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Bible Commentaries

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew
Matthew 16

 

 

Verse 29

Matthew 15:29 to Matthew 16:4.
Jesus Feeds The Four Thousand, Southeast Of The Lake, And Returns To Galilee

This is found also in Mark 7:31 to Mark 8:13. And Jesus departed from thence. We have no means of knowing how long he stayed in the country of Tyre; certainly not very long, for all the journeys of Matthew 15-18 occupied less than six months. (See on "Matthew 15:1", and see on "Matthew 19:1".) Mark (Mark 7:31) says, in the correct text, that, 'he went out from the borders of Tyre, and came through Sidon unto the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis.' This shows that in leaving the territory of Tyre he went northwards through the territory of Sidon, or through the city itself, the expression being in this case ambiguous. We have no information concerning the rest of his sojourn in Phoenicia. Next, he must have passed eastward across the Jordan, and then southward, until, going through the district of the Ten Cities, Decapolis (see on "Matthew 4:25"), he came to the shores of the lake, somewhere-on its southeastern border. (For description of the Lake of Galilee, see on "Matthew 4:18".) This region also was out of Herod's jurisdiction, like those to which he had previously withdrawn. (Matthew 13:13, Matthew 15:21) The desire to keep out of Herod's territory at that time may have caused him to take the circuit just described, instead of going direct from Tyre through Galilee and crossing the lake. He appears not to have stopped in the neighbourhood of Cesarea Philippi, probably through desire to revisit the environs of the lake; but soon the malignant attack of the Pharisees and Sadducees will make him go away again. (Matthew 16:4) He was now in the vicinity of Gadara (one of the Ten Cities), the same region in which he had healed the two demoniacs, and suffered the legion of evil spirits to destroy the swine. (Matthew 8:28 ff.) This time his ministry produces a greater impression, perhaps through the testimony of the restored demoniac. (Luke 8:39) Persons from Decapolis had followed him long before. (Matthew 4:25) And went up into a (the) mountain, the mountain range running along east of the lake. (Compare John 6:3) The mountain of Matthew 5:1 was on the western side of the lake. The more northern part of this easterly range was the place of feeding the Five Thousand (see on "Matthew 14:13"), and now a similar miracle is wrought on its more southern part. And sat down there, the usual posture of a teacher. (See on "Matthew 5:1".)

Matthew 15:30 f. Here, seated on a point in the mountain range, probably in view of the lake, he wrought many miracles of healing, and again fed the multitudes. In this case a large proportion of those present must have been Gentiles, as the Ten Cities were more a Gentile than a Jewish district. He must have spent at least several days in this region, since it required some time for his presence to become generally known, and the Four Thousand had been 'three days' (Matthew 15:32) in close attendance on his ministry. Great multitudes, literally, many crowds, as in so many other passages. We have here another general account of numerous miracles. (Compare Matthew 4:23, Matthew 8:16, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 12:15 f.) One of those wrought at this time and place was tile healing of a deaf and dumb man, described by Mark alone. (Mark 7:32-37) The order of the words lame, blind, etc., (Matthew 15:30) varies greatly in different documents, having doubtless been affected by Matthew 15:31; but this is a matter of no consequence. The word rendered maimed signifies crooked, bent, contracted; it is sometimes applied to cases of mutilation, the loss of some part of the body, (Matthew 18:8) which is the meaning of our word maimed, but is not often so used, and probably the best English word here would be 'crippled.' Malchus' ear (Matthew 25:31) is the only recorded instance of our Lord's miraculously restoring a missing part of the body. And many others. The kinds of diseases were so numerous that they could not all be named. Matthew appears to have selected those associated with predictions of Messiah. (See on "Matthew 11:5".)

Cast them down at his feet, implies not carelessness, but hurry and bustle amid the crowd of applicants. 'His feet' was easily changed by copyists into 'the feet of Jesus.' (Compare on Matthew 14:14)(1) The dumb to speak; speaking, etc., is the literal translation. (So Wyc.) And they glorified the God of Israel. In Matthew 9:8 it is simply 'and they glorified God.' But it was natural to mention that these heathen people glorified 'the God of Israel.'

Matthew 15:32-38. Compare on the similar feeding of the Five Thousand, Matthew 14:15-21. I have compassion, as in Matthew 9:36. Three days. They had no doubt brought some food with them, which was now exhausted. They showed great zeal to see and hear and be healed, remaining so long in the thinly inhabited region, sleeping on the ground two nights in the open air, living on the food brought with them, and slow to leave when it was gone. And I will not (or am not willing to) send them away fasting. ('I would not,' Rev. Ver., is hardly an improvement upon 'I will not'; it removes a possible ambiguity, but seems to suggest a condition.) Some of them were from a distance. (Mark 8:3) His (the) disciples, (Matthew 15:33) 'his' being easily added from Matthew 9:32. So much bread, literally, so many loaves, for the Greek is plural. In the wilderness, or a desert place, a wild country with few inhabitants, see on "Matthew 14:13" and see on "Matthew 3:1". Only a region containing large towns could at short notice furnish food for such a multitude, and this wild country was a good many miles from the nearest cities of Decapolis. A few little fishes. The diminutive form emphasizes the fact that the supply was meagre; in Matthew 15:36 it is the common word for 'fishes.' Here again the people are commanded to recline on the ground, and probably in companies and rows as before, (Mark 6:39 f.) though nothing is here laid of it. Seven baskets full In this case the number of baskets corresponds to the number of loaves; in the previous case (Matthew 14:20) to the number of apostles. Euthym.: "Showing that it is easy for him to do as he wishes." In Mark 8:19 f. our Lord seems to treat it as a matter of importance that such a quantity of broken pieces remained in each case. Beside women and children, mentioned by Matt. only, as before in Matthew 14:21.

This miracle is recorded both by Matthew and Mark, and the former miraculous feeding by all four of the Evangelists. And shortly after, (Matthew 16:9) we find it recorded both by Matt. and Mark that our Lord referred to the two miracles as separately teaching the same lesson. This conclusively shows that strikingly similar events did occur in our Lord's history, a thing to be remembered with reference to the two visits to Nazareth, the two instances of cleansing the temple, the two women who anointed Jesus, the parable of the pounds and that of the talents, etc, where it happens that the two events or discourses are recorded only by different Evangelists; and some expositors jump to the conclusion that they are nothing but varying and conflicting accounts of the same matter. If the feeding of five thousand with five loaves had been recorded only by one Gospel, and that of four thousand with seven loaves only by one or two others, it would have been most confidently asserted that these were the same miracle. Let us neither be nervous harmonizers, nor eager to assume that harmonizing is impossible. It is worth observing how natural in these two miracles are the points of agreement, and how striking are some of the differences. It was natural that the situation should in both cases be the wild country, where sufficient food could not be obtained from ordinary Sources; that the kind of food multiplied should be that which was common on the shores of the lake; that Jesus should 'bless' or 'give thanks' before breaking the bread, according to custom, and should distribute the food by the help of the disciples, a matter of obvious convenience and propriety. On the other hand, the precise locality in the wild country is different in the two cases; there is now, in the parched summer, no mention of reclining on the grass, as Matthew, Mark, and John, all mention in the former case, when it was spring; the supply of food is here greater than before, while the number of persons is smaller; the people here have remained three days; in the other case only one day. There is also a slight, but quite remarkable difference as to the word rendered 'basket.' This is in all four Gospels in the first miracle, and (or sphuris) in both Gospels here; and in the subsequent mention of these miracles (Matthew 16:9 f.; Mark 6:19 f.) it is again in both Gospels with reference to the first, and spurious with reference to the second miracle. We do not know the precise difference between the two words, but the careful observance of the distinction throughout, strikingly shows how entirely distinct the two miracles were. Origen and Chrys. suppose that the spurious was somewhat large, and this seems confirmed by its use in lowering Paul from the wall of Damascus, (Acts 9:25) while the appears to have been a small provision basket, such as a Jew on a journey commonly carried with him (see on "Matthew 14:20"). The disciples may have now had these large baskets because they had been making a long journey.

The strange thing about this second miracle is the fact that the apostles do not recur (Matthew 15:33) to the former miraculous feeding, which took place but a short time before. Many critics have thought this utterly inexplicable, and on this ground have denied the reality of the second miracle, though explicitly and repeatedly affirmed. But let us remember. Our Lord had sternly rebuked the crowd who shared in the previous feeding for following him the next day with the hope of being fed again, (John 6:2) and had been much displeased at the popular determination produced by that miracle to make him a king. Nay, he had hurried tile disciples themselves unwillingly away, partly, it is probable, because they sympathized with this popular design. (See on "Matthew 14:22".) In this state of things the disciples might naturally doubt whether lie would repeat a miracle which had been formerly attended by such undesirable results, and might at any rate feel great delicacy about suggesting the idea that he should do so. (Compare Mark 9:32, "were afraid to ask him.") But as soon as he intimates such an intention, by asking how many loaves they have, they express no surprise nor doubt, but go on to carry out the details.

And he sent away the multitudes, see on "Matthew 14:22"f. And took ship, literally, entered into the boat, see on "Matthew 4:21". The boat which they were accustomed to use may have been brought from Capernaum, while they were staying here on the S. E. side. Into the coasts of Magdala, or orders of Magadan.(1) This is unquestionably the correct reading, which was early changed to Magdala, a familiar name, easily connecting itself with Mary Magdalene. The position of Magadan is unknown, as is that of Dalmaimtha. (Mark 8:10) They appear to have been on the western side of the lake, being reached by boat frets the other side, and especially because from them the party crossed to the northeastern side. (Matthew 16:5, Mark 8:13)

Jesus Feeds The Four Thousand, Southeast Of The Lake, And Returns To Galilee, Continued

Matthew 16:1. That which follows occurred at Magadan, somewhere on the western side of the lake. The Pharisees also, with the Sadducees. Here, as in Matthew 3:7, there is but one article (literally, the Pharisees and Sadducees), presenting the Sadducees as accompanying the Pharisees, and perhaps as of less importance; so also in Matthew 16:6, Matthew 16:11 f. The Sadducees appear only three times in the Gospel history; (1) witnessing the baptism of John, Matthew 8:7, (2) tempting Jesus here, (3) tempting him, not at the same time with the Pharisees, but separately, in Matthew 22:23. (Mark 12:18, Luke 20:27) They are also spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 16:6, Matthew 16:11 f., and are mentioned nowhere else in the Gospels. Only a few weeks before, and not more than a few miles away, Jesus had severely censured the Pharisees as hypocrites and violators of God's word (Matthew 15:6-7) and had spoken of them as blind guides of the people, unworthy of notice. Yet the dissembled hostility here indicated was not first awakened by that censure, for they had already accused him of being in league with Beelzebub. (Matthew 12:24) Some critics think it incredible that Sadducees should have come with Pharisees. But they were temporarily united by common hostility to Jesus. Compare Herod and Pilate, Luke 23:12, and Psalms 2:2. Tempting (American Revisers would render 'trying him'), testing him (compare on Matthew 4:1, Matthew 4:7), with the hope that he will not stand the test, will not be able to show the sign; compare Matthew 19:3, Matthew 22:18, Matthew 22:35. The Scribes and Pharisees had asked a sign from him in Matthew 12:38, and were refused. Now the Pharisees and Sadducees make a similar demand specifically for a 'sign from heaven' (so also Mark 8:11), and get (Matthew 16:4) exactly the same refusal as before. (Matthew 12:39) They might be thinking of such signs as when Moses gave bread from heaven, (Psalms 78:23 ff.; John 6:30 f.) Joshua made the sun and moon stand still, Samuel brought thunder and rain in time of harvest, Elijah repeatedly called down fire from heaven, and at Isaiah' s word the shadow went back on the dial; compare Joel 2:30 ff. Origen conjectures that they regarded signs on earth as wrought in Beelzebul. (Matthew 12:24) Probably some Jews really expected celestial signs of Messiah's approach; but the present request was made from bad motives. Jesus promised "great signs from heaven" in connection with his second coming, (Matthew 24:29 f.; Luke 21:11, Luke 21:25; compare Revelation 15:1) and predicted that the false Christs would show great signs. (Matthew 24:24)

