The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 1, 2015

13 And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? ‎14 But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. ‎15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

13. And Jesus came into the quarters.] In this section we have first Peter’s confession, vv. 13–20; secondly, Peter’s rebuke, vv. 21–28; thirdly, Peter’s presence at the transfiguration, 17:1–13; fourthly, the necessity and power of faith, vv. 14–20; fifthly, Peter’s tribute money, vv. 21–26.

1. Peter’s confession. We must first consider its preliminaries, secondly the act itself, thirdly the consequent promises, a. Preliminaries. After the apostles have been severed from the Pharisees, they need an authority which they must obey and on which they may rely: Jesus is to be their head in the future, and he will exercise his power by his vicar. A knowledge of his person and nature is therefore of vital importance for the disciples in general, and especially for him who is to represent his authority among men. The importance of the appointment is indicated by the prayer which our Lord uttered before this action [cf. Lk. 9:18], as he had prayed before the election of the apostles [cf. Lk. 6:12].

“Cesarea Philippi” was a town in Gaulonitis at the foot of Mount Libanus, not far from the source of the Jordan, a day’s journey from Sidon; it had been called Laish [Judg. 18:7, 29], and afterwards Dan, but in later times Paneas or Panias, from the mountain Panium, under which it lay [Jos. Ant. XV. x. 3]. The tetrarch Philip enlarged it and gave it the name of Cesarea in honor of Tiberius [Jos. Ant. XVIII. ii. 1; cf. Euseb. H. E. vii. 17]. In later times King Agrippa further enlarged it and called it Neronias in honor of the emperor Nero [Jos. Ant. XX. ix. 4]. This must not be confounded with the Cesarea Stratonis situated on the Mediterranean, and occurring Acts 10:1. According to Mk. 8:27 [cf. Lk. 9:18] and the Greek text of Matthew the following questions must have been asked on the way. Sylv. [cf. Grimm, iii. p. 621] sees a special providence in the fact that the primacy of the Church was first promised outside the Jewish territory, since this foreshows the future conversion of the Gentiles. Stray testimonies concerning the divine sonship of Jesus had been given already [Jn. 1:49; 6:70; Mt. 14:33], but their meaning was not certain beyond doubt.

“Who do men say,” i. e. men excluding the scribes and Pharisees; having thus recalled the opinion of others concerning the person of Jesus, the disciples would naturally strive to excel them in their own estimate of the Master [cf. Chrys.]. “The Son of man” is the title adopted from Daniel 7:13 [cf. Mt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8; etc.], perhaps through motives of humility [cf. Jer. Jans. etc.]. “Some John the Baptist” is in accord with the belief of Herod [Mt. 14:2]; “other some Elias,” according to the general opinion of the Jews [cf. Mt. 17:10; 11:14] based on Mal. 4:5, 6 [cf. Ecclus. 48:10, 11]; “and others Jeremias,” perhaps because Jesus was as free in his blame of the Jewish leaders as Jeremias had been [Mald. Jans.], but more probably because according to 2 Mac 2:1–12; 15:13–16 Jeremias had hidden the ark of the covenant, so that his return, together with the restoration of the ark, was expected about the time of the Messias, an opinion that seems to be confirmed by 4 Esdr. 2:18 [cf. 1:10]; “or one of the prophets” appears to be one of the great earlier prophets of Israel grown mightier by his resurrection [cf. Mt. 14:2], or it is the prophet promised in Deut. 18:15 [cf. Jn. 1:21; 6:24], Within a year from this time the wretched people will be so misled as to demand Christ’s death from the Roman governor. “You” signifies that the disciples ought to distinguish themselves in their knowledge of the Master, having been long with him, and witnessed many miracles [Chrys.].

