corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Matthew 16



Verse 1

Matthew 16:1. οἱ φαρισαῖοι καὶ σαδδουκαῖοι, the Pharisees and Sadducees) The common people were mostly addicted to the Pharisees, men of rank to the Sadducees (see Acts 5:17; Acts 23:6); as at present the crowd is more inclined to superstition, the educated to atheism, the two opposite extremes. The Evangelists describe only two attempts of the Sadducees against our Lord (the first of which occurs in the present passage), for they cared less than the Pharisees about religion.— ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, from heaven) Miracles had been performed from heaven in the times of Moses, Joshua, and Elijah. The reason why the Pharisees were unwilling to accept as Divine the miracles hitherto performed by our Lord, seems to have been this: that since He had not yet produced any sign from heaven, they thought that the others might proceed even from Satan (cf. ch. Matthew 12:24; Matthew 12:38); and that they considered that a sign from heaven affecting the whole creation, would be greater than any signs performed on the microcosm(707) of man. [Perhaps, also, they were relying on the prophecy of Joel; see Acts 2:19.—V. g.] The Sadducees, who disbelieved the existence of any Spirit, and therefore of Satan himself, were of opinion that our Lord’s power extended only to hunger, and the diseases of the body, not to all greater matters. Both were influenced also by another motive, namely, the desire to witness a variety of miracles, considered merely as sights. Their lust(708) (libido) is indicated by the word θέλομεν, we wish, in ch. Matthew 12:38.

Verse 2

Matthew 16:2. ὀψίας, πρωἰ, evening—morning) Two most common and most popular signs;(709) for when the sky is red in the evening, the coldness of the night astringes the thinner vapours, so that no storm occurs, even though there be wind; on the other hand, when in the morning the sky is red and dark, the thick vapours burst into a storm by the heat of the sun.

Verse 3

Matthew 16:3. ὑποκριταὶ,(710) hypocrites) The hypocrisy was their greater skill in natural than in spiritual things; for they who have the former have much less excuse than dull men for being wanting in the latter, although they are often wanting in it. For an example of both united, see ch. Matthew 2:2.— πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, the countenance of the sky) not face. A man’s countenance varies, his face is always the same. An instance of Prosopopœia,(711) as just before in the word στυγνάζων, lowering.— τὰ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν, the signs of the times) i, e., those which are suitable to (congruentia) each time. Our Lord indicates, that not only are times to be distinguished by their signs, but also signs by the character of the times, and signs and the kinds of them from each other. For the mode of God’s dealing with man(712) is various—by various doctrines, persons, signs, times—all of which correspond among themselves: wherefore different signs suit different times. Those signs, less splendid indeed, but such as were altogether beneficial to man on earth (see ch. Matthew 9:6), were suitable to the Messiah then being on earth; see ch. Matthew 8:17, Luke 9:54. Wherefore it was incumbent upon them to obtain proofs, not from heaven, but from themselves: see Luke 12:57. For the same reason, after His ascension our Lord did not exhibit signs on earth, as He had previously done.(713)οὐ δύνασθε; are ye not able?) sc. to distinguish sign from sign:—said with astonishment. If you wished it, you could do so most fully: as it is, you are prevented from doing so by a voluntary blindness.

Rec. Text has ὑποκριταὶ with b. But CDL δ ac Vulg. omit it. It is plainly an interpolation through the harmonies from Luke 12:56. Lachm. reads καὶ before τὸ μὲν with C. But Tischend. omits it, with DL δ ac Vulg.—ED.

Verse 4

Matthew 16:4. γενεὰ, nation(714)) Itself the sign of its own time: for such it was to be in the time of the Messiah; see ch. Matthew 11:6.— πονηρὰ, wicked) and perverse.— μοιχαλις, adulterous) accustomed to break the marriage vow, which it ought to have preserved inviolate to God.— σημεῖον, καὶ σημεῖον, κ. τ. λ., a sign, and [no] sign, etc.) A weighty repetition. They prescribe the kind of miracles just as if there were no other kind; therefore(715) all kinds of miracles are denied to them. The miracles which our Lord performed afterwards, were done not for the sake of such as these, but for that of the poor(716) and the sick.(717)τὸ σημεῖον ἰωνᾶ, the sign of Jonah) that was not from heaven, but from the middle of the earth. Jonah returning from the whale proved his mission to the Ninevites; thus by the resurrection of Jesus, whom they had not before believed, a proof was given to the Jews, that He was the Messiah. He silently intimates, moreover, that after the three days spent in the middle of the earth, there should be plenty of signs from heaven, which were performed by His ascension into heaven, and shall be performed at the destruction of the heavens; cf. ch. Matthew 24:30, Acts 2:19. Nay more, not even then was it true that were there no signs from heaven; see ch. Matthew 3:16.— καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθε, and He left them and departed) Just severity; see Titus 3:10. Our Lord never left the people in this manner.