Matthew 16:2 f. This passage (except the opening words, He answered and said unto them), is quite certainly not a part of Matt. It is wanting in a number of the earliest documents (MSS., versions and Fathers);(1) no reason can be imagined for its omission, and it may readily have come from Luke 12:54-56, where the closing and principal expression is substantially the same, and the difference consists simply in using other signs of the weather. As the passage is retained by Rev. Ver., we mention that Wet. cites from Greek and Roman writers, these and various other signs of the weather; and that these signs hold good in England and in our country, being expressed by the saying, "Red sky at night is the shepherd's delight; Red sky in the morning is the shepherd's warning," which probably came to us from England. The signs of the times (seasons) would be the various indications then observable that the Messianic epoch was at hand, indications in the civil and religious condition of Israel, the fulfilment of Messianic prophecies, and the miracles wrought by Jesus and his followers. The other terms of the passage as inserted in Matt. call for no explanation. Even of the documents containing the passage, several of the best omit hypocrites, (Matthew 16:3) evidently drawn from Luke 12:56.

Matthew 16:4. This repeats his former reply to a similar demand, Matthew 12:38-40, and so on probably a later occasion, Luke 11:29 f. Some critics cannot believe that Jesus would several times repeat the same thing; but see Int. to Matthew 5. Of the prophet Jonas, or, Jonah. To Jonah was easily added 'the prophet' (common Greek text) from Matthew 12:39. Mark (Mark 8:12) records only the general refusal to give a sign, without mentioning the exception, the sign of Jonah, and states that in replying he "sighed deeply in his spirit." Jesus is beginning to find it hard to endure such perverse and malignant opposition. (compare Matthew 17:17) Left them and departed. (compare Matthew 21:17) Bengel: "Just severity." One of our Lord' s reasons for previously withdrawing from Galilee had been the hostility of the Pharisees (see on "Matthew 15:21"). So now again he withdraws to the neighbourhood of Cesarea Philippi, the region farthest removed from Jerusalem and its hypocritical and malignant parties. (Matthew 15:1) It is not likely that he remained at Magadan longer than a day or two.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 15:29-31. New fields and new labours; compare Acts 10:38.

Matthew 15:32. Ryle: "It is a curious and striking fact that of all the feelings expressed by our Lord upon earth, there is none so often mentioned as compassion. His joy, his sorrow, his thankfulness, his anger, his wonder, his zeal, are all occasionally recorded. But none of these feelings are so frequently mentioned as compassion." Henry: "Our Lord Jesus keeps an account how long his followers continue their attendance on him, and takes notice of the difficulty they sustain in it." (Revelation 2:2)

Matthew 15:33. Henry: "Forgetting former experience leaves us under present doubts."Matthew 16:1. Origen: "Often now also we see persons who hold the most discordant opinions in philosophy or other matters, seeming to harmonize that they may mock at and war against Jesus Christ in his disciples."

Matthew 16:1, Matthew 16:4. Signs. (1) Even our Lord's early signs convinced Nicodemus and his friends. (John 3:2) (2) The many signs of the next two years did not satisfy malignant opposers (Matthew 16:1), and were even ascribed by them to Beelzebul. (Matthew 12:24) (3) Captious demands for special signs he always refused. (Matthew 16:4; compare Luke 4:23) (4) Even the sign of Jonah (Matthew 16:4), when it came in his resurrection, while a conclusive proof, was rejected by many. (Matthew 28:15, Acts 25:19) (5) Even years afterwards the Jews demanded fresh signs, but the 'called' found Christ crucified the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:22 ff.)


Verses 5-20

Matthew 16:5-20.
Jesus Withdraws To The Neighbourhood Of Cesarea Philippi. Peter's Great Confession

This is found also in Mark 8:13-30, and the latter part in Luke 9:18-21. Luke has passed over everything since the feeding of the five thousand, and here also is very brief. This is the last and most important of our Lord's four withdrawals from Galilee during the last six months of his ministry in thai region, (compare Matthew 14:13, Matthew 15:21, Matthew 15:29) and will continue to, Matthew 17:20.

I. Matthew 15:5-12. Conversation On The Way

To the other side, of the lake, as in Matthew 8:18-28, Matthew 14:22, always meaning the eastern side Mark presently mentions (Matthew 8:22) that they came to Bethsaida (viz., Julias), and afterwards went to Cesarea Philippi. So the first point reached by boat was on the northeastern side of the lake. Forgotten; rather forgot (Wyc., Rheims), is the literal translation, natural here in English and still more so in Greek. It probably means that they forgot in preparing the boat, and on reaching the other side became aware of the forgetting; or it may mean that upon landing they forgot to supply themselves for the journey. To take bread—or loaves—except a single one (Mark), which amounted to nothing. The seven great baskets of fragments from the miracle were probably given to the multitude for future use, or to the poor of Magadan. After discovering their negligence and destitution, the disciples felt an annoyance which led them to a singular blunder. Jesus meantime was thinking of the Pharisees and Sadducees, from whose obduracy and malignity he had just with drawn. (Matthew 16:4) These great politico-religious parties (see on "Matthew 3:7") had immense influence. The disciples had been reared to respect them, and so Jesus takes occasion to give a warning against their teachings and influence. The leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Mark has (Mark 8:15) 'the leaven of the Phar., and the leaven of Herod.' Some have "inferred" that Herod Antipas was a Sadducee, notwithstanding in Matthew 14:2 he expressed belief that John the Baptist was risen from the dead. But Mark has also omitted the Sadducees in Mark 8:11, as to asking a sign from heaven, and indeed mentions them only in Mark 12:18. This fact will account for his omitting them here. We thus understand that besides the Phar. and Sadd. Jesus spoke also of Herod, whose jealousy (Matthew 14:2) had been one cause of his repeatedly withdrawing from Galilee, even as now again he is going to the dominions of the tetrarch Philip. Mark's expression indicates the leaven of Herod as distinct from that of the Phar. Matthew by not repeating 'leaven,' and by having only one article (see on "Matthew 16:1"), suggests something common to the Phar. and Sadd., not necessarily some common tenet or specific teaching, but a common hurtful tendency. It is therefore idle to say that Jesus is here represented as confounding the rival parties. Nor is this passage in conflict with Matthew 23:8, for much of what the Scribes and Phar. taught was correct, and proper to be observed. Leaven was regarded in the law as symbolically impure, (Exodus 34:25, Leviticus 2:11) and hence the figure in 1 Corinthians 5:6 f. and here; see also Luke 12:1, where it is used in a different connection, and probably on a later occasion. The disciples were in no mood for figurative and spiritual meanings of words (compare John 4:10 ff.; John 6:26). They took it all literally, supposing that the Master had observed their lack of bread, and was cautioning them not to purchase any loaves made with the kind of leaven used by the Phar. and Sadd. This seems to the modern mind a strange and almost impossible notion; but it was just such a matter as the Rabbis made much of. The Talmud contains discussions as to whether it was right to use Gentile leaven. (Lightf.)(1) So the disciples reproach themselves. Because we have taken no bread (loaves), is an abrupt phrase natural to persons disconcerted. The word rendered in Com. Ver. (and Rev. Ver. margin) 'because' is very often the mere 'that' after a verb of saying, which in English is not used when the exact words are quoted. It is best so to understand here (Rev. Ver.) but the marginal rendering is quite possible, and is preferred by Meyer.

Matthew 16:8-12. The Master rebukes them for supposing that he was concerning himself about kinds of food. A few weeks or months before, he had said, (Matthew 15:1) "Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man"; how then could he be laying stress on a particular kind of leaven? And the repeated miracles of feeding vast multitudes from a very little food, and leaving a large surplus, ought certainly to have showed them that the mere lack of bread would cause him no concern. Only because they were of little faith (Matthew 6:30, Matthew 8:26, Matthew 14:31) did they imagine such a thing. Mark gives still sharper expressions. Notice the connection here between faith and spiritual perception. (Matthew 16:8 f.) With stronger faith in him they would have been lifted above temporal anxiety, and in better condition to understand his spiritual instructions. Ye have (Matthew 16:8) was easily changed into 'ye took' (rendered by Com. Ver. 'ye have brought'), to make it like Matthew 16:7. Not yet, compare Matthew 15:16; and Mark 6:52. Understand—(or perceive), Matthew 16:9-11 (Tyn., Gen.,) as in Matthew 15:17; in Matthew 16:8 it represents another word, which is awkward, but in this case cannot well be helped, for the literal 'knowing' or 'having known' would be misunderstood. In Matthew 16:11 the text in Rev. Ver., which is that of the earliest documents, seemed abrupt, and was variously changed, finally, into the form given in Com. Ver. In the true text, after rebuking them for failing to perceive, he repeats the counsel, in order that they might now look at it and understand; and so they did. Understood, (Matthew 16:12) as in Matthew 15:10, Matthew 15:16. Doctrine—literally teaching—see on "Matthew 7:28"and see on "Matthew 8:19", not simply their dogmas, as 'doctrine' would now suggest, but the whole spirit and tendency of their teaching. The Pharisees and Sadducees taught ideas concerning religious truth and duty in general, and in particular concerning the Messianic reign, which to the apostles would be misleading and corrupting. Herod represented a certain type of politico-religious opinion, accepted by the Herodians, which would also be quite misleading for proclaimers of the spiritual Messianic reign. This warning, while suggested by the recent demand of the Pharisees and Sadducees, (Matthew 16:1) was a preparation for the great approaching instruction concerning Messiah's true mission.

