Matthew 16


The Pharisees insidiously require our Lord to give them a sign,


They are severely rebuked for their hypocrisy and wickedness,


The disciples are cautioned to beware of them and their

destructive doctrine, 6-12.

The different opinions formed by the people of Christ, 13, 14.

Peter's confession, and our Lord's discourse on it, 15-20.

He foretells his sufferings, and reproves Peter, 21-23.

Teaches the necessity of self-denial, and shows the reasons on

which it is founded, 24-26.

Speaks of a future judgment, 27.

And promises the speedy opening of the glory of his own kingdom

on earth, 28.


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

of Christ.

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.

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


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:-

Caeruleus pluviam denunciant, IGNEUS euros.

Sin MACULAE incipient RUTILO immiscerier IGNI,

Omnia tunc pariter VENTO NIMBISQUE videbis

Fervere VIRG. Geor. i. l. 453.

"If fiery red his glowing globe descends,

High winds and furious tempests he portends:

But if his cheeks are swoll'n with livid blue,

He bodes wet weather, by his watery hue

If dusky spots are varied on his brow,

And streak'd with red a troubled colour show,

That sullen mixture shall at once declare,

Wind, rain, and storms, and elemental war."


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.

Verse 5. Come to the other side] Viz. the coast of Bethsaida,

by which our Lord passed, going to Caesarea, for he was now on his

journey thither. See Mt 16:13, and Mr 8:22, 27.

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.

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.

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.

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


Verse 10. See Clarke on Mt 16:9

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.

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

of Philip.

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.

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.

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


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

Joh 1:42.

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.

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

evangelical doctrine.

"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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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".

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.

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,

Ac 19:32,

for the mob, or confused rabble, gathered together against Paul,

εκκλησιασυγκεχυμενη, which the town-clerk distinguished,

Ac 19:39,

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."

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