1The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
1 CHAPTER XVI.
NOTES ON CHAP. XVI.
Verse 1. The Pharisees also with the Sadducees] Though a
short account of these has been already given in a note on
Mt 3:7, yet, as one more detailed may be judged necessary,
I think it proper to introduce it in this place.
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 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.
As to their religious opinions, they still continued to credit
the being of a God; they received the five books of Moses, the
writings of the prophets, and the hagiographa. The hagiographa
or holy writings, from αγιος holy, and γραφω I write,
included the twelve following books-Psalms, Proverbs, Job,
Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra,
Nehemiah, and Chronicles. These, among the Jews, occupied a
middle place between the law and the prophets, as divinely
inspired. The Pharisees believed, in a confused way, in the
resurrection, though they received the Pythagorean doctrine of the
metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls. Those, however, who
were notoriously wicked, they consigned, on their death,
immediately to hell, without the benefit of transmigration, or the
hope of future redemption. They held also the predestinarian
doctrine of necessity, and the government of the world by fate;
and yet, inconsistently, allowed some degree of liberty to the
human will. See Prideaux.
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 years before the incarnation.
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. See Prideaux, and the authors he quotes, Connex.
vol. iii. p. 95, and 471, &c., and See Clarke on Mt 3:7.
In Mt 22:16, we shall meet with a third sect, called HERODIANS,
of whom a few words may be spoken here, It is allowed on all
hands that these did not exist before the time of Herod the Great,
who died only three years after the incarnation of our Lord. What
the opinions of these were is not agreed among the learned. Many
of the primitive fathers believed that their distinguishing
doctrine was, that they held Herod to be the Messiah; but it is
not likely that such an opinion could prevail in our Saviour's
time, thirty years after Herod's death, when not one
characteristic of Messiahship had appeared in him during his life.
Others suppose that they were Herod's courtiers, who flattered the
passions of their master, and, being endowed with a convenient
conscience, changed with the times; but, as Herod was now dead
upwards of thirty years, such a sect could not exist in reference
to him; and yet all allow that they derived their origin from
Herod the Great.
Our Lord says, Mr 8:15,
that they had the leaven of Herod, i.e. a bad doctrine, which
they received from him. What this was may be easily discovered:
1. Herod subjected himself and his people to the dominion of the
Romans, in opposition to that law, De 17:15,
Thou shalt not set a king over thee-which is not thy brother,
i.e. one out of the twelve tribes. 2. He built temples, sat up
images, and joined in heathenish worship, though he professed the
Jewish religion; and this was in opposition to all the law and the
prophets. From this we may learn that the Herodians were such as,
first, held it lawful to transfer the Divine government to a
heathen ruler; and, secondly, to conform occasionally to heathenish
rites in their religious worship. In short, they appear to have
been persons who trimmed between God and the world-who endeavoured
to reconcile his service with that of mammon-and who were
religious just as far as it tended to secure their secular
interests. It is probable that this sect was at last so blended
with, that it became lost in, the sect of the Sadducees; for the
persons who art called Herodians, Mr 8:15,
are styled Sadducees in Mt 16:6.
See Prideaux, Con. vol. iii. p. 516, &c., and Josephus, Antiq. b.
xv. c. viii. s. i. and x. s. iii. But it is very likely that the
Herodians, mentioned c. xxii. 10, were courtiers or servants of
Herod king of Galilee. See the note there.
Show them a sign] These sects, however opposed among
themselves, most cordially unite in their opposition to Christ and
his truth. That the kingdom of Satan may not fall, all his
subjects must fight against the doctrine and maxims of the kingdom
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.
2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
2 Verse 2. When it is evening] There are certain signs of fair
and foul weather, which ye are in the constant habit of observing,
and which do not fail.-The signs of the times: the doctrine which
I preach, and the miracles which I work among you, are as sure
signs that the day-spring from on high has visited you for your
salvation; but if ye refute to hear, and continue in darkness, the
red and gloomy cloud of vindictive justice shall pour out such a
storm of wrath upon you as shalt sweep you from the face of the
3 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?
3 Verse 3. The sky is red and lowering.] The signs of fair and
foul weather were observed in a similar manner among the Romans,
and indeed among most other people. Many treatises have been
written on the subject: thus a poet:-
4A 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.
