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The Fourfold Gospel

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16:1  And the Pharisees and Sadducees came1, and trying him asked him to show them a sign from heaven2.

  1. And the Pharisees and Sadducees came. It is generally thought that the Herodians were Sadducees of Galilee. If so, we note the beginning of their hostility recorded at Mark 3:6.

  2. And trying him asked him to show them a sign from heaven. See Mark 8:11.

16:3  And in the morning, [It will be] foul weather to-day: for the heaven is red and lowering. Ye know how to discern the face of the heaven; but ye cannot [discern] the signs of the times1.

  1. But ye cannot [discern] the signs of the times. For comment on similar language, see Luke 12:56. The signs of the times being fulfillments of prophecies, were better evidence of the period and presence of the Messiah than heavenly portents. It is useless to bestow new signs upon those who are blind as to the signs already existing. Jews continue to require a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22).

16:4  An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign1; and there shall no sign be given unto it2, but the sign of Jonah3. And he left them, and departed4.

  1. An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. For comment on similar language, see Matthew 12:39.

  2. And there shall no sign be given unto it. See Mark 8:12.

  3. But the sign of Jonah. The resurrection or Jonah sign was a sign from heaven in the sense in which they used the words; that is, it was wrought directly by God, and not through man. See Matthew 12:39.

  4. And he left them, and departed. See Mark 8:13.

16:6  And Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

  1. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. See Mark 8:15.

16:9  Do ye not yet perceive, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets1 ye took up?

  1. Baskets. See Mark 8:19.

16:10  Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets1 ye took up?

  1. Baskets. See Mark 8:20.

16:12  Then understood they that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread1, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees2.

  1. Then understood they that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread. Jesus had resorted to metaphor because the word "leaven" better expressed his idea than did the word "teaching".

  2. But of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The formulated dogmas of the Pharisees were not so bad, but the subtle influence of their spirit and example corrupted without warning, like a concealed grave. There are those today who are too skillful to be openly convicted of heterodox statements, but whose teaching, nevertheless, in its very essence and spirit, tends to infidelity.

16:13  Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi1, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is2?

    THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. B. THE GREAT CONFESSION MADE BY PETER. (Near Caesarea Philippi, Summer, A.D. 29.) Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

  1. Caesarea Philippi. See Mark 8:27.

  2. Who do men say that the Son of man is? See Mark 8:27.

16:14  And they said, Some [say] John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

  1. Saying, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but others, One of the prophets. See Mark 8:28.

16:15  He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am1?

  1. But who say ye that I am? See Mark 8:29.

16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God1.

  1. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter asserts this as an assured fact and not as a mere opinion. This confession embraces two propositions: (1) The office of Jesus--the Christ; (2) The divinity of Jesus--the Son of God. The Christhood of Jesus implies his humanity, for as such he was to be the son of David. It also identifies him as the hero or subject of prophecy, the long-expected deliverer. In declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, Peter rose above the popular theories as to the personality of Messiah, for the Jews generally did not expect him to be divine. The term "living God" was used by prophets to express the contrast between dead idols and the supreme Being who is possessed of vitality, reason, and feeling. See Psalms 42:2; Psalms 84:2; Isaiah 37:4,17; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 23:36; Daniel 6:20,26 Hosea 1:10.

16:17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood2 hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven3.

  1. Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona. Jesus gives the full name to make his saying more personally emphatic.

  2. For flesh and blood. The common words of contrast by which humanity was distinguished from divinity. See also Galatians 1:16.

  3. Hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. Peter was blessed by having a revelation from God by which facts were made known that could not be discovered by the unaided human reason. God had revealed the truth to him in the words and works of Jesus, and this revealed truth was to him a source of happiness both temporal and eternal. Like confessions as to this truth had been made before (Matthew 14:33; John 1:49), but they had been made under the pressure of miraculous display and strong emotion. Hence they were rather exclamatory guesses at the truth, and differed from this now made by Peter which was the calm expression of a settle conviction produced both by the character and by the miracles of Jesus.

16:18  And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter1, and upon this rock2 I will build my church3; and the gates of Hades4 shall not prevail against it5.

  1. Thou art Peter. In Greek, "petros", a noun masculine.

  2. And upon this rock. In Greek, "petra", a noun feminine.

  3. I will build my church. The tense here is future. Christ had followers, but they were not yet organized, and hence had no such structural form as to suggest a similitude to a building.

  4. And the gates of Hades. Hades was the name of the abode of the dead. Its gate symbolized its power because the military forces of an ancient city always sallied forth from its gates.

  5. Shall not prevail against it. Death shall neither destroy the organic church which is in the world, nor the members thereof which go down into the grave (1 Corinthians 15:54-56; 1 Thessalonians 4:15). No passage in the word of God has called forth more discussion than Matthew 16:18,19, the first point in dispute being as to what is meant by the rock; that is, whether Christ or Peter or Peter's confession is the foundation of the church; the second point being as to the extent of the power and authority bestowed on Peter by the symbol of the keys. To aid us in reaching a correct conclusion we must note that Jesus speaks in metaphorical language. He represents: (1) His kingdom as a city about to be built upon a rock. (2) Himself as a builder of the city. (3) Simon Peter as the one who holds the keys to the gates by which egress and regress is had to the city. (4) The gates or powers of the opposing city of Hades are not able to prevail against this kingdom city. Now, since Jesus himself occupies the position of builder in the metaphor, and Simon Peter the position of key-bearer, neither of them can properly be regarded as the foundation. The foundation must therefore be the confession which Peter has just spoken, since it is all that remains that is liable to such application. The case could present no difficulty at all were it not for the unmistakable allusion to Peter ("petros", a loose stone) as in some way associated with "petra", the bedrock or foundation. But in the light of other Scriptures this allusion presents no difficulty; for all the apostles were such stones, and were closely allied to the foundation (Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 2:19-22). Compare also (1 Peter 2:3-8). The Christian religion in all its redemptive completeness rests and can rest on no other foundation than Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). But the church or kingdom of Christ among men rests organically and constitutionally upon a foundation of apostolic authority, for the apostles were the mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit; but in this apostolic foundation the other apostles had equal rights, each one of them becoming a living foundation stone as soon as his faith led him to make a like confession with Simon Peter. Hence we find the apostle Paul asserting the superior authority of the apostles to all other Christian teachers and workers (1 Corinthians 12:28), and times without number asserting his apostolic office and authority (1 Corinthians 9:1,2 2 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Corinthians 13:1-4; Galatians 1:1,8; Ephesians 3:1-6; Philemon 8,9).

16:19  I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven1: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

  1. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Continuing his metaphorical language, Jesus promised to Peter the keys, that is, the authority to lay down the rules or laws (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, however) for admission to or exclusion from the kingdom or church. This office was, of course, given to Peter in a secondary sense, since it must ever belong to Christ in a primary sense (Revelation 3:7). The figure of key-bearer is taken from Isaiah 22:22. Peter used the keys on the day of Pentecost to open the church to the Jews, and about seven years afterward, at Caesarea Palestinae, he used them again to admit the Gentiles. In fixing the terms of admission, he also fixed the terms of exclusion, for all who are not admitted are excluded. The keys as used by Peter have never been changed; that is to say, the terms of admission abide forever. Plurality of keys is merely part of the parabolic drapery, since cities were accustomed to have several gates, thus requiring a plurality of keys. The kingdom was not opened to Jews and Gentiles by different keys, since both were admitted on the same terms.

  2. Whatsoever thou shalt bind . . . whatsoever thou shalt loose. The words "bind" and "loose" were commonly used among the Jews in the sense of forbid and allow. Abundant instances of this usage have been collected by Lightfoot. They relate to the binding and annulling of laws and rules. In this sense the Greek word "luo", rendered "loose", is used very many times in the New Testament, but it is translated by the word "break" or "broken" in Matthew 5:19; John 7:23; John 10:35. The power here given to Peter was soon after extended to the rest of the apostles (Matthew 18:18). The apostles were to lay down, as they afterward did, the organic law of the new kingdom, defining what things were prohibited and what permitted. Their actions in this behalf would of course be ratified in heaven, because they were none other than the acts of the Holy Spirit expressed through the apostles.

16:20  Then charged he the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ1.

  1. Then charged he the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ. See Mark 8:30.

16:21  From that time1 began Jesus to show unto his disciples2, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.

    THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. C. PASSION FORETOLD. PETER REBUKED. Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:22-27

  1. From that time. That is, from the time of Peter's confession, and about three-quarters of a year before the crucifixion.

  2. Began Jesus to show unto his disciples, etc. See Mark 8:31.

16:22  And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee.

  1. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. See Mark 8:32.

16:23  But he turned, and said unto Peter1, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men.

  1. But he turned, and said unto Peter, etc. See Mark 8:33.

16:24  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me1.

  1. Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. See Mark 8:34.

16:25  For whosoever would save his life shall lose it1: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.

  1. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it, etc. See Mark 8:35.

16:26  For what shall a man be profited1, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?

  1. For what shall a man be profited, etc. See Mark 8:36.

16:27  For the Son of man shall come1 in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.

  1. The Son of man shall come, etc. See Mark 8:38.

16:28  Verily I say unto you, there are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom1.

  1. Till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. See Mark 9:1.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Matthew 16". "The Fourfold Gospel". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/tfg/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=016>. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.  

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