Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
REFUSED--CAUTION AGAINST THE
LEAVEN OF THE
For the exposition, see on
CHRIST AND THE
Mr 8:27; 9:1;
The time of this section--which is beyond doubt, and will presently be
mentioned--is of immense importance, and throws a touching interest
around the incidents which it records.
Peter's Confession, and the Benediction Pronounced upon Him.
13. When Jesus came into the coasts--"the parts," that is, the
territory or region. In Mark
it is "the towns" or "villages."
of Cæsarea Philippi--It lay at the foot of Mount Lebanon, near the
sources of the Jordan, in the territory of Dan, and at the northeast
extremity of Palestine. It was originally called Panium (from a
cavern in its neighborhood dedicated to the god Pan) and Paneas. Philip, the tetrarch, the only good son of Herod
the Great, in whose
dominions Paneas lay, having beautified and enlarged it, changed its
name to Cæsarea, in honor of the Roman emperor, and added
Philippi after his own name, to distinguish it from the other
on the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea. [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 15.10,3; 18.2,1]. This
quiet and distant retreat Jesus appears to have sought with the view of
talking over with the Twelve the fruit of His past labors, and breaking
to them for the first time the sad intelligence of His approaching
he asked his disciples--"by the way," says Mark
and "as He was alone praying," says Luke
saying, Whom--or more grammatically, "Who"
do men say that I the Son of man am?--(or, "that the Son of man
is"--the recent editors omitting here the me of Mark and Luke
though the evidence seems pretty nearly balanced)--that is, "What are
the views generally entertained of Me, the Son of man, after going up
and down among them so long?" He had now closed the first great stage
of His ministry, and was just entering on the last dark one. His
spirit, burdened, sought relief in retirement, not only from the
multitude, but even for a season from the Twelve. He retreated into
"the secret place of the Most High," pouring out His soul "in
supplications and prayers, with strong crying and tears"
On rejoining His disciples, and as they were pursuing their quiet
journey, He asked them this question.
14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist--risen
from the dead. So that Herod Antipas was not singular in his surmise
(Mt 14:1, 2).
and others, Jeremias--Was this theory suggested by a supposed
resemblance between the "Man of Sorrows" and "the weeping prophet?"
or one of the prophets--or, as Luke
expresses it, "that one of the old prophets is risen again." In another
report of the popular opinions which Mark
gives us, it is thus expressed, "That it is a prophet [or], as one of
the prophets": in other words, That He was a prophetical person,
resembling those of old.
15. He saith unto them, But whom--rather, "who."
say ye that I am?--He had never put this question before, but the
crisis He was reaching made it fitting that He should now have it from
them. We may suppose this to be one of those moments of which the
prophet says, in His name, "Then I said, I have labored in vain; I have
spent my strength for naught, and in vain"
Lo, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree; and what
is it? As the result of all, I am taken for John the Baptist, for
Elias, for Jeremias, for one of the prophets. Yet some there are that
have beheld My glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father,
and I shall hear their voice, for it is sweet.
16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of
the living God--He does not say, "Scribes and Pharisees, rulers and
people, are all perplexed; and shall we, unlettered fishermen, presume
to decide?" But feeling the light of his Master's glory shining in his
soul, he breaks forth--not in a tame, prosaic acknowledgment,
"I believe that Thou art," &c.--but in the language of
adoration--such as one uses in worship,
SON OF THE
He first owns Him the promised Messiah (see on
then he rises higher, echoing the voice from heaven--"This is My
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"; and in the important
addition--"Son of the LIVING GOD"--he recognizes the essential and eternal life of God
as in this His Son--though doubtless without that distinct perception
17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou--Though
it is not to be doubted that Peter, in this noble testimony to Christ,
only expressed the conviction of all the Twelve, yet since he alone
seems to have had clear enough apprehensions to put that conviction in
proper and suitable words, and courage enough to speak them out, and
readiness enough to do this at the right time--so he only, of all the
Twelve, seems to have met the present want, and communicated to the
saddened soul of the Redeemer at the critical moment that balm which was
needed to cheer and refresh it. Nor is Jesus above giving indication of
the deep satisfaction which this speech yielded Him, and hastening to
respond to it by a signal acknowledgment of Peter in return.
Simon Bar-jona--or, "son of Jona"
This name, denoting his humble fleshly extraction, seems to have been
purposely here mentioned, to contrast the more vividly with the
spiritual elevation to which divine illumination had raised him.
for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee--"This is not the
fruit of human teaching."
but my Father which is in heaven--In speaking of God, Jesus, it
is to be observed, never calls Him, "our Father" (see on
but either "your Father"--when He would encourage His timid believing
ones with the assurance that He was theirs, and teach themselves to
call Him so--or, as here, "My Father," to signify some peculiar action
or aspect of Him as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
18. And I say also unto thee--that is, "As thou hast borne such
testimony to Me, even so in return do I to thee."
That thou art Peter--At his first calling, this new name was
announced to him as an honor afterwards to be conferred on him
Now he gets it, with an explanation of what it was meant to convey.
and upon this rock--As "Peter" and "Rock" are one word in the dialect
familiarly spoken by our Lord--the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic, which
was the mother tongue of the country--this exalted play upon the word can be fully seen only in languages which have one
word for both. Even
in the Greek it is imperfectly represented. In French, as
and WILKINSON remark, it is perfect, Pierre--pierre.
I will build my Church--not on the man Simon Bar-jona; but on
him as the heavenly-taught confessor of a faith. "My Church," says our
Lord, calling the Church HIS
OWN; a magnificent expression regarding Himself,
remarks BENGEL--nowhere else occurring in the
and the gates of hell--"of Hades," or, the unseen world; meaning, the
gates of Death: in other words, "It shall never perish." Some explain it
of "the assaults of the powers of darkness"; but though that expresses a
glorious truth, probably the former is the sense here.
