three nights, just so will the Son of Humankind be in the heart of the earth[6] three days and three nights.[7] MT12:41 Male[8] Ninevites will stand up [again][9] in the judgment[10] with this generation and will condemn it[11] – because they repented at the preaching of Jonah,[12] and, look! something more of Jonah is present![13] MT12:42 The queen of the south[14] will be raised up in the judgment with this generation[15] and will condemn it – because she came from earth’s limits[16] to hear the wisdom of[17] Solomon; and, look! something more of Solomon is present.[18]

*

[1] The scribes and Pharisees: Have some of them repented and changed their tune? Has the warning of the Nazarene made them think? They now address as “Teacher” the one they insinuated was in league with Beelzebul.

[2] We wish to see a sign: Paul writes, “Jews ask for signs.” (1 Corinthians 1:22; Luke 11:29) It is said of a certain Rabbi that when he was asked when Messiah would come, he responded, “I am afraid you will ask me for a sign.”

[3] Wicked and adulterous generation: Jesus does not compromise or water down his response. Surely the words are directed at the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is to use the whole condemnatory phrase again at Matthew 16:4. Or, GDSP: wicked and faithless. On the derogatory adulterous compare Jeremiah 3:6-11.

Jonah mosaic in Aquileia cathedral

Jonah mosaic in Aquileia cathedral – Mosaic of the biblical story of Jonah; in the cathedral in Aquileia, Italy. – SCALA/Art Resource, New York

[4] The sign of Jonah: This cryptic must have grabbed at the Pharisees who loved riddles. They knew the Book of Jonah well. How could this prophet be involved here?

[5] Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish: Jesus believes in the account of Jonah and the great fish which is nowhere described as a whale.

[6] Heart of the earth: Meaning Hades or the grave.

[7] Three days and three nights: A Hebraism meaning any part of three days or less. It is clear Jesus was to be raised the third day for he so states (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; Luke 24:46). Compare 1 Kings 12:12ff (Hosea 6:2; 1 Corinthians 15:4).

[8] Male: There are a number of Greek words that may be translated “man (men).” Here the Greek is ANDRES (ANDROS).

[9] Stand up [again]: The Greek is ANASTESONTAI and essentially means the same as the English “resurrected.” Related words occur in the third century BC Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX): Job 14:12 (ANASTE), Job 42:17 (ANASTESESTHAI, ANISTESIN), Isaiah 26:19 (ANASTESONTAI), Daniel 12:13 (ANASTESE). Jesus uses forms of the word over a dozen times. Compare John 5:28, 29 where the Nazarene alludes to Isaiah 26:19 LXX.

[10] In the judgment: Or, Judgment Day. Or, NEB: when this generation is on trial; WEY: awake at the judgment. See the key words Judgment Day and resurrection. See Revelation 20:5, 12-14.

[11] Will condemn it: Or, LAM: find it guilty; KNX: will leave it without excuse.

[12] They repented at the preaching of Jonah: Read Jonah chapter 3. Tens of thousands of people responded to Jonah’s warning and as a result the city was spare, much to the disappointment of Jonah who was then taught another divine lesson.

[13] Something more of Jonah is present: Or, KJV: behold, a greater than Jonas is here; TCNT: here is more than a Jonah; WEY: and, mark! there is One greater than Jonah here. He means himself.

[14] Queen of the south: Jesus means the Queen of Sheba who journeyed to hear Solomon for herself (1 Kings 10:1-10). It was not Solomon per se but his God which motivated her, for the account reads, “the report regarding Solomon with regard to the name of Yehowah.”

[15] Raised up in the judgment with this generation: From the Nazarene here we know the Ninevites, the queen of Sheba, and that generation will be resurrected (Acts 24:15).

[16] She came from earth’s limits: She traveled 1,200 miles from northern Africa. This was one serious effort on her part and her entourage. The great trade routes to and from Jerusalem were classically great.

[17] To hear the wisdom of: The contrast between the effort of this godly lady and the Nazarene’s generation is stark. What do they have before them and instead of listening to wisdom they accuse him of demonism and ask for an evidence.

[18] Something more of Solomon is present: Solomon is said to have written 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:32). He wrote Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. And, yet, this crowd as much more before them in Jesus. How Solomon will fair in the resurrection is left to the judgment of God.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:1-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Something Greater than the Temple

Matthew 12:9-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?

Matthew 12:22-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: the Charge of Demonism

Matthew 12:31-32 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Blasphemy against the Pneuma

Matthew 12:33-37 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Judgment Day

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Related

  1. Matthew 12丨C. H. Spurgeon
  2. The Sign of Jonah: Swallowed in Death, Raised in Life (Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:38–41)
  3. Matthew 12, Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath,blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the sign of Jonah, Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
  4. 4-30-2018 Bible Study – Life of Messiah Study 46
  5. Did Jesus Really Spend Three Days in the Heart of the Earth?
  6. Bible study: what difference does the resurrection of Jesus make?
  7. Looking for a Sign
  8. Favorite 21 Signs of the Prophets
  9. This Wicked and Perverse Generation

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