Matthew 16:2
He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
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(2) When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather.—It is remarkable that some of the best MSS., including the Vatican and Sinaitic, omit the whole of these suggestive words. We can hardly think of them, however, looking to their singular originality of form, as interpolated by a later transcriber, and have therefore to ask how we can explain the omission. They are not found in St. Mark, and this in itself shows that there were some reports of our Lord’s answer to the Pharisees in which they did not appear. Possibly the transcriber in this case was unable to read their meaning, and the same feeling, or the wish to bring the reports in the two Gospels into closer agreement with each other, may have influenced the writers of the two MSS. in question. Turning (1) to the words as they stand in the received text, we note, as to their form, that the insertion of the words in italics somewhat mars the colloquial abruptness of the original, “Fair weather, for the sky is red”; and (2) that the use of “sky,” instead of “heaven,” hides the point of the answer. “You watch the heaven,” He in substance answers, “and are weather-wise as to coming storm or sunshine. If your eyes were open to watch the signs of the spiritual firmament, you would find tokens enough of the coming sunshine of God’s truth, the rising of the day-spring from on high—tokens enough, also, of the darkness of the coming storm, the ‘foul weather’ of God’s judgments.” Even the fact that the redness of the sky is the same in both cases is not without its significance. The flush, the glow, the excitement that pervaded men’s minds, was at once the prognostic of a brighter day following on that which was now closing, and the presage of the storm and tempest in which that day should end.

It is a singular instance of the way in which the habit of minute criticism stunts or even kills the power of discernment which depends on imagination, that Strauss should have looked on words so full of profound and suggestive meaning as “absolutely unintelligible” (Leben Jesu, II. viii. p. 85).

In the outward framework of the parable the weather-signs of Palestine seem to have been the same as those of England. The clear red evening sky is a prophecy of a bright morning. The morning red—not “red” simply, but with the indescribable threatening aspect implied in “lowering,” the frown of the sky, as it were (comp. Mark 10:22, where the same word is rendered “grieved”)—makes men look for storms.

Matthew 16:2-3. He answered, When it is evening, &c. — As if he had said, It is evident you ask this out of a desire to cavil rather than to discern the divine will, for in other cases you take up with degrees of evidence far short of those which you here reject: as for instance, you know that a red sky in the evening is a presage of fair weather, and a red and lowering sky in the morning, of foul weather; thus ye can discern the face of the sky, and form from thence very probable conjectures concerning the weather; but can ye not discern the signs of the times — The signs which evidently show that this is the time of the Messiah? The proofs which Jesus was daily giving them by his wonderful works, his holy and beneficent conduct, and heavenly doctrine, of his divine mission, were more than sufficient to establish it; and, had the Pharisees been possessed of any candour at all, or any inclination to know the truth, they could not have been at a loss to judge in this matter, especially, as in ordinary affairs they showed abundance of acuteness. The truth is, as our Lord here signified, their not acknowledging him as the Messiah was neither owing to want of evidence, nor to want of capacity to judge of that evidence; but to their self- confidence and pride, and their carnal and worldly spirit.

16:1-4 The Pharisees and Sadducees were opposed to each other in principles and in conduct; yet they joined against Christ. But they desired a sign of their own choosing: they despised those signs which relieved the necessity of the sick and sorrowful, and called for something else which would gratify the curiosity of the proud. It is great hypocrisy, when we slight the signs of God's ordaining, to seek for signs of our own devising.He answered ... - The meaning of this answer is, There are certain indications by which you judge about the weather.

In the evening you think you can predict the weather tomorrow. You have evidence in the redness of the sky by which you judge. So there are sufficient indications on which you should judge concerning me and these times. My miracles, and the state of affairs in Judea, are an indication by which you should judge.

Is red - Almost all nations have observed this as an indication of fair weather.

In the morning ...the sky is red and lowering - That is, there are threatening clouds in the sky, which are made red by the rays of the rising sun. This, in Judea, was a sign of a tempest. In other places, however, the signs of a storm may be different.

The face of the sky - The appearance of the sky.


Mt 16:1-12. A Sign from Heaven Sought and Refused—Caution against the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

For the exposition, see on [1315]Mr 8:11-21.

See Poole on "Matthew 16:3".

He answered and said unto them,.... Knowing full well their views, and having wrought sufficient miracles to confirm his Messiahship, he thought fit to give them no other answer than this:

when it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather, for the sky is red; when the sun is setting, it is a common thing for you to say, looking up to the heavens, and observing the face and colour of them, that it is like to be fair weather; no rain, that night, nor perhaps the next day, for the sky is red like fire, through the rays of the sun; which show the clouds to be very thin, and so will soon waste away, and consequently fine weather must follow.

He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
Matthew 16:2-3 f.[454] Lightfoot, p. 373: “Curiosi erant admodum Judaei in observandis tempestatibus coeli et temperamento aëris.” Babyl. Joma f. 21. 8; Hieros. Taanith f. 65. 2. For Greek and Roman testimonies relative to the weather signs in our passage, see Wetstein.

