Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of Matthew/Chapter 16
Matthew 16 takes place in the region of Magadan and is a continuation of the events reported in Matthew 15 (Jesus feeds the four thousand after healing masses of people) beginning with the request of signs from Heaven from the Pharisees and Sadducees. After Jesus chastises them for their request of signs again He and the Disciples depart.
With lack of food the disciples began to worry and Jesus begun to warn them about the yeast of the Pharisees which they took to be a scolding for not bringing food. Jesus then questioned their faith and explained to them that they need to worry about the Pharisees teaching not the lack of food for they have already witnessed Jesus ability to provide.
Once they had reached Caesarea Philipi Jesus asked the question about who people believed he was. After some debate the Peter claimed that Jesus was the Christ. It was then that Jesus named Peter the head of the Church and called him the Rock unto which he would build it. After some discourse Jesus informs the disciples that they must not tell anybody who he is. Keeping up with the Messianic Secret. From here on out it says Jesus began to show or explain what he must do in Jerusalem.
Peter exclaims that this can not be. Jesus then responds to Peter the one whom he had just said he would place the Church by saying “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God but of men.”
Jesus tells the disciples as a whole that anybody who wants to follow after him must pick up their cross and follow him. Jesus also tells them that if they want to save their life they will lose it and by forfeiting their life they shall gain it.
Jesus finishes by telling the disciples that some of them will not “taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom”. This narrative can be found in Mark 8 as well but there is no similar account found in Luke.
I. One of the twelve apostlesEdit
1. When listed he is seventh in Mark and Luke, eight in Matthew and Acts.
2. Suggesting disciple of lesser status.
II. Identified as a tax collector before becoming a follower of Jesus.
III. Originally thought to be a Jewish Christian writing to other Jews and the gospel was possibly written in Hebrew first.
1. Though modern thought has allowed for a view in which Matthew is a Gentile who simply merged a form of Jewish Christianity into his Gospel.
IV.First hand witness to many of the events mentioned in the Gospel.
1. It can be argued that all the other gospel writers were telling the story second hand, if Mathew is the disciple then it is a unique perspective of the story with a kind of authority.
V. Focus on teaching
1. Mathew often puts more focus on teaching material than we can see in one of his sources Mark. This new emphasize shows the need for a kind of catechism in the church quite possibly in the Jewish-Christian community.
I.author: Attributed to the apostle Mathew at least from the time of Irenaeus (ad 185) though earliest manuscripts are anonymous.
1.most scholars agree that Mathew had 2 different sources at hand during the writing process. The two sources attributed are the Gospel of Mark and the source most known as Q.
2.Many scholars often believe that Mathew is a revision of Mark which can be seen in the way Mathew retells many of the miracle stories. If in fact Mark was used in the writing of Matthew it implies that the evangelist in Matthew did not feel as though Mark had covered all the needed material. Also it is likely that Mathew reworked Mark to make specific theological claims.
1.Mathew often shortens them or removes some of the details.
3. This means that Mark pre-dates Mathew by some unknown amount of time.
III.The structure of the Gospel of Mathew
1.it is agreed that the gospel has an introduction followed by 5 discourses with other anecdotal events squeezed in and then concluded.
1. Genealogy and Infancy (chapters 1-2)
2. Narrative of the beginning of Jesus ministry (chapter 3-4
3. First Discourse: the sermon on the mount (chapter 5-7)
4.narrative on Jesus' Healing and teaching (chapter 8-9:34)
5.2nd Discourse: The mission of the disciples (chapter 9:35-11)
6.narrative on the growing opposition to Jesus (chapter 11-12:50
7.3rd discourse: the parable discourse (13:1-52)
8. Narrative on Christology and ecclesiology (13:53-17:27)
9.4th discourse: church life and order (18:1-35)
10.narrative on the journey to Jerusalem and the clash with the religious authorities (19-23:39)
11.5th discourse: the coming of the Son of Man and final judgment (24-25)
12.the passion narrative (26-27)
13.the resurrection narrative (28)
Matthew 16 Paraphrase:
This Paraphrase is based on the NIV, NKJV, NASB and the Message translations of the Bible intended to present a modern understanding of the text that reflects my personal understanding of the text. Translations used can be accessed online at Biblegateway.com
1. The Pharisees and Sadducees approached Jesus with intent to test him into showing them a sign from heaven.
2. Jesus rebuked them saying “When the evening comes you say 'it will be fair weather, for the sky is red,'
3.'and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You think you can forecast the weather but you fail to see the signs of the times.
