What does Matthew 11:8 mean?
ESV: What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
NIV: If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.
NASB: But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
CSB: What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who wear soft clothes are in royal palaces.
NLT: Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces.
KJV: But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
NKJV: But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is defending and praising John the Baptist. Some in the crowd may have questioned John's faith in Jesus as the Messiah. John's disciples brought a message asking if Jesus really was the Messiah, or if they should expect someone else (Matthew 11:1–3). After answering John's disciples and sending them away (Mathew 11:4–6), Jesus began to tell the crowd about John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7). This began by pointing out that people were not attracted to John's message because he was ordinary or weak (Matthew 11:7).

Now Jesus continues this theme by referring John the Baptist's clothing. John was famous for—among other things—his rough clothes made of camel hair secured with a leather belt. This was a reason he was so closely associated with the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). Jesus adds that those who live in kings' houses wear soft clothes, not prophets in the wilderness. The reference to kings' houses might be a dig at Herod, the ruler who had imprisoned John the Baptist for calling out his unlawful marriage to his brother's wife.

Through His questions, Jesus is reminding the people that John the Baptist was strong and wild in the way prophets can be. Despite John's question for Jesus, John's faith was not soft or weak. Like so many others, he simply had the wrong expectations for God's timing in connection to the events surrounding the arrival of the Messiah (Matthew 16:21–23; John 2:22).
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 5/29/2024 2:23:39 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com