After crossing the lake Jesus came to Bethsaida (see on "Matthew 14:13"), and there healed a blind man; a very interesting case, recorded by Mark alone. (Mark 8:22-26)

II. Matthew 16:13-20. Peter's Great Confession, And Our Lord's Signal Response

Here Luke comes in, (Luke 9:18) though both he and Mark are brief, and fail to give the response. The narrative in Matt. and Mark goes right on, and there is no reason to question the continuity of events. Into the coasts (parts.) Wyclif here had 'partis,' but Tyn. introduced the erroneous 'coasts,' see on "Matthew 15:21". Mark (Mark 8:27) has the more definite expression 'the villages of Cesarea Philippi'; he was tarrying in the suburban villages. Cesarea Philippi was at the northern end of Palestine, being near Dan ("from Dan to Beersheba"). It lay beside the eastern and least copious of the two chief springs of the Jordan; at the other spring, two and a half miles west was Dan; below the junction of their streams there comes in another, not mentioned by Josephus, which has flowed many miles from far up the slope of Hermon, and is really the remotest source of the river. The town was in an elevated plain, one thousand one hundred and fifty feet above the level of the Mediterranean, and near the foot of Mount Hermon, which rises seven or eight thousand feet higher still. A mile east (McGarvey), stands "a precipitous rock, at least a thousand feet above the town," crowned by a singularly strong fortress, dating from before the time of Christ, and in its present dimensions from the Saracens and the Crusaders. Stanley and others imagine that our Lord was led by this to use the phrase, "On this rock I will build my church." The plain or terrace on which the city stood is very beautiful. Porter : "It is covered with oaks and olive trees, having green glades and clumps of hawthorn and myrtle."Many travellers speak of encamping under noble shade trees just north of the town. Tristram (in Edersheim.): "Everywhere there is a wild medley of cascades, mulberry-trees, fig-trees, dashing torrents, festoons of vines, bubbling fountains, reeds, and ruins, and the mingled music of birds and waters." The fields between and around the sources of the Jordan are very fertile, producing breadstuffs and rice; and (Keim) "in summer the whole district is a sea of flowers, whence the bees gather a rich harvest." Josephus ("Ant.," 15, 10, 3) calls the fountain Panion, showing that the Greeks here worshipped Pan, whose worship was often associated with caves and grottos; and there are Greek inscriptions on the face of the cliff to the same effect. Probably the Phoenicians had here worshipped one of the forms of Baal, for Robinson argues that here was the town of "Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon, under Mount Hermon." (Joshua 11:17.) Herod the Great built, near the fountain, a temple of white marble, in honour of Augustus. Philip, the tetrarch (see on "Matthew 2:20"and see on "Matthew 11:6"), enlarged the town and called it Cesarea, in honour of Tiberias. To distinguish it from the great seaport it was called Ces. Philippi, "Philip's Cesarea." Some coins give it as Ces. Paneas, a name derived from Pan, and t-his survives m the modern Banias.(1).—Our Lord must in his youth have often gazed at Hermon from the lofty hill west of Nazareth (see on "Matthew 2:23"), and so during his ministry must have looked at the snow-clad line of Lebanon from the Lake of Galilee.(2) It was doubtless a great pleasure to him and the disciples in midsummer to leave the hot shores of the lake, far below the level of the Mediterranean, and visit this cool and delightful mountainous region. There was also the advantage of being in the dominions of Philip (as in Matthew 14:13, Matthew 15:29), who was a comparatively just ruler, and had no such occasion for suspicious jealousy of Jesus as Herod Antipas. (Matthew 14:1 ff.) They must have remained here some weeks or even months, as the series of withdrawals (Matthew 14:13, Matthew 15:21, Matthew 15:29, Matthew 16:13) occupied nearly six months. But the matters recorded in connection with this sojourn are near together in time; for Matthew 16:21-28 seems to occur on the same day as Peter's confession, and Matthew 17:1-20 about a week afterwards. From Matthew 16:13 it is natural to suppose that all this took place shortly after he reached that region, and the rest of the time remains a blank. The inhabitants of Cesarea Philippi and vicinity were largely heathen, and while sometimes attended by crowds, (Mark 8:34) and ready to heal, (Matthew 17:14) our Lord occupied himself mainly with the private instruction of the twelve disciples as to his approaching extraordinary experiences (Matthew 16:21) and the true nature of the Messianic work. His own contemplation of his approaching rejection and death was accompanied by prayer. (Luke 9:18) In order to prepare the minds of the disciples for these new views of the Messianic mission, he draws from them the confession that he is the Messiah, which Peter makes as spokesman. (Matthew 16:13-15) This occurred 'on the road', (Mark 8:27) probably from one village to another; he had withdrawn a little, and was alone with his disciples; (Luke 9:18) afterwards he would naturally return to the road, and here came in contact with a great number of other persons. (Mark 8:34) In drawing out the confession, he skillfully begins with an inquiry as to popular opinion concerning him, and then advances to ask their own opinion. The former was important as to any hope of immediate general usefulness; the latter far move important as to the whole future of the Messianic movement. Whom (who) do men say. 'Whom' (all the early English versions) is a sort of attraction of the relative into the case that would be required by the nearest word, 'say.' This use of the relative is also found in Shakespeare, but abandoned in modern English. That I, the Son of man, am? This should read 'the Son of man is.' The change arose from assimilation to Mark and Luke. The phrase 'the Son of man' (see on "Matthew 8:20", and compare John 12:23) really implied that he was the Messiah, but did not distinctly affirm it. He had already declared that the Son of man was Lord of the Sabbath, (Matthew 12:8) that he had authority on earth to forgive sins, (Matthew 9:4) that he shall send forth his angels for the final harvest. (Matthew 13:41) He had also (Lutteroth) often spoken of God as his Father. (John 3:13-18, John 5:25-27, Matthew 7:21, Matthew 10:32, Matthew 11:27, Matthew 15:18)

Matthew 16:14. Popular opinion varied. John the Baptist, see on "Matthew 3:1". This would suppose John to have risen from the dead, as Herod Antipas thought. (Matthew 14:2) Elias, instead of the Hebrew form Elijah, see on "Matthew 1:2". The Jews very generally expected Elijah to come to life again (see on "Matthew 11:14"), many supposing he would be a forerunner of Messiah. (Malachi 4:5 f.)—And those who held that Jesus was Elijah, probably thought that he was a forerunner of Messiah. And others, Jeremias (Jeremiah). 'Others' is here a different Greek word from the foregoing, and denotes (compare Galatians 1:6) another class or kind of persons, i.e., persons who turned away from the popular expectation of Elijah. Jeremiah was in the time of our Lord greatly venerated among the Jews. They had a legend that he appeared in a vision to Judas Maccabeus and encouraged him (2 Maccabees 15:7, 2 Maccabees 15:13 ff.); also that when the temple was destroyed, Jeremiah hid the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense in a cave of Mount Pisgah, and promised that they should one day be restored (2 Maccabees 2:4 f.); and a very late Jewish writer says, that Jeremiah would himself appear to restore these sacred objects. Some Rabbinical writers hold Jeremiah to be the prophet promised by Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:15) We now think of Isaiah as the great prophet, because he is so often quoted in the New Testament as predicting the Messiah; but the Jews in the time of Christ reckoned Elijah and Jeremiah as foremost. Or one of the prophets. There was great confusion of opinion as to the circumstances of Messiah's approach, some thinking there would be a series of forerunners (see on "Matthew 11:3"). The last class here mentioned were disposed to be non-committal as to identifying Jesus with any particular ancient prophet, but thought he must be some one of them. To many minds, now that belief in a resurrection had become vivid, the idea of some former revered prophet re-appearing was more natural and credible than that of a new prophet; yet some counted John the Baptist a prophet, (Matthew 14:5, Matthew 11:9) and others already thought Jesus a new and great prophet, (Luke 7:15, John 6:14) as many did at a later period. (John 7:40, Matthew 21:46) But no class of the people at this time regarded him as being the Messiah. How could they, when in their view Messiah was to he a splendid conqueror and king?

Matthew 16:15 f. But whom (Rev. Ver., who) say ye that I am? Observe 'ye,' plural, and by position in the Greek exceedingly emphatic-in contrast with the discordant popular opinions. The question is addressed to all, and Peter answers as their spokesman, just as he does in many other cases. (John 6:67-70; Matthew 15:16 f.; Matthew 19:25-28; Luke 12:41; Mark 11:20-22; Matthew 26:40; Acts 2:37 f.; Acts 5:29, etc.) Chrys.: "Peter, the ever fervent, the leader of the Apostolic choir (Coryphaeus)." His impulsive nature, which sometimes brought him into trouble (Matthew 14:29, Matthew 26:51) helped to fit Peter for this post of spokesman, and a better qualification was his strong faith and ardent love for the Master. The fact that the others remained silent and left him to speak does not show that none of them fully shared his sentiments; compare Matthew 19:28, Matthew 26:40; etc. Thou art the Christ, as in Matthew 26:20. The early Eng. versions, including the first and several succeeding editions of K. James, gave 'Christ' without the article; it is not ascertained when the article was introduced into the Com. Ver. It has also the article in the parallel passage, Mark 8:29. For the meaning of the word 'Christ' see on "Matthew 1:1". We feel the forces of it better in this and many passages of the Gospels, by using the Hebrew word Messiah (see on "Matthew 2:4"). 'Thou' is expressed in the Greek, and therefore emphatic. The Son of the living God is a very solemn expression. The gods of the heathen were lifeless; Jehovah the 'God of Israel the one true God, was living. So Paul at Lystra (Acts 14:15 R. V.): "that ye should turn from these vain things unto the living God."Mark (Mark 8:29) records simply 'thou art the Christ (Messiah)'; Luke (Luke 9:20) 'the Christ (Messiah) of God.'—The earliest disciples of Jesus, including Simon Peter, at once concluded that he was the Messiah. (John 1:41, John 1:49) But he proceeded to act so differently from what they had been reared to expect of Messiah, that they would naturally become greatly perplexed about his Messiahship, even as John felt in his prison (see on "Matthew 11:3"). Again and again, however, some work or word would persuade them afresh. Thus in Matthew 7:22 he declares, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord," etc. In Matthew 11:5 f. he refers the messengers of John to his Messianic miracles and preaching to the poor. In Matthew 14:33 the persons in the boat say, "of a truth thou art the Son of God." In John 6:69, R. V., Peter says (as spokesman): "We have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God." (This last the copyists changed into "thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," by assimilation to our passage of Matthew.) Now, two or three years later than their first early persuasion, they have become established in the conviction, though so in conflict with their life-long conceptions, that their Master is the Messiah. We thus see that there is no contradiction, such as many critics have alleged, between the statements of Matt., Mark., and Luke at this point, and that of John 1:41. Nor do we read that he had ever distinctly told the disciples that he was the Messiah, though he had said so to the woman of Samaria. (John 4:26, John 4:29) A few months later, the noble Martha. who receives scant justice in many pulpits, made the same confession for which Peter is here so commended. (John 11:27) We understand the importance of this confession when we hear a Jew of the present time announce his new-found conviction that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.—does this confession of Peter represent the Saviour as divine? Not necessarily, if it stood alone without any later revelation.(Compare on Matthew 14:33) But subsequent apostolic teaching, guided by the Holy Spirit, employs kindred phrases to set forth his divinity, which may therefore be regarded as implicitly contained in the language here used.