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

16. Simon Peter answered.] b. Peter’s formal profession. “Simon Peter” had distinguished himself by his profession after the eucharistic discourse [Jn. 6:70]; seeing now some hesitation on the part of his fellow apostles, he breaks forth into his profession to prevent any other less dignified answer [Chrys. Sylv. Grimm, iii. p. 625], at the same time complying with that special divine illumination and inspiration which the words of Christ ascribe to him. “Thou art Christ,” or the Messias; the parallel accounts [Mk. 8:29; Lk. 9:20] emphasize the Messiasship as the main point of Peter’s profession, since the readers of the second and third gospel identify the Messianic dignity with the divinity. The Jewish readers of the first gospel had no such definite idea of the identity of the two terms, so that the evangelist must add “the Son of the living God.” That this must be understood of natural sonship is evident from the following considerations: first, this truth could not be known except by revelation [“flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven”], while sonship in the Old Testament meaning could be known without revelation; secondly, in the immediate context Jesus speaks of his Father in heaven, and we may suppose that he uses the terms in the sense which Peter gave them; thirdly, the Greek article before “Son” emphasizes the expression so as to raise its meaning above that usually given to it; fourthly, Jesus is called “the Son of God” in opposition to John the Baptist, Jeremias, or any of the prophets, all of whom were sons of God by adoption; fifthly, the addition of “living” before “God” does probably not merely serve to distinguish the true God from the false gods [cf. Schanz, etc.], but represents Christ’s divine sonship as flowing from the very life of God, and therefore as natural [Orig. Caj. Sylv.; cf. Hil. Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Thom. Mald.].

Chrys. Aug. [serm. 76, 1], Ambr. [de incarn. c. iv.], Jer. Alb. Thom. Dion. Schegg are of opinion that Peter professed the belief in the divine sonship of Jesus in the name of all apostles. But this can be admitted only in the sense that the other apostles either later on embraced or actually, but accidentally, held the belief expressed by Peter, or that Peter held even at that time a certain superiority over his fellow apostles [cf. Jn. 1:42; Mt. 8:14; 10:2; Lk. 5:2 ff.]. To say that Peter formally expressed the actual belief of the other apostles involves either a previous consultation of the apostles, or on the part of Peter a knowledge of the secrets of hearts; neither of these conditions is known to have existed. The gospel rather favors the view that Peter professed the belief in Christ’s divinity in his own name only: when Peter answers for all, his words indicate this [cf. Jn. 6:69, 70]; but far from presenting such an indication, the present passage pronounces blessed only Peter for the divine revelation with which he has been favored: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona.” Hil. [ad c. xiv. n. 17], Opt. [De schism. Donat. vii. 3], Aster, amas. Basil, seleuc. [orat. 25, 4], Jans. Mald. Bar. Tost. Lap. Sylv. Knab. etc. are therefore right in maintaining that this profession of faith in Christ’s divinity was a personal act, not a corporate expression.

17 And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. ‎18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ‎19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. ‎20 Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

17. And Jesus answering.] c. Christ’s words to Peter. These proclaim first Peter’s blessedness, secondly his dignity as rock of the Church, thirdly his power of the keys, fourthly his power to bind and loose, α. Peter’s blessedness. “Simon Bar-Jona” [Bar-Jona does not mean “son of a dove” nor does it allude to the prophet Jonas, for the better codd. of Jn. 1:42; 21:15; 21:16, 17 read “son of John,” and in 2 Par. 28 the lxx. render the Hebrew “John” by “Jona”] is in opposition to Peter’s words “Christ the Son of the living God.” “Blessed art thou” because by God’s special benefit thou art possessed of a knowledge that is life eternal [Jn. 17:3; Thom. Sylv.]. “Flesh and blood” is said of man not aided by the special assistance of God [1 Cor. 15:50; Ecclus. 14:19]; Peter has not found the truth by the light of reason, nor is he the disciple of man [cf. Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12], but he is taught by the heavenly Father [cf. Mt. 11:27; Jn. 6:44, 45]. “I say to thee” is parallel to Peter’s profession: as thou hast professed my divinity, I shall reveal thy dignity [cf. Leo, serm. iv. 2].