19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven--the
kingdom of God about to be set up on earth
and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven--Whatever this mean, it was soon expressly
extended to all the apostles
so that the claim of supreme authority in the Church, made for Peter by
the Church of Rome, and then arrogated to themselves by the popes as
the legitimate successors of St. Peter, is baseless and impudent. As
first in confessing Christ, Peter got this commission before the rest;
and with these "keys," on the day of Pentecost, he first "opened the
door of faith" to the Jews, and then, in the person of
Cornelius, he was honored to do the same to the Gentiles. Hence,
in the lists of the apostles, Peter is always first named. See on
One thing is clear, that not in all the New Testament is there the
vestige of any authority either claimed or exercised by Peter, or
conceded to him, above the rest of the apostles--a thing conclusive
against the Romish claims in behalf of that apostle.
20. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he
was Jesus the Christ--Now that He had been so explicit, they might
naturally think the time come for giving it out openly; but here they
are told it had not.
Announcement of His Approaching Death
and Rebuke of Peter
The occasion here is evidently the same.
21. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples--that
is, with an explicitness and frequency He had never observed before.
how that he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things--"and be
of the elders and chief priests and scribes--not as before, merely by
not receiving Him, but by formal deeds.
and be killed, and be raised again the third day--Mark
adds, that "He spake that saying openly"--"explicitly," or "without
22. Then Peter took him--aside, apart from the rest; presuming on
the distinction just conferred on him; showing how unexpected and
distasteful to them all was the announcement.
and began to rebuke him--affectionately, yet with a certain generous
indignation, to chide Him.
saying, Be it far from thee: this shall not be unto thee--that is,
"If I can help it": the same spirit that prompted him in the garden to
draw the sword in His behalf
23. But he turned, and said--in the hearing of the rest; for Mark
expressly says, "When He had turned about and looked on His disciples,
He rebuked Peter"; perceiving that he had but boldly uttered what
others felt, and that the check was needed by them also.
Get thee behind me, Satan--the same words as He had addressed to the
for He felt in it a satanic lure, a whisper from hell, to move Him from
His purpose to suffer. So He shook off the Serpent, then coiling around
Him, and "felt no harm"
How quickly has the "rock" turned to a devil! The fruit of divine
teaching the Lord delighted to honor in Peter; but the mouthpiece of
hell, which he had in a moment of forgetfulness become, the Lord shook
off with horror.
thou art an offence--a stumbling-block.
unto me--"Thou playest the Tempter, casting a stumbling-block in My
way to the Cross. Could it succeed, where wert thou? and how should the
Serpent's head be bruised?"
for thou savourest not--thou thinkest not.
the things that be of God, but those that be of men--"Thou art carried
away by human views of the way of setting up Messiah's kingdom, quite
contrary to those of God." This was kindly said, not to take off the
sharp edge of the rebuke, but to explain and justify it, as it was
evident Peter knew not what was in the bosom of his rash speech.
24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples--Mark
says, "When He had called the people unto Him, with His disciples also,
He said unto them"--turning the rebuke of one into a warning to all.
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow me.
25. 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
"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."
26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and
lose his own soul--or forfeit his own soul?
or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?--Instead of these
weighty words, which we find in
also, it is thus expressed in
"If he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away," or
better, "If he gain the whole world, and destroy or forfeit himself."
How awful is the stake as here set forth! If a man makes the present
world--in its various forms of riches, honors, pleasures, and such
like--the object of supreme pursuit, be it that he gains the world; yet
along with it he forfeits his own soul. Not that any ever did, or ever
will gain the whole world--a very small portion of it, indeed, falls to
the lot of the most successful of the world's votaries--but to make the
extravagant concession, that by giving himself entirely up to it, a man
gains the whole world; yet, setting over against this gain the
forfeiture of his soul--necessarily following the surrender of his
whole heart to the world--what is he profited? But, if not the whole
world, yet possibly something else may be conceived as an equivalent
for the soul. Well, what is it?--"Or what shall a man give in exchange
for his soul?" Thus, in language the weightiest, because the simplest,
does our Lord shut up His hearers, and all who shall read these words
to the end of the world, to the priceless value to every man of his own
soul. In Mark and Luke
the following words are added: "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of
Me and of My words [shall be ashamed of belonging to Me, and ashamed of
My Gospel] in this adulterous and sinful generation" (see on
"of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of
His Father, with the holy angels." He will render back to that man his
own treatment, disowning him before the most august of all assemblies,
and putting him to "shame and everlasting contempt"
"O shame," exclaims BENGEL, "to be put to shame
before God, Christ, and angels!" The sense of shame is founded
on our love of reputation, which causes instinctive aversion to
what is fitted to lower it, and was given us as a preservative from all
that is properly shameful. To be lost to shame is to be
nearly past hope.
Jer 6:15; 3:3).
But when Christ and "His words" are unpopular, the same instinctive
desire to stand well with others begets that temptation to be
ashamed of Him which only the expulsive power of a higher affection can
27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his
angels--in the splendor of His Father's authority and with all His
angelic ministers, ready to execute His pleasure.
and then he shall reward, &c.
28. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here--"some of those
which shall not taste of death, fill they see the Son of man coming in
his kingdom--or, as in Mark
"till they see the kingdom of God come with power"; or, as in Luke
more simply still, "till they see the kingdom of God." The reference,
beyond doubt, is to the firm establishment and victorious progress, in
the lifetime of some then present, of that new kingdom of Christ, which
was destined to work the greatest of all changes on this earth, and be
the grand pledge of His final coming in glory.