Verse 6

Matthew 16:6. ὁρᾶτε, take heed) It is necessary to be careful of the purity of doctrine.— ζύμης, leaven) The language is metaphorical, and therefore enigmatical; and by it our Lord tries the progress of the disciples, who had already been long His hearers. The metaphor, however, alludes to the thoughts with which the mind of the disciples was then overflowing; q. d., “Do not care about the want of earthly bread, but about the perilous aliments which the hypocrites offer to your souls.” It is probable that the disciples had forgotten the loaves, because the controversy raised by the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:1) had put them into a state of anxiety and temptation. The Pharisees and Sadducees were elsewhere strongly opposed to each other, but yet on this occasion they conspire together against Jesus (see Matthew 16:1); therefore He included both of them under the one title of hypocrites (Matthew 16:3), and guards His disciples at once against both in this passage. And their hypocrisy itself was this leaven (Luke 12:1), induced by which, they did not acknowledge the very sufficient signs of the present time, but, on the contrary, demanded the signs of another time; whence the plural καιρῶν, times, is used in Matthew 16:3.(718) The believer both believes and speaks; he who separates either of these from the other is an unbeliever, is a hypocrite; see Gnomon on ch. Matthew 24:51. Neither therefore is he free from hypocrisy who has little faith; see Matthew 16:8. The disciples are most opportunely admonished to beware of this leaven, as they did not yet understand it from the present signs; see Matthew 16:11.(719)

Verse 7

Matthew 16:7. ἄρτους, loaves) The mode of living in the family of Jesus was extremely simple and frugal. They thought that they should have to buy bread in the place to which they were now coming, and that there would not be a sufficiency of bread there, which could be ascertained not to have been subjected to the leaven of the Pharisees. Our Lord answers, that even if no other bread could be procured, yet that He would feed them even without the bread of the Pharisees or any of that whole region.

Verse 8

Matthew 16:8. τί διαλογίζεσθε, why reason ye)(720) Man imputes more grievously to himself a defect in the care of outward things, to which God most easily accords indulgence. Faith’s mode of estimating is of a higher kind.— ὀλιγόπιστοι, O ye of little faith) It is easy to fall, from want of faith, not only into doubts and fears, but also into errors of interpretation and other mistakes, and even forgetfulness.(721)

Verse 9

Matthew 16:9. οὔπω, not yet) The fault of the slow learner is increased by his having heard long ago.— νοεῖτεμνημονεύετε, understand, remember) The verb νοεώ expresses something more voluntary than συνίημι; see Matthew 16:12; Mark 7:18; 2 Timothy 2:7. Sin affects also the mind and the memory. They ought to have understood, even if those two miracles had not been performed. We ought to remember even the circumstances of Divine works, and from former to hope for further help.(722)

Verse 9-10

Matthew 16:9-10. πόσους κοφίνους, πόσας σπυρίδας, how many cophini—how many spyrides)(723) In the first miracle, as the number of the loaves corresponds to that of the thousands, so does that of the cophini to that of the apostles; so that each of them had the cophinus which they carried full; in the second, the number of spyrides corresponds to that of the loaves. If they had had more cophini in the one instance, or spyrides in the other, the loaves would without doubt have been increased in quantity (cf. 2 Kings 4:6), that the baskets might be all filled; see Mark 8:20. But the spyris, rendered in Latin sporta, was larger than the cophinus; an ancient gloss renders κόφινος, corbis, corbula, i.e., a twig basket or pannier. Juvenal(724) speaks of needy Jews, whose household stuff consisted of a cophinus and some hay; from which it is evident that the cophinus was κουφότερον, lighter; so that it might be carried about by any one for daily use. The spyris seems to have held the proper burden for a porter; cf. Acts 9:25.(725)

“Quorum cophinus fœnumque supellex.”—Juv. iii. 14.

‘Banish’d Jews, who their whole wealth can lay

In a small basket.’

“The other passage we are tempted to cite entire, as it applies to the condition of the Jews after the desolation of their city and temple, and the ruin of their nation: when it is well known that such numbers of them gained a wretched subsistence by pretending to tell fortunes, that ‘Jew’ and ‘fortune-teller’ became almost synonymous:—

‘A gipsey Jewess whispers in your ear,

And begs an alms: a high-priest’s daughter she,

Versed in the Talmud and divinity,

And prophesies beneath a shady tree.

Her goods, a basket, and old hay her bed,

She strolls, and, telling fortunes, gains her bread:

Farthings, and some small monies are her fees;

Yet she interprets all your dreams for these.’