Matthew 16:17. This response, Matthew 16:17-19, is given by Matt. only. Our Lord seems to speak joyfully. Here at last the disciples have reached the strong conviction, the clear faith, necessary to prepare them for comprehending and establishing his spiritual Messianic reign. Blessed, more exactly happy, see on "Matthew 5:3", and compare Matthew 11:6, Matthew 13:16. God has greatly favoured him, in bringing him to this perception and conviction, and so he is a happy man. Why does Jesus say this to Simon Peter alone, and not to all those whose opinion he had asked, and for whom Peter had spoken? Partly, no doubt, because he wishes to refer in what follows to the meaning of the name Peter, and partly because Peter is to have a certain leadership in the founding of the kingdom, and so what is about to be said will apply especially, though by no means exclusively, to him Simon Bar-jona. The Hebrew Ben (Benjamin, Benhadad, etc.), and the Aramaic Bar, signifies 'son'; e. g., Bar Jesus, Barabbas, (Matthew 27:16) Bartholomew, (Matthew 10:3) Bartimeus, Barnabas, etc. Compare John-son, Robin-son, etc., and kindred terms in many languages. The word Bar-jonah (Bar-lena in Com. Ver. is the Greek form) does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament; in John 1:42, John 21:15, we find (R.V.) 'Simon, son of John,' and there is reason to suppose that Jona in Matthew is a contraction of Joana, which would be a genitive case, meaning 'of John,'(1) so that Bar Jona means not son of Jonah, but son of John. Flesh and blood, viz., humanity, on its feeble corporeal side, as distinguished from the incorporeal or spiritual side, which is relatively strong (Bleek). The phrase is found first in Ecclus. Sirach 14:18; Sirach 17:31; it occurs repeatedly in New Testament, (Galatians 1:16, Ephesians 6:12, Hebrews 2:14, etc.) and is very common in the Talmud. The Old Testament makes a similar use of 'flesh.' (Genesis 6:3, etc.) Revealed. No one around had the fixed conviction that Jesus was the Messiah; Peter and the disciples for whom he spoke had not derived that conviction from any human teaching, nor from their own unaided reflection. My Father which is in heaven, see on "Matthew 6:9". None but the Father knows the Son. (Matthew 11:27) To lift them out of all the perplexed conceptions due to their education and environment, and fix them in the conviction that one without sceptre or army or even home, is the Messiah, required revelation from the Father. (compare John 6:44)

Matthew 16:18 f. Here are four main points to be considered, (1) the rock, (2) the church, (3) the gates of Hades, (4) the keys of the kingdom, and the power to bind and loose. And I say also unto thee, as thou hast just said something to me which is so important. Weiss and others understand, "as the Father has given thee this great revelation, I also give thee a great distinction." But thus to contrast his gifts with the Father's would be quite foreign to the tone of our Lord's discourses; and the emphatic position of 'unto thee' (in the Gr.) forbids such a view. That thou art Peter, 'thou' being expressed in the Greek, and therefore emphatic. This is not for the first time giving him the name, as some destructive critics hold in order to make out a contradiction between Matthew and John, but naturally implies that he has it already. (Matthew 10:2) He who long before gave the surname now (John 1:42) refers to it as significant. Chrys: "See throughout all, his own authority; I say unto thee, I will build the church, I will give the keys."

A. Upon this rock. As Peter means rock, the natural interpretation is that 'upon this rock' means upon thee. No other explanation would probably at the present day be attempted, but for the fact that the obvious meaning has been abused by Papists to the support of their theory. But we must not allow the abuse of a truth to turn us away from its use; nor must the convenience of religious controversy determine our interpretation of Scripture teaching. The other interpretations which have been proposed are, that the rock is Peter's confession (or his faith), and that the rock is Christ.

Now apart from the Romish perversion, certain other objections are made to the natural interpretation. Some hold that such a play upon words, "thou art Rock, and on this rock, "is unworthy of our Lord. But there is a play upon words, understand as you may. It is an even morn far-fetched and harsh play upon words if we understand the rock to be Christ; and a very feeble and almost unmeaning play upon words if the rock is Peter's confession. Nor is there any real objection to supposing paronomasia. Such expressions are very common in Old Testament (e. g., Genesis 17:5, Genesis 32:28), and in New Testament, especially in Paul. See Winer, Sec. 68, and Bishop Lightfoot on Revision (in Schaff on Rev., p. XV. ff.).

The fact that 'rock' elsewhere in Scripture is often applied to God and never to man (Wordsw., Alex.), may be offset by the fact that our Lord himself gave this man the name rock, (John 1:42) and here takes pains to call him by that name, which he does nowhere else save in Luke 22:34; and perhaps even the exception is significant, for he was then predicting the shameful fall so unworthy of one whom he had named rock. Late Jewish writings (Wun.) speak of Abraham as the rock, or of the patriarchs as the rocks, on which God laid the foundation of the world.

Many insist on the distinction between the two Greek words, thou art Petros, and on this petra, holding that if the rock had meant Peter, either petros or petra would have been used both times, and that petros signifies a separate stone or a fragment broken off, while petra is the massive rock. But this distinction is almost entirely confined to poetry, the common prose word instead of petros being lithos; nor is the distinction uniformly observed (see Lid. and Scott). It is worthy of notice, too, that Jesus himself is called lithos in 1 Peter 2:5 ff. Again if petros had been used both times in the Greek, it would have meant, "thou art Peter, and on this Peter," without distinctly showing the play upon words; and it would not have been natural for Matthew to write, 'thou art petra' (feminine), when he has been constantly writing the apostle's name Simon (masculine). But the main answer here is that our Lord undoubtedly spoke Aramaic, which has no known means of making such a distinction. The Peshito (Western Aramaic) renders, "Thou art kipho, and on this kipho." The Eastern Aramaic, spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, must necessarily have said in like manner, "Thou art kepha, and on this kepha." (Compare Buxtorf.) Beza called attention to the fact that it is so likewise in French: "Thou art Pierre, and on this pierre"; and Nicholson suggests that we could say, "Thou art Piers (old English for Peter), and on this pier." Lightf. supposes (followed by Wordsw.) that "he pronounced it Cephas after the Greek manner" because he "could not have been understood if in both places he had retained the same word." How, then, has the Peshito been understood? Edersh. finds the words petros and petra borrowed in the late Rabbinical language, and thinks that Jesus, while speaking Aramaic, may have borrowed those Greek words here. But this is grossly improbable, and the suggestion looks like a desperate expedient; nor has he shown that the late Rabbis themselves make the supposed distinction between the two words.

Let it be observed that Jesus could not here mean himself by the rock, consistently with the image, because he is the builder. To say, "I will build,.... I am the rock on which I will build," would be a very confused image. The suggestion of some expositors that in saying 'thou art Peter, and on this rock' he pointed at himself, involves an artificiality which to some minds is repulsive. The attempts to show that the demonstrative, 'on this rock,' could not refer to the speaker, or could not refer to the person addressed, are alike futile.

But the great objection on the part of many to the natural interpretation is the apparent concession to Popery. Let us see how this matter stands.

The early Fathers, who are for us only very useful aids in interpretation, are for the Roman Catholic an authority, only second to that of Scripture. For him, though not for us, it is a grave difficulty that some of the most distinguished Fathers interpret the rock otherwise. Chrys. expressly says on our passage, "On this rock; that is on the faith of his confession." He often elsewhere gives the same interpretation and never any other. Once he remarks, "He did not say upon Peter, for it was not upon man, but upon his faith." Maldonatus would have trouble in applying to this expression his "reverent" interpretation that those Fathers who say the church was built on the faith and confession of Peter really meant on Peter, because of his faith and confession. Chrysostom's explanation is also given by his contemporaries Gregory of Nyssa and Isidore of Pelusium, and the Latin Father Hilary, and by the later Greek Fathers Theodoret, Theophanes, Theophylact, John of Damascus. Probably these Fathers were all aware of a tendency to pervert the more natural interpretation which made Peter the rock (that of Origen, Cyprian, Basil, Gregory Naz., Ambrose, Jerome, Cyril Alex., etc.), into a support for the growing claims of the Roman Bishop, Augustine in his "Retractations" (I. 21) says that in an early work against the Donatists he stated that the church was founded on Peter as on a rock; but that very often since he has interpreted the language as meaning that the rock was Christ; and that Simon confessing him as all the church does was therefore called Peter. He adds that the reader may choose which of these opinions is more probable.(1) We repeat that Chrys., Augustine, and the rest, are notable authorities for the Roman Catholic, and grievously in the way of his building on the natural interpretation of the passage.

But grant that the rock is Peter, and consider what the Roman Catholic will then have to show in order to establish the claims of the Papacy.

1. He must show that Peter alone was to be the founder of Christianity. Of this there is no evidence but the obviously figurative expression before us. Against it (a) we find various express declarations, especially Ephesians 2:20, "Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets," etc. (b) The history in Acts and the Epistles is also opposed to this notion; especially in Acts 15, where Peter does not at all act separately or appear to be supreme (though he is a leader), and it is really James that suggests the measure adopted by the brethren; also in Galatians 2, where Peter is one of the three pillars, James being named first, and where Peter is publicly rebuked by Paul for acting contrary to his own convictions. Think of a Romish bishop rebuking the Pope to his face "before all." (c) The promise as to binding and loosing here made to Peter, is made in Matthew 18:18 as to the action of all the apostles or any church. A partly similar promise is made in John 20:22 f. to the ten apostles and others (as shown by the comparison of Luke). (d) This saying is omitted by Mark and Luke, though they give what precedes and what follows it. Now according to the Romanist view they have omitted the very heart of the passage, and well-nigh the most important thing Jesus ever said. Thus H. J. Coleridge: "This confession of St. Peter, and the magnificent blessing which it drew from our Lord, may be said to be the very central point of our Lord's ministry. All before it leads up to it, and all that follows it in some sense takes its colour from it." And yet Mark and Luke have both come right up to this transcendently important saying, and then passed it by, giving the words which in Matthew immediately follow. The argument from silence must always be carefully used, but this is certainly a very strong case. 2. He must show that Peter not only the sole founder of Christianity, but that he was vicegerent of God and the sovereign of all Christians. No Scripture testifies this at all, unless the present passage does; and the whole tone Of the New Testament is against it. Nor do the Fathers who understand the rock to be Peter indicate the notion of his having any such position or power as the modern Pope.

3. He must show that this supposed authority of Peter's was transmissible, of which there is no particle of evidence in the New Testament; and it is strangely inconsistent with the very image of a corner-stone, or foundation rock, to suppose it frequently removed and a new one substituted.

4. He must show that Peter lived and died at Rome, which is probably true but not certain; and that he was, rather than Paul, the head of the church at Rome, of which there is no evidence at all, and Irenaeus and Eusebius agree in making Linus first bishop of that church.

5. He must show that Peter's supposed transmissible authority was actually transmitted to the leading official of the church at Rome. Of this there is no evidence but comparatively late tradition. And against it is the general history of the earliest churches, in which the church at Rome (e. g., in Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians) does indeed appear as influential(a natural thing from its being in the imperial city), but there is not the slightest indication that it was supreme, or had any sovereignty, recognized or claimed. And why should a special office or authority be transmitted to a church official at Rome rather than at Antioch or Jerusalem? Notice too (Gloag,"Exege. Studies"), that on the Papal theory the great apostle John was, after the death of Peter, completely subject to the bishop of Rome.

