Matthew 12:38

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

Matthew 12:38 in Other Translations

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you."
38 One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”
38 Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. "Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?"
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."

Matthew 12:38 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 12:38

Then certain of the Scribes and Pharisees answered
Not the same that charged him with casting out devils, by the prince of devils; but others, that were present, as appears from ( Luke 11:16 ) and who do not take upon them to make a proper reply to what he had said, or return an answer to that, but address him on another account; being willing to divert the discourse, and try what they could do with him in another, and more gentle and crafty way; saying, master, not fellow, magician, Samaritan, thou that hast a devil, and casts out devils by Beelzebub, and art a devil, and Beelzebub himself; but doctor, teacher, allowing him, at least, in a flattering way, that he was an instructor of mankind, though they would not own him to be a prophet, unless he would give such signs, as would make it appear he was one; hence they say,

we would see a sign from thee:
that is, a sign from heaven, as they desired at another time, ( Matthew 16:1 ) and, as Luke says, they did now, ( Luke 11:16 ) they had seen a sign from him on earth, in the cure of the man that had a withered hand; and another, in dispossessing the devil out of the man, that was blind and dumb; but these they looked upon rather as signs from hell, and done by confederacy with the devil; and therefore desire, or rather, in an imperious way, demand one from heaven, where they thought Satan had not such power, as on earth; and where there could not be such collusion and deception, as they wickedly imagined were in this last action: they seem to require some such things to be done, as were on Mount Sinai, at the giving of the law, when there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud, and the voice of a trumpet, and some visible appearances of the divine majesty; and intimate, that if something of this kind was done, if there was any visible and miraculous appearance in the heavens, produced by him, they should believe him to be the prophet that was spoken of, and the true Messiah; but if not, should give no credit to him: however, this is to be learned from hence, that the Jews, in Christ's time, expected signs and wonders to be wrought by the Messiah, in proof of his being so, though now they reject them as needless F7.


F7 Maimon. Hilch. Melachim. c. 11. sect. 3.

Matthew 12:38 In-Context

36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Cross References 2

  • 1. S John 2:11; S John 4:48
  • 2. Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11,12; Luke 11:16; John 2:18; John 6:30; 1 Corinthians 1:22
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