“The other word, also rendered basket, in Matthew 16:10, is σπυρίς; it appears, from the citations of Wetstein, to have been a kind of basket for storing grain, provisions, etc.; and therefore larger than the former, probably much larger. Campbell translates this by ‘maund,’ and retains ‘basket’ for the former; and observes, that although these words are not fit for answering entirely the same purposes as the original terms, which probably conveyed the idea of their respective sizes, and consequently of the quantity contained; still there is a propriety in marking, were it but by this single circumstance, that there was a difference.”—Kitto’s Illustrated Commentary, in loc.—(I. B.)

It is a remarkable instance of undesigned coincidence—one of the best indirect proofs of genuineness—that all the four Evangelists uniformly apply the term κόφινοι to the twelve baskets in the miracle of the five thousand fed; and the two Evangelists, who record the miracle of the four thousand, apply the term σπυρίδες to the seven hampers mentioned in that miracle, Matthew 14:20; Mark 6:43; Luke 9:17; John 6:13 (so here also Matthew 16:9-10): and Matthew 15:37; Mark 8:8. Clearly, the two miracles were distinctly impressed on the minds of the Evangelists as distinct and real events; the circumstantial particulars peculiar to each miracle being noted with the accuracy of an eye-witness, even to the shape and size of the baskets. A teller of the tale, at third or fourth hand, would have lost this delicate mark of truth. Accordingly, our translators, who were not witnesses, have lost the point, their attention not being turned to the distinction, by rendering both alike baskets.—See Blunt Script. Coinc., p. 285.—ED.

Verse 10

Matthew 16:10. τῶν τετρακισχιλίων, of the four thousand) That which any one enjoys and uses may be said to be his.— ἐλάβετε, ye took) sc. for future food, as a compensation for the five and seven loaves which ye spent.

Verse 11

Matthew 16:11. πῶς, how) A particle expressing astonishment.—Cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 8:10.— οὐ περὶ ἄρτου, not concerning bread) The literal meaning is frequently more true and more sublime than the meaning of the letter; and where the latter treats of things natural, the former leads to things spiritual. In things spiritual, heavenly words ought to be taken more closely.

Verse 12

Matthew 16:12. συνῆκαν, they understood) Our Lord still left something to be understood by His disciples. He shows them what leaven did not mean in this passage; it was their part, when they heard what it was not, to gather what it must be. Thus also in ch. Matthew 17:13.— ἀπὸ τὴς διδακῆς, from that of the doctrine)(726) sc. from the leaven of the doctrine.(727) The word doctrine, in opposition to bread, is taken in a wide signification, so as to mean even hypocrisy. The leaven was this hypocritical doctrine.