β. Peter the rock of the Church. “Thou art Peter” [Rock], “and upon this rock”: in the Greek and the Latin text the word expressing “rock” is masculine in the first place, and feminine in the second [Petrus, petra; πέτρος, πέτρα]. But since Jesus spoke Aramaic, all difficulty vanishes, there being only one word [כֵּף or כֵּיפָא]. The Greek writer [and the Latin translator followed him] saw that the feminine noun could not well be employed as the name of Simon, while the masculine noun agreed less with the idea of foundation-stone or firm rock [see, however, Horn. H. η. 270, γ. 288, π. 411; Pind. Nem. xi. 26; Sophocl. Oed. C. 19, 1595; Philoct. 272; Diod. Sic. i. 32], a meaning expressed by the feminine form [cf. Grot.]. “Church” is regarded by Bleek, Holtzmann, Harnack as a later interpolation, because Jesus usually spoke of “the kingdom” or “the kingdom of heaven.” But as “the kingdom” is an Old Testament expression [cf. 1 Par. 28:5; Ps. 21:31; Abd. 21] employed by Jesus [cf. Jn. 18:36; etc.], so is קָהָל [rendered by the lxx. ἐκκλησία], corresponding to our church, an Old Testament expression [Num. 15:3; 20:4; Deut. 23:2–4; 1 Par. 28:8; Mich. 2:5] denoting the holy convocation of Israel. If, then, the former expression could be appropriated by our Lord, why not the latter? Finally, since Israel is often called “the house of the Lord” in the Old Testament [cf. Num. 12:7; 7:7; Os. 7:1; 9:8, 15], the metaphor of “building” my Church was naturally enough employed by Jesus [cf. 1 Cor. 3:9 ff.; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5]. Nor is there any difficulty about the meaning of the metaphor: the Church of Christ is to be built on the rock in question, as on its foundation. The rock will be to the Church what the foundation is to the building; will give it, therefore, stability, and firmness [cf. Mt. 7:24], and unity. Now since the stability, firmness, and unity of the Church, as of every society, are supplied by the ruling authority, it follows that the rock must be the seat of authority in the Church; and since the foundation must remain as long as the building, the rock on which the Church is built must persevere as long as the Church is to last.

The next point to be discussed concerns the identity of the rock on which the Church is to be built. Opinions: First, the rock is Jesus himself. Reasons: α. when Jesus said “thou art Peter [Rock], and upon this rock I will build my Church,” he may have pointed to himself while pronouncing the second clause [Schöttgen, Schultz, Chrysander, etc.]. β. According to 1 Cor. 3:11 there is no foundation beside Christ Jesus. γ. According to 1 Cor. 10:4 Christ is the rock. δ. The difference of gender in the Latin and Greek text between Petrus and Petra, πέτρος and πέτρα. ε. Cassiodorus [in Ps. 45:5], the author of the explanation of the fifth penitential Psalm [n. 36; in the works of Gregory the Great], Theodoret [in 1 Cor. 3:11], and Primasius [in Apoc. 21] understand the foundation-rock of the Church to be identical with Christ. But (a) the difference of gender in the Latin and Greek text between Petrus and Petra, πέτρος and πέτρα, has been explained already, (b) As to 1 Cor. 3:11 and 10:4, and the patristic writers, Christ is surely the primary foundation-rock of the Church, as he alone can forgive sins by his own power [Chrys.]. But as he has communicated the power of forgiving sins to his ministers, so he may have delegated one of his ministers to be his vicar in the office of foundation of the Church, (c) That Christ did communicate this vicarious office of “rock of the Church” to Peter, himself remaining the primary foundation, is expressly maintained by Leo [serm. iv. 2; in ep. x. 1], August. [Retract, i. 21; etc.], Jer. [in Mt. 7:26; 16:18]; Rab. Druthm. Anselm. laud. Zachar. Chrys. Thom. (d) There must be some relation between “Rock” in the first clause of Christ’s address to Peter, and “rock” in the second [especially, since he calls it “this rock”], unless we assume that our Lord’s words had a wholly arbitrary meaning; the assumption that our Lord pointed to himself does not change this alternative.

