New Defender's Study Bible Notes
12:3 Have ye not read. The Lord Jesus frequently referred to the Old Testament Scriptures in support of His teachings and actions (here it is from I Samuel 21:1-6). He also assumed that His listeners would be familiar with the Scriptures cited.
12:5 read in the law. Christ was not referring to a specific Scripture here, but to the fact that priests had to officiate at sacrifices on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9) and also perform circumcisions on the Sabbath (John 7:22).
12:8 sabbath day. The Son of man, in fact, established the Sabbath day, when He “rested from all His work God created and made” (Genesis 2:3). As the Creator of all things (John 1:1-3), Christ surely had all authority over the Sabbath day, especially “to do well on the sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).
12:13 restored whole. The Pharisees thus saw direct evident that Christ was Creator, for it would require a miracle of creation to make a withered hand whole, yet it merely strengthened their resolve to destroy Him (Matthew 12:14).
12:17 spoken by Esaias. Matthew thus confirms in Matthew 12:17-20 that the remarkable prophecy of Isaiah 42:1-3 was fulfilled in Christ.
12:26 divided against himself. See note on Matthew 9:34.
12:32 not be forgiven him. The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ (John 3:18; 3:36; etc.). Thus, speaking against the Holy Spirit is equivalent to rejecting Christ with such finality that no future repentance is possible. “My Spirit shall not always strive with man,” God said long ago (Genesis 6:3). Jesus added: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). In the context of this particular passage (Matthew 12:22-32), Jesus had performed a great miracle of creation, involving both healing and casting out a demon, but the Pharisees rejected this clear witness of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was exercising powers only God possessed. Instead they attributed His powers to Satan, thus demonstrating an attitude permanently resistant to the Spirit and to the deity and saving gospel of Christ.
12:34 generation of vipers. Jesus could be as severe in His condemnation of sin, especially the sins of pride and hypocrisy, as any Old Testament pronouncement of God. See also Matthew 23:33.
12:36 idle word. Evidently the words men speak will have a bearing on their degrees of reward in heaven, or degrees of suffering in hell.
12:39 seeketh after a sign. “Sign” is the same word as “miracle.” This rebuke from Christ seems applicable to those Christians today who are continually looking for miraculous manifestations of one kind or another. We already have the completed Word of God, with abundant testimony to its inerrant authority, not to mention the tremendous scientific evidence of creation and historical evidence of Christ’s victory over death, so there is no need for further miraculous confirmation of our faith.
12:40 whale’s belly. The remarkable miracle of Jonah and the great fish (Jonah 1:17) has been ridiculed by many generations of skeptics, but the Lord Jesus confirmed that it really happened. Furthermore, He appropriated it as a prophetic type of His own coming death and resurrection. The Greek word translated “whale,” incidentally, does not necessarily mean “whale,” but any great marine animal.
12:40 three days and three nights. If “three days and three nights” is taken to mean literally seventy-two hours, there would be an apparent contradiction with the many prophecies and records that He would rise on “the third day” (Matthew 16:21; 20:19; John 2:19; I Corinthians 15:4; etc.), This reckoning would oppose the uniform tradition of the church that He was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday. The problem is resolved if one assumes that any portion of a day or night could be idiomatically reckoned as a “day and night.” Actual extra-Biblical justification for assuming this idiomatic usage here exists. Thus, if three calendar dates are involved, they can be counted as the entire three days and nights. At least two similar usages can be found in the Old Testament. Note Esther 4:16 in comparison with Esther 5:1, and also I Samuel 30:12 with I Samuel 30:13.
12:41 The men of Nineveh. The unique revival in the wicked city of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah is here verified by the Lord Jesus.
12:50 mother. This mild rebuke to Mary did not indicate a lack of love or filial respect on Jesus’ part (John 19:27), but does show that she does not hold priority with Him over other believers in the family of God.