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"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
(Mat 16:16)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

Mat 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
Mat 16:14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
Mat 16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
Mat 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Mat 16:20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah."

[Mat 16:13] "Caesarea Philippi" means the Caesarea of Philip. Philip the tetrarch rebuilt the ancient city of Panias, calling it Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus. The designation differentiates this Caesarea from other cities of the same name. This is the only recorded journey Jesus took into the territory of Philip.

[Mat 16:16] Peter means by his answer that Jesus is the One who would fulfill the messianic hope of the O.T. He does not completely understand the nature of Jesus' messiahship, but the truth is beginning to dawn, as Matthew makes clear by the expression "the Son of the living God." This is Peter's astonishing insight. To avow that Jesus was the Messiah was not startling. But to affirm that Jesus, the Messiah, was the Son of God -- deity in human flesh -- was an insight of momentous illumination (v. 17).

[Mat 16:18] Matthew provides a play on the Greek words in this crucial quotation from Jesus: "You are petros [a small throwable stone], and on this petra [the feminine form of petros, which indicates an immovable ledge of rock] I will build My church." Historic interpretations include the following: (1) Peter is the rock upon which the church is to be constructed, since Jesus was probably speaking Aramaic, in which language the word simply would have been Cephas in both instances. (2) Peter is addressed, but Jesus indicates, possibly by means of gesture, that the Christ is the petra upon which the church will be built (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11). (3) Peter is addressed and told that his confession (v. 16) is the petra upon which Jesus will build His church. Either of the latter two positions is plausible; both of these take into account the word changes written by Matthew. A promise of perpetuity is given even in the face of the devastating ravages of death, whose gates seemingly enclose all things. "Hades" cannot destroy or "hold down" the church.

[Mat 16:19] Though v. 18 is difficult, v. 19 has been even more fiercely debated. However, nothing in either verse suggests the possibility that Peter was given authority to forgive men of their sins. The words "bind" and "loose" are rabbinic terms meaning "to forbid" and "to permit." "Keys" were the symbol of knowledge or the fruit of the scribal or teaching office (cf. Luke 11:52 in which "key" refers to knowledge). Peter and those with him are given the "keys of the kingdom," i.e., the gospel of Christ. The use of those keys will build the church. Peter did precisely this at Pentecost (Acts 2:14), at Samaria (Acts 8:14), and for Cornelius the Gentile (Acts 10). The expressions "will be bound in heaven" and "will be loosed in heaven" are examples in Greek of the periphrastic future perfect passive construction and should, therefore, be translated "will have been bound already" and "will have been loosed already" in heaven. In other words, Peter's pronouncement of "binding" or "loosing" is dependent upon what heaven has already willed, rather than earth's giving direction to heaven.

[Mat 16:20] Why should Jesus forestall the disciples from openly identifying Him as the Messiah? (1) Already there had been more than sufficient publicity. Additional fanfare would only increase opposition on the one hand, and give encouragement to those who still desired Him to act as a political Messiah on the other. (2) The latter days of His ministry were designed to be less public and more private for the instruction of the disciples. The time would come later for the messiahship of Jesus to be publicly proclaimed.

NSRV & Believer's Study Bible (BSB) Notes

 

 

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