The Protestant reluctance to admit that the rock means Peter really plays into the hands of the Romish controversialists. It favours the impression that conceding that point would be conceding all that the Romanist claims, when, as we have seen, the hopeless burden of his argument comes afterwards. Now to take Peter as the rock is certainly the most natural and obvious meaning. And to make this the life or death issue is to give the Romanist a serious polemical advantage. In general, it is a great principle in Biblical interpretation to take the most obvious meaning of any phrase, unless it would thus yield a sense hopelessly in conflict with the unambiguous teaching of other passages.

To understand that Peter is here the rock it not forbidden by the fact that other images are drawn from the same source. In 1 Corinthians 3:10 ff., Paul speaks of himself as master builder (architect), and other teachers also as builders, Christ being the only foundation. In Ephesians 2:19 ff. he makes the apostles and prophets the foundation, with Christ as cornerstone. So in Revelation 21:14 the names of the twelve apostles are engraved on the twelve foundations of the city walls, which makes the apostles in one sense the entire foundation. In 1 Peter 2:4 ff. all Christians are living stones built up into a spiritual house, with Christ as the chief corner stone. In the present passage Christ is the builder, and the apostles are the foundation, as represented by Peter, who spoke for the rest, and had a recognized leadership among them. There are many other cases of an image variously applied. In 1 Peter 2:19, Peter is promised the keys, while in Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7, Jesus has the keys. So in Matthew 5:14, Christians are the light of the world, while in John 9:5 Christ is the light of the world.—That Peter was a leader among the apostles, is seen already from his standing at the head in each of the four lists. (See on "Matthew 10:2".) He appears as markedly prominent in Acts 1:15 ff.; Acts 2:14 ff.; Acts 2:37 f.; Acts 3:1 ff. (with John); Acts 3:11 f.; Acts 4:8 ff.; Acts 4:4-19 (with John); Acts 5:8, Acts 5:15, Acts 5:29, Acts 8:14 (with John). Observe especially the designation of Peter to receive a special revelation and take special action concerning the Gentiles, Acts 10:9 ff.; Acts 11:17, Acts 15:7; also the prominence of Peter and James in the decision of the conference at Jerusalem, (Acts 16:7 ff.) where Paul says that James, Cephas, and John were reputed to be pillars, (Galatians 2:9) an architectural image somewhat akin to that which here makes the apostles the foundation. Notice in particular that Peter was leader in converting many Jews on the great Day of Pentecost, and was also the first instrument in the conversion of Gentiles who had not become Jews. In all this there is nothing at all to show that his leadership amounted to supremacy, but in fact, much to the contrary. He appears everywhere as primus inter pares, the first among equals. The disciples after this time dispute who shall be greatest. (Matthew 18:1, Luke 22:24) In so doing they certainly did not understand that Peter was greatest, nor did Jesus intimate that in replying. We find also (Gloag) that Peter, instead of sending the other apostles is sent by them, (Acts 8:14) and is called to account by the apostles and brethren. (Acts 11:1-18) If then it be supposed that our Lord's language applies to Peter in some peculiar sense not true of the other apostles, still it cannot possibly mean that he is thereby made sovereign over the rest. Jesus here means that the apostles are the foundation on which he will build his church, and Peter is mentioned in particular because of his significant name, appropriate character, spokesmanship on this occasion, and recognized leadership in general. That the rock here means Peter is held among Protestant expositors by Bengel, Doddridge, Macknight, Fritzsche, Bleek, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, Stier, Keim, Grimm, Weiss, Geikie, Farrar, Mansel, Gloag.

B. I will build. The image is that of a house, as seen also in 'gates' and 'keys.' To build an assembly was a combination of images easy to the Jewish mind, because the congregation of Israel was often also called the house of Israel. The word church is used also in Matthew 18:17, but nowhere else in the Gospels, and the discussions connected with it belong chiefly to the Acts and Epistles. The Greek word signified primarily the assembly of citizens in a self-governed State, being derived from, to call out; i.e., out from their homes or places of business, to summon, as we speak of calling out the militia. The popular notion that it meant to call out in the sense of separation from others, is a mistake. In a secondary sense denoted any popular assembly (Acts 19:39) This Greek term seems to have been applied directly to an actual congregation or assembly of Christians, what we now call a local church, as in Matthew 18:17, and usually in the Acts and Epistles, sometimes to an (apparently) informal, unorganized meeting. (Romans 16:5, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2) But in the Septuagint it is often used to translate the Hebrew qahal (for example, Deuteronomy 18:6, Deuteronomy 23:1 ff.; Judges 21:8, Psalms 22:22, etc.), which is also derived from a root meaning to call, to convoke, and so signifies a convocation, a congregation, assembly. This and another Hebrew word of equivalent meaning are used in all parts of the Old Testament to denote the congregation of Israel. (compare Acts 7:38, Hebrews 2:12) In the New Testament the spiritual Israel, never actually assembled, is sometimes conceived of as an ideal congregation or assembly, and this is denoted by the word. So in Ephesians 1:22, and often throughout that Epistle, in Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24, Hebrews 12:23, etc. This seems to be the meaning here. All real Christians are conceived of as an ideal congregation or assembly, and this is here described as a house er temple, built upon Peter (and the other apostles), as in Ephesians 2:19-22, it is a temple "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." There is a third use of the term, widely diffused throughout Christendom, in which it is made to denote the aggregate of all formally professing Christians, or all outward organizations of Christians, or else some one outward organization which is alone recognized by the persons using the term as being really "the church." This aggregate of professed Christians is in modern parlance called "the visible church," as distinguished from "the invisible church," which denotes as above, the ideal assembly of real Christians. But the word is not used in the New Testament to denote a congregation, actual or imaginary, of all professed Christians, unless it be in Acts 9:31 (correct text), and in 1 Timothy 3:15. In the former the word probably denotes the original church at Jerusalem, whose members were by the persecution widely scattered throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and held meetings wherever they were, but still belonged to the One original organization. When Paul wrote to the Galatians, nearly twenty years later, these separate meetings had been organized into distinct churches; and so he speaks, (Galatians 1:22) in reference to that same period, of "the churches of Judea which were in Christ." In 1 Timothy 3:15, "the church" is naturally the particular local church with which one is connected. If these two passages be not relied on for the purpose, there is no New Testament authority for the sense of "the visible church," and therefore the word ought not to be so understood here. As to the English word 'church,' see on "Matthew 18:17".

C. The gates of hell, or Hades. The word Hades (see on "Matthew 11:23"), denotes the invisible world, the abode of the departed. The Hebrew word Sheol has substantially the same meaning. Such was also the original sense of the English word hell, the hidden or unseen place (Anglo Saxon helah, 'to hide,' Skeat), which was therefore in early English a correct translation of Hades and Sheol. But it has gradually come to denote exclusively the place of torment, as so many other words have become restricted to the bad sense, and is now only a translation of Gehenna (see on "Matthew 6:22"), while Hades has to be borrowed in Rev. Ver. of New Testament In Com. Ver. of Old Testament, Sheol was translated either 'hell,' 'the grave,' or 'the pit.' In Rev. Ver. the Hebrew Sheol has been often borrowed, and this ought assuredly to have been done in all cases, as urged by the American Revisers. Neither Hades nor Sheol ever denotes distinctively the place of torment. Farrar claims for this sense Luke 16:23, 2 Peter 2:4; Matthew 11:23. But in Luke 16:23 the place of torment is in Hades, and so is Abraham'sabode—separated by an impassable gulf, but within sight and hearing. So the rich man in torment was in Hades, but the gates of Hades (whether meaning entrance or power) cannot be distinctively the gates of the place of torment, the abode of Satan. In 2 Peter 2:4 the term Hades is not used, but a verb derived from the Greek word Tartarus, which was in Greek usage exclusively a place of torment; and this word occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible. In Matthew 11:23 (see note) the arrogantly aspiring city, which dreams of reaching heaven, is to be brought down to Sheol or Hades, conceived of as far underground, i.e., to utter destruction; and the idea of future torment does not even enter into the connection. There is nowhere any warrant for understanding Hades as denoting distinctively the place of torment, the abode of Satan; it is the abode of the departed, and through its gates pass all who die. To argue that Abraham and Lazarus must have been in heaven, and therefore wholly separated from Hades, is beside the mark; for the conception of heaven as the abode of the blessed is entirely distinct from that of Hades, and the two cannot be combined into one local image.

The 'gates of Sheol' (Hades) are spoken of in Isaiah 38:10; Wisdom of Solomon 16:13; 3 Maccabees 5:51; Song of Solomon 8:6; Gospel of Nicodemus 21; and in this passage; the 'bars of Sheol' in Job 17:16; the 'gates of Death' in Job 38:17, Psalms 9:14 (13); Psalms 107:18, and the 'keys of death and of Hades' in Revelation 1:18. So in "Iliad" IX., 312, Achilles says, "For hateful to me, like the gates of Hades, is the man who hides one thing in his breast and says another." In "Iliad" VI., 546, Tlepolemos: "But subdued by me you will traverse the gates of Hades." In "Odyssey" XI., 277, "But she went to the abode of the strong gate-keeper, Hades" (the deity presiding over that region). In Æschylus,"Agam." 1291, Clytemnestra addresses the gates of Hades, and prays that she may have a speedy and easy death. In Euripides, "Hecuba", Hecuba says, "I come, leaving the hiding place of the dead and the gates of darkness, where Hades dwells apart from the gods." It will be seen that in all the passages from Hebrew writings, and most of those from Greek writings, the gates of Hades arc passed through by the dying. In the passage from Euripides a person is conceived as coming back through the gates of Hades, and there are some other passages of Greek authors to the same effect. It would be possible, though not most natural, so to understand Revelation 1:18.