Verse 13

Matthew 16:13. ἐλθὼν ἰησοῦς, κ. τ. λ., But when Jesus had come, etc.) A noticeable interval of time occurred between the things just narrated and those which are now declared.(728) The connection, therefore, of the passages is not close. The matters which follow took place a short time before our Lord’s Passion; and the shortness of this interval(729) assists the right interpretation of the promises made in Matthew 16:18; Matthew 16:28, and of the prohibition uttered in Matthew 16:20, ch. Matthew 17:9, etc.(730)καισαρείας, of Cœsarea) This very name, which had not heretofore been given to the towns of Palestine, might have warned all that the Jews were subject to Cæsar, that the sceptre had departed from Judah, and that the Messiah had therefore come. See, however, James Alting,(731) Schilo, pp. 147, 153. In Scriptural exegesis, the reader ought to place himself, as it were, in the time and place where the words were spoken, or the thing was done, and to consider the feelings(732) of the writer, the force of the words, and the context.— τῆς φιλίππου, Philippi) Thus the inland Cæsarea is distinguished from that on the sea-shore.(733)τίνα, whom) The disciples had profited by listening and inquiry; now their Master examines them by questioning, and gives an example of catechising.— τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the Son of Man) i.e. Me, whom I myself am wont to call the Son of Man. Peter gives the right antitheton [in his reply(734)], Matthew 16:16 : Thou art the Son of the living God.—Cf. John 5:19; John 5:27. This title, the Son of Man, which frequently occurs in the Evangelists, should be carefully observed: no one was so called but Christ Himself, and no one, whilst He walked on earth, so called Him except Himself. He first applies this appellation to Himself in John 1:51, when they were first found who acknowledged Him as the Messiah and the Son of God (ibid. John 1:50), and thenceforth very frequently, both before and after His prediction of His Passion. For they who expressed their faith in Him, called Him the Son of David. The Jews rightly suspected (John 12:34), that by this title He claimed to be the Messiah. For as the first Adam, with all his progeny, is called Man, so the second Adam (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) is called Son of Man, not with that notion with which בְּנֵי אָדָם (filii hominis), i.e. the weak, are opposed to בְּנֵי אִישׁ (filii viri), i.e. the powerful (in Psalms 49:2 (Psalms 48:2); or that in which men are called generally, sons of men (filii hominum), as in Mark 3:28; Ephesians 3:5; Ezekiel 2:1, etc.: but with the article, υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The article appears to refer to the prophecy of Daniel, Daniel 7:13. This, in sooth, is that One Man whom Adam, after the fall, expected by promise for his whole race: δεύτερος, the second (1 Corinthians 15:47), to whom every prophecy of the Old Testament pointed, who holds the rights and primogeniture of the whole human race (see Luke 3:23; Luke 3:38), and to whom alone we owe that we are not ashamed of the name of man: see Psalms 49(48):20, and cf. Romans 5:15. Moreover, our Lord, whilst walking amongst men, by this appellation, both expressed, and as suitable to the circumstances (pro economiâ) of that time, concealed amongst men (cf. ch. Matthew 22:45) and hid from Satan the fact that He was υἱὸς, the Son, absolutely so called, i.e. the Son of God promised and given to man, Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 9:6; and sprung from man, Hebrews 2:11; and at the same time, as it were, reminded Himself of His present condition, Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:7-8. In the same manner, He expressed both His crucifixion and His ascension by one word, ὑψωθῶ, I be lifted up, John 12:32. Neither is this appellation suited only to the state of His humiliation, but the expression, the Son of man, is used for every conspicuous situation of His, either in humiliation or exaltation; see John 12:34, and compare therewith, in the following verse, the light is with you. And it agrees with the very form of His body, as implying youth; see Daniel 7:13. Consider the following passages:—Matthew 16:27-28; ch. Matthew 12:32, Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 24:37; Matthew 24:39; Matthew 24:44, Matthew 25:31; Luke 17:22; John 12:23-36; John 5:27; Acts 7:56. Therefore also this appellation does not once occur in the whole of the twenty-one apostolic epistles, but instead of it, the appellation, the Son of God; for in Hebrews 2:6 the article is not added, and the words are those of David, not of St Paul, who yet frequently calls Christ both ἄνθρωπος (homo), and ἄνηρ (vir). See the Gnomon on Romans 5:15. And even in the Apocalypse Revelation 1:13 and Revelation 14:14, as long before in Daniel 7:13, that appellation is only alluded to, not actually applied to our Lord. The agreement of the apostles, even in the case of this single phrase, shows that they wrote by the same Divine inspiration.

Verse 14

Matthew 16:14. οἱ μὲνἄλλοι δὲἕτεροι δὲ, some—some—and others) It is not sufficient that we should know the various opinions of others, we ought ourselves to have a fixed faith, which then may make progress, even by the opinions of others, though vain in themselves.— ἰωάννην ἓνα τῶν προφητῶν, John—or one of the prophets) There is no need to refer this to the notion of a metempsychosis believed by the Pharisees; for they expected the return of Elias himself in person, who was not dead, or the resurrection of the others from the dead;(735) see ch. Matthew 14:2 : Luke 9:8; Luke 9:19.— ἰερε΄ίαν, Jeremiah) who was at that time expected by the Jews.— ἕνα, one) i.e. some one indefinitely. They did not think that anything greater could come than they had already had. They did not compare Jesus with Moses.

Verse 16

Matthew 16:16. ἀποκριθεὶς, answering) Peter everywhere, from the warmth of his disposition, took the lead among the apostles in speaking.— σίμων πέτρος, Simon Peter) On this solemn occasion his name and surname are joined. It is clear that Simon acknowledged, the Son of God more quickly and fully, and outshone his fellow-disciples.— σὺ εἶ, Thou art) He says firmly, Thou art, not I say that Thou art. It behoved that Peter should first believe this, and then hear it on the Mount of Transfiguration; see ch. Matthew 17:5. Peter had already uttered a similar confession; see John 6:69; but this is mentioned with greater distinction, since he delivered it after so many temptations,(736) on being so solemnly interrogated.— χριστὸς, υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος, the Christ, the Son of the living God) These two appellations, therefore, are not exactly synonymous, as John Locke(737) pretended, though the one is implied in the other (see Acts 9:20); and there is a gradation here; for the knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God is sublimer than that of Him as the Christ.

