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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 16

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Pharisees and Sadducees. See note on Matthew 3:7. They wanted to trap him. They had already made up their minds about Jesus, and they had rejected the miracles he had just done. Now they ask for a “sign from heaven” which only God could do—to “prove” to them that he works by God’s power. (See 1 Corinthians 1:22.)

Verses 2-3


But Jesus answered. He reminds them of what they already know—that the signs in the sky indicate what the weather will be like. But you cannot interpret the signs. They could “read” the weather in the sky, but they were “blind” to the signs concerning these times. Old Testament prophecies were coming true in Jesus and the things he was doing. These showed clearly the Jewish Age was about to close and Messiah’s Kingdom was about to be set up (Acts 2:16-21).

Verse 4


The miracle of Jonah. When they saw this miracle, they would know he was the Son of God! See Matthew 12:38-40.

Verse 5


When the disciples crossed over. To the eastern shore of Lake Galilee. They forgot to take any bread. They were going to Caesarea Philippi and would need extra food, since they were going through a deserted area. Mark says they had one loaf, but no extra (Mark 8:14-21).

Verse 6


The yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Their need for bread gave the opportunity for this teaching. “Influence” spreads like yeast, and the influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees was evil. [Mark says: “of Herod.” Herod and his followers were Sadducees.]

Verses 7-11


They started discussing among themselves. The disciples felt guilty about their carelessness, and this was all they could think about—so they really did not listen to what Jesus was saying. They thought that they were being scolded because they forgot to bring extra bread. How is it that you don’t understand? They knew how Jesus had fed the five thousand and the four thousand. Jesus tells them plainly that it is not bread he is speaking about. The influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees did not seem to be as evil as it really was, so that those not on their guard against it could be tricked into sinning.

Verse 12


Then the disciples understood. He made it so plain they could not misunderstand. He was warning them against false teaching.

Verse 13


Near the town of Caesarea Philippi. Near Mount Hermon in north-east Palestine. Herod Philip rebuilt this town and called it “Caesarea Philippi” to honor himself, also to avoid confusion with Caesarea on the coast of the Mediterranean. Who do they say the Son of Man is? “Son of Man” is a favorite expression of Jesus (see Luke 22:69-70). He is not asking about what the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the Law say. He asks: “Who do the common people say that I am?”

Verse 14


Some say John the Baptist. Who had been killed by Herod Antipas a few months before. This Herod seemed to think John the Baptist had come back to life and was now able to work miracles (Matthew 14:2). Many of the people seemed to believe this also [likely those who had never seen John]. Others say Elijah. Prophecy spoke of Elijah’s return (Malachi 4:5). Elijah himself did return at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:30) Jesus identified John the Baptist as [spiritual] Elijah. See Luke 1:17; Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:10-13. Others say Jeremiah. The Jews believed that all the prophets would return to earth when the Messiah came.

Verse 15


Who do you say I am? This is the KEY question which every human being must answer for themself. The disciples must declare their faith.

Verse 16


Simon Peter answered. He spoke immediately, putting into words what the others believed also, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. This declaration says that Jesus is both the Messiah (Christ means the same thing) and Divine [God in human form—see John 1:1-5]. What Peter declares here, sets the pattern for all the followers of Jesus, and is the very foundation stone of the church which Jesus built.

Verse 17


Good for you, Simon, son of John. Jesus here gives Peter’s full name to emphasize what he is saying. Because this truth. Human reasoning did not tell him this. The Jews did not expect the Messiah to be Divine. No one can make this declaration from the heart unless the Holy Spirit has revealed this to him through the message of the Gospel (1 John 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:3). God spoke to Peter directly. God speaks to us through his Son—that is, through the New Testament which records for us everything that Jesus said and did, which we need to know,