Prevail against, or 'overcome,' literally, be strong against, 'be too strong for,' The Greek word is found also in Luke 23:23, and is an intensive compound of-that used in Acts 19:16. It might in the Greek grammatically refer to the rock or to the church; the connection shows plainly that the latter is meant, but there is no substantial difference. Some able commentators understand "shall not surpass it in strength," without the notion of conflict; but this is contrary to the etymology and use of the verb, and seems strained. Because 'gates' has in Greek no article, Weiss takes it to mean 'Hades-gates,' i.e., gates of that class or kind shall not surpass it in strength. But the indefinite word gates is made definite by appending Hades, this being a definite and single locality—a use of the appended genitive that is quite common in the New Testament (Winer, 125 155, Buttmann, 88,118).(1)

'The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it' may now be seen to have three possible senses. (a) It most naturally means, according to the Hebrew uses, that the gates of Hades shall not swallow up the church. All earthly things go down through those dread gates, but Christ's church, for which he gave himself, will never cease to exist; there will always be Christians in the world. This was a bold prediction for a homeless teacher, with handful of followers (compare Matthew 28:18-20). (b) Or, taking the occasional Greek, but not Hebrew use, together with the possible meaning of Revelation 1:18, we shall have the sense, the gates of Hades shall not prevent my people from rising again (Meyer.) (e) 'Gates' maybe taken, though it is an unusual sense, as a symbol of power, because strong gates completed the fortifications of a city, (Genesis 22:17, Psalms 127:5) or because judges often sat, kings administered justice, and garrisons gathered, in the gates. Compare "the Sublime Porte," and the European use of "Court," as connected with the court-yard of a palace. Then the expression would mean, the power of Hades shall not be too strong for my church, a sense loosely equivalent to (a.) Yet this is harsh; for while 'gates' might well represent defensive power, it is hardly congruous to take them as representing aggressive power. As to the widespread notion that it means the power of Satan, there is no authority whatever for so understanding 'the gates of Hades.' Satan rules over one part of Hades; but how can he control, or be represented by, the gates of Hades, through which the blessed pass in dying, as well as the wicked? This notion has been diffused through Christendom from two causes. The conception of heaven as the abode of the blest rapidly supplanted the idea of the blest as dwelling in Hades, and Hades came to be thought of only in the bad sense. Accordingly the Latin term infernus (inferni, inferna, inferi), which originally meant substantially the same as Hades, gradually became restricted in Christian usage to the place of torment (Italian inferno, French, enfer, English adjective, infernal), just as has happened with the English word hell. Thus in the Vulgate portae inferorum (inferi), like 'gates of hell' in modern English, readily came to suggest the power of Satan. The other cause is that this notion suited the conception of Christ's 'church' as a visible organization, which the power of Satan vainly strives to overthrow. (d) Ewald thinks of the gates of Hades as opening to let monsters issue from them, (Revelation 9:1 ff.) and these monsters shall not overcome the church; but this is far-fetched and highly unnatural.

The passage then seems to mean either, my church shall not be swallowed up in the gates of Hades (or possibly shall not be overcome by its power), shall not cease to exist—there shall always be Christians in the world; or, my people shall rise again. The former is much the more probable meaning, because it follows the general Hebrew usage. Then the question will turn simply on the word church (see above), whether it means an outward organization of professed Christians (or the aggregate of many such organizations), or means an ideal assembly of all true Christians.

D. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. That copyists should prefix and was very natural At first sight it seems to be required, though upon closer examination the statement is seen to be more expressive without it, as a parallel to 'I will build.' The image here changes, in part. There is still a house, but he who was before the foundation of the house now receives the keys. Alexander: "The abrupt transition may be urged as an objection to the supposition that the rock of Revelation 1:18 is Peter. It is certainly no natural association of ideas that the keys of the building should be given to the rock on which it rests. Yet it is quite as incongruous for the rock to give the keys as to receive them." He who had the keys of a city or palace determined whether any given person should enter or be shut out. (Revelation 9:1 f.; Revelation 20:1-3) This would suggest a general authority and control, varying in extent according to the nature of the case. There seems to he allusion here to the high steward of the palace of David, Isaiah 22:15, Isaiah 22:22; and in Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7, a similar but spiritual function is ascribed to Jesus himself. The Talmud makes like use of the phrase. Compare also in Luke 11:52,"Ye took away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." In our passage, however the rock may be understood, all must agree that our Lord gives the keys to Peter, i.e., the power of admitting (e. g., Acts 11:17), or denying admission (e. g., Acts 4:21), into the Messianic kingdom. Yet it is not given to him in any exclusive sense, for the closely connected power of binding and loosing was not long after given to any church (Matthew 18:18), and the included power of forgiving sins was given to the ten apostles and others. (John 20:23) As to the 'kingdom of heaven,' see on "Matthew 3:2". There seems to be no reference here or anywhere in the use of this term to an outward organization of Messiah's subjects. His reign is a spiritual reign, and admission into his kingdom is a spiritual admission. Peter and the other apostles would admit or deny admission, as they would forgive sins or retain them, by teaching the spiritual conditions of admission or forgiveness, and by their inspired power of discerning and declaring a man's spiritual condition (e. g., Acts 5:3, Acts 8:21, Acts 13:10).—The legend of Peter sitting at the gate with the keys assumes that the kingdom of heaven here denotes heaven as the abode of the blest. It corresponds to, and perhaps grew out of, a Talmudic legend that Abraham sits at the door of Gehenna, and will let no circumcised person go down.

Bind and loose, in the Talmud and other Rabbinical writings (Lightf., Wet., Wun., Edersh.), signify to interpret and apply the law and traditions on any subject with strictness or with laxity, and hence in general to forbid or allow. The strict school of Shammai is represented as binding many things which the school of Hillelloosed. Compare on Matthew 19:3. In Rabbinical phrase it would be said that in Acts 15:10 Peter advocated loosing what the Judaizers wished to bind. Died. Sic. tells (I. 27) of an image of Isis with the inscription, "I, Isis, am the queen of all the land, and whatever I shall bind no one can loose." These uses seem to leave no doubt as to the meaning of the terms here. Our Lord declares that whatever Peter should forbid or allow, should declare to be wrong or right, would be sanctioned by divine authority, approved in heaven. As Peter was the spokesman of all the apostles, we should naturally understand that the same would be true of all the inspired teachings (compare John 16:13) They would have Heaven's approval. And this included foyer retaining sins, (John 20:23) which was promised to the apostles and others present. (Comp: Luke.) Similar in that case is the expression 'loosed us from our sins,' Revelation 1:5 (correct text), and the same phrase in Isaiah 40:2 (Septuagint); Ecelus. Isaiah 28:2. In Matthew 18:18 exactly the same promise as to binding and loosing is made to all the persons addressed ('ye'), meaning either the apostles in general, or more probably the action of any church. From the abuse of Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:18; and John 20:23, arose the Romish doctrine of priestly absolution, which some Protestant persuasions retain in a modified form. Ministers may teach the conditions of forgiveness, but they have no inspired power of discerning a person's spiritual condition, and their declarations of absolution are of no value beyond stating the conditions.

Matthew 16:20. Then charged he his (the) disciples. 'His' was added by copyists, as in Matthew 16:5. The plural shows that they shared the conviction which Peter as their spokesman had expressed. That he was Jesus the Christ. 'Jesus' was inserted by copyists. Until their own views of his Messianic work were greatly corrected, as the Master at once began to do, (Matthew 16:21) any statement by them that he was Messiah would have done harm rather than good. It would have brought him prematurely into open antagonism to the Jewish rulers, and might have awakened the fanaticism of the masses, who would take it for granted that the Messiah must collect an army for conquering, and this would have excited the jealousy of the tetrarchs and the Roman government. (Compare on Matthew 14:22 and Matthew 8:4) After he had suffered and died, (Luke 9:21 f.) they could tell everybody that he was the Messiah, and could then give correct ideas of the Messianic work.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 16:6. False ideas in religion. (1) False ideas are often advocated by worthy and even distinguished people. (2) False ideas are apt to diffuse themselves through the whole mass of one's religious thinking. (3) False ideas will inevitably affect religious character and life. (4) Therefore we must beware of adopting the religious errors of eminent and admirable persons.—The leaven of error in high places of position and culture. (1) The leaven of the Pharisees represents for us ritualism, formalism, hypocrisy. (2) The leaven of the Sadduces represents skepticism,"rationalism," "liberalism." (3) The leaven of the Herodians, secularism and the subordination of religion to politics.

Matthew 16:9. Henry: "We are therefore perplexed with present cares and distrusts, because we do not duly remember our former experiences of divine power and goodness."

Matthew 16:13-17. Opinions about Jesus. (1) What men think of Jesus is a matter of great importance for their own good, and therefore of great concern to him, Matthew 16:13. (2) Men are often very ingenious in devising other theories in order to avoid a view of Jesus which offends their prejudices, Matthew 16:14. (3) Those who wish to know the truth about Jesus must be ready to break, if necessary, with popular opinion, Matthew 16:15. (4) The only true view of Jesus regards him as the Divine Redeemer, Matthew 16:16. (5) Thoroughly correct views of Jesus are drawn only from revelation, Matthew 16:17. Henry: "It is possible for men to have good thoughts of Christ and yet not right ones, a high opinion of him and yet not high enough."

Matthew 16:17. Origen: "If we say as Peter did," Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, "not flesh and blood having revealed it to us, but light having shone in our heart from the Father in heaven, then we also become such as Peter was, happy like him and for the same reason."

Matthew 16:18. Christ building his church. (1) The spiritual church of Christ includes all real Christians. (2) Christ himself builds his church, using his apostles as foundation, and all who believe on him through their word (John 17:20) as materials. (3) Christ guarantees that his spiritual church shall never cease to exist—there will always be true Christians on earth.


Verses 21-28

Matthew 16:21-28.
Jesus Begins To Foretell His Death

This is also found in Mark 8:31 to Mark 9:1, Luke 9:22-27. It is closely connected with Peter's great confession, and from the connection in Luke (Luke 9:21 f.) may have been spoken immediately after. The place is in the neighbourhood of Cesarea Philippi. (Matthew 16:13)

Matthew 16:21. From that time forth began. Being now fully convinced that he was the Messiah, the disciples must be restrained from endeavouring to carry out their erroneous notions of the Messianic reign, and could he taught more correct ideas without destroying their faith. But the instruction here begun had to be continued from time to time. (Matthew 17:9, Matthew 17:22 f.; Matthew 20:18 f.; Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:12, Matthew 26:31 f.; compare John 12:23 ff.) Filled with the popular Jewish conceptions, it required frequent repetition to make real to their minds the amazing thought that the Messiah was to be put to death. Indeed, they were unprepared after all; their hopes were crushed by his death, and they forgot his promise of rising again. This point, at which he begins distinctly to foretell his death, constituted a new epoch (Meyer) in our Lord's ministry, like that of Matthew 4:17, where the same expression is used, 'from that time began.' This important epoch is considerably more than six months, probably eight or nine months, before the crucifixion. It must not for a moment be supposed that Jesus only now began himself to foresee his sufferings and death. (See John 2:19, John 8:14, Matthew 9:15, Matthew 10:38, Matthew 12:40). Jesus, should, as in the margin of Rev. Ver., be 'Jesus Christ.' This phrase occurs nowhere else in the Gospels except in the beginning of Matt. (Matthew 1:1, is) and Mark, (Mark 1:1) and in, John 17:3. It is here very appropriate in opening a new section of the Gospel, and when the disciples have just formally recognized Jesus as the Christ.(1) The designation 'the Christ' has been already applied by Matt. to Jesus in Matthew 11:2, Matthew 16:20. How that, obsolete; we say 'that.' He must, as necessary to carry out his mission and accomplish his work (Matthew 26:54, Luke 24:26, John 3:14) Go unto Jerusalem. This is mentioned here by Matthew alone; compare at the transfiguration, Luke 9:31. Jesus is now at the greatest distance from Jerusalem that was possible in Palestine. At Jerusalem the opposition to him was most bitter, through the conservatism of learning and of office. (John 11:48) Those who had assailed him most fiercely in Galilee came from Jerusalem. (Mark 8:22, Matthew 15:8) He stayed away from the last preceding Passover because the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill him. (John 7:1) From this time on the thought of going to Jerusalem and facing all that awaits him, is prominent in his mind. What is to befall him cannot happen elsewhere, Luke 13:22; compare also Matthew 20:18, and the parables in Mark and Luke. And suffer many things. So also Mark and Luke. This general expression was natural in the distance; but shortly before the crucifixion he made more specific statements, Matthew 20:19, Mark 10:34. Of the elders and chief priests and scribes, the three classes which constituted the Sanhedrin, see on "Matthew 26:69". One article for the three nouns indicates their close connection. Mark and Luke add, 'be rejected by the elders,' etc. And be killed. The Jews expected the Messiah to conquer and reign; there is no intimation in their interbiblical or later writings of any other persuasion, for 2 (4) Esdras Matthew 7:28 f. is evidently a Christian interpolation, and, indeed, the original work is probably post-Christian. The third day, so Luke; Mark's 'after three days' is equivalent, see on "Matthew 27:62". This prediction of rising the third day had been obscurely given to his enemies, John 2:19, Matthew 12:40, and is now distinctly given to the disciples, and repeated on two subsequent occasions, Matthew 17:23 (also Mark); Matthew 20:19. (Also Mark and Luke.) He also predicts his resurrection without mentioning the three days in Matthew 17:9 (with Mark); Matthew 26:32 (with Mark.) Mark (Mark 8:32) adds, 'And he spake the saying openly, as opposed to the previous obscure expressions. The disciples evidently could not take in the idea that he was to rise again. They believed in a resurrection at the last day, but (John 11:24) that could not be meant here, for how then should he do the work of Messiah? They had seen persons raised from the dead, as the daughter of Jairus and the son of the widow of Nain; but this was done by Jesus, and who was to raise him. The only way in which they could conceive of a person's coming to life again was that some miracle-worker should bring him to life. They understood clearly the statement of Jesus that he was to die; the horror of that thought would increase their confusion of mind, and so they did not see what his resurrection could mean (compare on Matthew 17:9 ), probably thinking it must be figurative, and thus of little personal interest to them in connection with the thought of his death This state of things appears sufficiently to account for their failing to remember these predictions when his death and resurrection occurred.

Matthew 16:22 f. Peter was probably elated by the commendation and promises of Matthew 16:17-19, and his native ardor and self-confidence thereby encouraged into an attempt to direct the Master's conduct. Took him, literally, took him to himself; so also Mark. He drew Jesus aside (Chrys.), to make a personal and private remonstrance. Compare at a later period, John 11:8. Began, seems to be here merely a descriptive touch (see on "Matthew 11:20"), not meaning (as in Matthew 16:21) that he afterwards did the same on other occasions, but making us see him as he begins this utterance. Rebuke implies distinctly that Jesus is in the wrong. Peter did not appreciate the 'must' in John 11:21, as denoting a necessity of the case. He believed Jesus to be the Messiah, and according to all his ideas it was out of the question that the Messiah should suffer and be killed at Jerusalem. Be it far from thee, or literally, (as Rev. Ver., margin), '(God) have mercy on thee.' The course contemplated seems so perilous or so wrong as to excite a prayer that God will be merciful and prevent it. Notice that the divine name is omitted (compare on Matthew 5:34).

Such an expression if lightly made would be profane, but might be properly used on adequate occasion. It is not found elsewhere in New Testament, but several times in Sept.; in 1 Chronicles 11:19, David says (Septuagint),"God be merciful to me! that I should do this," Hebrew "a profane thing to me from my God," equivalent to Eng. "God forbid." Compare also 1 Maccabees 2:21. Tyndale and Cram render 'favour thyself;' Gen., 'look to thyself;' Com. Ver., margin, 'pity thyself,' supposing (Jerome) the Greek to mean, '(Be) merciful to thyself;' but the Hebrew and Septuagint seem to forbid this view. The Rabbis have (Edersheim.) an equivalent phrase, 'mercy to thee.' Compare also Paul's favorite expression, me genito, 'may it not be,' rendered t far be it,' 'God forbid.' This shall not be unto thee, 'not' being the doubled and very strong negative,(1) Matthew 15:5, Matthew 18:19, Matthew 26:35. as in Matthew 5:18, Matthew 10:42, Matthew 15:5, Matthew 18:3, Matthew 26:29, Matthew 26:35, and often. 'Never' in Rev. Ver., is not an exact translation, for it introduces an additional idea, as does 'in no wise,' Matthew 26:28; John 6:37; the Greek being simply a strong negation. So Jelf. 749, obs. 4. Peter is sure that this ought not to be, and is persuaded that Jesus will follow his advice, and so it certainly will not be. But he turned and said, might mean turned sharply upon him (Alex.), or turned away from him (Mey., Weiss); Mark, 'turning and seeing his disciples,' decides for the latter. As Peter had rebuked him, so he now severely rebukes Peter, (Mark 8:33) calling him 'Satan,' and using the same phrase of repulsion and abhorrence that he used to Satan himself in John 4:10. The ardent disciple was playing the tempter's part, in fact repeating Satan's temptation, in trying to restrain the Son of God (compare Matthew 16:16 with Matthew 4:3, Matthew 4:6) from going forward in his appropriate and appointed path. So a few months earlier, (John 6:70 f.) our Lord had called Judas Iscariot a 'devil' (diabolos), i. e., a Satan. (See on "Matthew 4:1".) To translate Satan by "adversary" as the meaning here (Mald.), is forbidden by the fact that in New Testament it is always a proper name.—Alas! the rock, Cephas, has become a stone of stumbling; he who had just made the divinely-taught confession, (Matthew 16:17) is now Satan. tempting him whom he had confessed. Thou art an offence (a stumbling block) unto me (see on "Matthew 5:29"), meaning either an obstacle to going forward in duty (Mey., Alex.), or more probably, a snare, a temptation to do wrong. (Keim.) Thou savourest (mindest) represents a very expressive Greek word used often by Paul, but nowhere else in New Testament save here and Acts 28:22, for which we lack an exact equivalent. (a) Its leading use is most nearly expressed by 'think' and 'mind.' Thus in 1 Corinthians 13:11, 'I thought as a child'; Acts 28:22, 'to hear of thee what thou thinkest,' what is thy type of religious thought; Romans 12:16, and Philippians 2:2, 'be of the same mind,' think the same thing, (or the one thing.)

In all such cases it suggests one's characteristic way of thinking. (b) In other uses it means to direct the mind towards, or set the mind on, some object. Thus in Colossians 3:2, R. V., 'Set your mind on the things above'; Romans 8:5-7, They that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh,' etc. In our passage, (and Mark 8:33) it may signify as in (b), thou dost not direct thy mind towards the affairs (plans, interests, etc.) of God, but those of men, (so Philippians 3:9) or better, as in (a), thou dost not think God's thoughts, but men's; thou hast not God's way of thinking, but that of men. Compare Isaiah 55:8,"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,"etc. According to God's purposes and predictions it was necessary that the Son of God should suffer and die before entering into his glory, Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11. 'Savourest,' in the common and early Eng versions, was always a defective translation, derived from the Vulgate sapitis, French savourer and savoir (Eng. savour), meaning think or know.

Matthew 16:24. Then would not make us sure that it followed immediately (compare on Matthew 3:13), but Mark leaves no doubt: 'And he called unto him the multitude with his disciples, and said unto them,' etc. This also shows that the notable saying which follows was addressed, not to the disciples only, but to a great throng; so Luke 9:23, R. V., 'he said unto all.' He has come away from the place at which he had been praying alone, (Luke 9:18) and now a crowd is near; but as to persons or locality we have no information. If any man. Not only is Jesus himself determined to go forward in a path which leads to suffering and death, undeterred by Peter's remonstrance, and not only must his twelve disciples be willing to follow in such a path, but this holds true of any and every one who wishes to be his follower at all. Will (or wishes to) come after me. 'Will come' is ambiguous, and at the present day almost certain to be misunderstood; 'would come' gives a slight colour not present in the original(compare on Matthew 15:32). As he designs to go forward like a man bearing his cross to the place of crucifixion, so any one who wishes to come along behind him must do likewise. There is hero no substantial difference between 'come after' and 'follow.' The familiar use of the phrases deny himself and 'take up his cross,' the frequent application of them to petty actions and sufferings, has gradually enfeebled their meaning in our conception, and it requires an effort to return to their original force. The phrases (a) to deny a statement, and (b) to deny a request (both classical), have an obvious meaning; (c) to deny a person (a sense found only in New Testament), is to deny that we have the relations to him which others are supposing, or which circumstances might seem to indicate, (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 26:34) or else to deny that one is what he claims to be, and hence to reject him; (Acts 3:14, Acts 7:35) and there are various other shades of meaning. In some of these uses the Greek has the simple verb, as here in Luke; others have it compounded with a preposition, as here in Matthew and Mark, giving a slightly increased force. (d) To deny an object or practice is to refuse, reject, or renounce it; as 'denying impiety and worldly desires.' (Titus 2:12, Rev. Ver., compare 2 Timothy 3:5) (e) To deny himself, a phrase not found in classical Greek, but characteristic of Christianity, might seem to connect itself in meaning with (b); as a man denies a beggar, so he denies himself; i.e., refuses to grant him own requests (Chrys., Mey.) This is the sense, but much weakened, in which the expression is now widely used. But does it not, as here used by our Lord, rather connect itself with (c), meaning that a man renounces himself? As the Jews denied the Messiah, (Acts 8:14) so his follower denies self, will not have self for his ruler or his aim. He determines not to live according to his own inclinations, but to do and bear whatever may be necessary in the course he has undertaken. He must resolve to live not for pleasure, but usefulness; not for inclination, but duty; not for self, but for God.

(Compare Romans 14:7-9, Romans 15:2 f.) Tyndale, Cram, Gen., translate 'forsake himself.' And take up his cross. The Jews had long been familiar with the punishment of crucifixion, which was used in Egypt and all Western Asia, and from an early time in Italy. More than a hundred years before our Lord's ministry, King Alexander Janneus crucified eight hundred rebels at Jerusalem, while he was feasting in public (Josephus "Ant.," 13, 14, 8), and even under Antiochus Epiphanes, many Jews were crucified. (Matthew 13:5-6) For a revolt which followed the death of Herod the Great, the proconsul Varus crucified two thousand Jews. And yet a Jewish Rabbi of to-day has said that the saying here ascribed to Jesus is an anachronism, for the disciples could not have understood an allusion to cross-bearing till after his crucifixion. It was common to make the condemned person carry to the place of execution the cross on which he was to suffer (compare on Matthew 27:32); and so the disciples would readily understand the Master's allusion. He was going forward, like one marching to crucifixion, appointed to suffering and death; and any one who wished to come after him must prepare himself for the same experience. The disciples and the multitude would not necessarily infer from this that he was to be crucified. It was not till a few days before its occurrence that he foretold the precise mode of his death. (Matthew 20:19) They would understand that he was like a person going to be crucified, and they also must be ready for suffering and death. Chrys: "He saith also how far one ought to renounce oneself, that is, unto death, and that a reproachful death." Jerome: "And follow their teacher morientium animo." Jesus used the same impressive image on two other occasions. (Matthew 10:38, Luke 14:27; in Mark 10:21, it is spurious.) It was plain enough at the time, and after he was himself actually crucified it became all the more vivid and solemn, as was the case with many other parts of his teachings. Luke 9:23 adds 'daily.' Every day must his follower consent and determine afresh to go forward through suffering and even unto death. Chrys : "Bear about this death continually, and day by day be ready for slaughter." Follow, compare on Matthew 4:19. There they were to follow with an especial view to instruction; here they must follow in a path of suffering, follow even to dying; compare John 12:23-26. 'Follow' is also used in Com. Ver. for another word, which Rev. Ver. more exactly renders by 'imitate,' (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1; Hebrews 6:12, Hebrews 13:7; 3 John 1:11) thus bringing out more distinctly the great duty of imitating Christ.

Matthew 16:25. Notice the repeated for (Matthew 16:25-26, Matthew 16:27), each sentence supplying that which precedes with a proof or a motive. In John 12:25 our Lord passes from bodily to spiritual life, from temporal to eternal life. There is a similar transition in 'leave the dead to bury their own dead,' Matthew 8:22; compare John 4:10, John 6:27. He also passes in Matthew 16:25 f., from the vital principle of the body to the immortal principle. The English work 'soul'(1) was formerly used for both of these, and so in our earlier translations of Scripture, but is in other English usage now confined to the immortal principle. Thus any possible translation of the present passage into current English is necessarily defective. The Com. Ver, by changing to 'soul' in Matthew 16:26, conceals the close verbal connection between the two sentences. The Rev. Ver., by retaining the same word 'life' in both, makes it less plain to the modern reader that the reference in the second sentence is to the spiritual and eternal life. Yet the latter translation is certainly best, for it only requires the reader to observe a transition which the Greek actually makes. So in Matthew 10:39, Luke 17:33; (compare Luke 14:26) John 12:25; and a kindred idea in Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:12. Will save, or wishes to save, as in Matthew 16:24. Whosoever wishes to save his bodily, temporal life shall lose his spiritual, eternal life. For my sake. Mark,'for my sake and the gospel's.'

Matthew 16:26. What shall a man be profited, read by the earliest documents, was easily changed by copyists into what is a man profited, by assimilation to Luke; in Mark also the documents vary much between present and future. Either point of view is obviously possible. And lose (Rev. Ver., forfeit). The Greek verb is derived from the noun rendered 'loss' as opposed to 'gain' in Philippians 3:7, and is itself used in Philippians 3:8, 'I have suffered the loss of all things.' It frequently denotes a fine or forfeit (Lidd. and Scott), and so Geneva here, 'be condemned to pay his soul;' but the image here is more probably that of profit and loss in business operations, where one subtracts the total loss from the total gain to see what profit he has made. The difficulty of translating the word in this sense as distinguished from the other word 'lose' just before, may have partly influenced the Revisers into preferring the other sense. Luke 9:25 gives both terms, 'and lose or forfeit his own self.' And notice that Luke has 'himself' instead of 'his life;' for a man to lose his life, in the highest sense of that term, is to lose himself. Observe that the thought here is not directly of what we call the loss or perdition of a soul. The gain and loss in the great business transaction are compared, and the man's own life in the spiritual and eternal sense is the loss; what then will be the profit? In earthly business, however, one may sometimes prosper afterwards and purchase back the property he has lost; but what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (life), so as to purchase it back? Bengel : "The world does not suffice." The noun denotes that which by exchange takes the place of something else, whether as substitute (Ecclus. Sirach 6:15; Sirach 26:14), or as a ransom; (Isaiah 43:3) here it is more generally a purchasing equivalent.

Matthew 16:27. We see that this great balancing of accounts is not a mere figure of speech, but will actually occur. The Son of man, see on "Matthew 8:20". This constantly suggests that he is the Messiah (compare on Matthew 16:13), and indicates that he is to be the final judge, as in Matthew 7:22, and hereafter in Matthew 25:31, Matthew 25:34. Shall come, not the mere future tense, but a strong expression like 'is going to come,' 'is about to come,' and in the Greek made emphatic by its position at the head of the sentence; he is coming and there is no mistake about it. This is believed to be the first distinct intimation of his second coming. In the glory of his Father. In the same glory amid which his Father dwells. Compare Matthew 26:64. This glory he had with his Father before the world was; (John 17:5) he had voluntarily left it to come on his present lowly mission, (Philippians 2:6 ff.) but he would return to share it again, and in that glory he would hereafter come. With his angels. (Matthew 13:41, Matthew 24:31, Matthew 25:31) Luke (Luke 9:26) has an expression which implies that their encompassing glory will enhance his glory. As to the angels, see on "Matthew 18:10". According to his deeds, or, more exactly, action, practice, course of life. (Colossians 3:9 has the same word.) The expressions seem to be suggested by Psalms 62:12, Proverbs 24:12, quoted in Romans 2:6; compare Revelation 22:12, and as to the thought, 1 Corinthians 5:10. The fact of this coming retribution shows the importance of saving the soul; but there is special reference to the thought of reward for doing and suffering in his service (Matthew 16:24 f.). Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26, give the additional point that when he comes he will be ashamed of every one that has been ashamed of him. Matthew has before recorded this thought as uttered on a different occasion, (Matthew 10:33) and so he omits it here.

Matthew 16:28. His coming is not only certain, but near. Verily I say unto you, as in Matthew 5:18, introducing a very important utterance. His coming will occur before some of those present will die. There be, old English where we now say 'there are.' Some (of those) standing here, who were not only the Twelve, but a crowd. (Mark 8:34) It is implied that not many of them would live to witness what is meant; and this shows that it was not any event very near at hand. Shall not, the strong double negative, as in Matthew 16:22. Taste of death. The image is that of a bitter cup, (Matthew 20:33, Matthew 26:29) which all men must sooner or Later taste of, and is very common in Jewish writings. Compare Hebrews 2:9; in John 8:51 f it is made the equivalent of 'see death'. (compare Luke 2:26) Till they see, naturally, though not necessarily (compare on Matthew 1:25), implies that after the coming in question they will taste of death; and is so far an argument against understanding our Lord's final coming to be meant. The Son of man coming in his kingdom, or kingship, royalty—coming as king (see on "Matthew 3:2"). So in the robber's prayer, (Luke 23:42) and compare as to the thought, Luke 21:31. In Mark 9:50, Luke 9:27, only the coming of the kingdom is mentioned; but that implies the coming of the Messianic King, which Matt. expresses. How could Jesus say that he would come as Messianic King in the lifetime of some then present? Certain rationalizing expositors at once say that Jesus expected his final coming to judgment to take place within that period. The language would readily bear that sense, especially in such close connection with Luke 9:27; can it fairly have any other sense? Since the Fathers of the third century a good many have referred it simply to the Transfiguration, in which Jesus appeared as the glorious king. But (a) this is a very unnatural and enfeebled sense of 'coming in his kingdom;' (b) it occurred within a week, during the lifetime not simply of 'some,' but of probably all those present; and these objections are fatal to that view. Many others content themselves with understanding a general reference to the establishment of the spiritual reign of Messiah; some say on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), though that occurred within less than a year and so conflicts with 'some;' others say throughout the following generation or the century. The most reasonable explanation, especially when we compare Matthew 24, is to understand a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, forty years afterwards. This providentially lifted the Messianic reign to a new stage. It put an end to the sacrifices and the whole temple ritual, and thus taught the Jewish Christians that these need be no longer observed, and to a great extent stopped the mouths of the Judaizers who gave Paul so much trouble. The withdrawal of the Christians from Jerusalem before its destruction occasioned an alienation between them and the Jewish people at large. In general, the destruction of Jerusalem made Christianity stand out as no longer even in appearance a mere phase or mode of Judaism, but an independent and universal religion. (Compare Bp. Lightfoot on Galatians, p. 300 ff.) The sudden transition from the final coming for judgment (Matthew 16:27) to this nearer coming at the destruction of Jerusalem is repeatedly paralleled in Matthew 24; and the very phrase of Luke 9:28 by Matthew 24:34, "This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished." Plumptre: "That such words should have been recorded and published by the Evangelists is a proof either that they accepted that interpretation, if they wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, or if we assume that they were led by them to look for the 'end of all things' as near at hand, that they wrote before the generation of them who stood by had passed away; and so the very difficulty that has perplexed men becomes a proof of the early date of the three Gospels that contain the record."(1)

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 16:22 f. The imperfectly instructed believer. (1) Prejudice often prevents his understanding the plain teachings of revelation. (2) Conceit often leads him to set his own judgment above God's teaching. (Compare 1 Corinthians 4:6) (3) Presumptuous ignorance often makes him hinder the cause he tries to help. (4) Strength of will and warmth of heart often render his ignorance more harmful. (5) Therefore his honest opinions and well-meant advice must sometimes be utterly rejected by others. (6) Further instruction and experience may make him a pillar in the church. (Galatians 2:9)

Matthew 16:23. Baxter (in Morison): "Good men ofttimes do the devil's work, though they know it not."—There has always been a tendency, and especially in our day, to decide questions of religious truth and duty from the human rather than the divine point of view. The Bible is judged exclusively from its conformity to human reason and its adaptation to human wants. Well-meaning persons try to build up churches, or to further public morality, by following the dictates of worldly policy. But to think God's thoughts, to look at things so far as we may from his standpoint, is in religion the only wisdom and safety.—Chrys.: "If the chief apostle, even before he had learnt all distinctly, was called Satan for feeling this, what excuse can they have, who after so abundant proof deny the mystery of the CROSS?"

Matthew 16:24 f. Following Christ. (1) Method. (a) In self-renunciation. (b) In cross-bearing. (2) Motives. (a) The loss in following him is but temporal, the gain is spiritual and eternal. (b) The toss in refusing to follow him is remediless forever. (c) The love of Christ ("for my sake") gives patience in loss, and adds brightness to gain. Chrys.: "If any man will. I force not, I compel not, but each one I make lord of his own choice.... But he that leaves the hearer to choose attracts him more. For soothing is a mightier thing than force." Henry: "We must deny ourselves absolutely; we must not admire our own shadow, nor gratify our own humour; we must not lean to our own understanding, nor seek our own things, nor be our own end."

Matthew 16:25. Chrys.: "On that side salvation and destruction, and on this side salvation and destruction, but how greatly the one differs from the other."—Comp, on Matthew 10:38 f.

Matthew 10:26. Earth's greatest business transaction. (1) The greatest possible earthly gain, accompanied by the greatest possible earthly loss. (2) The loss is utterly past remedy, and will soon render the gain utterly useless. (3) In this line of business we are all engaged, and ought to consult our true profit.—Queen (Compare Matthew 5:29 f.) Elizabeth, when dying, said, "Millions of money for an inch of time." She had the money, but could not make the exchange.

Matthew 10:27. Christ came in lowliness, despised and rejected, (Isaiah 53) in the form of a servant, (Philippians 3:7) to live among men and die to atone for them; he will come again in I glory, and take his people to behold his glory, (John 17:24) and to share it. (Philippians 3:21) Bengel: "The doctrine of the person of Christ (Matthew 16:16) is immediately followed by the doctrine of the cross (Matthew 16:24), and this by the doctrine of glory." (Matthew 16:27.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 16:4". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbm/matthew-16.html. 1886.

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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