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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 16)

16:1 {The Pharisees and Sadducees} (\hoi Pharisaioi kai
. The first time that we have this combination of
the two parties who disliked each other exceedingly. Hate makes
strange bedfellows. They hated Jesus more than they did each
other. Their hostility has not decreased during the absence of
Jesus, but rather increased. {Tempting him} (\peirazontes\).
Their motive was bad. {A sign from heaven} (\sēmeion ek tou
. The scribes and Pharisees had already asked for a sign
(12:38). Now this new combination adds "from heaven." What did
they have in mind? They may not have had any definite idea to
embarrass Jesus. The Jewish apocalypses did speak of spectacular
displays of power by the Son of Man (the Messiah). The devil had
suggested that Jesus let the people see him drop down from the
pinnacle of the temple and the people expected the Messiah to
come from an unknown source (Joh 7:27) who would do great signs
(Joh 7:31). Chrysostom (_Hom_. liii.) suggests stopping the
course of the sun, bridling the moon, a clap of thunder.

16:2 {Fair weather} (\eudia\). An old poetic word from \eu\ and
\Zeus\ as the ruler of the air and giver of fair weather. So men
today say "when the sky is red at sunset." It occurs on the
Rosetta Stone and in a fourth century A.D. Oxyr. papyrus for
"calm weather" that made it impossible to sail the boat. Aleph
and B and some other MSS. omit verses 2 and 3. W omits part of
verse 2. These verses are similar to Lu 12:54-56. McNeile
rejects them here. Westcott and Hort place in brackets. Jesus
often repeated his sayings. Zahn suggests that Papias added these
words to Matthew.

16:3 {Lowring} (\stugnazōn\). A sky covered with clouds. Used
also of a gloomy countenance as of the rich young ruler in Mr
10:22. Nowhere else in the New Testament. This very sign of a
rainy day we use today. The word for "foul weather" (\cheimōn\)
is the common one for winter and a storm. {The signs of the
(\ta sēmeia tōn kairōn\). How little the Pharisees and
Sadducees understood the situation. Soon Jerusalem would be
destroyed and the Jewish state overturned. It is not always easy
to discern (\diakrinein\, discriminate) the signs of our own
time. Men are numerous with patent keys to it all. But we ought
not to be blind when others are gullible.

16:4 Same words in 12:39 except \tou prophētou\, a real

16:5 {Came} (\elthontes\). Probably= "went" as in Lu 15:20
(\ire\, not \venire\). So in Mr 8:13 \apēlthen\. {Forgot}
(\epelathonto\). Perhaps in the hurry to leave Galilee, probably
in the same boat by which they came across from Decapolis.

16:7 {They reasoned} (\dielogizonto\). It was pathetic, the
almost jejune inability of the disciples to understand the
parabolic warning against "the leaven of the Pharisees and
Sadducees" (verse 6) after the collision of Christ just before
with both parties in Magadan. They kept it up, imperfect tense.
It is "loaves" (\artous\) rather than "bread."

16:8 Jesus asks four pungent questions about the intellectual
dulness, refers to the feeding of the five thousand and uses the
word \kophinous\ (14:20) for it and \sphuridas\ for the four
thousand (15:37), and repeats his warning (16:11). Every
teacher understands this strain upon the patience of this Teacher
of teachers.

16:12 {Then understood they} (\tote sunēkan\). First aorist
active indicative of \suniēmi\, to grasp, to comprehend. They saw
the point after this elaborate rebuke and explanation that by
"leaven" Jesus meant "teaching."

16:13 {Caesarea Philippi} (\Kaisarias tēs Philippou\). Up on a
spur of Mt. Hermon under the rule of Herod Philip. {He asked}
(\ērōtā\). Began to question, inchoative imperfect tense. He was
giving them a test or examination. The first was for the opinion
of men about the Son of Man.

