The Pharisees ask for a sign from heaven (Mt 16:1-16:1)

“The Pharisees

And the Sadducees came.

They wanted

To test Jesus.

They asked him

To show them

A sign from heaven.”


Καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ Σαδδουκαῖοι πειράζοντες ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτοῖς.


The asking for signs can be found in Mark, chapter 8:11, and Luke, chapter 11:16, and earlier in Matthew, chapter 12:38, plus here, but there are slight differences.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus (Καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ Σαδδουκαῖοι).  They wanted to test or tempt him (πειράζοντες).  They asked him to show them a sign from heaven or a heavenly validation of his work (ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτοῖς).  Instead of the Scribes and Pharisees wanting a sign, as earlier in this work, here it is the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  There had been no mention of the Sadducees since the story about John the Baptist in chapter 3:7, while the Pharisees were present all over the place.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Sadducees, on the other hand, were generally aristocratic priestly officials, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications.  They were less concerned about oral traditions, so that they might have been political religious rivals to the Pharisees.  Rarely did they agree on anything, since there may have been only about 6.000 in each group.  However, here both these groups wanted to see a sign from Jesus.  John the Baptist had been critical of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees earlier in Matthew, chapter 3:7.