What does Matthew 12:42 mean?
ESV: The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
NIV: The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.
NASB: The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
CSB: The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look--something greater than Solomon is here.
NLT: The queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here — but you refuse to listen.
KJV: The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
NKJV: The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has called this generation of Israelites evil and spiritually adulterous. They have failed to repent despite His preaching about the kingdom of heaven and despite all the displays of power they have seen in Him. Some believed Him to be the Messiah and repented in preparation for His kingdom; most Israelites did not believe or declare their faith in Him (Matthew 12:38–41).

Jesus has refused to give them any immediate miraculous sign to prove Himself. However, He has predicted a supernatural event which they ought to recognize when it happens. As Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days (Jonah 1:15–17; 2:10), Christ, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days. At this time, Jesus did not elaborate, but He was describing His own death and miraculous resurrection (John 2:19–22).

Part of the criticism Jesus levels against His peers is that even wicked, pagan nations like Nineveh were willing to repent when they heard a message from God. Even the king of the wicked city repented when Jonah finally came to preach about God's judgment. Jesus implies that when all men are eternally judged, in the end times, the people of Nineveh will have every right to condemn that generation of Israelites for their unbelief and unrepentance.

The queen of the South is also known as the Queen of Sheba. She heard about the wisdom of Solomon and the splendor of Israel under his rule and traveled great distances to see it with her own eyes (1 Kings 10:1–29). Jesus now says that something greater than Solomon is here, meaning Himself as the Messiah. The Queen of Sheba traveled all the way to Israel to hear Solomon. In contrast, this generation of Israelites would not even receive the Messiah—far greater than any other king—when He appeared in person and performed miracles right in front of them (Matthew 12:9–13; 22)!

Jesus has now declared Himself to be greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6), greater than the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12:41), and greater than King Solomon. His words and deeds proved this to be true, as did the prophecies of Scripture (John 5:39–40). Still, the Israelites of His day would not believe.
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:38–42 starts with a request from some of the scribes and Pharisees. They want Jesus to provide an on-demand miracle. Of course, Jesus has very recently performed two (Matthew 12:9–13; 22)! In other words, Jesus' critics are saying they want "different" miracles, which is just an excuse to reject what they've already seen. Christ responds by calling such an attitude evil and adulterous. Instead, they will only receive the sign of Jonah, whose experience in a sea creature is compared to how the Son of Man will be buried for three days. Those who correctly respond to God's call for repentance and submission will rightly condemn those who are obstinate and refuse to believe.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 12 features confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus over several issues. Among these are working on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, and the source of His power to cast out demons. Jesus counters each argument and rebukes the Pharisees sharply for their obstinate unbelief. He even notes that those who maliciously ascribe His miracles to demons are unforgivable. He warns them, and the rest of their current generation, about the judgment to come. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers and rejects their demand for another miracle. All they'll be promised is the sign of Jonah. The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days. Jesus also states that all who do His Father's will are His family.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 depicted Jesus preaching and teaching after sending out His chosen disciples in pairs in chapter 10. Chapter 12 immediately picks up with more confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus responds to those criticisms and rebukes their evil hearts as the source of their evil words. In the following chapter, Matthew will shift His focus onto Jesus' parables.
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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