16:14 {And they said} (\hoi de eipan\). They were ready to
respond for they knew that popular opinion was divided on that
point (14:1f.). They give four different opinions. It is always
a risky thing for a pastor to ask for people's opinions of him.
But Jesus was not much concerned by their answers to this
question. He knew by now that the Pharisees and Sadducees were
bitterly hostile to him. The masses were only superficially
following him and they looked for a political Messiah and had
vague ideas about him. How much did the disciples understand and
how far have they come in their development of faith? Are they
still loyal?

16:15 {But who say ye that I am?} (\h–meis de tina me legete
. This is what matters and what Jesus wanted to hear.
Note emphatic position of {h–meis}, "But _you_, who say ye that I

16:16 Peter is the spokesman now: "Thou art the Christ, the Son
of the living God" (\Su ei ho Christos ho huios tou theou tou
. It was a noble confession, but not a new claim by
Jesus. Peter had made it before (Joh 6:69) when the multitude
deserted Jesus in Capernaum. Since the early ministry (John 4)
Jesus had avoided the word Messiah because of its political
meaning to the people. But now Peter plainly calls Jesus the
Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of the God the living one
(note the four Greek articles). This great confession of Peter
means that he and the other disciples believe in Jesus as the
Messiah and are still true to him in spite of the defection of
the Galilean populace (John 6).

16:17 {Blessed art thou} (\makarios ei\). A beatitude for Peter.
Jesus accepts the confession as true. Thereby Jesus on this
solemn occasion solemnly claims to be the Messiah, the Son of the
living God, his deity in other words. The disciples express
positive conviction in the Messiahship or Christhood of Jesus as
opposed to the divided opinions of the populace. "The terms in
which Jesus speaks of Peter are characteristic--warm, generous,
unstinted. The style is not that of an ecclesiastical editor
laying the foundation for church power, and prelatic pretentions,
but of a noble-minded Master eulogizing in impassioned terms a
loyal disciple" (Bruce). The Father had helped Peter get this
spiritual insight into the Master's Person and Work.

16:18 {And I also say unto thee} (\k'agō de soi legō\). "The
emphasis is not on 'Thou art Peter' over against 'Thou art the
Christ,' but on \Kagō\: 'The Father hath revealed to thee one
truth, and I also tell you another" (McNeile). Jesus calls Peter
here by the name that he had said he would have (Joh 1:42).
Peter (\Petros\) is simply the Greek word for Cephas (Aramaic).
Then it was prophecy, now it is fact. In verse 17 Jesus
addresses him as "Simon Bar-Jonah," his full patronymic (Aramaic)
name. But Jesus has a purpose now in using his nickname "Peter"
which he had himself given him. Jesus makes a remarkable play on
Peter's name, a pun in fact, that has caused volumes of
controversy and endless theological strife. {On this rock} (\epi
tautēi tēi petrāi\)
Jesus says, a ledge or cliff of rock like
that in 7:24 on which the wise man built his house. \Petros\ is
usually a smaller detachment of the massive ledge. But too much
must not be made of this point since Jesus probably spoke Aramaic
to Peter which draws no such distinction (\Kēphā\). What did
Jesus mean by this word-play?