4 Verse 4. Wicked and adulterous generation] The Jewish people
are represented in the Sacred Writings as married to the Most
High; but, like a disloyal wife, forsaking their true husband, and
uniting themselves to Satan and sin. Seeketh after a sign,
σημειονεπιζητει, seeketh sign upon sign, or, still another
sign. Our blessed Lord had already wrought miracles sufficient to
demonstrate both his Divine mission and his divinity; only one was
farther necessary to take away the scandal of his cross and death,
to fulfil the Scriptures, and to establish the Christian religion;
and that was, his resurrection from the dead, which, he here
states, was typified in the case of Jonah.
5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
6 ¶ Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
6 Verse 6. Beware of the leaven] What the leaven of Pharisees
and Sadducees was has been already explained, see Mt 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.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
7 Verse 7. They reasoned] For, as Lightfoot observes, the term
leaven was very rarely used among the Jews to signify doctrine,
and therefore the disciples did not immediately apprehend his
meaning. In what a lamentable state of blindness is the human
mind? Bodily wants are perceived with the utmost readiness, and a
supply is sought with all speed. But the necessities of the soul
are rarely discovered, though they are more pressing than those of
the body, and the supply of them of infinitely more importance.
8Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
8 Verse 8. When Jesus perceived, he said] αυτοις, unto them, is
wanting in BDKLMS, and twenty others; one of the Syriac, the
Armenian, Ethiopic, Vulgate, and most of the Itala; also in
Origen, Theophylact, and Lucifer Calaritanus. Mill approves of
the omission, and Griesbach has left it out of the text.
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.
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
9 Verse 9. - 10. Do ye not yet understand-the five loaves-neither
the seven] See Clarke on Mt 14:14, &c. How astonishing
is it that these men should have any fear of lacking bread, after having
seen the two miracles which our blessed Lord alludes to above!
Though men quickly perceive their bodily wants, and are querulous
enough till they get them supplied, yet they as quickly forget the
mercy which they had received; and thus God gets few returns of
gratitude for his kindnesses. To make men, therefore, deeply
sensible of his favours, he is induced to suffer them often to be
in want, and then to supply them in such a way as to prove that
their supply has come immediately from the hand of their bountiful
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11How 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?
11 Verse 11. 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, &c., and the
false doctrine of the Sadducees, which denied the existence of a
spiritual world, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of
the body, and the providence of God.
12Then 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.
13 ¶ 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?
13 Verse 13. Casarea Philippi] A city, in the tribe of Naphtali,
near to Mount Libanus, in the province of Iturea. Its ancient
name was Dan, Ge 14:14;
afterwards it was called Lais, Jud 18:7.
But Philip the tetrarch, having rebuilt and beautified it, gave it
the name of Cesarea, in honour of Tiberius Caesar, the reigning
emperor: but to distinguish it from another Caesarea, which was on
the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and to perpetuate the fame of
him who rebuilt it, it was called Caesarea Philippi, or Caesarea
When Jesus came] ελθωνδεοιησους-when Jesus was coming.
Not, when Jesus came, or was come, for Mark expressly mentions
that it happened εντηοδω, in the way to Caesarea Philippi,
Mr 8:27, and he is Matthew's best interpreter.-WAKEFIELD.
Whom do men say] He asked his disciples this question, not
because he was ignorant what the people thought and spoke of him;
but to have the opportunity, in getting an express declaration of
their faith from themselves, to confirm and strengthen them in it:
but see on Lu 9:20.
Some, John the Baptist, &c. By this and other passages we learn,
that the Pharisaic doctrine of the Metempsychosis, or
transmigration of souls, was pretty general; for it was upon this
ground that they believed that the soul of the Baptist, or of
Elijah, Jeremiah, or some of the prophets, had come to a new life
in the body of Jesus.
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
16 Verse 16. Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.]
Every word here is emphatic-a most concise, and yet comprehensive,
confession of faith.