Secondly, the rock on which Jesus declared he would build his Church is the faith professed by Simon Peter, whether we take it as the doctrine “thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” or as the profession of the doctrine, “Simon Peter answered and said.” Reasons: (a) The Church is really based on the divinity of Jesus Christ, is sustained by the profession of this truth, has always upheld this belief, and is one by this profession. (b) Hil. [in lib. vi. de trinit. n. 36], Ambr. [de incarn. c. v. n. 34], Chrys. Leo [serm. iii. c. 2, 3], Aug. [tract, vii. in Joh. n. 14], Cyr. [l. iv. in Is. c. 44, v. 23; cf. Ballerini, De vi ac ratione primatus, c. 12, ed. 1845, pp. 71–78; Palmieri, De Rom. Pontifice, pp. 246, 247] identify the rock on which the Church is built with the faith of Peter in Christ’s divinity or its profession.

But on the other hand: [a] No society has ever received its stability, its firmness, and its unity by a certain doctrine or by its profession; the permanent adherence of a society to a doctrine, or its permanent profession of the same, is rather the effect of the social principle of unity than this principle itself. [b] All the foregoing Fathers maintain, either in the context of the cited passages or in other passages, that Peter is the rock on which the Church has been built: Hil. [in h. 1; in Ps. 131, n. 4; in Ps. 141], n. 8; in lib. vi. de Trinit. n. 20], Ambr. [in Luc. lib. vi. n. 70; de virginit. c. 16, n. 105; de fid. lib. iv. c. 5, n. 56; enarrat. Ps. 40 n. 30], Chrys. Leo [serm. iii. c. 2, 3], Aug. [ad Ps. 30, serm. ii. n. 5; in Ps. 100, serm. iii. n. 2, 7; Ps. 138 n. 22], Cyr. Alex, [in 1.]. The foregoing Fathers, therefore, somehow identified the faith or its profession with the person of Peter, as in point of fact Christ called rock of the Church not Peter as such, but Peter illumined by the revelation of Christ’s divinity, Peter conspicuous by his profession of this faith. Peter’s faith in Christ’s divinity, or his profession of this faith, is therefore the rock of the Church in two ways: first, meritoriously, since Peter merited thereby to become rock of the Church; secondly, in part also formally, since Peter endued with this faith and its profession became the rock of the Church cf. Palmieri, De roman. pontif. 1877, p. 252; Natalis Alex. H. E. tom. iii. p. 99; sæc. i. diss. iv. n. 3]. [c] Weiss and Holtzmann among the more recent Protestant commentators grant that this second view, so common among the older Protestant theologians, must be abandoned.

Thirdly, we need not delay over those who attempt to combine the first and second opinion [Glassins], nor over those who regard the college of apostles as the foundation of the Church [Apoc. 21:14], nor again over those who make the apostles and the prophets the rock of the Church [Eph. 2:20], nor finally over those who seek the foundation of the Church in the body of the faithful. The first and the second opinions are rejected by the foregoing arguments; the third opinion has been implicitly considered where we investigated in what sense Peter can be said to have made his profession of faith in the name of all apostles; the fourth opinion has no foundation whatever in the present passage, and the same must be said of the fifth. It is true that some writers ask, how every Christian may become a Peter, by believing and professing like Peter [cf. Orig. in Matt. tom. xii. n. 10, 11; Theoph. Rab. Pasch. Druthm. Erasm.]; but as the question how we can become an apostle like Peter presupposes that Peter is a true apostle, so does the question of the foregoing writers imply that Peter is really the foundation of the Church; for starting from this supposition, they apply our Lord’s words to the inner life of all Christians.

