What does Matthew 11:18 mean?
ESV: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’
NIV: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'
NASB: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’
CSB: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon! '
NLT: For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’
KJV: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
NKJV: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’
Verse Commentary:
Demanding, immature children playing in the marketplace are the image Jesus has just applied to the Israelites of His generation. Children complain because the other children won't "play the game" they want to play, or when the game is not being played exactly as they prefer. Here, Christ begins to show how the people of Israel, in this moment, are like those children. They have expectations for how a prophet should act. No matter what they see or hear, they'll demand something different.

For example, instead of hearing John the Baptist's words and truly taking them to heart, they accuse him of being oppressed by demons. Some demon-possessed people would isolate themselves from the community, dress strangely—if at all (Mark 5:14–15)—and even hurt themselves. John lived in the wilderness, dressed in uncomfortable camel hair clothes, and ate only locusts and wild honey, refusing to touch alcohol (Luke 1:15). By society's standards, he was a bizarre character.

John the Baptist was not actually demon-possessed, of course. The problem was that he didn't meet the expectations of many Israelites for the one preparing the way for the Lord. They used this as an excuse to ignore John's harsh warnings about God's coming judgment. Instead of repenting, they accused him of being possessed by evil spirits.

Jesus will point to a different accusation in the next verse, one exactly opposite this criticism of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:19). Matthew will report in the following chapter that Jesus was also accused of being associated with Satan.
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.
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