Verse 18


You are a rock, Peter. Jesus gave the name Peter to this Simon, son of John (John 1:42). “Peter” means a single stone. And on the rock foundation. Here Jesus uses a word that means a large mass of solid rock—the “rock foundation.” Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16 clearly identifies this “rock foundation” as Jesus himself. Paul writes: “For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Jesus uses two different forms of the word for rock: PETROS—Peter, a single stone: PETRA—rock foundation, a large mass of rock. I will build my church. Future—as Jesus says this; fact—in Acts 2:0. [“Church” is used with only two meanings in the New Testament. It means: (1) the spiritual Kingdom, the “messianic community of all the followers of Christ; (2) the local church or messianic community, made up of a group of believers who unite together for worship and work. This word “church” is NEVER used in the New Testament to mean: the building where the church meets together; or denomination—a group who adopt certain distinctive things (usually of human origin) which “wall them off’ from others.] There is: (1) The Builder—Christ; (2) a Temple, built out of living stones (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:22); (3) the rock foundation for that Temple-Jesus himself; (4) an enemy—death—which will oppose the building of the church; (5) a key-holder who will open the door. [Gates of hades is a symbolic phrase which meant “Death” and “the powers of death,”] Which not even death. The Jewish leaders believed that death would end the claims of Jesus, and make it impossible for him to set up his Kingdom. But it was not possible for death to overcome Jesus (Acts 2:24). Death could not prevent his rising from death to set up his spiritual Kingdom. Death cannot destroy the church (Kingdom) by capturing the people who make up the church. All the powers of the Devil and Hell cannot defeat the Plan of God! Jesus raised from death as the guarantee that we too will be raised!

Verse 19


The keys of the Kingdom of heaven. This is part of the thought in Matthew 16:18. Keys are used to open doors. Peter formally opened the doors to the church: (1) to the Jews, on Pentecost (Acts 2:0); (2) to the Gentiles just seven years later (Acts 10:0). All that is said here to Peter is said to all the other apostles as well (John 20:19-23). What you prohibit on earth. God’s terms. See note on Matthew 18:18.

Verse 20


Not to tell. The apostles had too many wrong ideas still in their heads to properly teach his Messiahship. Also, he came to die as our sin-offering (Luke 9:31), and it was to be after he raised from death that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name (Luke 24:46-47).

Verse 21


From that time on. He had to prepare them for the great shock of the Cross. [They still thought he would be a political ruler.] Suffer much. Making Isaiah 53:0 come true. The elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. The Jewish leadership. These are the “Jews” who opposed Jesus. On the third day. See note on Matthew 12:40.

Verse 22


Peter took him aside. Peter strongly rebukes Jesus, because he expects Jesus to become an earthly King. The crucifixion would destroy Peter’s hopes.

Verse 23


Get away from me, Satan! Peter’s very human ideas came from the Devil. This is a temptation to bypass the Cross (compare Matthew 4:9-10).

Verse 24


If anyone wants to come with me. This is what it will cost to follow Jesus and be his disciple. He must forget himself. He must be willing to say “No” to human goals. Carry his cross. Luke adds: “everyday.” The cross is the symbol of making ourself a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) by using his principles to make our decisions and guide our life—even to the point of dying rather than to repudiate him. And follow me. To follow Jesus is to believe his teaching, to work for his Plan, to live by his commands, and to keep on doing this even when it costs our life to do so.

Verse 25


For whoever. If you repudiate Christ to save your earthly life, you will forfeit your life eternally. If you lose your earthly life for the sake of Christ and his Kingdom, you will find life in eternity.

Verse 26


Will a man gain anything? This is still part of the same thought. Power, money, popularity, and pleasure—mean nothing to a dying man! [The same Greek word PSUCHE is translated both “life” and “soul,” according to the text where it is found.] There is nothing a man can give. If a man had the total world to give as a price, it still could not regain his life. Christ is the only hope of living in eternity!

Verse 27


For the Son of Man is about to come. This emphasizes the fact that Christ will come in Judgment! He will come the second time as the Judge of all earth (Acts 17:31).

Verse 28


Remember this! What he says in this verse applies to the coming of his spiritual Kingdom on Pentecost. See Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:16; Acts 2:36, It was to come in the normal lifetime of some who heard him there that day. Mark says: “There are some here who will not die until they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power.”

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/matthew-16.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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