{I will build my church} (\oikodomēsō mou tēn ekklēsian\). It is
the figure of a building and he uses the word \ekklēsian\ which
occurs in the New Testament usually of a local organization, but
sometimes in a more general sense. What is the sense here in
which Jesus uses it? The word originally meant "assembly" (Ac
, but it came to be applied to an "unassembled assembly"
as in Ac 8:3 for the Christians persecuted by Saul from house
to house. "And the name for the new Israel, \ekklēsia\, in His
mouth is not an anachronism. It is an old familiar name for the
congregation of Israel found in Deut. (De 18:26; 23:2) and
Psalms (Ps 22:36), both books well known to Jesus" (Bruce). It
is interesting to observe that in Ps 89 most of the important
words employed by Jesus on this occasion occur in the LXX text.
So \oikodomēsō\ in Ps 89:5; \ekklēsia\ in Ps 89:6;
\katischuō\ in Ps 89:22; \Christos\ in Ps 89:39,52; \hāidēs\
in Ps 89:49 (\ek cheiros hāidou\). If one is puzzled over the
use of "building" with the word \ekklēsia\ it will be helpful to
turn to 1Pe 2:5. Peter, the very one to whom Jesus is here
speaking, writing to the Christians in the five Roman provinces
in Asia (1Pe 1:1), says: "You are built a spiritual house"
(\oikodomeisthe oikos pneumatikos\). It is difficult to resist
the impression that Peter recalls the words of Jesus to him on
this memorable occasion. Further on (1Pe 2:9) he speaks of them
as an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, showing
beyond controversy that Peter's use of building a spiritual house
is general, not local. This is undoubtedly the picture in the
mind of Christ here in 16:18. It is a great spiritual house,
Christ's Israel, not the Jewish nation, which he describes. What
is the rock on which Christ will build his vast temple? Not on
Peter alone or mainly or primarily. Peter by his confession was
furnished with the illustration for the rock on which His church
will rest. It is the same kind of faith that Peter has just
confessed. The perpetuity of this church general is guaranteed.

{The gates of Hades} (\pulai hāidou\) {shall not prevail against
(\ou katischusousin autēs\). Each word here creates
difficulty. Hades is technically the unseen world, the Hebrew
Sheol, the land of the departed, that is death. Paul uses
\thanate\ in 1Co 15:55 in quoting Ho 13:14 for \hāidē\. It is
not common in the papyri, but it is common on tombstones in Asia
Minor, "doubtless a survival of its use in the old Greek
religion" (Moulton and Milligan, _Vocabulary_). The ancient
pagans divided Hades (\a\ privative and \idein\, to see, abode of
the unseen)
into Elysium and Tartarus as the Jews put both
Abraham's bosom and Gehenna in Sheol or Hades (cf. Lu 16:25).
Christ was in Hades (Ac 2:27,31), not in Gehenna. We have here
the figure of two buildings, the Church of Christ on the Rock,
the House of Death (Hades). "In the Old Testament the 'gates of
Hades' (Sheol) never bears any other meaning (Isa 38:10; Wisd.
16:3; 3Macc. 5:51)
than death," McNeile claims. See also Ps
9:13; 107:18; Job 38:17 (\pulai thanatou pulōroi hāidou\). It is
not the picture of Hades _attacking_ Christ's church, but of
death's possible victory over the church. "The \ekklēsia\ is
built upon the Messiahship of her master, and death, the gates of
Hades, will not prevail against her by keeping Him imprisoned. It
was a mysterious truth, which He will soon tell them in plain
words (verse 21); it is echoed in Ac 2:24,31" (McNeile).
Christ's church will prevail and survive because He will burst
the gates of Hades and come forth conqueror. He will ever live
and be the guarantor of the perpetuity of His people or church.
The verb \katischuō\ (literally have strength against, \ischuō\
from \ischus\ and \kat-\)
occurs also in Lu 21:36; 23:23. It
appears in the ancient Greek, the LXX, and in the papyri with the
accusative and is used in the modern Greek with the sense of
gaining the mastery over. The wealth of imagery in Mt 16:18
makes it difficult to decide each detail, but the main point is
clear. The \ekklēsia\ which consists of those confessing Christ
as Peter has just done will not cease. The gates of Hades or bars
of Sheol will not close down on it. Christ will rise and will
keep his church alive. _Sublime Porte_ used to be the title of
Turkish power in Constantinople.