εὐδία] clear weather! An exclamation in which it is not necessary to supply ἜΣΤΑΙ, except, perhaps, in the way of helping the grammatical analysis, as also in the case of σήμερον χειμών (stormy weather to-day!). For the opposite of ΕὐΔΊΑ and ΧΕΙΜΏΝ, comp. Xen. Hell. ii. 3. 10 : ἐν εὐδίᾳ χειμῶνα ποιοῦσιν.

στυγνάζων] being lowering. See note on Mark 10:22.

ΤῸ ΠΡΌΣΩΠΟΝ] “Omnis rei facies externa,” Dissen, ad Pind. Pyth. vi. 14, p. 273.

τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν] the significant phenomena connected with passing events, the phenomena which present themselves as characteristic features of the time, and point to the impending course of events, just as a red sky at evening portends fine weather, and so on. The expression is a general one, hence the plural ΤῶΝ ΚΑΙΡῶΝ; so that it was a mistake to understand the ΣΗΜΕῖΑ as referring to the miracles of Christ (Beza, Kuinoel, Fritzsche). Only when the reproach expressed in this general form is applied, as the Pharisees and Sadducees were intending to apply it, to the existing καιρός, do the miracles of Christ fall to be included among the signs, because they indicate the near approach of the Messiah’s kingdom. In like manner the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, such as was to be traced in the events that were then taking place (Grotius), was to be regarded as among the signs in question, as also the Messianic awakening among the people, Matthew 11:12 (de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius). According to Strauss, the saying in Matthew 16:2-3 is inconceivable. But the truth is, it was peculiarly in keeping with the thoughtful manner of Jesus, if, when a sign from heaven was demanded, He should refer those demanding it to their own practice of interpreting the appearances of the sky, so as to let them see how blinded they were to the signs that already existed. A similar saying is found in Luke 12:54 f., where, however, it is addressed to the multitude. There is no reason for thinking that it appears in its authentic form only in Matthew (de Wette), or only in Luke (Schleiermacher, Holtzmann), for there is nothing to prevent us from supposing that Jesus may have used similar and in itself very natural language on several occasions.

ΚΑῚ ΚΑΤΑΛΙΠ. ΑὐΤ. ἈΠῆΛΘΕ] depicting in a simple way the “justa severitas” (Bengel) shown toward those incorrigibles. Comp. Matthew 21:17.

Comp., besides, the note on Matthew 12:39.

[454] The whole passage from ὀψίας on to οὐ δύνασθε, ver. 3, is omitted in B V Χ Γ א, Curss. Codd. in Jerom. Syrcur Arm. Or. (?), while in E it is marked with an asterisk. Tisch. 8 encloses it in brackets. The omission is certainly not to be explained on the physical ground (Bengel) that these signs of the weather are not applicable to every climate, but from the fact that a similar saying does not happen to be found in the corresponding passage in Mark.

Matthew 16:2-4. Reply of Jesus.

Matthew 16:2. Ὀψίας, πρωἰ, evening—morning) Two most common and most popular signs;[709] for when the sky is red in the evening, the coldness of the night astringes the thinner vapours, so that no storm occurs, even though there be wind; on the other hand, when in the morning the sky is red and dark, the thick vapours burst into a storm by the heat of the sun.

[709] Although, from the different relations of the powers of nature, they are not applicable to all climes.—App. Crit., Ed. ii., p. 124.

Verse 2. - The paragraph consisting of this and ver. 3 is omitted by many good manuscripts, probably owing to its similarity to the passage in Matthew 12:38. These verses are most probably genuine; and they certainly could not have been foisted into the text from Luke 12:54-56. The circumstances are too different, and the variations too marked, to make such interpolation probable. When it is evening. The Pharisees had demanded a sign from heaven; Jesus points to the western glow in the sky, and taunts them with being ready enough to read the signs of the weather, but slow to interpret proofs of more important circumstances. He does not, in the case of these mixed cavillers, argue from Scripture, but from the natural world, and he points out that, had they eyes to see and a mind to discern, they might mark tokens in historical events, in the moral and spiritual world, which attested his Messiahship as clearly as any specially given sign from heaven. Ye say, It will be fair weather (εὐδία). Probably an exclamation, Ye say, Fair weather! Rabbinical schools made a point of teaching weather lore; prognostications on this subject were greatly in vogue, and the rains of the coming year were annually foretold. On such meteorological observations, we may refer to Virgil, 'Georg,' 1:425, etc.; and Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,' 18:35 and 78. Matthew 16:2Fair weather (εὐδία)

Colloquial. Looking at the evening sky, a man says to his neighbor, "Fine weather:" and in the morning (Matthew 16:3), "Storm to-day" (σήμερον χειμών).

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