What does Matthew 11:16 mean?
ESV: “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
NIV: To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
NASB: But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call out to the other children,
CSB: "To what should I compare this generation? It's like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to other children:
NLT: To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
KJV: But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
NKJV: “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,
Verse Commentary:
Jesus begins to build a negative analogy about the generation of Israelites in His day. He uses a common Jewish phrase: "to what shall I compare" something? In this case, He compares His generation to children playing in the marketplace.

In all His analogies and metaphors, Jesus reflects a deep awareness of what is happening in the world around Him, including being tuned in to the games of children. He is aware that kids play "wedding" and "funeral" and sometimes complain when their peers don't join in. The point of the comparison will be to show that the people of Israel in His generation also complain that John the Baptist and Jesus are unwilling to play their "games" or meet their expectations about how the two of them should behave and speak.

This analogy will also speak to how fickle and inconsistent people can be when they resist the truth. The following verse will present two completely opposite complaints. This, however, is how many who reject God respond to Him. No matter what He shows them, or what they see, they simply demand the opposite.
Verse Context:
Matthew 11:1–19 deals with John the Baptist, who is in prison at this point (Matthew 4:12). John sends his own disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them an answer and then upholds John to the crowds. He reminds them of John's strength and affirms that John was the prophet who fulfilled the prophecy about the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. This generation, though, rejected John's message of repentance, saying that John had a demon and that Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus insists He and John will be proved right in the end.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them a specific answer to use to reassure John and then upholds John to the crowds. John fulfills the prophecy about the one who would prepare the people for the Messiah. This generation, though, refused to hear John or Jesus, deciding John had a demon and Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. Jesus condemns the cities that refuse to repent and thanks the Father for revealing the truth to little children. He offers rest for those who are weary and burdened.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 follows Jesus' instructions to the apostles about taking His message and miracles to the towns of Israel with His own continued ministry of teaching (Matthew 10). Jesus answers a question from John the Baptist's followers, and upholds John's ministry. Jesus condemns several cities in Galilee for rejecting His teaching, despite obvious signs. He thanks His Father for hiding the truth from those who arrogantly think they are wise. He offers rest for those who will take His yoke. This leads to further confrontations with critics, recorded in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/24/2024 9:37:41 PM
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