Verse 17

Matthew 16:17. ΄ακάριος, blessed) This word signifies a condition not only blessed, but at the same time rare; see ch. Matthew 13:16. Jesus had not previously told His disciples explicitly that He was the Christ. He had done and said those things by which, through the revelation of the Father, they might recognise Him as the Christ.— σίμων βὰρ ἰωνᾶ, Simon Bar-jona) This express naming signifies that the Lord knoweth them that are His, and recalls to Peters remembrance that sample of omniscience which had been given to him in John 1:42; cf. ibid. Matthew 21:15.(738)σὰρξ καὶ αἷ΄α, flesh and blood) i.e. any man whatsover; flesh and blood are put by metonymy(739) for body and soul: see Ephesians 6:12; Galatians 1:16. No mortal at that time knew this truth before Peter; see Matthew 16:14.— οὐκ ἀπεκάλυψε, hath not revealed) The knowledge of Christ is not obtained except by Divine revelation; see ch. Matthew 11:27.— πατήρ ΄ου, κ. τ. λ., My Father, etc.) By these words the sum and substance of Peter’s confession is repeated and confirmed. The heavenly Father had revealed it to Peter by the teaching of Jesus Christ, and thus inscribed it on the apostle’s heart.

Verse 18

Matthew 16:18. σὺ εἶ πέτρος, thou art Peter) This corresponds with great beauty to the words, Thou art the Christ.(740)πέτρος, πέτρα, Peter—rock) πέτρος elsewhere signifies a stone; but in the case of Simon, a rock. It was not fitting that such a man should be called πέτρα, with a feminine termination; on the other hand, St Matthew would gladly have written ἐπὶ τούτῳ τῷ πέτρῳ, if the idiom would have allowed it; wherefore these two, πέτρα and πέτρος, stand for one name and thing, as both words are expressed in Syriac by the one noun, Kepha. Peter is here used as a proper name; for it is not said, Thou shalt be, but, Thou art; and yet the appellative is at the same time openly declared to denote a rock. The Church of Christ is certainly(741) (Revelation 21:14) built on the apostles, inasmuch as they were the first believers, and the rest have been added through their labours; in which matter a certain especial prerogative was conspicuous in the case of Peter, without damage to the equality of apostolic authority; for he first converted many Jews (Acts 2), he first admitted the Gentiles to the Gospel (Acts 10.(742)) He moreover was especially commanded to strengthen his brethren, and to feed the sheep and lambs of the Lord. Nor can we imagine that this illustrious surname, elsewhere commonly attributed to Christ Himself, who is also called the Rock, could without the most important meaning have been bestowed on Peter, who in the list of the apostles is called first, and always put in the first place; see Matthew 10:2; see also 1 Peter 2:4-7. All these things are said with safety, for what have they to do with Rome?(743) Let the Roman rock beware, lest it fall under the censure of Matthew 16:23.— καὶ, κ. τ. λ., and, etc.) A most magnificent promise, including, in different ways, the gates of hell, the kingdom of heaven, and the earth.— οἰκοδομήσω, I will build) He does not say, on this rock I WILL FOUND for Peter, nevertheless, is not the foundation. The wise build on a rock; see ch. Matthew 7:24.— ΄ου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, My Church) A magnificent expression concerning Jesus, not occurring elsewhere in the Gospels.— πύλαι ᾅδου, the gates of hell) The word πύλαι (gates) occurs here without the article. Heaven is in the next verse put in opposition to τῷ ᾅδη, hell, which occurs here, as in ch. Matthew 11:23. Hell has no power against faith; faith has power with reference to heaven.(744) The gates of hell (as elsewhere, the gates of death) are named also in Isaiah 38:10; Wisdom of Solomon 16:13. Hell, ᾅδης, is exceedingly strong (see Song of Solomon 8:6); how much more its gates? The metaphor in “gates” is of an architectural kind, as in the expressions, “I will build” and “the keys” The Christian Church is like a city without walls, and yet the gates of hell, which assail it, shall never prevail. The defences of hell, and the fortifications of the world, corresponding to them, are here intended; as, for instance, the Otto man Porte, and Rome, where Erasmus Schmidt(745) thinks that the mouth of hell is; that it was opened in the time of Marcus Curtius, and will be opened again hereafter, when the prophecy in Revelation 19:20 is fulfilled. “Rome,” he says, “is situated very near those parts of Italy where, before the foundation of Rome, Homer makes his Ulysses descend to hell, and where, after the foundation of Rome, without the intervention of any great distance, Virgil makes his Æneas do the same. But lest I should appear to wish to plead on poetical credit (although these poetical assertions may be regarded like the prediction of Caiaphas), attend to historical testimony:—In the middle of the Roman Forum, once upon a time, if we are to credit Livy and other Roman writers, the hell, which you (Papists) place in the bowels of the earth, opened its mouth, and that chasm could not be filled up with any amount of earth thrown in, until Marcus Curtius, armed, and on horseback, leapt in—in order, forsooth, that as the heaven received Enoch and Elijah alive, so hell might receive this Curtius alive, as the first fruits, by these gates of hell then opened in the middle of the Roman Forum, which will, without doubt, again be opened by Divine power, when the beast and the false prophet shall be cast alive into the lake of fire burning with sulphur, as is foretold in Revelation 19:20.”