Fourthly, the rock on which the Church is built is the apostle Peter. Reasons: a. The words taken in their literal sense do not admit another explanation: “thou art Rock, and upon this rock.…” Jesus could not have expressed himself more obscurely, had he not intended to build his Church on Peter; he could not have stated his meaning more clearly, if he meant to build his Church on Peter. b. All that follows is addressed to Peter, and there is no sign that our Lord changes his subject. c. External evidence is all in favor of this explanation: first, before the rise of Arianism, no other opinion was expressed [cf. Tert. de præscript. hær. 22; Cypr. ep. 71, 3; ad Jubai. n. 10; Firmilian. ep. ad Cypr. n. 16; Orig.]; secondly, when the Arian heresy rose, the patristic writers began to extol Peter’s belief in and profession of Christ’s divinity in the highest terms, but, as we have seen, though regarding this faith and profession as meritoriously the foundation of the Church, they held it as formally so only in so far as it was inherent in the person of Peter; thirdly, those writers who maintained that Jesus himself was the rock of the Church understood this of the principal foundation, for they all regarded Peter as the foundation of the Church by participation; fourthly, those writers who used the passage in an ascetic sense presupposed that Peter was the rock of the Church; fifthly, to these may be added Bas. [cont. Eunom. ii. 4; in Is. c. ii. n. 66], Gregor. naz. [or. 22], Chrys. Euth. and others as enumerated by Palmieri [De Romano Pontifice, Romæ, 1877, pp. 225–278], Schrader [De unitate Romana, Friburg, 1862, pp. 140 ff.]; Passaglia [De prærogativis b. Petri, Ratisb. 1850, 1. ii. cc. 3–10, 14]; Ballerini [De vi ac ratione primatus, c. 12, Monasterii Westph. 1845, pp. 71–78]; Natal. Alex. [H. E. tom. iii. p. 99, Paris, 1730]; Suar. [Defens. fidei cath. adv. anglic. sect, errores, lib. iii. cc. 10–12]; Bellarm. [De Romano Pontifice, lib. i. cc. 10–13]; sixthly, among the learned Protestants of more recent times Bengel, Kuinoel, Rosenmüller, Dodwell, Michaelis, Parkhurst, Fritzsche, Bloomfield, Alford, Mansel, Holtzmann, Weiss, Meyer, regard the rock of the Church as identical with the person of Peter.

Keil, Wichelhaus, Zeller, etc. grant to Peter only a primacy of honor, esteeming him first among equals, while Hammond, Camero, Rosenmüller, Bengel, Bloomfield, and Mansel place his primacy in the fact that he was the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles [Acts 2:14 ff.; 10; 15:7]; but according to the former view Peter would be rather the façade than the foundation of the Church, and according to the latter he would be the layer of the corner-stone instead of being the foundation. Meyer, Weiss [p. 393], Huther [Briefe Petri, 3d ed. 1867, pp. 2 f.], etc. admit the primacy of Peter, but deny that it passed over to his successors; as if after Peter’s death the Church could have remained without a foundation; in connection with this point, Harnack [patr. apostol. opp.; 1 Clem. i. 5] and Hilgenfeld [Zeitschrift f. w. Th. 1877, p. 508] reject the denial of Lipsius and Zeller that Peter was ever in Rome. Bleek, Holtzmann, and Harnack are probably more logical, when they deny that Jesus really uttered the words to Peter as they are recorded in the first gospel; but then they proceed on a principle already rejected where we treated of the authenticity of the gospel. Mk. 8:33; 9:35; 10:44; Mt. 16:23, the expressions of St. Paul about the apostolate and his behavior toward St. Peter do not contradict the solemn declaration of Peter’s primacy [cf. Holtzm.].

