Matthew 16:4
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
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(4) The sign of the prophet Jonas.—See Note on Matthew 12:39. As given by St. Mark, the answer was a more absolute refusal, “No sign” (i.e., none of the kind that was demanded) “shall be given to this generation.”

Matthew 16:4. A wicked and adulterous generation — As if he had said, Ye would seek no further sign, did not your wickedness, and your love of the world, which is spiritual adultery, blind your understanding. There shall no sign be given, but — of the Prophet Jonas — Or the miracle of Christ’s own resurrection, a sign greater than any of those showed by the ancient prophets and messengers of God, and consequently a sign which proved Jesus to be superior unto them all. This sign our Lord had explained on a former occasion. See on Matthew 12:40.

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.A wicked and adulterous generation ... - See the notes at Matthew 12:38-40. Mark adds Mark 8:12 that he signed deeply in spirit. He did not say this without feeling; he was greatly affected with their perverseness and obstinacy. CHAPTER 16

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.

We meet with the same answer given to the Pharisees, Matthew 12:39. You pretend yourselves to be the children of Abraham, but you are bastards rather than his children; he saw my day afar off and rejoiced, you will not believe though you see me amongst you, and at your doors; he believed without any sign, you will not believe though I have showed you many signs. You shall have no such sign as you would have; the sign of the prophet Jonah is enough. But in our Lord’s former reference of them to the prophet Jonah, he instanced in one particular, viz. his being three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; here he seemeth more generally to refer to Jonah as a type of him in more respects, which indeed he was. Chemnitius reckons them up thus:

1. Jonah was thrown into the sea by the mariners, to whom he had entrusted himself: Christ was delivered to death by the Jews, to whom he was specially promised.

2. Jonah was willingly thrown into the sea: Christ laid down his life, and man took it not from him.

3. Jonah by being cast into the sea saved those in the ship: Christ by his death saved the children of men.

4. Jonah after he had been in the whale’s belly three days was cast up on dry land: Christ after three days rose again from the dead.

5. The Ninevites, though upon the preaching of Jonah they made a show of repentance, yet returning to their former sins were soon after destroyed; so were the Jews within forty years after Christ’s ascension.

So as Jonah was many ways an eminent sign and type of Christ. Our Lord having referred them to study this sign, would entertain no more discourse with them, but leaves, and departeth from them. Mark saith, Mark 8:13, that he entering into the ship again, departed to the other side, (the ship which brought him to Dalmanutha, or Magdala), and went into the coasts of Galilee again.

A wicked and adulterous generation,.... He says the same things here, as he did to the Pharisees on a like occasion, in Matthew 12:39.

And he left them; as persons hardened, perverse, and incurable, and as unworthy to be conversed with:

and departed: to the ship which brought him thither, and went in it to the other side of the sea of Galilee; see Mark 8:13.

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but (c) the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

(c) The article shows how notable the sign is.

Matthew 16:4. ide chap. Matthew 12:39.

4. adulterous] See ch. Matthew 12:39.

the sign of the prophet Jonas] See ch. Matthew 12:39-41. The words in Mark 8:12 are “there shall no sign be given unto this generation,” i. e. no such sign as they demanded.

Matthew 16:4. Γενεὰ, nation[714]) Itself the sign of its own time: for such it was to be in the time of the Messiah; see ch. Matthew 11:6.—πονηρὰ, wicked) and perverse.—μοιχαλις, adulterous) accustomed to break the marriage vow, which it ought to have preserved inviolate to God.—σημεῖον, καὶ σημεῖον, κ.τ.λ., a sign, and [no] sign, etc.) A weighty repetition. They prescribe the kind of miracles just as if there were no other kind; therefore[715] all kinds of miracles are denied to them. The miracles which our Lord performed afterwards, were done not for the sake of such as these, but for that of the poor[716] and the sick.[717]—τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ, the sign of Jonah) that was not from heaven, but from the middle of the earth. Jonah returning from the whale proved his mission to the Ninevites; thus by the resurrection of Jesus, whom they had not before believed, a proof was given to the Jews, that He was the Messiah. He silently intimates, moreover, that after the three days spent in the middle of the earth, there should be plenty of signs from heaven, which were performed by His ascension into heaven, and shall be performed at the destruction of the heavens; cf. ch. Matthew 24:30, Acts 2:19. Nay more, not even then was it true that were there no signs from heaven; see ch. Matthew 3:16.—καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθε, and He left them and departed) Just severity; see Titus 3:10. Our Lord never left the people in this manner.

[714] E. V. generation.—(I. B.)

[715] Being weary of those miracles, which in great numbers they had seen heretofore; and, therefore, once and again demanding signs from heaven.—Harm., p. 345.

[716] “Popelli,” “the lower classes,” of conventional phraseology.—(I. B.)

[717] And of these miracles, Matthew mentions subsequently scarce one; Mark mentions only that upon the blind man of Bethsaida, ch. Matthew 8:22. But as regards teaching, Jesus continued it without intermission.—Harm., p. 346.

Verse 4. - A wicked and adulterous generation... Jonas. These words our Lord had already uttered on a former occasion (Matthew 12:39), but he does not here explain them, as he did before (see Introduction, § 7). Under similar circumstances he repeats himself, but he wastes not time in useless discussions with perverse opponents who will not see the truth. Of his death and resurrection, whereof Jonah was a type, they knew and understood nothing. Perhaps they thought of Jonah only as a prophet against the heathen city Nineveh, and a preacher of repentance, and were disposed to resent the allusion as an affront to their vaunted righteousness. He left them. Took ship for Magedan, and crossed the lake to the northeast shore, in the neighbourhood of Bethsaida Julias. He, as it were, despaired of their improvement, and left them in righteous anger at their obduracy. "A man that is heretical after a first and second admonition refuse; knowing that such a one is perverted and sinneth, being self-condemned" (Titus 3:10, 11). Jesus never taught publicly or worked miracles again on this spot. Matthew 16:4
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