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Matthew 12:39

    Matthew 12:39 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet:

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    But he, answering, said to them, An evil and false generation is looking for a sign; and no sign will be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah:

    Webster's Revision

    But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet:

    World English Bible

    But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign will be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet:

    Definitions for Matthew 12:39

    Jonas - Jonah.

    Clarke's Commentary on Matthew 12:39

    An evil and adulterous generation - Or, race of people; for so γενεα should be translated here, and in most other places in the Gospels; for our Lord, in general, uses it to point out the Jewish people. This translation is a key to unlock some very obscure passages in the evangelists.

    Seeketh after a sign - Or, seeketh another sign, (επιζητει), so I think this word should be translated. Our Lord had already given the Jews several signs; and here they desire sign upon sign.

    Our Lord terms the Jews an adulterous race. Under the old covenant, the Jewish nation was represented as in a marriage contract with the Lord of hosts; as believers, in the new covenant, are represented as the spouse of Christ. All unfaithfulness and disobedience was considered as a breach of this marriage contract; hence the persons who were thus guilty are denominated adulterers and adulteresses. But, independently of this, there is the utmost proof, from their own writings, that in the time of our Lord they were most literally an adulterous race of people: for, at this very time, R. Jochanan ben Zacchai abrogated the trial by the bitter waters of jealousy, because so many were found to be thus criminal. See on John 8:3 (note).

    Barnes' Notes on Matthew 12:39

    An evil and adulterous generation - The relation of the Jews to God was often represented as a marriage contract - God as the husband, and the Jewish people as the wife.

    See Isaiah 57:3; Hosea 3:1; Ezekiel 16:15. Hence, their apostasy and idolatry are often represented as adultery. This is the meaning, probably, here. They were evil, and unfaithful to the covenant or to the commandments of God - an apostate and corrupt people. There is, however, evidence that they were literally an adulterous people.

    There shall no sign be given to it ... - They sought some direct miracle "from heavens." Jesus replied that no "such" miracle should be given. He did not mean to say that he would work no more miracles, or give no more evidence that he was the Christ, but he would give "no such miracle" as they required. "He would give one that ought to be as satisfactory evidence to them that he was from God, as the miraculous preservation of Jonah was to the Ninevites that he was divinely commissioned." As Jonah was preserved three days by miracle and then restored alive, so he would be raised from the dead after three days. As on the ground of this preservation the Ninevites believed Jonah and repented, so, on the ground of his resurrection, the people of an adulterous and wicked generation ought to repent, and believe that he was from God. "The sign of the prophet Jonas" means the "sign" or "evidence" which was given to the people of Nineveh that he was from God - to wit, that he had been miraculously preserved, and was therefore divinely commissioned. The word "Jonas" is the Greek way of writing the Hebrew word "Jonah," as "Elias" is for "Elijah."

    Wesley's Notes on Matthew 12:39

    12:39 An adulterous generation - Whose heart wanders from God, though they profess him to be their husband. Such adulterers are all those who love the world, and all who seek the friendship of it. Seeketh a sign - After all they have had already, which were abundantly sufficient to convince them, had not their hearts been estranged from God, and consequently averse to the truth. The sign of Jonah - Who was herein a type of Christ.