“The gates of hell” in the Old Testament repeatedly signify “the gates of death” or “hades” [cf. Is. 38:10; Job. 38:17; Ps. 9:15; 106:18], so that the expression signifies the house or palace of death to which the souls of the dead must repair. If, then, death “shall not prevail against it,” i. e. either the Church [Hil. in Ps. 130, n. 4; Caj. Mald, etc.] or both the Church and the rock [Orig. Pasch. Leo ep. ad episc. Vienn. x. 1], it shall stand forever [Schegg, Bisp. Schanz, Fil. Keil, Weiss, Mansel, Holtzm. etc.; cf. 1 Cor. 15:26, 55]. But since “the gates of hell” may have a wider meaning in the New Testament than in the Old, since the Greek expression rendered “shall not prevail against it” implies the idea of an attack [cf. Ex. 17:11; 4 Kings 24:2; 2 Par. 8:3; 17:5; Is. 24:20; 15:18; Dan. 11:21; Wisd. 7:30], since again the parable in Mt. 7:25 clearly implies a hostile attack against the house built on a rock, and since finally both our Lord and the apostles warn us repeatedly to beware of the attacks of our enemy, the devil [cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12; 1 Petr. 5:8; Apoc. 4:8; 20:14]: for these reasons we may explain the passage “the kingdom or city [cf. Gen. 22:17; 24:60; Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14; 12:12; 15:7; Esth. 3:2; 4:2; 5:9, 13; etc.] of the devil shall not overcome it” [cf. Orig. Caj. Mald. Bar. Arn. Knab. etc.]. The attacks of the enemy consisting in the inroad of heresies [Orig. Jer. Br. Druthm. Zach. Alb. Thom.], in divers persecutions [Theoph. Cyr. Rab.], in temptation to sin [Euth. Br. Pasch. Thom.], and even in temporal afflictions [Dion.], the victory of the Church implies not only her gift of perpetuity, but also that of infallibility.

γ. Peter’s power of the keys. “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of, heaven” agrees well with the figure of a house. Euth. Bed. Rab. Pasch. Druthm. Zach. Thom. explain this power of the keys given to Peter as the power of admitting into the Church; but since commonly the power of the keys signifies supreme dominion [cf. Is. 22; Apoc. 1:18; 3:17], the keys being in the hands of the supreme ruler, and since this meaning of the expression is even upheld by the Rabbinic writers. [cf. Wünsche, p. 195], Christ gave to Peter in the power of the keys not only the power of admitting and excluding, but also the highest power of ruling the kingdom, second only to that of our Lord himself [Chrys. Caj. Jans. Mald. Suar. Bar. Sylv. Bellarm. Lap. Calm. Arn. Schegg, Schanz, Fil. Knab. etc.].

δ. Peter’s power to bind and loose. The supreme power of Peter is further determined in the words, “whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” This power to bind and to loose is not merely the power to preach the gospel, though the latter contains the norm of admission into and exclusion from the kingdom [Keil, Düsterdick, Müller]; nor is it merely the power to communicate from the treasure-house of the kingdom or to withhold these spiritual goods from men [cf. Schegg]; nor again is it merely the power to forgive sins and remit its punishments [cf. Tert. de pudicit. c. xxi.; Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Bed. Rab. Druthm. Thom. Dion. Grimm, 3. p. 648], but it implies supreme legislative and judicial power in the kingdom [Caj. Suar. Jans. Lap. Sylv. Bar. Calm. Arn. Reischl, Fil. Knab. Palm. l. c. p. 265]. For the words of our Lord must be explained not from a stray passage in Diodorus Siculus [i. 27] and Josephus [B. J. I. v. 2], but from the common language of the Jewish doctors whose terminology had become known to the common people together with the Pharisaic precepts [cf. Mt. 5:34–36; 15:2, 5; 19:3; 23:2–4, 16–22; Acts. 21:24; 2 Cor. 11:24; Num. 30:3, 10; Dan. 6:8, 9, 14, 16]. Even though the expression “to bind” or “to loose” meant nothing among the Jews but the authoritative declaration of what was licit or illicit according to the Mosaic law, the power of thus authoritatively interpreting the teaching of Christ and his spirit would imply legislative power. But as Morinus [Commentar. hist, de disciplina in administr. sacr. pœnitent. lib. i. c. viii. Antuerp. 1682, p. 19], Wünsche [p. 196], and Ed. [ii. p. 85] maintain, the expressions “to bind” and “to loose” denote authoritative declarations on all that refers to religion and practice, so that our Lord rightly extended Peter’s power to bind and to loose all things “whatsoever” in the kingdom of God [cf. Lightf. Schöttgen, Wetstein, Wünsche, Fritzsche, Ahrens, Steitz, Meyer, Weizsäcker, Grimm, Keim, Knab. etc.].

