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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Matthew 16

 

 

Verse 1

1. σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ] see notes at ch. Matthew 12:38. There is no ground for supposing that this narrative refers to the same event as that. What can be more natural than that the adversaries of our Lord should have met His miracles again and again with this demand of a sign from heaven? For in the Jewish superstition it was held that dæmons and false gods could give signs on earth, but only the true God signs from heaven. In the apocryphal Epistle of Jeremiah, 16:67, we read of the gods of the heathen, σημεῖά τε ἐν ἔθνεσιν ἐν οὐρανῷ οὐ μὴ δείξωσιν.… And for such a notion they alleged the bread from heaven given by Moses (see John 6:31), the staying of the sun by Joshua (Joshua 10:12), the thunder and rain by Samuel (1 Samuel 12:17, compare Jeremiah 14:22), and Elijah (James 5:17-18). And thus we find that immediately after the first miraculous feeding the same demand was made, John 6:30, and answered by the declaration of our Lord that He was the true bread from heaven. And what more natural likewise, than that our Lord should have uniformly met the demand by the same answer,—the sign of Jonas, one so calculated to baffle his enemies and hereafter to fix the attention of His disciples? Here however that answer is accompanied by other rebukes sufficiently distinctive.

It was now probably the evening (see Mark 8:10, εὐθύς) and our Lord was looking on the glow in the west which suggested the remark in Matthew 16:2. On the practice of the Jews to demand a sign, see 1 Corinthians 1:22.


Verses 1-4

1–4.] REQUEST FOR A SIGN FROM HEAVEN. Mark 8:11-13, but much abridged. See also Luke 12:54 and notes.


Verse 2

2.] Mark 8:12 adds καὶ ἀναστενάξας τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ …, omitting however the sentences following. The Jews were much given to prognosticating the rains, &c. of the coming season in each year. See Lightf. who cites examples.


Verse 3

3.] Polybius iv. 21. 1, speaks of the ἠθῶν αὐστηρίαν (of the Arcadians) ἥτις αὐτοῖς παρέπεται διὰ τὴν τοῦ περιέχοντος ( ἀέρος) ψυχρότητα καὶ στυγνότητα.

‘Si circa occidentem rubescunt nubes, serenitatem futuræ diei spondent; concavus oriens pluvias prædicit; idem ventos cum ante exorientem eum nubes rubescunt: quod si et nigræ rubentibus intervenerint ( πυῤῥάζει στυγνάζων) et pluvias.’ Plin. Hist. Nat. xviii. 35.

πρόσωπον, because στυγνός and στυγνάζω are properly used of sadness and obscurity in the visage of man.

τῶν καιρῶν, of times, generally. The Jews had been, and were, most blind to the signs of the times, at all the great crises of their history;—and also particularly to the times in which they were then living. The sceptre had departed from Judah, the lawgiver no longer came forth from between his feet, the prophetic weeks of Daniel were just at their end; yet they discerned none of these things.


Verse 4

4.] See note on ch. Matthew 12:39.


Verse 5

5.] This crossing of the lake was not the voyage to Magadan mentioned in ch. Matthew 15:39, for after the dialogue with the Pharisees, Mark adds (Mark 8:13), πάλιν ἐμβὰς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸ πέραν.

ἐπελάθ.] not for a pluperfect: After they had come to the other side, they forgot to take bread; viz. on their land journey further. This is also to be understood in Mark (Mark 8:14), who states their having only one loaf in the ship, not to shew that they had forgotten to take bread before starting, but as a reason why they should have provided some on landing.


Verses 5-12

5–12.] WARNING AGAINST THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES. Mark 8:13-21.


Verse 6

6. τῆς ζύμης] see beginning of note on ch. Matthew 13:33. It is from the penetrating and diffusive power of leaven that the comparison, whether for good or bad, is derived. In Luke 12:1, where the warning is given on a wholly different occasion, the leaven is explained to mean, hypocrisy; which is of all evil things the most penetrating and diffusive, and is the charge which our Lord most frequently brings against the Jewish sects.

In Mark we read, καὶ τῆς ζύμης ἡρώδου. The Herodians were more a political than a religious sect, the dependants and supporters of the dynasty of Herod, for the most part Sadducees in religious sentiment. These, though directly opposed to the Pharisees, were yet united with them in their persecution of our Lord, see ch. Matthew 22:16 : Mark 3:6. And their leaven was the same,—hypocrisy,—however it might be disguised by external difference of sentiment. They were all unbelievers at heart.


Verse 7

7.] ἐν ἑαυτοῖς = πρὸς ἀλλήλους, Mark 8:16. This is an important parallelism to which I may have occasion to refer again.


Verses 8-12

8–12.] Not only had they forgotten these miracles, but the weighty lesson given them in ch. Matthew 15:16-20. The reproof is much fuller in Mark, where see note.

On κοφίνους and σπυρίδας, see note, ch. Matthew 15:36.

This voyage brought them to Bethsaïda: i.e. Bethsaïda Julias, on the North-Eastern side of the lake: see Mark 8:22, and the miracle there related.


Verse 13

13. καισαρείας τῆς φ.] A town in Gaulonitis at the foot of Mount Libanus, not far from the source of the Jordan, a day’s journey from Sidon, once called Laish (Judges 18:7; Judges 18:29) and afterwards Dan (ibid.), but in later times Paneas, or Panias, from the mountain Panium, under which it lay (Jos. Antt. xv. 10. 3. φιλίππου καισαρείας, ἣν πανεάδα φοίνικες προσαγορεύουσι, Euseb. H. E. vii. 17). The tetrarch Philip enlarged it and gave it the name of Cæsarea (Jos. Antt. xviii. 2. 1). In after times King Agrippa further enlarged it and called it Neronias in honour of the Emperor Nero (Jos. Antt. xx. 9. 4). This must not be confounded with the Cæsarea of the Acts, which was Cæsarea Stratonis, on the Mediterranean. See Acts 10:1, and note. The following enquiry took place ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, Mark 8:27. St. Luke gives it without note of place, but states it to have been asked on the disciples joining our Lord, who was praying alone, Luke 9:18.

τίνα λέγουσιν] who do men say that the Son of Man is? τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρ. being equivalent to με in the corresponding sentence below, Matthew 16:15. Of those who read με in the text, some would render as if our Lord had said, ‘Who say men that I am? the Son of Man?’ i.e. the Messiah? (Beza, Le Clerc, and others,) but this is inadmissible, for the answer would not then have been expressed as it is, but affirmatively or negatively. Equally inadmissible is Olshausen’s rendering ἐμὲ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθ. ( ὡς οἴδατε) ὄντα, ‘Me, who am, as ye are aware, the Son of Man?’ an expression, Olshausen says, by which the disciples would be led to the idea of the Son of God. But then this would destroy the simplicity of the following question, But who say ye that I am? because it would put into their mouths the answer intended to be given. The E. V. has beyond doubt the right rendering of this reading: and τὸν υἱ. τ. ἀνθ. is a pregnant expression, which we now know to imply the Messiahship in the root of our human nature, and which even then was taken by the Jews as = the Son of God, (see Luke 22:69-70,) which would serve as a test of the faith of the disciples, according to their understanding of it.

οἱ ἄνθρωποι (generic: = οἱ ὄχλοι in Luke), i.e. the σὰρξ κ. αἷμα of Matthew 16:17, the human opinion.


Verses 13-20

13–20.] CONFESSION OF PETER. Mark 8:27-30. Luke 9:18-21. Here St. Luke rejoins the synoptic narrative, having left it at ch. Matthew 14:22. We here begin the second great division of our Saviour’s ministry on earth, introductory to His sufferings and death. Up to this time we have had no distinct intimation, like that in Matthew 16:21, of these events. This intimation is brought in by the solemn question and confession now before us. And as the former period of His ministry was begun by a declaration from the Father of His Sonship, so this also, on the Mount of Transfiguration.


Verse 14

14.] It is no contradiction to this verdict that some called him the Son of David (ch. Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 15:22); for either these were or were about to become His disciples, or are quoted as examples of rare faith, or as in ch. Matthew 12:23, it was the passing doubt on the minds of the multitude, not their settled opinion. The same may be said of John 7:26; John 7:31; John 4:42. On our Lord’s being taken for John the Baptist, see ch. Matthew 14:2, from which this would appear to be the opinion of the Herodians.

ἕνα τῶν προφ. = ὅτι προφ. τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη, Luke 9:19. It was not a metempsychosis, but a bodily resurrection which was believed. On ἡλίαν, see note at ch. Matthew 11:14. Jeremiah was accounted by the Jews the first in the prophetic canon (Lightfoot on Matthew 27:9).


Verse 16

16.] τί οὖν τὸ στόμα τῶν ἀποστόλων ὁ πέτρος, ὁ πανταχοῦ θερμός, ὁ τοῦ χοροῦ τῶν ἀποστόλων κορυφαῖος; πάντων ἐρωτηθέντων αὐτὸς ἀποκρίνεται, Chrysost. Hom. liv. 1, p. 546. The confession is not made in the terms of the other answer: it is not ‘we say’ or ‘I say,’ but Thou art. It is the expression of an inward conviction wrought by God’s Spirit. The excellence of this confession is, that it brings out both the human and the divine nature of the Lord: ὁ χριστός is the Messiah, the Son of David, the anointed King: ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος is the Eternal Son, begotten of the Eternal Father, not ‘Son of God’ in any inferior figurative sense, not one of the sons of God, of angelic nature, but THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD, having in Him the Sonship and the divine nature in a sense in which they could be in none else. This was a view of the Person of Christ quite distinct from the Jewish Messianic idea, which appears to have been (Justin Mart. Dial. § 48, p. 144) that he should be a man born from men, but selected by God for the office on account of his eminent virtues. This distinction accounts for the solemn blessing pronounced in the next verse.

τοῦ ζῶντος must not for a moment be taken here as it sometimes is used, (e.g. ref. Acts,) as merely distinguishing the true God from dead idols; it is here emphatic, and imparts force and precision to υἱός.

That Peter, when he uttered the words, understood by them in detail all that we now understand, is not of course here asserted: but that they were his testimony to the true Humanity and true Divinity of the Lord, in that sense of deep truth and reliance, out of which springs the Christian life of the Church.


Verse 17

17.] μακάριος, as in ch. Matthew 5:4, &c., is a solemn expression of blessing, an inclusion of him to whom it is addressed in the kingdom of heaven, not a mere word of praise. And the reason of it is, the fact that the Father had revealed the Son to him (see ch. Matthew 11:25-27); cf. Galatians 1:15-16, in which passage the occurrence of σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι seems to indicate a reference to this very saying of the Lord. The whole declaration of St. Paul in that chapter forms a remarkable parallel to the character and promise given to St. Peter in our text,—as establishing Paul’s claim to be another such πέτρα or στύλος as Peter and the other great Apostles, because the Son had been revealed in him not of man nor by men, but by God Himself. The name Simon Bar Jonas is doubtless used as indicating his fleshly state and extraction, and forming the greater contrast to his spiritual state, name, and blessing, which follow. The same ‘Simon son of Jonas’ is uttered when he is reminded by the thrice repeated enquiry, ‘Lovest thou me?’ of his frailty, in his previous denial of his Lord.


Verse 18

18.] The name πέτρος (not now first given, but prophetically bestowed by our Lord on His first interview with Simon, John 1:43) or κηφᾶς, signifying a rock, the termination being only altered to suit the masculine appellation, denotes the personal position of this Apostle in the building of the Church of Christ. He was the first of those foundation-stones (Revelation 21:14) on which the living temple of God was built: this building itself beginning on the day of Pentecost by the laying of three thousand living stones on this very foundation. That this is the simple and only interpretation of the words of our Lord the whole usage of the New Testament shews: in which not doctrines nor confessions, but men, are uniformly the pillars and stones of the spiritual building. See 1 Peter 2:4-6; 1 Timothy 3:15 (where the pillar is not Timotheus, but the congregation of the faithful) and note: Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 3:12. And it is on Peter, as by divine revelation making this confession, as thus under the influence of the Holy Ghost, as standing out before the Apostles in the strength of this faith, as himself founded on the one foundation, ἰησοῦς χριστός,, 1 Corinthians 3:11—that the Jewish portion of the Church was built, Acts 2:1-47; Acts 3:1-26; Acts 4:1-37; Acts 5:1-42, and the Gentile, Acts 10:11. After this we hear little of him; but during this, the first building time, he is never lost sight of: see especially Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14; Acts 2:37; Acts 3:12; Acts 4:8; Acts 5:15; Acts 5:29; Acts 9:34; Acts 9:40; Acts 10:25-26. We may certainly exclaim with Bengel (Gnomon, p. 117), ‘Tute hæc omnia dicuntur; nam quid hæc ad Romam?’ Nothing can be further from any legitimate interpretation of this promise, than the idea of a perpetual primacy in the successors of Peter; the very notion of succession is precluded by the form of the comparison, which concerns the person, and him only, so far as it involves a direct promise. In its other and general sense, as applying to all those living stones (Peter’s own expression for members of Christ’s Church) of whom the Church should be built, it implies, as Origen (in Matt. tom. xii. 11, vol. iii. p. 525) excellently comments on it, καὶ εἴ τις λέγει τοῦτο πρὸς αὐτόν, οὐ σαρκὸς καὶ αἵματος ἀποκαλυψάντων αὐτῷ, ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς πατρός, τεύξεται τῶν εἰρημένων, ὡς μὲν τὸ γράμμα τοῦ εὐαγγελίου λέγει, πρὸς ἐκεῖνον τὸν πέτρον, ὡς δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ διδάσκει, πρὸς πάντα τὸν γενόμενον ὁποῖος ὁ πέτρος ἐκεῖνος. The application of the promise to St. Peter has been elaborately impugned by Wordsw., whose note see. His zeal to appropriate πέτρα to Christ bas somewhat overshot itself. In arguing that the term can apply to none but God, he will find it difficult surely to deny all reference to a rock in the name πέτρος. To me, it is equally difficult, nay impossible, to deny all reference, in ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ, to the preceding πέτρος. Let us keep to the plain straightforward sense of Scripture, however that sense may have been misused by Rome. In this as in so many other cases we may well say, ‘Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis.’

In the prefixing of μου to τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, there is no mystic sense, nor solecism, as Wordsw. fancies (nor even emphasis, which is never expressed by the abbreviated enclitic form μου, but always by ἐμοῦ): it is the very commonest arrangement. Cf. ch. Matthew 7:24, ὅστις ἀκούει μου τ. λόγους: ib. Matthew 7:26; ch. Matthew 8:8; Matthew 17:15 : Mark 14:8; Luke 6:47; Luke 12:18 a(142). freq.

ἐκκλησίαν] This word occurs but in one place besides in the Gospels, ch. Matthew 18:17 bis, and there in the same sense as here, viz., the congregation of the faithful: only there it is one portion of that congregation, here the whole.

πύλαι ᾅδου] The gates of Hades by a well-known oriental form of speech, = the power of the kingdom of death. The form is still preserved when the Turkish empire is known as ‘the Ottoman Porte.’ This promise received a remarkable literal fulfilment in the person of Peter in Acts 12:6-18, see especially Matthew 16:10.

The meaning of the promise is, that over the Church so built upon him who was by the strength of that confession the Rock, no adverse power should ever prevail to extinguish it.


Verse 19

19.] Another personal promise to Peter, remarkably fulfilled in his being the first to admit both Jews and Gentiles into the Church; thus using the power of the keys to open the door of salvation. As an instance of his shutting it also, witness his speech to Simon Magus,— οὐκ ἔστιν σοι μερὶς οὐδὲ κλῆρος ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ, Acts 8:21. Those who deny the reference of Matthew 16:18 to St. Peter, will find it very difficult to persuade any unbiassed Greek scholar, that the καὶ δώσω σοί, with σοι thus lying unemphatically behind the verb, is not a continuation of a previous address, but a change of address altogether.

ὃ ἂν δήσῃς κ. τ. λ.] This same promise is repeated in ch. Matthew 18:18, to all the disciples generally, and to any two or three gathered together in Christ’s name. It was first however verified, and in a remarkable and prominent way, to Peter. Of the binding, the case of Ananias and Sapphira may serve as an eminent example: of the loosing, the ὃ ἔχω, τοῦτό σοι δίδωμι, to the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the Temple. But strictly considered, the binding and loosing belong to the power of legislation in the Church committed to the Apostles, in accordance with the Jewish way of using the words אסר and התיר for prohibuit and licitum fecit. They cannot relate to the remission and retention of sins, for (as Meyer observes) though λύειν ἁμαρτίας certainly appears (reff. LXX) to mean to forgive sins, δέειν ἁμαρτ. for retaining them would be altogether without example, and, I may add, would bear no meaning in the interpretation: it is not the sin, but the sinner, that is bound, ἔνοχος αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος (Mark 3:29). Nor can the ancient custom of fastening doors by means of cord be alluded to; for the expressions, ἄν, ἐάν, clearly indicate something bound and something loosed, and not merely the power of the keys just conferred. The meaning in John 20:23, though an expansion of this in one particular direction (see note there), is not to be confounded with this.


Verse 20

20.] See note on ch. Matthew 8:4.


Verse 21

21.] On δεῖ, which is common to the three Evangelists, see Luke 24:26; John 3:14, and ch. Matthew 26:54.

πολλὰ παθεῖν = ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι in Mark and Luke. These πολλά were afterwards explicitly mentioned, ch. Matthew 20:18 : Luke 18:31-32.

πρεσβ. κ. ἀρχ. κ. γραμ.] The various classes of members of the Sanhedrim: see note on ch. Matthew 2:4.

On the prophecy of the resurrection, some have objected that the disciples and friends of our Lord appear not to have expected it (see John 20:2; Luke 24:12). But we have it directly asserted (Mark 9:10; Mark 9:32) that they did not understand the saying, and therefore were not likely to make it a ground of expectation. Certainly enough was known of such a prophecy to make the Jews set a watch over the grave (Matthew 27:63), which of itself answers the objection. Meyer in loc. reasons about the state of the disciples after the crucifixion just as if they had not suffered any remarkable overthrow of their hopes and reliances, and maintains that they must have remembered this precise prophecy if it had been given by the Lord. But on the other hand we must remember how slow despondency is to take up hope, and how many of the Lord’s sayings must have been completely veiled from their eyes, owing to their non-apprehension of His sufferings and triumph as a whole. He Himself reproaches them with this very slowness of belief after His resurrection. It is in the highest degree improbable that the precision should have been given to this prophecy after the event, as Meyer supposes: both from the character of the Gospel History in general (see Prolegomena), and because of the carefulness and precision in the words added by Mark; see above.


Verses 21-28

21–28.] OUR LORD ANNOUNCES HIS APPROACHING DEATH AND RESURRECTION. REBUKE OF PETER. Mark 8:31-38; Mark 9:1. Luke 9:22-27. See note on Matthew 16:13. Obscure intimations had before been given of our Lord’s future sufferings, see ch. Matthew 10:38 : John 3:14, and of His resurrection, John 2:19 (Matthew 10:17-18?), but never yet plainly, as now. With Mark’s usual precise note of circumstances, he adds, καὶ παῤῥησίᾳ τὸν λόγον ἐλάλει.


Verse 22

22.] The same Peter, who but just now had made so noble and spiritual a confession, and received so high a blessing, now shews the weak and carnal side of his character, becomes a stumbling-block in the way of his Lord, and earns the very rebuff with which the Tempter before him had been dismissed. Nor is there any thing improbable in this, as Schleiermacher would have us believe (Translation of the Essay on St. Luke, p. 153); the expression of spiritual faith may, and frequently does, precede the betraying of carnal weakness; and never is this more probable than when the mind has just been uplifted, as Peter’s was, by commendation and lofty promise.

προσλαβ. αὐτ.] by the dress or hand, or perhaps ἀντὶ τοῦ παραλαβὼν κατʼ ἰδίαν. Euthym(143)

ἵλεώς σοι] Supply εἴη ὁ θεός. ἵλεως with a dative is practically equivalent to the Hebrew חָלִילָה לְּ, for which (see reff., especially 1 Chronicles 11:19 compared with the Heb.) the LXX have sometimes used it.

οὐ μὴ ἔσται] I cannot think with Winer (§ 56. 3) that this means, ‘absit, ne accidat;’ it is an authoritative declaration, as it were, on Peter’s part, This shall not happen to Thee, implying that he knew better, and could ensure his Divine Master against such an event. It is this spirit of confident rejection of God’s revealed purpose which the Lord so sharply rebukes. On οὐ μή with the future, see note on ch. Matthew 15:6 : and consult Winer, as above.


Verse 23

23.] As it was Peter’s spiritual discernment, given from above, which made him a foundation-stone of the Church, so is it his carnality, proceeding from want of unity with the divine will, which makes him an adversary now. Compare ch. Matthew 4:10, also Ephesians 6:12.

σκάνδαλον εἶ ἐμοῦ] Thou art my stumbling-block (not merely a stumbling-block to me; the definite article is omitted before a noun thrust forward for emphasis, but in English it must be supplied), my πέτρα σκανδάλου (in Peter’s own remarkable words, 1 Peter 2:7-8,—joined too with the very expression, ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, which, as above noticed, occurs in this passage in Mark and Luke). Wordsw.’s note here, “our blessed Lord keeps up the metaphor of πέτρος, or a stone: thou who wert just now, by thy faith in confessing Me, a lively stone, art now by thy carnal weakness a stumbling stone to Christ,” seems to shew that his strong repudiation of any allusion to πέτρος in the πέτρα of Matthew 16:18 has not carried full conviction to its writer. Before this rebuke St. Mark inserts καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ, that the reproof might be before them all.


Verse 24

24.] προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον σὺν τοῖς μαθ. αὐτοῦ, Mark 8:34; ἔλεγε δὲ πρὸς πάντας, Luke 9:23. This discourse is a solemn sequel to our Lord’s announcement respecting Himself and the rebuke of Peter: teaching that not only He, but also His followers, must suffer and self-deny; that they all have a life to save, more precious than all else to them; and that the great day of account of that life’s welfare should be ever before them. On this and the following verse, see ch. Matthew 10:38-39. After τὸν στ. αὐτοῦ, Luke inserts καθʼ ἡμέραν.


Verse 26

26.] There is apparently a reference to Psalms 48:1-14 (LXX) in this verse. Compare especially the latter part with Matthew 16:8 of that Psalm.

τὴν ψ. ζημιωθῇ = ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἀπολέσας Luke. Compare also 1 Peter 1:18. In the latter part of the verse, ἄνθρωπος and αὐτοῦ refer to the same person:— ἀντάλλαγμα = ἐξίλασμα, τὴν τιμὴν τῆς λυτρώσεως τῆς ψ. αὐτοῦ, Psalms 48:7-8. What shall a man give to purchase back his life? ψυχή, not soul, but life, in the higher sense.


Verse 27

27.] A further revelation of this important chapter respecting the Son of Man. He is to be JUDGE OF ALL—and, as in ch. Matthew 13:41, is to appear with His angels, and in the glory of His Father—the δόξα ἣν δέδωκάς μοι, John 17:22. Mark and Luke place here, not this declaration, but that of our ch. Matthew 10:33. Our Lord doubtless joined the two. Compare ch. Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31.

γάρ implies, “And it is not without reason that I thus speak: a time will come when the truth of what I say will be shewn.”

τὴν πρ.] his work, considered as a whole.


Verse 28

28.] This declaration refers, in its full meaning, certainly not to the transfiguration which follows, for that could in no sense (except that of being a foretaste; cf. Peter’s own allusion to it, 2 Peter 1:17, where he evidently treats it as such) be named ‘the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom,’ and the expression, τινὲς οὐ μὴ γ. θ., indicates a distant event,—but to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the full manifestation of the Kingdom of Christ by the annihilation of the Jewish polity; which event, in this aspect as well as in all its terrible attendant details, was a type and earnest of the final coming of Christ. See John 21:22, and compare Deuteronomy 32:36 with Hebrews 10:30. This dreadful destruction was indeed judgment beginning at the house of God. The interpretation of Meyer, &c., that our Lord referred to His ultimate glorious παρουσία, the time of which was hidden from Himself (see Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7), is self-contradictory on his own view of the Person of Christ.

That our Lord, in His humanity in the flesh, did not know the day and the hour, we have from His own lips: but that not knowing it, He should have uttered a determinate and solemn prophecy of it, is utterly impossible. His ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν always introduces His solemn and authoritative revelations of divine truth. The fact is, there is a reference back in this discourse to that in ch. 10, and the coming here spoken of is the same as that in Matthew 16:23 there. Stier well remarks that this cannot be the great and ultimate coming, on account of οὐ μὴ γεύσ. θανάτου ἕως ἂν ἴδωσιν, which implies that they should taste of death after they had seen it, and would therefore be inapplicable to the final coming (Reden Jesu, ii. 224). This is denied by Wordsw., who substitutes for the simple sense of οὐ μὴ γεύσ. θαν. the fanciful expositions, “shall not feel its bitterness,” “shall not taste of the death of the soul,” and then, thus interpreting, gives the prophecy the very opposite of its plain sense: “they will not taste of death till I come: much less will they taste of it then.” It might be difficult to account for such a curious wresting of meaning, had he not added, “the signification of ἕως ἄν here may be compared to ἕως οὗ in Matthew 1:25.” “Latet anguis in herba.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 16:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/matthew-16.html. 1863-1878.

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Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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