4.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for and relies on miracles, but they will not be given any except the sign of Jonah.' Jesus then walked away.
5. When they (the Disciples) travelled across the lake they had forgotten to bring bread.
6.“Be careful.” Jesus told them “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”.
7. They discussed this amongs themselves and believed that Jesus was commenting on them for forgetting the bread.
8. Jesus being aware of there discussion asked, “You of little Faith, why are you so concerned with having no bread?
9. Do you not Get it? Don't you remember the fives loaves that fed five thousand, and all the leftovers you gathered.
10. Or the seven loaves that fed the four thousand and the leftovers you gathered that time?
11. How do you still not understand that this is not about the bread? But be ready to fight off the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducess.”
12. Then they finally understood that it was not about the yeast used in bread, but rather against the teachings and ideas of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
13. When Jesus reached the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked the disciples, “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?”
14. They answered “some say John the Baptist while others say Elijah, and some believe Jeremiah or another prophet.”
15.“But what do you think?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16. Simon Peter replied, “ You are the Christ, The Son of the living God.”
17. Jesus answered, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, because this was not revealed to you by a human but rather by my Father in heaven.
18.I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock my Church will be crafted, and the forces of Hell will not overcome it.
19. And I will give you the keys to this Kingdom and whatever you bind here on earth shall also be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose here on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
20. Jesus then warned the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.
21. From this point forward Jesus began to explain to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer a great amount at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that they would eventually kill him so that he can be raised back to life on the third day.
22. Peter pulled him aside and began to rebuke him for the things he said. “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”
23. Jesus looked at Peter and said “Get out of my sight Satan! You are causing me to fall short; you do not understand the plans of God, but only the ideals of men.”
24. Jesus told his disciples “If anybody is to follow after me they must first deny themselves and pick up their cross, then follow.
25. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever gives up their life for me will find it.
26. What good is it to have the whole world but have no soul?
27. The Son of man is coming with his Father's glory and his angels, and will reward everybody in accordance with what they have done in life.
28.I tell you the truth. That some who are with us now will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
The second demand for a sign takes place in Magadan flowing straight into the next narrative which indicates that there is a distinct connection between the two passages. This set of verses is the second time that Jesus has been asked to show a sign and the second time he rebukes the request. It is clear that the Pharisees and Sadducee are asking for signs from heaven not because they want to see Jesus the messiah in action but rather for some alternative motive. It is very clear after reading chapter 15 that Jesus has the ability to work wonders on the world after healing people and feeding thousands with just a few loves of bread and a few fish. It is not a sign that is desired but rather are attempting once again to trap Jesus so that they can persecute and kill him. It is at this point that you reach the apex of the mountain and at the bottom you can see the Cross awaiting Jesus' Death and eventual resurrection.
Jesus' claim to the “little faith” of the Disciples is a direct result of there concern with the absence of provisions, which in reality was a very small problem in relation to the miracles they had previously seen Jesus accomplish (Albright and Mann ##). By worrying about the next meal the disciples have given complete disregard not only to prior miracles but to the God who provides for all (Hare ##).
However, instead of addressing the disciples and their worries, Jesus begins a new conversation in reference to what happened in verses 1-4. Jesus is minimally concerned, if at all, with the disciples desire for food but uses it to make an example. The use of yeast or leaven as a symbol for teachings specifically poor teachings is not exclusive to this particular narrative but rather can be seen through out the NT (1 Cor 5:6-8; Gal 5:9) and also in other rabbinic literature (Albright and Mann 192; Bromiley 589). The disciples missed Jesus' symbolic use of leaven or yeast as a symbol for the corrupt teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They mistook this as some kind of advice or warning against purchasing poisoned loaves of bread (Bromiley 589).
This is just another instance in the book of Mathew in which the disciples miss the point due to their lack of attention to detail. Or, is it because God has hardened their hearts, as some have suggested, so that they do not figure out the identity of Jesus until the ideal moment in his ministry.
After Jesus heard the disciples discuss the lack of bread at length, he called them “people of little faith.” This phrase is used in Matthew only to describe the disciples.
Jesus addressed their disregard for the miracles that they had already seen. Were the disciples constantly forgetting or were they completely unintelligent? Or, had God prevented them from realizing who Jesus really was up to this point in time?
