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The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the experts in the law[a] along with some Pharisees[b] answered him,[c] “Teacher, we want to see a sign[d] from you.” 39 But he answered them,[e] “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish[f] for three days and three nights,[g] so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The people[h] of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them[i]—and now,[j] something greater than Jonah is here!

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  1. Matthew 12:38 tn Or “Then some of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4.
  2. Matthew 12:38 tn Grk “and Pharisees.” The word “some” before “Pharisees” has been supplied for See the note on Pharisees in 3:7.
  3. Matthew 12:38 tn Grk “answered him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant, but the syntax of the sentence was changed to conform to English style.
  4. Matthew 12:38 sn What exactly this sign would have been, given what Jesus was already doing, is not clear. But here is where the fence-sitters reside, refusing to commit to him.
  5. Matthew 12:39 tn Grk “But answering, he said to them.” This construction is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation.
  6. Matthew 12:40 tn Grk “large sea creature.”
  7. Matthew 12:40 sn A quotation from Jonah 1:17.
  8. Matthew 12:41 tn Grk “men”; the word here (ἀνήρ, anēr) usually indicates males or husbands, but occasionally is used in a generic sense of people in general, as here (cf. BDAG 79 s.v. 1.a, 2).
  9. Matthew 12:41 tn Grk “at the preaching of Jonah.”
  10. Matthew 12:41 tn Grk “behold.”