This great promise to Peter is immediately followed by Christ’s prohibition to “tell that he was Jesus the Messias.” Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Jer. Thom. Jans. Mald. Calm, believe that before the resurrection Jesus did not urge his divinity upon his followers lest they might be scandalized at his coming sufferings. But the prohibition concerns the manifestation not of his divinity, but of his Messiasship; the corrupt Messianic ideas of the Jews did not permit him to appear publicly as the Messias, since the people would have attempted to realize the temporal Messianic kingdom they generally expected [cf. Mt. 8:4; 8:12–15; John. 6:15].

21 From that time Jesus began to shew to his disciples, that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again.

21. From that time Jesus.] 2. Peter’s rebuke. In this section we have first the scandal of Peter, vv. 21–23; then the description of the Christian cross, vv. 24–28. a. Scandal of Peter. “From that time” denotes the period when Jesus had been acknowledged by Peter as the Son of the living God; it was some time after the third Easter in Christ’s public life, about ten months before his death. “Jesus began to show” clearly what till then he had only hinted at [cf. Jn. 2:19; 3:14]: “that he must go to Jerusalem,” according to the will of his Father [cf. Mt. 17:10, 21; 20:18; 26:54; Lk. 24:25–27, 46], “and suffer many things from the ancients, and scribes, and chief priests,” i. e. from the civil, religious, and learned authorities of the nation [cf. Mt. 2:4]. The slowness of the apostles to understand the clear words “he must … be put to death, and the third day rise again” [cf. Mk. 9:31; Lk. 18:34] may be explained first as agreeing with the general obscurity of prophecies before their fulfilment; secondly, the prophecy was contrary to the apostles’ wishes, and therefore hard to believe; thirdly, they might suspect that Jesus spoke in a parable, and this the more, because Os. 6:2, 3 employs a similar metaphor; finally, the minds of the apostles at the time of the passion were so disturbed that they could hardly be expected to recall even the clearest prophecies. That Jesus predicted his resurrection clearly is seen from Mt. 28:6; Lk. 24:6–8.

22 And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him, saying: Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee. ‎23 Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.

22. “And Peter taking him” apart, “began to rebuke him,” but was interrupted after the first words. “Lord, be it far from thee” is a strong expostulation [cf. Jer. 1 Mach. 2:21]; “this shall not be unto thee” is either explanatory of the foregoing words [Grot.], or a prayer [Fritzsche,], or again a confident declaration on Peter’s part [Alf.]. “Who turning,” either to Peter with a stern countenance, or from Peter in indignation. “Go behind me,” i. e. out of my sight. “Satan” is addressed to the devil, according to Hil. Chrysol. [serm. 27], and Marcellus [cf. Euseb. cont. Marcell. i. 2], so that our Lord said: “Go behind me [Peter]; Satan, thou art a scandal to me”; but the context demands that the word be referred to Peter. Not as if Peter had pronounced his words at the suggestion of the devil, nor as if “Satan” in the New Testament too could be regarded as an appellative meaning “adversary” [Num. 22:22; 1 Kings. 29:4; 2 Kings 19:23; 3 Kings 5:18, etc.; cf. Orig. Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Jer. Bed. etc.]; but because Peter, speaking from human affection for Jesus, suggested what the devil himself had suggested in the temptation [Mt. 4:3–9], so that the apostle materially at least furthered the devil’s cause [cf. Chrys. Euth.]. Hence Peter was “a scandal” unto Jesus, savoring “the things that are of men,” i. e. measuring them according to a human standard, not estimating them according to the light of revelation.


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