What does Matthew 27:42 mean?
ESV: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
NIV: He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself! He's the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
NASB: He saved others; He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.
CSB: "He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
NLT: He saved others,' they scoffed, 'but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!
KJV: He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
NKJV: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.
Verse Commentary:
Insults coming from Jewish religious leaders would have been the most galling to hear (Matthew 27:35–41). Of all people in the world, they ought to have known the truth of who Jesus was (John 5:39–40). And yet, not only have they denied His identity as the Messiah, but they condemned Him to death (Matthew 26:63–66). As He hangs mutilated on a cross, they go so far as to mock even the healing miracles He has done in Israel.

Their reference to saving others likely means the countless people Jesus healed from diseases, afflictions, and demon possession. Their meaning is either to dismiss that such miracles happened, or that Jesus' supposed power to heal was not really a sign of divinity. These acts were impossible to deny, however, since so many people saw them take place, including many of the religious leaders themselves (John 11:45–46; Matthew 9:1–8)? These men saw Jesus' benevolent displays of God's power as threats to their own meager power.

These Jewish religious leaders are making light of their lack of faith in Jesus as the King of Israel. They sarcastically claim if He would come down from the cross, they would believe in Him. Given their rejection of prior miracles and other evidence, even that is unlikely (John 5:39–40).

Their use of language is ironic. By not saving Himself from the cross, Jesus is saving many others from their sins (Matthew 26:53–54; Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Matthew made it clear from the beginning of his book that this is what Jesus came to do: "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The Hebrew name Yeshua, Iēsous in Greek, or Jesus in English, literally means "The Lord is Salvation."

A further irony is that because Christ stayed on the cross, faith in Him will become the way for every person to come into a true relationship with God (Philippians 2:8). If He were to rescue Himself, now, to earn the belief of these men, it would undo God's intended plan for sinners to be welcomed into the family of God.
Verse Context:
Matthew 27:32–44 describes Jesus' march to the cross, aided by a man named Simon of Cyrene. Jesus is offered a numbing, bitter wine, but refuses it, and is nailed to the cross. Soldiers gamble for His clothes. A somewhat sarcastic sign above Him reads "the King of the Jews." Observers, including several Jewish religious leaders, mock Jesus for not being able to save Himself. Even the criminals being executed on either side of Jesus insult Him. Mark 15:20–32, Luke 23:36–43, and John 19:16–27 cover this same process.
Chapter Summary:
When Judas learns Jesus has been condemned, he regrets betraying the Lord. He throws down his ill-gotten money and hangs himself. Jesus is taken to Pilate, who finds nothing to charge Him with. Given the choice, the people shout for the release of a convicted murderer and insist on Jesus' death. Jesus is mocked by a battalion of soldiers and then taken to be crucified. On the cross, He is mocked for not being able to save Himself. After three hours of darkness, Jesus dies. He is buried by a rich follower in a new tomb. This location is tightly guarded to prevent anyone from stealing the body.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 27 begins with an official meeting of the Jewish ruling council. They affirm Jesus' condemnation from the previous night, described in chapter 26. Judas confesses his betrayal and hangs himself. Pilate tries to release Jesus, but the mob shouts for Jesus to be crucified. Jesus is humiliated by Roman soldiers and marched to be executed. On the cross, He is mocked by Jewish religious leaders and others. He dies and is buried in a never-used tomb. Extensive efforts to secure His body from being stolen only serve to prove the miraculous nature of His resurrection, which is detailed in chapter 28.
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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