“Even to heaven.”—ED.

Verse 19

Matthew 16:19. δώσω σοὶ,(746) I will give thee) The future tense. Christ Himself, after His glorification, received the keys economically.(747) See Revelation 1:18, and German exposition of the Apocalypse. Our Lord afterwards gave the keys, which He here promised, to Peter, not alone, but first in order of time (cf. Luke 5:10); since Peter was the first who, after the resurrection of Christ, exercised the apostolical office; see Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14. If the keys had been given exclusively to Peter, and the Bishop of Rome after him, and not to the other apostles also, even after the death of Peter, the Bishop of Rome should have acted as pastor to the other apostles.— τὰς κλεῖς, the keys) Keys denote authority. Tertullian, in his work on fasting, ch. 15, says, Apostolus claves macelli tibi tradidit: the apostle(748) has given thee the keys of the meat market, where he alludes to 1 Corinthians 10:25. The keys are available for two purposes, to close and to open; the keys themselves are not said to be two.(749) One and the same key closes and opens in Revelation 3:7. The Jews declare that a thousand keys were given to Enoch. See James Alting’s Hist. promot. acad. Hebr. p. 107.— τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, of the kingdom of heaven) He does not say of the Church, nor of the kingdoms of the world.— δήσης, λύσης, thou shalt bind—thou shalt loose) The keys denote the whole office of Peter. By the expressions, therefore, of binding and loosing,(750) are comprehended all those things which Peter performed in virtue of the name of Jesus Christ, and through faith in that name, by his apostolic authority, by teaching, convincing, exhorting, forbidding, permitting (see Tertullian, already quoted), consoling, remitting (see Matthew 18:18; Matthew 18:15; John 20:23); by healing, as in Acts 3:7; Acts 9:34; by raising from the dead, as in Acts 9:41 (cf. ibid. Acts 2:24); by punishing, ibid. Matthew 5:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5; he himself records, in Acts 15:8, an instance of a matter performed on earth and sanctioned in heaven. It is advisable to compare with this passage that in Matthew 18:18, and with both of them the third in John 20:23. In this passage, to Peter alone, after uttering his confession concerning Jesus Christ, the authority is promised, first of binding, and secondly of loosing sins, and whatsoever is included under that authority; and this is done as it were enigmatically, it not being expressed what things were to be bound and loosed, because the disciples were not yet capable of understanding so wonderful a matter; see Luke 9:54. In chapter 18, after our Lord’s transfiguration, the disciples, who had made some progress in faith, are invested in common with the authority, first of binding, and secondly of loosing, the offences of their brethren, but most especially of loosing them by prayers in the name of Christ. In John 20, after His resurrection, our Lord having breathed upon His disciples, gives them the authority, firstly of remitting, and secondly of retaining sins; for thus are the words and their order(751) changed after the opening of the gate of salvation. The greatest part of the apostolic authority regards sins (cf. Hosea 13:12). The remaining particulars are contained in this discourse by synecdoche. It is not foreign to our present purpose to compare a passage of Aristophanes as to the use of the verb λύειν—Frogs; Act ii. scene 6, Epirrhema(752) [Ed. Dindorf, 691],— αἰτίαν ἐκθεῖσι, λυσαι τὰς πρότερον ἁμαρτίας ( χρή)—i.e.” we ought to forgive (or remit) the faults of those who explain the cause of them.”

“The keys of the market,” i.e. the free use of authority to buy and eat whatever meat is sold in it.—ED.

‘Œconomice,’ in conformity with the Mediatorial economy, which appertains to Him.—ED.

Ba, Rec. Text, Origen 3,525a, 529d, 530a, support δώσω σοί. Dbc Vulg. Cypr. support σοὶ δώσω—ED.

Verse 20

Matthew 16:20. ΄ηδενὶ, to no one) Jesus had not, even to His apostles, said that He was the Christ, but He left it that they might discover it themselves from the testimony of facts. It was not suitable, therefore, that that should be openly told by the apostles to others before His resurrection, which was to corroborate the whole testimony to the fact of His being the Christ.(753) For he who injudiciously propounds a mystery to those who do not comprehend it, injures both himself and others. Had they done so, those who believed in any way that Jesus was the Christ might have sought for an earthly kingdom with seditious uproar; whilst the rest, and by far the greater number, might have rejected such a Messiah at that time more vehemently, and have been guilty of greater sin in crucifying Him, so as to have had the door of repentance less open to them for the future. Afterwards,(754) the apostles openly bore witness to this truth.— χριστὸς, the Christ) Soon after the disciples had acknowledged and confessed that Jesus was the Christ, He exhibited to them His transfiguration (ch. Matthew 17:1-5), and openly spoke of Himself among them as the Christ; see Mark 9:41, and John 17:3.

