Matthew 16:1 KJV The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
Guzik:Then the Pharisees and Sadducees: Their remarkable working in unison shows a real anxiety among them. The Sadducees and Pharisees were long-standing enemies, and the fact that they can come together against Jesus shows that they regard Him as an extremely serious threat.
b. And testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven: Jesus had done many signs and they remain unconvinced. They looked for a sign from heaven such as calling down fire from heaven, preferably against a Roman legion. They said they were not convinced by the signs “on earth” Jesus had done.
i. Tradition held that a sign done on earth could be a counterfeit from Satan, but signs done from heaven (in or from the sky) were assumed to be from God.
Russell:Pharisees came forth — Considering Jesus a competitor and a successful one; and fearing, not without a cause, that their own reputations as teachers were becoming tarnished because of Jesus’ superiority as a teacher.
A sign from heaven — Hence, belittling the many signs he was giving the people in the healing of the sick, etc.
Tempting him — To find fault.
Guzik: Seeking from Him a sign from heaven: In the mind of the Pharisees, this was not a request for another miracle of the type Jesus had already done. They are asking for a dramatic sign from the sky, something similar Elijah’s fire from heaven (1 Kings 18).
Testing Him: This is not a friendly encounter. The word tested could be translated tempted. The Pharisees are tempting Jesus to perform a miraculous sign just as Satan did in the wilderness.
Clarke: The Pharisees were the most considerable sect among the Jews, for they had not only the scribes, and all the learned men of the law of their party, but they also drew after them the bulk of the people. When this sect arose is uncertain. Josephus, Antiq. lib. v. c. xiii. s. 9, speaks of them as existing about 144 years before the Christian era. They had their appellation of Pharisees, from פרש parash, to separate, and were probably, in their rise, the most holy people among the Jews, having separated themselves from the national corruption, with a design to restore and practice the pure worship of the most High. That they were greatly degenerated in our Lord’s time is sufficiently evident; but still we may learn, from their external purity and exactness, that their principles in the beginning were holy. Our Lord testifies that they had cleansed the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they were full of abomination. They still kept up the outward regulations of the institution, but they had utterly lost its spirit; and hypocrisy was the only substitute now in their power for that spirit of piety which I suppose, and not unreasonably, characterized the origin of this sect.
The Sadducees had their origin and name from one Sadoc, a disciple of Antigonus of Socho, president of the Sanhedrin, and teacher of the law in one of the great divinity schools in Jerusalem, about 264 B.C.
This Antigonus having often in his lectures informed his scholars, that they should not serve God through expectation of a reward, but through love and filial reverence only, Sadoc inferred from this teaching that there were neither rewards nor punishments after this life, and, by consequence, that there was no resurrection of the dead, nor angel, nor spirit, in the invisible world; and that man is to be rewarded or punished here for the good or evil he does.
They received only the five books of Moses, and rejected all unwritten traditions. From every account we have of this sect, it plainly appears they were a kind of mongrel deists, and professed materialists.
Tempting – him – Feigning a desire to have his doctrine fully proved to them, that they might credit it, and become his disciples; but having no other design than to betray and ruin him.
Benson:tempting, or, trying him, as πειραζοντες properly signifies; (see note on Mat_4:1,) that is, making trial, in a crafty and insnaring manner, whether he was able to do what they required: desired a sign from heaven — Such a sign as they insinuated Satan could not counterfeit. They pretended they were willing to be convinced that he was the Messiah, could they see sufficient proofs of it: whereas they had already resisted the clearest evidence of it, and now indeed came with no design or desire of being convinced of his divine mission, but in order that, failing in the proof which they required, he might expose himself to general censure and contempt.
Barnes:A sign from heaven – Some miraculous appearance in the sky. Such appearances had been given by the prophets; and they supposed, if he was the Messiah, that his miracles would not all be confined to the earth, but that he was able to give some signal miracle from heaven. Samuel had caused it to thunder 1Sa_12:16-18; Isaiah had caused the shadow to go back ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz Isa_38:8; and Moses had sent manna from heaven, Exo_16:4; Joh_6:31. It is proper to say, that though Christ did not choose then to show such wonders, yet far more stupendous signs from heaven than these were exhibited at his death.
Do we sometimes act like these Pharisees when dealing with our brethren?
Do we come to our brethren looking to find fault?
Matthew 16:2 KJV He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
Matthew 16:3 KJV And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Benson:He answered, When it is evening, &c. — As if he had said, It is evident you ask this out of a desire to cavil rather than to discern the divine will, for in other cases you take up with degrees of evidence far short of those which you here reject: as for instance, you know that a red sky in the evening is a presage of fair weather, and a red and lowering sky in the morning, of foul weather; thus ye can discern the face of the sky, and form from thence very probable conjectures concerning the weather; but can ye not discern the signs of the times — The signs which evidently show that this is the time of the Messiah? The proofs which Jesus was daily giving them by his wonderful works, his holy and beneficent conduct, and heavenly doctrine, of his divine mission, were more than sufficient to establish it; and, had the Pharisees been possessed of any candour at all, or any inclination to know the truth, they could not have been at a loss to judge in this matter, especially, as in ordinary affairs they showed abundance of acuteness. The truth is, as our Lord here signified, their not acknowledging him as the Messiah was neither owing to want of evidence, nor to want of capacity to judge of that evidence; but to their self- confidence and pride, and their carnal and worldly spirit.
Russell: Can ye not discern — Many see the signs of the new dispensation without knowing how to read them or what they signify. Should we not be much more deeply interested in the much
more important things pertaining to the development of the divine plan?
Signs of the times — Even those who have no knowledge of the divine plan are now reading the signs of the times so clearly as to approximate the time of a new order of things.
Matthew 16:4 KJV A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
Guzik:Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times: Jesus condemned their hypocrisy. They felt confident about predicting the weather from the signs they saw around them, but were blind to the signs regarding Jesus’ Messianic credentials right before their eyes.
i. Jesus wasn’t the only one to notice the hypocrisy in His day. The Jews of Jesus’ day had a proverb saying that if all the hypocrites in the world were divided into ten parts, Jerusalem would contain nine of the ten parts.
d. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign: This reminds that signs alone convert no one. We can place far too much confidence in signs as events bring people to faith in Jesus.
i. The problem isn’t that the signs are themselves weak, but that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after them.
e. No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah: However, Jesus promised a sign that would have power to bring people to faith – His own resurrection.
Mar 8:12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
Mar 8:13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.
Adam Clarke And he sighed deeply in his spirit – Or having deeply groaned – so the word αναστεναξας properly means. He was exceedingly affected at their obstinacy and hardness of heart. See Mat_16:1-4.
Barnes: Sighed deeply in his spirit – His heart was deeply affected at their wickedness and hypocrisy. The word “spirit” here is taken as the seat of the emotions, passions, affections. He drew groans deeply from his breast.
No sign be given – That is, no such sign as they asked, to wit, a sign “from heaven.” He said a sign should be given, the same as was furnished by Jonas, Mat_16:4. But this was not what they “asked,” nor would it be given “because” they asked it.
Guzik: He sighed deeply in His spirit: This attack, and the unbelief it showed, distressed Jesus. He was amazed at the unbelief and audacity of these religious leaders. “The sigh physical, its cause spiritual – a sense of irreconcilable enmity, invincible unbelief, and coming doom.” (Bruce)
i. This demand for a “special” sign was an extreme example of the arrogance and pride of the Pharisees towards Jesus. Essentially, they said, “You have done a lot of small-time miracles. Come on up to the big leagues and really show us something.”
ii. “Behind the demand for a sign was the prior, firm conviction that Jesus’ authority was demonic in origin, his works are an expression of black magic.” (Lane)
c. No sign shall be given to this generation: Jesus refuses, because His miracles are not done with the intention of convincing hardened unbelievers. Instead, Jesus did miracle to show the power of God in the context of mercy. Those who believe that if people see enough signs, they will come to faith, presume to know more than Jesus did. He condemned the generation seeking a sign.
Russell:No sign be given — While dismissing the self-satisfied, fault-finding quibbles of the Pharisees with dark or evasive answers, our Lord took time and care in making truth clear and plain to the humble.
But the sign — The one great sign given that nation was not given until Calvary.
The prophet Jonas — As Jonas was (portions of) three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man would be a similar period in the earth, and then come forth. That sign did have a great effect upon thousands of Jews, as is evidenced in the account in Acts of the thousands baptized upon hearing Peter’s preaching of Jesus’ death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection on the third day.
Matthew 16:5 KJV And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
Matthew 16:6 KJV Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Matthew 16:7 KJV And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Guzik:It is because we have taken no bread: Why would Jesus, who miraculously fed both 5,000 and 4,000 worry about bread? The disciples didn’t understand Jesus at all here. It is easy to be judgmental of the spiritual insensitivity of the disciples, until we take an honest look at our own.
Barnes: It passes secretly, silently, but certainly through the mass of dough. See the notes at Mat_13:33. “None can see its progress.” So it was with the doctrines of the Pharisees. They were insinuating, artful, plausible. They concealed the real tendency of their doctrines; they instilled them secretly into the mind, until they pervaded all the faculties like leaven.
Clarke: Beware of the leaven – What the leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees was has been already explained, see Mat_16:1. Bad doctrines act in the soul as leaven does in meal; they assimulate the whole Spirit to their own nature. A man’s particular creed has a greater influence on his tempers and conduct than most are aware of. Pride, hypocrisy, and worldly-mindedness, which constituted the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, ruin the major part of the world.
How does your belief system affect your behavior?
Are you proud and arrogant?
Are you worldly-minded?
Are you looking out for your brethren in love?
Are you looking on your brethren to find fault with them?
Do you have any leaven in your lives?
Matthew 16:8 KJV Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
Clarke: O ye of little faith – There are degrees in faith, as well as in the other graces of the Spirit. Little faith may be the seed of great faith, and therefore is not to be despised. But many who should be strong in faith have but a small measure of it, because they either give way to sin, or are not careful to improve what God has already given.
Matthew 16:9 KJV Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Matthew 16:10 KJV Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Matthew 16:11 KJV How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Russell: The disciples very much missed the point of Jesus’ parabolic statement about the leaven of the Pharisees. They at once thought of literal leaven and literal bread, and noted that they had only one loaf with them and supposed that the Master was upbraiding them. Their mental eyes, their eyes of understanding, were not very widely open, and Jesus promptly and very plainly told them so, and apparently with a measure of chagrin, that after all the teaching He had given them they should be so slow to perceive the spirit of His words.
He reminded them of the miracle of the five thousand fed with the five loaves, and asked them how many basketfuls of fragments they collected. They answered, “Twelve.” He reminded them of the other feeding of the four thousand with seven loaves, and asked them how many baskets were taken up. They answered, “Seven.” He said, How, then, do you not understand that I was not finding fault with you for having only one loaf; surely, if I had the power to produce bread before, I have still that power, and could not have referred to your lack of bread.
The same thing is noticeable today amongst the Lord’s people in Bible Study frequently; the spirit of our Lord’s teachings is often missed altogether by some whose minds center merely around some little incidental. The remedy for this is a closer walk with God; a more careful study of the Divine Word, entering into the spirit of the Master and His work, as footstep followers. In this connection let us not forget the difficult “thorns” which another parable tells us so frequently infest the hearts and minds of God’s people and hinder the Word of Truth from bringing forth its proper fruitage. The “thorns” are “the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches,” Jesus said.
Clarke:How is it that ye do not understand – We are not deficient in spiritual knowledge, because we have not had sufficient opportunities of acquainting ourselves with God; but because we did not improve the advantages we had. How deep and ruinous must our ignorance be, if God did not give line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little! They now perceived that he warned them against the superstition of the Pharisees, which produced hypocrisy, pride, envy, etc., and the false doctrine of the Sadducees, which denied the existence of a spiritual world, the resurrection of the body, and the providence of God.
Do you think on the miracles the Lord has done in your life?
Do they help you to trust him more in the future?
Matthew 16:12 KJV Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Guzik: Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees: Jesus impressed the importance of being on guard against false teaching. Here as always, leaven is a picture of corruption, especially that of an insidious nature.
Matthew 16:13 KJV When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
TSK: Caesarea Philippi: Cesarea Philippi was anciently called Paneas, from the mountain of Panium, or Hermon, at the foot of which it was situated, near the springs of Jordan; but Philip the tetrarch, the son of Herod the Great, having rebuilt it, gave it the name of Cesarea in honour of Tiberius, the reigning emperor, and he added his own name to it, to distinguish it from another Cesarea on the coast of the Mediterranean.
Guzik:Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? Jesus did not ask this out of insecurity or a lack of full awareness of His identity; nor is He conducting a public opinion poll. Jesus asks this because He wants His disciples to know who He is.
Benson:When Jesus came, &c. — There was a large interval of time between what has been related already, and what follows. The passages that follow were but a short time before our Lord suffered: came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi —
He asked his disciples, Who do men (Luke says, the people,) say that I, the Son of man, am — Who do they take me to be…? Or, as some understand the expression, Who do men say that I am? the Son of man? Do they say that I am the Son of man, the Messiah?
Matthew 16:14 KJV And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
Benson: and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets — There was at that time a current tradition among the Jews, that either Jeremiah, or some other of the ancient prophets, would rise again before the Messiah came. Most part of the people took Jesus for a different person from what he was, because he had nothing of the outward pomp or grandeur in which they supposed the Messiah was to appear. Therefore, that he might give his disciples, who had long been witnesses of his miracles, and had attended on his ministry, an opportunity of declaring their opinion of him, he proceeded to ask,
Guzik:Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets: The general tendency was to underestimate Jesus, to give Him a measure of respect and honor, but to fall far short of honoring Him for who He really is.
John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets: People who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist didn’t know much about Him, and they didn’t know that Jesus and John had ministered at the same time. But both John and Elijah were national reformers who stood up to the corrupt rulers of their day.
Barnes:And they said … – They supposed that he might be John the Baptist, as Herod did, risen from the dead. See Mat_14:2. He performed many miracles, and strongly resembled John in his manner of life, and in the doctrines which he taught.
Who do you think Jesus is?
Do you really believe it?
Matthew 16:15 KJV He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Matthew 16:16 KJV And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Benson:But who say ye that I am? And Peter, who was generally the most forward to speak, replied in the name of the rest, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God — That is, his son in a peculiar sense, and therefore a person of infinitely greater dignity than either John the Baptist, or Elias, or Jeremiah, or any other prophet.
Guzik: b. Who do you say that I am? This is the question placed before all who hear of Jesus; and it is we, not He, who are judged by our answer.
In fact, we answer this question every day by what we believe and do. If we really believe Jesus is who He says He is, it will affect the way that we live.
Barnes: Of the living God – The term “living” was given to the true God to distinguish him from idols, that are dead, or lifeless blocks and stones. He is also the Source of life, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. The word “living” is often given to him in the Old Testament, Jos_3:10; 1Sa_17:26, 1Sa_17:36; Jer_10:9-10, etc. In this noble confession Peter expressed the full belief of himself and of his brethren that he was the long-expected Messiah. Other people had very different opinions of him, but they were satisfied, and were not ashamed to confess it.
Matthew 16:17 KJV And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Guzik:Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven: Jesus reveals to Peter that he spoke by divine inspiration, even if he didn’t even know it at the time.
We too often expect God to speak in strange and unnatural ways. Here God spoke through Peter so naturally that he didn’t even realize his Father who is in heaven revealed it to him.
Benson:Jesus answered, Blessed [or happy, as μακαριος signifies] art thou, Simon Bar-jona, (or the son of Jonas,) namely, in being brought thus firmly to believe and confess this most important truth, on believing and confessing which the present and everlasting salvation of mankind depends.
For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee — “Thou hast not learned it by human report, or the unassisted sagacity of thy own mind; but my Father in heaven has discovered it to thee, and wrought in thy soul this cordial assent, in the midst of those various prejudices against it which present circumstances might suggest.”
Matthew 16:18 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:19 KJV And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Guzik: I also say to you that you are Peter: This is not only a recognition of Peter’s more Roman name, it is also a promise of God’s work in Peter. The name Peter means “Rock.” Though it may be hard to believe, Peter was a rock, and would become a rock, God transforming his naturally extreme character into something solid and reliable.
c. On this rock I will build My church: The words this rock have been the source of much controversy. It is best to see them as referring to either Jesus Himself (perhaps Jesus gesturing to Himself as He said this), or as referring to Peter’s confession of who Jesus is.
- Peter, by His own testimony, did not see himself as the rock on which the church was founded. He says that we are living stones, but Jesus is the cornerstone (1Pe_2:4-7).
- I will build My church: This is a clear claim of ownership. The church belongs to Jesus.
c. And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it: Jesus also offers a promise – the forces of death and darkness can’t prevail against or conquer the church. This is a precious promise in the heat of battle, assuring us that victory is sure.
d. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: The idea is not that Peter will admit people to heaven, but that Peter opened the door of the kingdom to both the Jews (Act_2:38-39) and the Gentiles (Act_10:34-44).
e. And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven: The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jewish rabbis of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the law. Jesus promises that Peter – and the other apostles – would be able to set the boundaries authoritatively for the New Covenant community. This was the authority given to the apostles and prophets to build a foundation (Eph_2:20).
Benson:“This is one of those scriptures, the sense of which might be most certainly fixed by the particular tone of voice and gesture with which it was spoken. If our Lord altered his accent, and laid his hand on his breast, it would show that he spoke, not of the person, but of the confession of Peter, (as most Protestant divines have understood it,) and meant to point out himself as the great foundation.” Compare 1Co_3:10-11. In confirmation of this sense, it may be observed, that when our Lord says, Upon this rock, he does not make use of the word πετρος, as if he referred to Peter himself, but πετρα, which is an appellative noun, and immediately refers to Peter’s confession. “But if, when our Lord uttered these words, he turned to the other apostles, and pointed to Peter, that would show he meant to intimate the honour he would do him, in making him an eminent support to his church. This is the sense which Grotius, Le Clerc, Dr. Whitby, and L’Enfant defend. But to be a foundation in this sense, was not Peter’s honour alone; his brethren shared with him in it, (see Eph_2:20; Rev_21:14,) as they did also in the power of binding and loosing, Mat_18:18; Joh_20:23.
The gates of hell — As gates and walls were the strength of cities, and as courts of judicature were held in their gates, this phrase properly signifies the power and policy of Satan and his instruments: shall not prevail against it — Not against the church universal, so as to destroy it. And they never did, for there hath been a small remnant in all ages. And they never will, for faithful is he who hath made this promise, and he will certainly fulfil it.
Barnes: Whatsoever thou shalt bind … – The phrase “to bind” and “to loose” was often used by the Jews. It meant to prohibit and to permit. To bind a thing was to forbid it; to loose it, to allow it to be done. … When Jesus gave this power to the apostles, he meant that whatsoever they forbade in the church should have divine authority; whatever they permitted, or commanded, should also have divine authority – that is, should be bound or loosed in heaven, or meet the approbation of God. They were to be guided infallibly in the organization of the church:
1. By the teaching of Christ, and,
2. By the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
This does not refer to persons, but to things – “whatsoever,” not whosoever. It refers to rites and ceremonies in the church. Such of the Jewish customs as they should forbid were to be forbidden, and such as they thought proper to permit were to be allowed. Such rites as they should appoint in the church were to have the force of divine authority. Accordingly, they commanded the Gentile converts to “abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” Act_15:20; and, in general, they organized the church, and directed what was to be observed and what was to be avoided. The rules laid down by them in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, in connection with the teachings of the Saviour as recorded in the evangelists, constitute the only law binding on Christians in regard to the order of the church, and the rites and ceremonies to be observed in it.
Matthew 16:20 KJV Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
Guzik: He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ: Jesus is pleased that His disciples are coming to know who He is in truth, but He still doesn’t want His identity spread abroad before the proper time.
Barnes: Then charged … – That is, he commanded them.
Mar_8:30 and Luke Luk_9:21 say (in Greek) that he strictly or severely charged them. He laid emphasis on it, as a matter of much importance. The reason of this seems to be that his time had not fully come; that he was not willing to rouse the Jewish malice, and to endanger his life, by having it proclaimed that he was the Messiah. The word “Jesus” is wanting in many manuscripts, and should probably be omitted: “Then he charged them strictly to tell no man that he was the Christ or Messiah.”
Matthew 16:21 KJV From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Guzik: Jesus begins to reveal the full extent of His mission.
He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things . . . and be killed: This must have come as quite a shock to His disciples. After fully understanding that Jesus was the Messiah, the last thing they expected was the Messiah would suffer many things and be killed.
And be raised the third day: The disciples were probably so shocked that Jesus said He would be killed in Jerusalem, that these words didn’t sink in. Later, and angel reminded them of these words (Luk_24:6-8).
Benson: From that time forth — When they had made that full confession of Christ that he was the Messiah, the Son of God; began Jesus to show unto his disciples — Another most important point, namely, that he must suffer and be put to death, as a malefactor. If they had not been well grounded in their belief of Christ’s being the Son of God, it would have been a great shock to their faith to be informed that he must suffer and die. Some hints, indeed, our Lord had already given of his sufferings, as when he said, Destroy this temple, and spoke of the Son of man being lifted up, and of eating his flesh and drinking his blood; but hitherto he had not spoken plainly and expressly of the subject, because the disciples were weak, and could not have borne the notice of a thing so very strange and so very melancholy. But now, as they were more advanced in knowledge and stronger in faith, he began to reveal this to them: for he declares his mind to his people gradually, and lets in light as they can bear it, and are prepared to receive it.
How that he must go unto Jerusalem — The holy city, the royal city, and suffer there. Though he had lived most of his time in Galilee, he must die at Jerusalem; there all the sacrifices were offered; and there, therefore, He must die who was to be the great sacrifice. Thither he was to go within the short space of a few months, this declaration being made in the last year of his life
must suffer many things from the elders — The most honourable and experienced men; from the chief priests — Accounted the most religious, and the scribes — The most learned body of men in the nation. These made up the great sanhedrim, which sat at Jerusalem, and was had in veneration by the people: and these one would have expected to have been the very first to receive him. But instead of this, they were the most bitter in persecuting him! Strange, indeed, that men of knowledge in the Scriptures, who professed to expect the Messiah’s coming, and sustained a sacred character, should use him with such contumely and cruelty when he came! … From them he suffered many things, things which manifested their insatiable malice, and his invincible patience, and in the issue was killed: for nothing short of his death would either satisfy the malice of his enemies, or render him a proper sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Our Lord, however, while he brought to his disciples these melancholy tidings, added, for their support and encouragement under this gloomy prospect, that in the third day he should be raised again. And thus, as all the prophets had done, when he testified beforehand his sufferings, he bore witness likewise to the glory that should follow, 1Pe_1:11. His rising again the third day proved him to be the Son of God, notwithstanding his sufferings, and therefore he mentions it in order that the faith of the disciples might not fail.
Clarke: Three sorts of persons, our Lord intimates, should be the cause of his death and passion: the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes. Pious Quesnel takes occasion to observe from this, that Christ is generally persecuted by these three descriptions of men: rich men, who have their portion in this life; ambitious and covetous ecclesiastics, who seek their portion in this life; and conceited scholars, who set up their wisdom against the wisdom of God, being more intent on criticising words than in providing for the salvation of their souls. The spirit of Christianity always enables a man to bear the ills of life with patience; to receive death with joy; and to expect, by faith, the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come.
Gill:and suffer many things of the elders, chief priests, and Scribes: who would lie in wait for him, send persons to apprehend him, insult, reproach, and despitefully use him; load him with false charges, accusations, and calumnies, and deliver him to the Gentiles, to be mocked, scourged, and crucified: and this is aggravated as what would be done to him, not by the common people, or the dregs of them, but by the principal men of the city, by the sanhedrim, which consisted of the “elders” of the people, their senators; for this is not a name of age, but of office and dignity; and of the “chief priests”, the principal of them, those of the greatest note among them, who were chosen members of the grand council; and of “the Scribes”, a set of men in high esteem for their learning and wisdom:
and be killed; signifying, that he should not die a natural death, but that his life should be taken from him in a cruel and violent manner, without any regard to law or justice; indeed, that he should be properly murdered; but for the comfort of his disciples, and that they might not be overmuch pressed and cast down, at the hearing of these things, he adds,
and be raised again the third day according to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and the type of Jonas.
Matthew 16:22 KJV Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Matthew 16:23 KJV But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Guzik:Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You! Peter’s intent was love for Jesus, but he was unwittingly used of Satan. You don’t have to be demon possessed to be used of Satan and we need to be on guard lest we are unwittingly used.
b. You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men: We must always understand that a sincere heart, with man’s thinking, can often lead to disaster.
Meyer: How soon Peter fell from his high estate! Beware! The voice that bids us spare ourselves is Satan’s. Self-pleasing ends in destruction. Self-denial and self-sacrifice are the divine path to life. Let us be more eager to lose ourselves than to find ourselves; more set on the cross than on the glory; more eager to promote the well-being of others than our own. We do not choose or make our cross; Christ gives each a little bit of His true Cross to bear as He pleases.
Clarke:Then Peter took him – Προσλαβομενος – took him up – suddenly interrupted him, as it were calling him to order – see Wakefield. Some versions give προσλαβομενος the sense of calling him aside. The word signifies also to receive in a friendly manner – to embrace; but Mr. Wakefield’s translation agrees better with the scope of the place. A man like Peter, who is of an impetuous spirit, and decides without consideration upon every subject, must of necessity be often in the wrong.
Be it far from thee Lord – Ιλεως σοι Κυριε. Be merciful to thyself Lord. Pity thyself – So I think the original should be rendered. Peter knew that Christ had power sufficient to preserve himself from all the power and malice of the Jews; and wished him to exert that in his own behalf which he had often exorted in the behalf of others. Some critics of great note think the expression elliptical, and that the word Θεος, God, is necessarily understood, as if Peter had said, God be merciful to thee! but I think the marginal reading is the sense of the passage… How many Peters are there now in the world, who are in effect saying, This cannot be done unto thee – thou didst not give thy life for the sin of the world – it would be injustice to cause the innocent to suffer thus for the guilty. But what saith God? His soul shall be made an offering for sin – he shall taste death for every man – the iniquities of us all were laid upon him. Glorious truth! May the God who published it have eternal praises!
Barnes: Then Peter took him – Peter was strongly attached to him. He could not bear to think of Jesus’ death. He expected, moreover, that he would be the triumphant Messiah. In his ardor, and confidence, and strong attachment, he seized him by the hand as a friend, and said, “Be it far from thee.” This phrase might have been translated, “God be merciful to thee; this shall not be unto thee.” It expressed Peter’s strong desire that it might not be. The word “rebuke” here means to admonish or earnestly to entreat, as in Luk_17:3. It does not mean that Peter assumed authority over Christ, but that he earnestly expressed his wish that it might not be so. Even this was improper. He should have been submissive, and not have interfered.
Get thee behind me, Satan – The word “Satan” literally means “an adversary,” or one who opposes us in the accomplishment of our designs.
It is applied to the devil commonly, as the opposer or adversary of man; but there is no evidence that the Lord Jesus meant to apply this term to Peter, as signifying that he was Satan or the devil, or that he used the term in anger. He may have used it in the general sense which the word bore as an adversary or opposer; and the meaning may be, that such sentiments as Peter expressed then were opposed to him and his plans. His interference was improper. His views and feelings stood in the way of the accomplishment of the Saviour’s designs. There was, undoubtedly, a rebuke in this language, for the conduct of Peter was improper; but the idea which is commonly attached to it, and which, perhaps, our translation conveys, implies a more severe and harsh rebuke than the Saviour intended, and than the language which he used would express.
Thou art an offence – That is, a stumbling-block. Your advice and wishes are in my way. If followed, they would prevent the very thing for which I came.
Thou savourest not – Literally, thou thinkest not upon; or your language and spirit are not such as spring from a supreme regard to the will of God, or from proper views of him, but such as spring from the common views entertained by people. You think that those things should not be done which God wishes to be done. You judge of this matter as people do who are desirous of honor; and not as God, who sees it best that I should die, to promote the great interests of mankind.
Gill:But he turned,…. Either to Peter, changing his countenance, and looking sternly upon him, or rather to the disciples; for Mark says, “when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter”: Peter had took him aside, and was arguing the case privately with him; but what he said was so offensive to him, that he chose to reprove him publicly before the disciples; and therefore turned himself from him to them, in a way of resentment,
and said unto Peter; in their hearing, and before them all,
get thee behind me, Satan. The Persic version renders it, O infidel! as he was at present, with respect to the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ: some take the word Satan, to be a general name for an adversary, or enemy, as it is used in 2Sa_19:22 and think that Christ calls Peter by this name, because he was against him, and opposed him in this point; which sense abates the harshness of this expression. But it seems rather to mean the devil, who took the advantage of Peter’s weakness and ignorance; and put him upon dissuading Christ from suffering, for the salvation of his people: though it should be known, that the word Satan, is used by the, Jews (w), to signify the vitiosity and corruption of nature; of which they say, שטן הוא, this is Satan; so the messenger, or angel Satan, 2Co_12:7 may be thought to be the same; See Gill on 2Co_12:7 And then our Lord’s sense is, be gone from me, I cannot bear the sight of thee; thou art under the influence of the corruption of thy heart, and nature; thou talkest like a carnal, and not like a spiritual man; and therefore Christ denominates him from his carnality, Satan, one of the names of the vitiosity of nature, whom a little before he had pronounced blessed; being then under the influence of another spirit, as appeared from the noble confession of his faith in Christ: this change shows the weakness of human nature, the strength of corruption, the inconstancy and fickleness of frames, and the imperfection of grace in the best of saints.
Thou art an offence unto me; or a stumbling block to me, a cause of stumbling and failing; not that he really was, but he endeavoured to be, and was as much as in him lay; and had he given heed unto him, would have been so. It may be observed, that nothing was more offensive to Christ, than to endeavour to divert him from the work his farther called him to; he had agreed to do; what he came into this world for, and his heart was so much set upon; namely, to suffer and die in the room of his people, in order to obtain salvation for them: never were such words uttered by him, and such resentment shown to any, but to the devil himself, when he tempted him to worship him.
but those that be of men: … So, though the blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and death of Christ, are savoury things, things to be savoured, minded, and regarded by believers, and accounted precious; and they do mind them, so the word signifies, Rom_8:5 when being blessed with a spiritual and experimental knowledge, and application of them to themselves, they exercise faith, hope, and love upon Christ, with respect unto them; when they remember them aright in the ordinance of the supper, the love from whence they spring, and the benefits that come hereby; and when they discern the Lord’s body in it, a crucified Jesus, and the blessings of grace which come by him, and ascribe their whole salvation to his sufferings and death, and taste the sweetness there is in these things, eating his flesh and drinking his blood by faith; yet being left to themselves, they do not savour, mind, and regard these things, but carnal things, and human schemes; as when they are dilatory to profess a crucified Christ, and submit to those ordinances of his, which set forth his sufferings and death; or are negligent in their attendance on them, their place being often empty at supper time; or if they do attend, their hearts go after other things.
Guzik: . You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men: Jesus exposes how Peter came into this satanic way of thinking. He didn’t make a deliberate choice to reject God and embrace Satan; he simply let his mind settle on the things of men instead of the things of God, and Satan took advantage of it.
Matthew 16:24 KJV Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Guzik: Jesus’ call to disciples.
1. (Mat_16:24) Jesus has announced that He is going to Jerusalem to die, so He expects His followers to follow in His footsteps by dying to self.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
a. Let him deny himself: Human nature wants to indulge self, not deny self. Death to self is always terrible, and if we expect it to be a pleasant experience, we will often be discouraged.
b. And take up his cross: Death to self is the radical command of the Christian life. To take up your cross meant one thing: you were going to a certain death, and your only hope was in resurrection power.
c. Are you God centered or self centered? Jesus presents quite a “grown-up” gospel to us here, one that does not merely pander to our desires, but challenges us in our deepest being.
Benson: (Benson quotes Wesley a lot—most of this comes from Wesley)Then said Jesus unto his disciples — In Mark we read, When he had called the people unto him, and his disciples also, he said unto them; and in Luke, He said to them all, If any man will come after me — Ει τις θελει, If any man be willing,no one is forced: but if any will be a Christian, it must be on the following terms. Let him deny himself — A rule that can never be too much observed: let him in all things deny his own will, however pleasing, and do the will of God, however painful.
And take up his cross — … Because if we grow impatient under sufferings, and endeavour to avoid the crosses which God is pleased to lay upon us, we shall displease God, grieve His Spirit, and bring ourselves under guilt and condemnation. And should we not consider all crosses, all things grievous to flesh and blood, as what they really are, as opportunities of embracing God’s will, at the expense of our own? and consequently as so many steps by which we may advance in holiness? We should make a swift progress in the spiritual life, if we were faithful in this practice. Crosses are so frequent, that whoever makes advantage of them will soon be a great gainer. Great crosses are occasions of great improvement: and the little ones which come daily, and even hourly, make up in number what they want in weight. We may, in these daily and hourly crosses, make effectual oblations of our will to God: which oblations, so frequently repeated, will soon amount to a great sum. Let us remember, then, (what can never be sufficiently inculcated,) that God is the author of all events: that none is so small or inconsiderable as to escape His notice and direction. Every event, therefore, declares to us the will of God, to which, thus declared, we should heartily submit. We should renounce our own to embrace it. We should approve and choose what His choice warrants as best for us. Herein should we exercise ourselves continually; this should be our practice all the day long. We should in humility accept the little crosses that are dispensed to us, as those that best suit our weakness. Let us bear these little things, at least, for God’s sake, and prefer His will to our own in matters of so small importance. And his goodness will accept these mean oblations; for he despiseth not the day of small things.
From Mark 8:34
Guzik: (Mar_8:34) In light of His mission, Jesus warns those who want to follow Him.
Let him deny himself, and take up his cross: It was bad enough for the disciples to hear that Jesus would suffer, be rejected, and die on a cross. Now Jesus tells them that they must do the same thing!
b. Deny himself, and take up his cross: Everybody knew what Jesus meant when He said this. Everyone knew that the cross was an unrelenting instrument of death. The cross had no other purpose.
i. The cross wasn’t about religious ceremonies; it wasn’t about traditions and spiritual feelings. The cross was a way to execute people.
ii. In these twenty centuries after Jesus, we have done a pretty good job in sanitizing and ritualizing the cross. How would we receive it if Jesus said, “Walk down death row daily and follow Me”? Taking up your cross wasn’t a journey; it was a one-way trip. There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip.
iii. “Cross bearing does not refer to some irritation in life. Rather, it involves the way of the cross. The picture is of a man, already condemned, required to carry his cross on the way to the place of execution, as Jesus was required to do.” (Wessel)
iv. “Every Christian must be a Crucian, said Luther, and do somewhat more than those monks that made themselves wooden crosses, and carried them on their back continually, making all the world laugh at them.” (Trapp)
c. Jesus makes deny himself equal with take up his cross. The two express the same idea. The cross wasn’t about self-promotion or self-affirmation. The person carrying a cross knew they couldn’t save themselves.
i. “Denying self is not the same as self-denial. We practice self-denial when, for a good purpose, we occasionally give up things or activities. But we deny self when we surrender ourselves to Christ and determine to obey His will.” (Wiersbe)
ii. Denying self means to live as an others-centered person. Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps (and follow Me). This is following Jesus at its simplest: He carried a cross, He walked down death row; so must those who follow Him.
Russ: Take up his cross — Figurative of crucified. In the sense of being sacrificed, even of earthly interests. If Christ’s crucifixion was not the crucifixion of a sinful will and desires, neither is ours as followers of the spotless Lamb of God, crucified with him. Actual, literal crucifixion signifies to deliver up to a torturous, slow, but sure death. The figurative closely resembles this.
And follow me — “Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” (Rom_8:4) This is the condition. In no other way will Jesus become our Advocate.
Have you denied yourself?
In what ways have you taken up Jesus’ cross?
Does your life reflect this? (ask a neighbor if you don’t know)
Matthew 16:25 KJV For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Wesley: Whosoever will save his life – At the expense of his conscience: whosoever, in the very highest instance, that of life itself, will not renounce himself, shall be lost eternally. But can any man hope he should be able thus to renounce himself, if he cannot do it in the smallest instances? And whosoever will lose his life shall find it – What he loses on earth he shall find in heaven. Mat 10:39; Mar 8:35; Luk 9:24; Luk 17:33; Joh 12:25.
Guzik: The paradox: finding life by losing it.
Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it: How can we find our life by losing it? Jesus asks us to look beyond immediate gratification, because the immediate loss is worth the ultimate gain, even though the loss is completely repulsive to our flesh.
b. He will reward each according to his works: This ultimate gain is given on this day. If we live life blind to this truth, we really will lose our own soul.
Clarke:For whosoever will save his life – That is, shall wish to save his life – at the expense of his conscience, and casting aside the cross, he shall lose it – the very evil he wishes to avoid shall overtake him; and he shall lose his soul into the bargain. See then how necessary it is to renounce one’s self! But whatsoever a man loses in this world, for his steady attachment to Christ and his cause, he shall have amply made up to him in the eternal world.
JFB:For whosoever will save — is minded to save, or bent on saving.
his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it — (See on Mat_10:38, Mat_10:39). “A suffering and dying Messiah liketh you ill; but what if His servants shall meet the same fate? They may not; but who follows Me must be prepared for the worst.”
From Mark 8:35
Mar 8:35 TPT For if you let your life go for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, you will continually experience true life. But if you choose to keep your life for yourself, you will forfeit what you try to keep.
Russ:Will save his life — Greek: psuche; soul, being. Those who love self, popularity, worldly prosperity, honor of men, more than they love the Lord, and who reverence human theories and systems more than the Word of the Lord.
Shall lose it — His eternal life. The great “prize” of the divine nature. Not worthy to share the kingdom.
Shall lose his life — Greek: psuche; soul, being. Anyone solicitous of maintaining his rights and holding on to the present life, unwilling to sacrifice all, will lose the great “prize” of the divine nature.
Shall save it — The reward of life on the spirit plane. In the first resurrection.
Guzik: (Mar_8:35 to Mar_9:1) Why we must take up our cross and follow Jesus.
Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it: We must follow Jesus this way because it is the only way that we will ever find life. It sounds strange to say, “You will never live until you walk down death row with Jesus,” but that is the idea. You can’t gain resurrection life without dying first.
i. You don’t lose a seed when you plant it, though it seems dead and buried. Instead, you set the seed free to be what it was always intended to be.
Meyer: We do not at once see everything clearly, but step by step we come unto perfect vision. Here we see through a glass darkly, there face to face. There was a great price to be paid; it was only through suffering and death that Jesus could do His greatest work, in redeeming and cleansing the children of men. He might have been the miracle-worker apart from Calvary; but to be the Savior, He must not spare Himself but be willing to pour out His soul even unto death. It was hard for the Apostles to learn this lesson; they wanted the Master to spare Himself. Peter, especially, sought to dissuade Him; but the Lord knew better the desperate need of men and how it must be met.
There are three conditions to be fulfilled by those who have resolved to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
1. We must deny self;
2. Each must take up his cross;
3. We must think more of others than of ourselves.
If these are realized, the soul is following Christ and making progress, even though it deems itself stagnant or drifting back.
Are you saving your life for yourself?
Matthew 16:26 KJV For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
From Mark 8:36
Guzik: What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Avoiding the walk down death row with Jesus means that we may gain the whole world, and end up losing everything.
i. Jesus Himself had the opportunity to gain all the world by worshipping Satan (Luk_4:5-8), but found life and victory in obedience instead.
ii. Amazingly, the people who live this way before Jesus are the ones who are really, genuinely happy. Giving our lives to Jesus all the way, and living as an others-centered person does not take away from our lives, it adds to it
MHCC: As the happiness of heaven with Christ, is enough to make up for the loss of life itself for him, so the gain of all the world in sin, will not make up for the ruin of the soul by sin. And there is a day coming, when the cause of Christ will appear as glorious, as some now think it mean and contemptible. May we think of that season, and view every earthly object as we shall do at that great day.
Do you value the promises of God?
Does your life reflect that?
Expositors: What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or with what price shall he buy it back when he discovers his error? But that discovery is too often postponed beyond the horizon of mortality. As one desire proves futile, another catches the eye, and somewhat excites again the often baffled hope. But the day shall come when the last self-deception shall be at an end. The cross of the Son of man, that type of all noble sacrifice, shall then be replaced by the glory of His Father with the holy angels; and ignoble compromise, aware of Jesus and His words, yet ashamed of them in a vicious and self-indulgent age, shall in turn endure His averted face. What price shall they offer then, to buy back what they have forfeited?
Matthew 16:27 KJV For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Benson:For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father — For you may certainly depend upon it that, howsoever he may be now despised and rejected of men, there is a day appointed when he will come in all the glory of God, encircled in the most pompous manner with his holy angels: and then shall he convene the whole world before him.
Clarke:For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father – This seems to refer to Dan_7:13, Dan_7:14. “Behold, one like the Son of man came – to the ancient of Days – and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages should serve him.” This was the glorious Mediatorial kingdom which Jesus Christ was now about to set up, by the destruction of the Jewish nation and polity, and the diffusion of his Gospel through the whole world.
Matthew 16:28 KJV Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Guzik: What did Jesus mean by this? The answer is in the following chapter.