What does Matthew 11:9 mean?
ESV: What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
NIV: Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
NASB: But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
CSB: What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
NLT: Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet.
KJV: But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
NKJV: But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has been asking the crowds around Him a series of questions about John the Baptist. Some of John's disciples had asked, on behalf of John, if Jesus was really the Messiah. Jesus gave them an answer and sent them back to John. Then He turned to the crowd to defend John from any thought that the Baptizer's faith was weak (Matthew 11:1–8).

The questions Jesus has asked are rhetorical—they are really statements. The man so many of these people went to see in the wilderness was strong, not soft. He was unique, not common. Now Jesus asks if they went out to see a prophet, and immediately gives the answer. Not only was John a prophet; he was "more than a prophet."

Prophets were people called by God to deliver specific messages. Every Israelite would have grown up learning about Israel's most famous prophets: Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc. They would have also grown up knowing that Israel had not received a true prophet from God in hundreds of years. That's why so many of them went out to see the prophet John the Baptist preach and to be baptized by him as a sign of their repentance (Matthew 3:5–6).

The fact that John was a prophet in the same way as those famous men is remarkable enough. Jesus, though, insists that John was even more than that. He quotes Scripture to show why that is true (Matthew 11:10).
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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