16:19 {The Keys of the kingdom} (\tas kleidas tēs basileias\).
Here again we have the figure of a building with keys to open
from the outside. The question is raised at once if Jesus does
not here mean the same thing by "kingdom" that he did by "church"
in verse 18. In Re 1:18; 3:7 Christ the Risen Lord has "the
keys of death and of Hades." He has also "the keys of the kingdom
of heaven" which he here hands over to Peter as "gatekeeper" or
"steward" (\oikonomos\) provided we do not understand it as a
special and peculiar prerogative belonging to Peter. The same
power here given to Peter belongs to every disciple of Jesus in
all the ages. Advocates of papal supremacy insist on the primacy
of Peter here and the power of Peter to pass on this supposed
sovereignty to others. But this is all quite beside the mark. We
shall soon see the disciples actually disputing again (Mt 18:1)
as to which of them is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as
they will again (20:21) and even on the night before Christ's
death. Clearly neither Peter nor the rest understood Jesus to say
here that Peter was to have supreme authority. What is added
shows that Peter held the keys precisely as every preacher and
teacher does. To "bind" (\dēsēis\) in rabbinical language is to
forbid, to "loose" (\lusēis\) is to permit. Peter would be like a
rabbi who passes on many points. Rabbis of the school of Hillel
"loosed" many things that the school of Schammai "bound." The
teaching of Jesus is the standard for Peter and for all preachers
of Christ. Note the future perfect indicative (\estai dedemenon,
estai lelumenon\)
, a state of completion. All this assumes, of
course, that Peter's use of the keys will be in accord with the
teaching and mind of Christ. The binding and loosing is repeated
by Jesus to all the disciples (18:18). Later after the
Resurrection Christ will use this same language to all the
disciples (Joh 20:23), showing that it was not a special
prerogative of Peter. He is simply first among equals, _primus
inter pares_, because on this occasion he was spokesman for the
faith of all. It is a violent leap in logic to claim power to
forgive sins, to pronounce absolution, by reason of the technical
rabbinical language that Jesus employed about binding and
loosing. Every preacher uses the keys of the kingdom when he
proclaims the terms of salvation in Christ. The proclamation of
these terms when accepted by faith in Christ has the sanction and
approval of God the Father. The more personal we make these great
words the nearer we come to the mind of Christ. The more
ecclesiastical we make them the further we drift away from him.

16:20 {That they should tell no man} (\hina mēdeni eipōsin\).
Why? For the very reason that he had himself avoided this claim
in public. He was the Messiah (\ho Christos\), but the people
would inevitably take it in a political sense. Jesus was plainly
profoundly moved by Peter's great confession on behalf of the
disciples. He was grateful and confident of the final outcome.
But he foresaw peril to all. Peter had confessed him as the
Messiah and on this rock of faith thus confessed he would build
his church or kingdom. They will all have and use the keys to
this greatest of all buildings, but for the present they must be

16:21 {From that time began} (\apo tote ērxato\). It was a
suitable time for the disclosure of the greatest secret of his
death. It is now just a little over six months before the cross.
They must know it now to be ready then. The great confession of
Peter made this seem an appropriate time. He will repeat the
warnings (17:22f. with mention of betrayal; 20:17-19 with the
which he now "began." So the necessity (\dei\, must) of
his suffering death at the hands of the Jerusalem ecclesiastics
who have dogged his steps in Galilee is now plainly stated. Jesus
added his resurrection "on the third day" (\tēi tritēi hēmerāi\),
not "on the fourth day," please observe. Dimly the shocked
disciples grasped something of what Jesus said.

16:22 {Peter took him} (\proslabomenos auton ho Petros\). Middle
voice, "taking to himself," aside and apart, "as if by a right of
his own. He acted with greater familiarity after the token of
acknowledgment had been given. Jesus, however, reduces him to his
level" (Bengel). "Peter here appears in a new character; a minute
ago speaking under inspiration from heaven, now under inspiration
from the opposite quarter" (Bruce). Syriac Sinaitic for Mr 8:32
has it "as though pitying him." But this exclamation and
remonstrance of Peter was soon interrupted by Jesus. {God have
mercy on thee}
(\hileōs\. Supply \eiē\ or \estō ho theos\). {This
shall never be}
(\ou mē estai soi touto\). Strongest kind of
negation, as if Peter would not let it happen. Peter had perfect