The Christ, or Messiah, points out his divinity, and shows his
office; the Son-designates his person: on this account it is that
both are joined together so frequently in the new covenant. Of
the living God τουθεουτουζωντος, literally, of God the Living
One. The C. Bezae has for τουζωντος the Living One, του
σωζοντος, the Saviour, and the Cant. Dei Salvatoris, of God the
Living-a character applied to the Supreme Being, not only to
distinguish him from the dead idols of paganism, but also to point
him out as the source of life, present, spiritual, and eternal.
Probably there is an allusion here to the great name Yeve, or
Yehovah, which properly signifies being or existence.
17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
17 Verse 17. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona] Or Simon, son of
Jonah; so Bar-jonah should be translated, and so it is rendered by
our Lord, Joh 1:42.
Flesh and blood-i.e. MAN;-no human being hath revealed this; and
though the text is literal enough, yet every body should know that
this is a Hebrew periphrasis for man; and the literal translation
of it here, and in Ga 1:16, has misled thousands, who suppose
that flesh and blood signify carnal reason, as it is termed, or
the unregenerate principle in man. Is it not evident, from our
Lord's observation, that it requires an express revelation of God
in a man's soul, to give him a saving acquaintance with Jesus
Christ; and that not even the miracles of our Lord, wrought before
the eyes, will effect this? The darkness must be removed from the
heart by the Holy Spirit, before a man can become wise unto
18And 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.
18 Verse 18. Thou art Peter] This was the same as if he had said,
I acknowledge thee for one of my disciples-for this name was given
him by our Lord when he first called him to the apostleship. See
Peter, πετρος, signifies a stone, or fragment of a rock; and
our Lord, whose constant custom it was to rise to heavenly things
through the medium of earthly, takes occasion from the name, the
metaphorical meaning of which was strength and stability, to
point out the solidity of the confession, and the stability of
that cause which should be founded on THE CHRIST, the SON of the
LIVING GOD. See Clarke on Lu 9:62.
Upon this very rock, επιταυτητηπετρα-this true confession of
thine-that I am THE MESSIAH, that am come to reveal and
communicate THE LIVING GOD, that the dead, lost world may be
saved-upon this very rock, myself, thus confessed (alluding
probably to Ps 118:22,
The STONE which the builders rejected is become the HEAD-STONE of
the CORNER: and to Isa 28:16,
Behold I lay a STONE in Zion for a FOUNDATION)-will I build my
Church, μοντηνεκκλησιαν, my assembly, or congregation, i.e. of
persons who are made partakers of this precious faith. That Peter
is not designed in our Lord's words must be evident to all who are
not blinded by prejudice. Peter was only one of the builders in
this sacred edifice, Eph 2:20 who himself tells us, (with the
rest of the believers,) was built on this living foundation stone:
1Pe 2:4, 5, therefore Jesus Christ did not say,
on thee, Peter, will I build my Church, but changes immediately
the expression, and says, upon that very rock, επιταυτητηπετρα,
to show that he neither addressed Peter, nor any other of the
apostles. So, the supremacy of Peter, and the infallibility of
the Church of Rome, must be sought in some other scripture, for
they certainly are not to be found in this. On the meaning of the
word Church, see at the conclusion of this chapter.
The gates of hell, πυλαιαδου i. e, the machinations and
powers of the invisible world. In ancient times the gates of
fortified cities were used to hold councils in, and were usually
places of great strength. Our Lord's expression means, that
neither the plots, stratagems, nor strength of Satan and his
angels, should ever so far prevail as to destroy the sacred truths
in the above confession. Sometimes the gates are taken for the
troops which issue out from them: we may firmly believe, that
though hell should open her gates, and vomit out her devil and all
his angels, to fight against Christ and his saints, ruin and
discomfiture must be the consequence on their part; as the arm of
the Omnipotent must prevail.
19And 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.
19 Verse 19. The keys of the kingdom] By the kingdom of heaven,
we may consider the true Church, that house of God, to be meant;
and by the keys, the power of admitting into that house, or of
preventing any improper person from coming in. In other words,
the doctrine of salvation, and the full declaration of the way in
which God will save sinners; and who they are that shall be
finally excluded from heaven; and on what account. When the Jews
made a man a doctor of the law, they put into his hand the key of
the closet in the temple where the sacred books were kept, and
also tablets to write upon; signifying, by this, that they gave
him authority to teach, and to explain the Scriptures to the
people.-Martin. This prophetic declaration of our Lord was
literally fulfilled to Peter, as he was made the first instrument
of opening, i.e. preaching the doctrines of the kingdom of heaven
to the Jews, Ac 2:41;
and to the Gentiles, Ac 10:44-47; 11:1; 15:7.
Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth] This mode of expression
was frequent among the Jews: they considered that every thing that
was done upon earth, according to the order of God, was at the
same time done in heaven: hence they were accustomed to say, that
when the priest, on the day of atonement, offered the two goats
upon earth, the same were offered in heaven. As one goat
therefore is permitted to escape on earth, one is permitted to
escape in heaven; and when the priests cast the lots on earth, the
priest also casts the lots in heaven. See Sohar. Lev. fol. 26;
and see Lightfoot and Schoettgen. These words will receive
considerable light from Le 13:3, 23:
The priest shall look upon him (the leper) and pronounce him
unclean. Hebrew vetime otho, he shall pollute him,
i.e. shall declare him polluted, from the evidences mentioned
before. And in Le 13:23: The priest shall pronounce him clean,
vetiharo hacohen, the priest shall cleanse him, i.e.
declare he is clean, from the evidences mentioned in the verse.
In the one case the priest declared the person infected with the
leprosy, and unfit for civil society; and, in the other, that the
suspected person was clean, and might safely associate with his
fellows in civil or religious assemblies. The disciples of our
Lord, from having the keys, i.e. the true knowledge of the
doctrine of the kingdom of heaven, should be able at all times to
distinguish between the clean and the unclean, and pronounce
infallible judgment; and this binding and loosing, or pronouncing
fit or unfit for fellowship with the members of Christ, being
always according to the doctrine of the Gospel of God, should be
considered as proceeding immediately from heaven, and consequently
as Divinely ratified.
That binding and loosing were terms in frequent use among the
Jews, and that they meant bidding and forbidding, granting and
refusing, declaring lawful or unlawful, &c., Dr. Lightfoot, after
having given numerous instances, thus concludes:-
"To these may be added, if need were, the frequent (shall I
say?) or infinite use of the phrases, bound and loosed,
which we meet with thousands of times over. But from these
allegations the reader sees, abundantly enough, both the frequency
and the common use of this phrase, and the sense of it also;
namely, first, that it is used in doctrine, and in judgments,
concerning things allowed or not allowed in the law. Secondly,
that to bind is the same with, to forbid, or to declare forbidden.
To think that Christ, when he used the common phrase, was not
understood by his hearers in the common and vulgar sense, shall I
call it a matter of laughter, or of madness?
To this, therefore, do these words amount: When the time was
come wherein the Mosaic law, as to some part of it, was to be
abolished, and left off, and, as to another part of it, was to be
continued and to last for ever, he granted Peter here, and to the
rest of the apostles, Mt 18:18,
a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good, and as they
thought good; being taught this, and led by the Holy Spirit: as if
he should say, Whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses, that
is, forbid, it shall be forbidden, the Divine authority confirming
it; and whatsoever ye shall loose, that is, permit, or shall teach
that it is permitted and lawful, shall be lawful and permitted.
Hence they bound, that is forbade, circumcision to the believers;
eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of
blood, for a time, to the Gentiles; and that which they bound on
earth was confirmed in heaven. They loosed, that is, allowed
purification to Paul, and to four other brethren, for the shunning
of scandal; Ac 21:24
and, in a word, by these words of Christ it was committed to them,
the Holy Spirit directing, that they should make decrees
concerning religion, as to the use or rejection of Mosaic rites
and judgments, and that either for a time, or for ever.
"Let the words be applied by way of paraphrase to the matter
that was transacted at present with Peter: 'I am about to build a
Gentile Church,' saith Christ, and to thee, O Peter, do I give the
keys of the kingdom of heaven, that thou mayest first open the
door of faith to them; but if thou askest by what rule that Church
is to be governed, when the Mosaic rule may seem so improper for
it, thou shalt be so guided by the Holy Spirit, that whatsoever of
the law of Moses thou shalt forbid them shall be forbidden;
whatsoever thou grantest them shall be granted; and that under a
sanction made in heaven.' Hence, in that instant, when he should
use his keys, that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of
the Gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10, he was taught from heaven
that the consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had
been bound, was now loosed; and the eating of any creature
convenient for food was now loosed, which before had been bound;
and he in like manner looses both these.
"Those words of our Saviour, Joh 20:23,
Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted to them, for the most part
are forced to the same sense with these before us, when they carry
quite another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not
of persons; there of persons, not of doctrine. Here of things
lawful or unlawful in religion, to be determined by the apostles;
there of persons obstinate or not obstinate, to be punished by
them, or not to be punished.
"As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed. 1. So
long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the
"2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine
concerning the legal doctrine and practice, being completely
instructed and enabled in both by the Holy Spirit descending upon
them. As to the persons, they were endowed with a peculiar gift,
so that, the same Spirit directing them, if they would retain and
punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into their hands of
delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases, plagues, yea,
death itself, which Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira; Paul
to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, &c."
After all these evidences and proofs of the proper use of these
terms, to attempt to press the word, into the service long
assigned them by the Church of Rome, would, to use the words of
Dr. Lightfoot, be "a matter of laughter or of madness." No Church
can use them in the sense thus imposed upon them, which was done
merely to serve secular ends; and least of all can that very
Church that thus abuses them.
20Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
20 Verse 20. Then charged he his disciples] διεστειλατο, he
strictly charged them. Some very good MSS. have επετιμησεν, he
severely charged-comminatus est,-he threatened. These are the
readings of the Cod. Bezae, both in the Greek and Latin.
The Christ.] The common text has Jesus the Christ; but the word
Jesus is omitted by fifty-four MSS., some of which are not only of
the greatest authority, but also of the greatest antiquity. It is
omitted also by the Syriac, later Persic, later Arabic, Slavonic,
six copies of the Itala, and several of the fathers. The most
eminent critics approve of this omission, and Griesbach has left
it out of the text in both his editions. I believe the insertion
of it here to be wholly superfluous and improper; for the question
is, Who is this Jesus? Peter answers, He is, οχριστος, the
Messiah. The word Jesus is obviously improper. What our Lord
says here refers to Peter's testimony in Mt 16:16:
Thou art the Christ-Jesus here says, Tell no man that I am the
Christ, i.e. the MESSIAH; as the time for his full manifestation
was not yet come; and he was not willing to provoke the Jewish
malice, or the Roman envy, by permitting his disciples to announce
him as the Saviour of a lost world. He chose rather to wait, till
his resurrection and ascension had set this truth in the clearest
light, and beyond the power of successful contradiction.
21 ¶ 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.
21 Verse 21. From that time forth began Jesus, &c.] Before this
time our Lord had only spoken of his death in a vague and obscure
manner, see Mt 12:40, because he would not afflict his disciples
with this matter sooner than necessity required; but now, as the
time of his crucifixion drew nigh, he spoke of his sufferings and
death in the most express and clear terms. 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.
22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
22 Verse 22. 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] ιλεωςσοικυριε. Be merciful to
thyself Lord: see the margin. 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. The French, Italian, and Spanish, render it the same
way. Blind and ignorant man is ever finding fault with the
conduct of God. Human reason cannot comprehend the incarnation of
the Almighty's fellow, (Zec 13:7,) nor reconcile the belief of his
divinity with his sufferings and death. 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!
23 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.
23 Verse 23. Get thee behind me, Satan] υπαγεοπισωμουσατανα.
Get behind me, thou adversary. This is the proper translation of
the Hebrew word Satan, from which the Greek word is taken.
Our blessed Lord certainly never designed that men should believe
he called Peter, DEVIL, because he, through erring affection, had
wished him to avoid that death which he predicted to himself.
This translation, which is literal, takes away that harshness
which before appeared in our Lord's words.
Thou art an offence unto me] σκανδαλονμουει Thou art a
stumbling-block in my way, to impede me in the accomplishment of
the great design.
Thou savourest not] That is, dost not relish, ουφρονεις, or,
thou dost not understand or discern the things of God-thou art
wholly taken up with the vain thought that my kingdom is of this
world. He who opposes the doctrine of the atonement is an
adversary and offence to Christ, though he be as sincere in his
profession as Peter himself was. Let us beware of false
friendships. Carnal relatives, when listened to, may prove the
ruin of those whom, through their mistaken tenderness, they wish
to save. When a man is intent on saving his own soul, his
adversaries are often those of his own household.
24 ¶ 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.
24 Verse 24. Will come after me] i.e. to be my disciple. This
discourse was intended to show Peter and the rest of the disciples
the nature of his kingdom; and that the honour that cometh from
the world was not to be expected by those who followed Christ.
The principles of the Christian life are: First. To have a
sincere desire to belong to Christ-If any man be WILLING to be my
disciple, &c. Secondly. To renounce self-dependence, and selfish
pursuits-Let him deny HIMSELF. Thirdly. To embrace the condition
which God has appointed, and bear the troubles and difficulties he
may meet with in walking the Christian road-Let him take up HIS
CROSS. Fourthly. To imitate Jesus, and do and suffer all in his
spirit-Let him FOLLOW ME.
Let him deny himself] απαρνησασθω may well be interpreted, Let
him deny, or renounce, himself fully-in all respects-
perseveringly. It is a compounded word, and the preposition
απο abundantly increases the meaning. A follower of Christ will
need to observe it in its utmost latitude of meaning, in order to
be happy here, and glorious hereafter. A man's self is to him
the prime cause of most of his miseries.
See Clarke on Mr 8:34.
25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
25 Verse 25. 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.
26 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?
26 Verse 26. Lose his own soul] Or, lose his life, τηνψυχην
αυτου. On what authority many have translated the word ψυχη, in
the 25th verse, life, and in this verse, soul, I know not, but am
certain it means life in both places. If a man should gain the
whole world, its riches, honours, and pleasures, and lose his
life, what would all these profit him, seeing they can only be
enjoyed during life? But if the words be applied to the soul,
they show the difficulty-the necessity-and importance of
salvation. The world, the devil, and a man's own heart are
opposed to his salvation; therefore it is difficult. The soul was
made for God, and can never be united to him, nor be happy, till
saved from sin: therefore it is necessary. He who is saved from
his sin, and united to God, possesses the utmost felicity that the
human soul can enjoy, either in this or the coming world:
therefore, this salvation is important.
See also Clarke's note on "Lu 9:25".
27For 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.
27 Verse 27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his
Father] This seems to refer to Da 7:13, 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. If the words be taken in
this sense, the angels or messengers may signify the apostles and
their successors in the sacred ministry, preaching the Gospel in
the power of the Holy Ghost. It is very likely that the words do
not apply to the final judgment, to which they are generally
referred; but to the wonderful display of God's grace and power
after the day of pentecost.
28 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.
28 Verse 28. There be some-which shall not taste of death] This
verse seems to confirm the above explanation, as our Lord
evidently speaks of the establishment of the Christian Church
after the day of pentecost, and its final triumph after the
destruction of the Jewish polity; as if he had said, "Some of you,
my disciples, shall continue to live until these things take
place." The destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish economy,
which our Lord here predicts, took place about forty-three years
after this: and some of the persons now with him doubtless
survived that period, and witnessed the extension of the Messiah's
kingdom; and our Lord told them these things before, that when
they came to pass they might be confirmed in the faith, and expect
an exact fulfilment of all the other promises and prophecies which
concerned the extension and support of the kingdom of Christ.
To his kingdom, or in his kingdom. Instead of βασιλεια,
kingdom, four MSS., later Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Saxon, and one
copy of the Itala, with several of the primitive fathers, read
δοξη, glory: and to this is added, τουπατροςαυτου, of his
Father, by three MSS. and the versions mentioned before. This
makes the passage a little more conformable to the passage already
quoted from Daniel; and it must appear, very clearly, that the
whole passage speaks not of a future judgment, but of the
destruction of the Jewish polity, and the glorious spread of
Christianity in the earth, by the preaching of Christ crucified by
the apostles and their immediate successors in the Christian
1. THE disciples, by being constantly with their Master, were
not only guarded against error, but were taught the whole truth:
we should neglect no opportunity of waiting upon God; while Jesus
continues to teach, our ear and heart should be open to receive
his instructions. That what we have already received may be
effectual, we must continue to hear and pray on. Let us beware of
the error of the Pharisees! They minded only external
performances, and those things by which they might acquire esteem
and reputation among men; thus, humility and love, the very soul
of religion, were neglected by them: they had their reward-the
approbation of those who were as destitute of vital religion as
themselves. Let us beware also of the error of the Sadducees,
who, believing no other felicity but what depended on the good
things of this world, became the flatterers and slaves of those
who could bestow them, and so, like the Pharisees, had their
portion only in this life. All false religions and false
principles conduct to the same end, however contrary they appear
to each other. No two sects could be more opposed to each other
than the Sadducees and Pharisees, yet their doctrines lead to the
same end-they are both wedded to this world, and separated from
God in the next.
2. From the circumstance mentioned in the conclusion of this
chapter, we may easily see the nature of the kingdom and reign of
Christ: it is truly spiritual and Divine; having for its object
the present holiness and future happiness of mankind. Worldly
pomp, as well as worldly maxims, were to be excluded from it.
Christianity forbids all worldly expectations, and promises
blessedness to those alone who bear the cross, leading a life of
mortification and self-denial. Jesus Christ has left us an
example that we should follow his steps. How did he live?-What
views did he entertain?-In what light did he view worldly pomp and
splendour? These are questions which the most superficial reader
may, without difficulty, answer to his immediate conviction. And
has not Christ said that the disciple is not ABOVE the Master? If
HE humbled himself, how can he look upon those who, professing
faith in his name, are conformed to the world and mind earthly
things? These disciples affect to be above their Lord; and as
they neither bear his cross, nor follow him in the regeneration,
they must look for another heaven than that in which he sits at
the right hand of God. This is an awful subject; but how few of
those called Christians lay it to heart!
3. The term CHURCH in Greek εκκλησια, occurs for the first time
in Mt 16:18.
The word simply means an assembly or congregation, the nature of
which is to be understood from connecting circumstances; for the
word εκκλησια, as well as the terms congregation and assembly,
may be applied to any concourse of people, good or bad; gathered
together for lawful or unlawful purposes. Hence, it is used,
for the mob, or confused rabble, gathered together against Paul,
εκκλησιασυγκεχυμενη, which the town-clerk distinguished,
from a lawful assembly, εννομωεκκλεσια. The Greek word εκκλησια
seems to be derived from εκκαλεω, to call out of, or from, i.e.
an assembly gathered out of a multitude; and must have some other
word joined to it, to determine its nature: viz. the Church of
God; the congregation collected by God, and devoted to his
service. The Church of Christ: the whole company of Christians
wheresoever found; because, by the preaching of the Gospel, they
are called out of the spirit and maxims of the world, to live
according to the precepts of the Christian religion. This is
sometimes called the Catholic or universal Church, because
constituted of all the professors of Christianity in the world, to
whatever sects or parties they may belong: and hence the
absurdity of applying the term Catholic, which signifies universal,
to that very small portion of it, the Church of Rome. In
primitive times, before Christians had any stated buildings, they
worshipped in private houses; the people that had been converted
to God meeting together in some one dwelling-house of a
fellow-convert, more convenient and capacious than the rest; hence
the Church that was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla,
Ro 16:3, 5, and 1Co 16:19,
and the Church that was in the house of Nymphas, Col 4:15.
Now, as these houses were dedicated to the worship of God, each
was termed κυριουοικος kuriou oikos, the house of the Lord;
which word, in process of time, became contracted into κυριοικ
kurioik, and κυριακη, kuriake; and hence the kirk of our
northern neighbours, and [Anglo-Saxon] kirik of our Saxon
ancestors, from which, by corruption, changing the hard Saxon c
into ch, we have made the word church. This term, though it be
generally used to signify the people worshipping in a particular
place, yet by a metonymy, the container being put for the
contained, we apply it, as it was originally, to the building
which contains the worshipping people.
In the proper use of this word there can be no such thing as THE
church, exclusively; there may be A church, and the CHURCHES,
signifying a particular congregation, or the different assemblies
of religious people: and hence, the Church of Rome, by applying it
exclusively to itself, abuses the term, and acts as ridiculously
as it does absurdly. Church is very properly defined in the 19th
article of the Church of England, to be "a congregation of
faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and
the sacraments duly administered, according to Christ's ordinance."