Verse 21

Matthew 16:21. ἀπὸ τότε, at that time and thenceforwardἤρξατο, κ. τ. λ., began, etc.) It is clear, therefore, that He had not shown it them before.(755) The Gospel may be divided into two parts, from which the Divine plan of Jesus shines forth. The first proposition is, Jesus is the Christ; the second, Christ must suffer, die, and rise again (cf. John 16:30-32), or more briefly, Christ by death will enter into glory. Jesus first convinced His disciples of the first proposition (de subjecto):(756) in consequence of which they were bound to believe Him concerning the second (de prædicato), even before His passion. After His ascension, the people first learnt the second proposition (prædicatum), and thence were convinced of the first (de subjecto); see Acts 17:3. As soon as Jesus had persuaded His disciples of the first proposition (Matthew 16:16), He added the second.(757) Afterwards He led them to the mountain of Transfiguration.(758) The order of the evangelic harmony is of great importance with regard to the observing of these things. Men frequently teach all things at once: Divine wisdom acts far otherwise.— δεικνύειν, to show), i.e. openly.— ὅτι δεῖ αὐτὸν ἀπελθεῖν, that He must go) and at the same time relinquish that mode of living to which the disciples had become habituated.— παθεῖν, to suffer) When aught of glory accrued to Jesus, as in this instance by the confession of Peter, then He was especially wont to make mention of His approaching passion. This first announcement mentions His passion and death generally; the second, in ch. Matthew 17:22-23, adds His being betrayed into the hands of sinners; the third, in ch. Matthew 20:17-19, at length expresses His stripes, cross, etc. The first was nearer in point of time to the second, than the second to the third.— πρεσβυτέρων, ἀρχιερέων, γραμματέων, elders—chief priests—scribes) Three classes of those who ought to have led the people to the Messiah; corresponding nearly to the Council of Justice, the Consistory, and the Theological Faculty of modern times.— ἐγερθῆναι, to be raised) He adds nothing yet of His ascension. By degrees, all further and later particulars are disclosed; see Matthew 16:27.

Verse 22

Matthew 16:22. προσλαβόμενος, taking hold of) as if he had a right to do so. He acted with greater familiarity after his declaration of acknowledgment. Jesus however reduces him to his proper level; cf. Luke 9:28; Luke 9:48-49; Luke 9:54-55.— πέτρος, Peter) The same mentioned in Matthew 16:16.(759) Reason endures more easily the general proposition concerning the person of Christ, than the word of the Cross. Sudden changes occur in Peter, in Matthew 16:16; Matthew 16:22, and ch. Matthew 17:4. Thence he bears witness from experience to the truth, that we are preserved by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5), not our own.— ἤρξατο, he began) He had received the other doctrines without making any objection.— ἵλεως σοι, propitious unto Thee) sc. May God be. An abbreviated formulary. Thus in 1 Maccabees 2:21, we meet with ἵλεως ἡμῖν καταλιπεῖν νόμον, God forbid that we should forsake the law. And thus the LXX. sometimes express the Hebrew חלילה.(760)

Verse 23

Matthew 16:23. ὓπαγε, depart) It is not your place to take hold of and rebuke Me. By how much the more He had declared Peter blessed, by so much the more does He now reprove him who was previously prepared by faith to digest the reproof, in order that He may both correct him and preserve the other disciples; see Matthew 16:24.— ὀπίσω ΄ου, behind Me(761)) out of My sight. He had commanded Satan to do the same; see ch. Matthew 4:10.— σατανᾶ, Satan) an appellative. Cf. John 6:70, where our Lord says, concerning Judas Iscariot, καὶ ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν, and one of you is a devil.—But cf. Gnomon on Revelation 12:9.—Peter thought himself very kind when he said ἵλεως, κ. τ. λ., but yet he is called Satan for so doing. Cf. 2 Samuel 19:22, where שטן signifies one who puts himself in the way as a hinderance.(762)σκάνδαλόν ΄ου, My stumbling-block(763)) i.e. thou dost not only stumble or take offence at My words, but, if it were possible, thou wouldst furnish Me with a hurtful stumbling-block by thy words. This is said with the utmost force, and declares the reason of our Lord’s swift severity towards Peter.(764) If anything could have been able to touch the soul of Jesus, the words of the disciple would have been more dangerous than the assaults of the tempter, mentioned in the fourth chapter of this Gospel. Cf. Gnomon on Hebrews 4:15.—Rock and stumbling-block (LAPIS offensionis, lit. stumbling STONE) are put antithetically. Our Lord sends away behind Him the stumbling-block placed before His feet.— τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, the things of God) sc. the precious word of the Cross. The perception of Jesus is always divine.(765)τῶν ἀνθρώπων of men) the same as flesh and blood in Matthew 16:17.