16:23 {But he turned} (\ho de strapheis\). Second aorist passive
participle, quick ingressive action, away from Peter in
revulsion, and toward the other disciples (Mr 8:33 has
\epistrapheis\ and \idōn tous mathētas autou\)
. {Get thee behind
me, Satan}
(\Hupage opisō mou, Satanā\). Just before Peter played
the part of a rock in the noble confession and was given a place
of leadership. Now he is playing the part of Satan and is ordered
to the rear. Peter was tempting Jesus not to go on to the cross
as Satan had done in the wilderness. "None are more formidable
instruments of temptation than well-meaning friends, who care
more for our comfort than for our character" (Bruce). "In Peter
the banished Satan had once more returned" (Plummer). {A
stumbling-block unto me}
(\skandalon ei emou\). Objective
genitive. Peter was acting as Satan's catspaw, in ignorance,
surely, but none the less really. He had set a trap for Christ
that would undo all his mission to earth. "Thou art not, as
before, a noble block, lying in its right position as a massive
foundation stone. On the contrary, thou art like a stone quite
out of its proper place, and lying right across the road in which
I must go--lying as a stone of stumbling" (Morison). {Thou
mindest not}
(\ou phroneis\). "Your outlook is not God's, but
man's" (Moffatt). You do not think God's thoughts. Clearly the
consciousness of the coming cross is not a new idea with Jesus.
We do not know when he first foresaw this outcome any more than
we know when first the Messianic consciousness appeared in Jesus.
He had the glimmerings of it as a boy of twelve, when he spoke of
"My Father's house." He knows now that he must die on the cross.

16:24 {Take up his cross} (\aratō ton stauron autou\). Pick up at
once, aorist tense. This same saying in 10:38, which see. But
pertinent here also in explanation of Christ's rebuke to Peter.
Christ's own cross faces him. Peter had dared to pull Christ away
from his destiny. He would do better to face squarely his own
cross and to bear it after Jesus. The disciples would be familiar
with cross-bearing as a figure of speech by reason of the
crucifixion of criminals in Jerusalem. {Follow} (\akaloutheitō\).
Present tense. Keep on following.

16:25 {Save his life} (\tēn psuchēn autou sōsai\). Paradoxical
play on word "life" or "soul," using it in two senses. So about
"saving" and "losing" (\apolesei\).

16:26 {Gain} (\kerdēsēi\) and {profit} (\zēmiōthēi\). Both aorist
subjunctives (one active, the other passive) and so punctiliar
action, condition of third class, undetermined, but with prospect
of determination. Just a supposed case. The verb for "forfeit"
occurs in the sense of being fined or mulcted of money. So the
papyri and inscriptions. {Exchange} (\antallagma\). As an
exchange, accusative in apposition with \ti\. The soul has no
market price, though the devil thinks so. "A man must give,
surrender, his life, and nothing less to God; no \antallagma\ is
possible" (McNeile). This word \antallagma\ occurs twice in the
_Wisdom of Sirach_: "There is no exchange for a faithful friend"
(6:15); "There is no exchange for a well-instructed soul"

16:28 {Some of them that stand here} (\tines tōn hode hestōtōn\).
A _crux interpretum_ in reality. Does Jesus refer to the
Transfiguration, the Resurrection of Jesus, the great Day of
Pentecost, the Destruction of Jerusalem, the Second Coming and
Judgment? We do not know, only that Jesus was certain of his
final victory which would be typified and symbolized in various
ways. The apocalyptic eschatological symbolism employed by Jesus
here does not dominate his teaching. He used it at times to
picture the triumph of the kingdom, not to set forth the full
teaching about it. The kingdom of God was already in the hearts
of men. There would be climaxes and consummations.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 16)