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John 2:18

ESV So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
NIV The Jews then responded to him, 'What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?'
NASB The Jews then said to Him, 'What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?'
CSB So the Jews replied to him, "What sign will you show us for doing these things? "
NLT But the Jewish leaders demanded, 'What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.'
KJV Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

What does John 2:18 mean?

When the gospel of John uses the term "the Jews," it typically refers to the scribes, religious leaders, and politicians. In this instance, they were absolutely right to question Jesus. Just as they were right to question John the Baptist, these leaders should have investigated a person making waves in the way Jesus did. Consider that what Jesus had done was not only disruptive to business, it was public, loud, and almost certainly illegal. What would make a man think He had the right to judge the leaders at the temple?

Hebrew thinking supposed that a true prophet of God was proven by the ability to perform a miracle. Jesus is challenging their spiritual condition, so they ask a blunt question: "What miracle are you going to do to justify yourself?" More than likely, the men asking this question didn't really expect an answer. Much as they had asked John the Baptist in John 1:25, these men are asking Jesus, "Who do you think you are?" This is a common human response to being called on the carpet: we instinctively attack the authority of the one criticizing, instead of considering the actual problem.
What is the Gospel?
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