Verse 24

Matthew 16:24. θέλει, κ. τ. λ., wishes, etc.) No one is compelled; but if he wishes to do so, he must submit to the conditions.— ὀπίσω ΄ου ἐλθεῖν, to come after Me) This denotes the state and profession, as ἀκολουθείτω (let him follow) does the duty, of a disciple.(766)ἀπαρνησάσθω, let him abnegate, or utterly deny) Weigh well the force of the word in ch. Matthew 26:70. To abnegate is to renounce oneself. Thus, in Titus 2:12, we have the simple word ἀρνεῖσθαι, to deny; in Luke 14:33, ἀποτάσσεσθαι, to set apart from himself—to bid farewell to, or forsake. These expressions are contrasted with ὁμολογία confession, or accordant profession; see Hebrews 10:23.(767)καὶ ἀκολουθείτω ΄οι, and follow Me) that he may be where I am.

Verse 25

Matthew 16:25. θέλῃσῶσαι, shall wish—to save) It is not said, “shall save, ψυχὴν, soul) The soul is the man in his animal and human capacity.— σῶσαι, to save) sc. naturally.— ἀπολέσει, shall lose) sc. spiritually, or even corporeally.— ἀπολέσῃ, will lose) sc. naturally, having cast away all egoism(768) by self-abnegation. It is not said, shall wish to lose.— ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, for My sake) This is the object of self-abnegation: but many from other causes lose their lives, sc. for their own sake, or that of the world.— εὑρήσει, shall find) In St Mark and St Luke σώσει, it is shall save, shall save sc. spiritually, or even corporeally. The world is full of danger. The soul that is saved is something that has been found.

Verse 26

Matthew 16:26. τὸν κόσμον ὅλον, the whole world) No one has ever yet gained the whole world; yet, if he should gain it, what would it profit him?— ψυχὴν, soul) True wisdom refers everything to the interest of the soul; false, to that of the body.— τί δώσει, what shall he give?) The world is not enough.(769)ἀντάλλαγμα, as an equivalent, lat. redhostimentum) which ought not to be of less value than the soul for which it is given.

Verse 27

Matthew 16:27. ΄έλλει ἔρχεσθαι, is about to come) A stronger expression than ἐλεύσεται will come. As the teaching concerning the person of Christ is immediately followed by that concerning His Cross, so is the latter by that concerning His glory.— τότε, then) All things are put off till then.— ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ, He will render to each individual) This is the attribute of Divine Majesty; see Romans 2:6.(770)πρᾶξιν, action, conduct, doing) The word is put in the singular, for the whole life of man is one doing.(771)

Verse 28

Matthew 16:28. τινὲς, some) Our Lord does not mention them by name; and it was profitable for them not to know that they were the persons meant.(772) Peter then scarcely hoped that he would be one of them.— ὧδε, here) A strikingly demonstrative particle.— ἓως ἄν ἴδωσι, until they see) Something is indicated which was to happen, but not immediately (otherwise all, or nearly all, would have lived to that time), but yet something which would take place in that generation of men. This term (terminus) or period has various intervals: the vision, or seeing, various degrees up to the death of those who saw it, which followed at various times: cf. in Luke 2:26, the expression πρὶν ἴδη, before he had seen, used with regard to Simeon. And the advent of the Son of Man advanced another step before the death of James (see Acts 2:36), and passim till Matthew 12:2, and cf. Hebrews 2:5-7); another before the death of Peter (see 2 Peter 1:14; 2 Peter 1:19, and Luke 21:31); another, and that the highest, before the death of John, in the most magnificent revelation of His coming, which the beloved disciple has himself described (see Gnomon on John 21:22); a revelation to which the event foretold will correspond; see Matthew 16:27, and ch. Matthew 26:64. And a previous proof of this matter was given in a week(773) from this time on the Mount of Transfiguration; and, at the same time, out of all the disciples those were chosen who should most especially see it. It is beyond question, that those three(774) who witnessed our Lord’s transfiguration were peculiarly favoured with reference to the subsequent manifestations of His glory. This saying of our Lord appears to have been referred to, but not rightly understood, by those who imagined that the last day was near at hand.— τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενον, the Son of Man coming) His conspicuous coming to judgment (see Gnomon on Matthew 16:13) is meant, which would begin to follow immediately after His ascension.(775)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 16:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology