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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Matthew 16

 

 

Verse 1

The Pharisees and Sadducees. These were widely opposite in their religious sentiments to each other, but closely united in their design of persecuting Jesus Christ, and they come and ask of him a sign or prodigy from heaven, to convince them that he was the Christ, the Messias. (Bible de Vence) --- The Sadducees deny the immortality of the soul, and affirm that our only obligation is the observance of the law; insomuch, that they prided themselves on their right of disputing the most important points with their teachers. This sect is not numerous, and chiefly composed of men of condition, who, when properly qualified for offices of state, are compelled to conform, at least in appearance, to the principles of the Pharisees; otherwise, they would incur the resentment of the Pharisees. (Josephus, Book xviii. chap. ii.) See also note on ver. 7, chap. iii, above. --- St. John Chrysostom is of opinion he would have granted them any sign they wished, had they been willing to believe; but as their object was curiosity and censure, he refused to comply. They mistrusted, it would seem, his other miracles as the effect of some occult quality inherent in him, and wished to see a miracle performed upon distant objects in the heavens or clouds, which would be to them less suspicious and objectionable. (Haydock)


Verse 4

You know then how to discern the face of the sky, &c. Jesus Christ does not condemn every observation made upon the weather, from external appearances in the heavens. He only upbraids the Jews for so closely examining these signs, and neglecting at the same time to notice the many signs and predictions which so plainly manifested him to be the promised Messias. (Denis the Carthusian) --- The reasoning of Jesus Christ is this: you know how to judge of the weather from observation, and cannot you then know the certain signs so often promised, and now completed in my coming? The signs of this event were, the taking away the sceptre from the tribe of Juda. (Genesis xxxix. 10.) The completion of the 70 weeks of years of Daniel ix. 25, amounting to 490 years, which were now on the eve of being completed. The miracles of Jesus Christ, as the curing of the blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb, foretold by Isaias xxxv. 5. and lxi. 1. To which may be added the apparition of angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem, the miraculous star which appeared to the magi, the testimony of his heavenly Father, the descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. Besides, the testimony of the Baptist, and so many miracles of every kind wrought to establish this truth, most certainly, clearly, and infallibly demonstrate, that the long expected Messias had already come, and that this Jesus was the Messias. (Tirinus)


Verse 5

Forgotten to take bread. The disciples had just filled seven baskets with fragments, but had forgotten to take any with them into the ship; or, according to others, had distributed all among the poor. (Barrardius) --- They were so taken with the company of Christ, that they even forgot the necessities of life. (St. Anselm) --- The disciples, ever constant attendants on our Redeemer, were retained so strongly by the love of his company, that they would not be absent from him for one moment. We may also remark how far they were from an eager search after delicacies, when they even forgot the daily pittance requisite for their support. (St. Remigius) --- It was the custom of those times, and that country, for persons on a journey to carry their own bread. (Bible de Vence)


Verse 6

-7

Beware of the leaven, &c. The disciples, not understanding the meaning of Christ's words, supposed he was instructing them not to touch the bread of the Scribes and Pharisees. (Bible de Vence)


Verse 6-7

Beware of the leaven, &c. The disciples, not understanding the meaning of Christ's words, supposed he was instructing them not to touch the bread of the Scribes and Pharisees. (Bible de Vence)


Verse 8

Why do you think? That we might know what effect this discourse of our Saviour had upon his disciples, the evangelist immediately subjoins, then they understood, &c. This exposition of Christ freed them from the accusation of the Jews; it made them who were negligent and inattentive, both diligent and attentive, and confirmed them in their faith. (St. John Chrysostom)


Verse 13

Cæarea Philippi, was first called Paneades, and was afterwards embellished and greatly enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod the great, and dedicated in honour of Augustus, hence its name. There was moreover another Cæsarea, called Straton, situated on the Mediterranean: and not in this, but in the former, did Christ interrogate his disciples. He first withdrew them from the Jews, that they might with more boldness and freedom deliver their sentiments. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lv.) --- The Cæsarea here mentioned continued to be called by heathen writers Panea, from the adjoining spring Paneum, or Panium, which is usually taken for the source of the Jordan.


Verse 14

Some say, &c. Herod thought that Christ was the Baptist, on account of his prodigies. (St. Matthew xiv. 2.) Others that he was Elias: 1st. because they expected he was about to return to them, according to the prophecy of Malachias; behold I will send you Elias; 2d. on account of the greatness of his miracles; 3d. on account of his invincible zeal and courage in the cause of truth and justice. Others again said he was Jeremias, either on account of his great sanctity, for he was sanctified in his mother's womb; or, on account of his great charity and love for his brethren, as it was written of Jeremias: he is a lover of his brethren. Or, again, one of the prophets, viz. Isaias, or some other noted for eloquence; for it was the opinion of many of the Jews, as we read in St. Luke, that one of the ancient prophets had arisen again. (Denis the Carthusian)


Verse 15

Whom do you say that I am? You, who have been continually with me; you, who have seen me perform so many more miracles; you, who have yourselves worked miracles in my name? From this pointed interrogation, Jesus Christ intimates, that the opinion men had formed of him was very inadequate to the exalted dignity of his person, and that he expects they will have a juster conception of him. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lv.)


Verse 16

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Tu es Christus, Filius Dei vivi. Greek: o christos o vios tou theou. Where the Greek articles seem significant.


Verse 17

Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona. Greek: Simon is undoubtedly Greek: Sumeon, as written 2 Peter i. 1. Greek: Bariona is son of Jona, or John, an abridgment for Greek: Barioanna. Bar, in Chaldaic, is son; hence St. Peter is called, in John xi, 16. and 17, Simon, son of John. It was customary with the Jews to add to a rather common name, for the sake of discrimination, a Greek: patronumikon, or patronymic, as appears from Matthew x. 3. and xxiii. 35. Mark ii. 14. John vi. 42. (Pastorini)


Verse 18

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

St. Augustine, serm. 13, de Verbis Domini, in the new edit. serm. 76. t. v. p. 415, expounds these words super hanc Petram, i.e. super hanc Petram, quam confessus es, super meipsum. See also tract. 24. in Joan, t. iii. p. 822. But he elsewhere gave the common interpretation, as he says, lib. i. Retrac. and in Psal. lxix. Petrus, qui paulo ante Christum confessus erat filium Dei, & in illa Confessione appellatus erat Petra, super quam fabrificatur Ecclesia, &c. See St. Jerome on this place, lib. iii. p. 97. ædificabo (inquit Christus) super te Ecclesiam meam. (St. John Chrysostom hom. lv. in Matt. &c.)


Verse 19

And I will give to thee the keys, &c. This is another metaphor, expressing the supreme power and prerogative of the prince of the apostles. The keys of a city, or of its gates, are presented or given to the person that hath the chief power. We also own a power of the keys, given to the other apostles, but with a subordination to St. Peter and to his successor, as head of the Catholic Church. --- And whatsoever thou shalt bind, &c. All the apostles, and their successors, partake also of this power of binding and loosing, but with a due subordination to one head invested with the supreme power. (Witham) --- Loose on earth. The loosing the bands of temporal punishments due to sins, is called an indulgence: the power of which is here granted. (Challoner) --- Although Peter and his successors are mortal, they are nevertheless endowed with heavenly power, says St. John Chrysostom nor is the sentence of life and death passed by Peter to be attempted to be reversed, but what he declares is to be considered a divine answer from heaven, and what he decrees, a decree of God himself. He that heareth you, heareth me, &c. The power of binding is exercised, 1st. by refusing to absolve; 2d. by enjoining penance for sins forgiven; 3d. by excommunication, suspension or interdict; 4th. by making rules and laws for the government of the Church; 5th. by determining what is of faith by the judgments and definitions of the Church. (Tirinus) --- The terms binding and loosing, are equivalent to opening and shutting, because formerly the Jews opened the fastenings of their doors by untying it, and they shut or secured their doors by tying or binding it. (Bible de Vence) --- Dr. Whitby, a learned Protestant divine, thus expounds this and the preceding verse: "As a suitable return to thy confession, I say also to thee, that thou art by name Peter, i.e. a rock; and upon thee, who art this rock, I will build my making laws to govern my Church." (Tom. i, p. 143.) Dr. Hammond, another Protestant divine, explains it in the same manner. And p. 92, he says: " What is here meant by the keys, is best understand by Isaias xxii. 22, where they signified ruling the whole family or house of the king: and this being by Christ accommodated to the Church, denotes the power of governing it."


Verse 20

Tell no one that he was Jesus, the Christ. In some manuscripts both Greek and Latin, the name Jesus is not here found, and many interpreters think it superfluous in this place. The Greek expressly says the Christ adjoining the article, which the Latin tongue does not express. (Bible de Vence) --- "In a preceding part of Scripture, Jesus sending his apostles, commanded them to publish his coming; but here he seems to give a contrary mandate, tell no one, &c. but in my opinion it is one thing to preach the Christ, and another to preach Christ Jesus; for Christ is a name of dignity, but Jesus is the particular name of the Redeemer." (St. Jerome) --- He did not forbid them to teach that there was a Messias a Redeemer, but to declare then that he was the person; 2d. the disciples (Matthew x,) are not sent to preach the gospel, strictly speaking, but only to prepare the minds and hearts of the people for the coming of the Messias, as is evident from Matthew x. 23. See Mark xiv. 61. and 62. John v. 18. and viii. 58. and x. 30. and xi. 27. But why did he lay this injunction? To avoid the envy of the Scribes, and not to appear to raise his own glory. He wished the people to be induced to own him for their Messias, not from the testimony of his retainers, but from his miracles and doctrines; and lastly, because as his time was not yet come, the apostles were not yet fit to deliver, nor the people to receive, this grand tenet. (Mat. Polus.) --- It might moreover have proved a hinderance to his death.


Verse 21

From that time, &c. Now when the apostles firmly believed that Jesus was the Messias, and the true Son of God, he saw it necessary to let them know he was to die an infamous death on the cross, that they might be disposed to believe that mystery; (Witham) and that they might not be too much exalted with the power given to them, and manifestation made to them. (Haydock)


Verse 22

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Increpare Greek: epitiman, by saying absit a te Domine, Greek: ileos soi, propitius sit tibe Deus, &c.


Verse 23

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Vade post me, Greek: upage opiso mou.

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Verse 24

If any man will come. St. John Chrysostom, Euthymius, and Theophylactus, shew that free will is confirmed by these words. Do not expect, O Peter, that since you have confessed me to be the Son of God, you are immediately to be crowned, as if this were sufficient for salvation, and that the rest of your days may be spent in idleness and pleasure. For, although by my power, as Son of God, I would free you from every danger and trouble, yet this I will not do for your sake, that you may yourself contribute to your glory, and become the more illustrious. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lvi.)


Verse 25

Whosoever will save his life. Lit. his soul. In the style of the Scriptures, the word soul is sometimes put for the life of the body, sometimes for the whole man. (Witham) --- Whosoever acts against duty and conscience to save the life of his body, shall lose eternal life; and whoever makes the sacrifice of his life, or the comforts and conveniences of life for conscience sake, shall be rewarded with life eternal.


Verse 26

And lose his own soul. Christ seems in these words to pass from the life of the body to that of the soul. (Witham)


Verse 27

Shall come in the glory. Jesus Christ wishing to shew his disciples the greatness of his glory at his future coming, reveals to them in this life as much as it was possible for them to comprehend, purposely to strengthen them against the scandal of his ignominious death. (St. John Chrysostom)


Verse 28

Till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. Some expound this, as fulfilled at his transfiguration, which follows in the next chapter. Others understand it of the glory of Christ, and of his Church, after his resurrection and ascension, when he should be owned for Redeemer of the world: and this state of the Christian Church might be called the kingdom of Christ. (Witham) --- This promise of a transitory view of his glory he makes, to prove that he should one day come in all the glory of his Father, to judge each man according to his works: not according to his mercy, or their faith, but according to their works. (St. Augustine, de verb. apos. serm. 35.) --- Again, asks St. Augustine how could our Saviour reward every one according to his works, if there were no free will? (lib. ii. chap. 4. 5. 8, de act. cum Fœlic. Manich.) (Bristow)

 


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 16:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/matthew-16.html. 1859.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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