Jesus continues on starting off with a reminder that they have seen much greater things than the mere feeding of 13 men in but that they have seen him feel thousands. As stated Jesus two questions the intelligence of the disciples asking if they don't understand or if they don't remember. Through out the Gospel encounters the disciples are constantly dropping the ball and Jesus in a since is prodding them in the middle of his rebuke for not being aware of what is going on around them. Jesus clearly disappointed returns to the issue at hand and repeats what he said earlier “But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducee.” the only difference is that Jesus previously announces to them that he is not talking about bread, though this time it is possible that with the small hint Jesus gave them they were able to come to a more accurate conclusion as to what Jesus was saying the second time around.
This particular group of scripture is a major climax that has been in the making since very early on in the gospel and from this point on there is no question for the read and for the disciples as to who Jesus is and what he has come to accomplish. Through out the gospel narratives we have seen many different people make statements or ask questions regarding his identity all of that suspend has come together at this moment in which Peter makes a clear and bold statement that Jesus is the Son of God the Messiah that has been promised. (Hagner)
Jesus and the disciples have traveled out to Caesarea Philippi in a kind of retreat quite possibly for the purpose of what is about to take place and to begin the journey toward the Cross. Also it could very well be much more practical as a way to retreat from the populated areas and the attention that Jesus has been gaining in attempt to slow the inevitable. The Pharisees are already preparing to kill Jesus which present new challenges not only for Jesus safety but the safety of the Church. Jesus as far as we know from the way the evangelist tells the story is very direct and asks the disciples up front what people are saying about him and then after they respond and the is a slight discussion Jesus asks them who they say he is. Peter steps forward and responds with a claim that Jesus is the Son of God and in turn the Messiah. To which Jesus responds "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven". It is at this point Jesus claims that Peter is the Rock that “my Church” will be constructed upon. By saying this He is explaining that He will build His Church on the foundation(rock) of REVELATION KNOWLEDGE, being, knowledge given, from the Father, directly to followers of Christ. The claiming the Church as being Jesus he is implying that it is not simply a congregation but rather Jesus is referring to the universal Church body to which Christ is the head and His followers are the members. By stating the placement of the Church on a rock Jesus is making a claim of stability and permanence in reference to previous discussion involving houses built on different surfaces (a house built on a rock remains standing)(Luz).
Baker suggests that Jesus promises in verse 19 are not specifically granted only to Peter but they are promises to anyone who proclaims the truth of Jesus Christ. If this is correct than it can be said that any man who has a clear understanding and grasp on Christ nature will have an understanding of what will go on in the kingdom of Heaven. (Gaebelein)
As stated the previous passage is a major shifting point not only in the Gospel but in Jesus ministry there is now a clear path that can be seen directly to the cross. We see here that Jesus reveals the ending to his disciples as if the fore shadowing that can be seen in the narrative so far was not enough. However once again the miss the point and just like before Peter speaks in protest to the claim that Jesus the Messiah must suffer at the hand of the religious leaders. Jesus with a strong hand rebukes not only Peter but the crowd (crowd could be more than just the disciples)as well claiming that by trying to hold on to Christs physical being they are in fact doing the work of Satan(Maclaren).
While Peter is often thought of as impulsive, in v 22, "Peter took (Jesus) aside" implying that it was premeditated and not a spur of the moment outburst.
As Jesus begins to lay out the script for how one is to follow after him it seems as thought the disciples do not realize that the consequences of Jesus life are in turn the consequences for them and many of the Christians to follow after them. Jesus calls not only the disciples but all people to deny the earthly desires and pick up the cross. Jesus backs up the previous claim by asking essential what the price for a human soul would be. Our earthly pursuits are nothing more than selling out our Imagio Dei in attempt to fulfill ourselves with earthly matter (Albright 200). After warning the disciples about the cost of not following Christ he tells them of the rewards that are to come for those who are willing to lose their life for the Cause of Christ.
Questions and ConcernsEdit
This chapter starts of with Jesus being tested, what is it that they are testing him for?
Jesus has been doing miracles all over the region and just feed thousands of people why do the Pharisees and Sadducee's still need a sign and why wont Jesus give it too them?
Why is it that the Disciples forgot to bring food with them? Wouldn't the Fisherman among them at least realize the need to bring sustaining with them.
Why should they beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? What is this leaven if it is not for bread?
Note that the disciples have no idea what Jesus is talking about? Where else does this happen in Mathew as well as in other Gospels?
Why is it that the disciples are so worried about food when they have seen Jess feed thousands.
What where the Pharisees and Sadducees teaching that was so bad?
Where is Caesarea Philippi and is it significant in any way to this narrative?
Why does Jesus ask the disciples this question and at this particular time?
Why does Peter throw out the answer and why is it that he is the only one who has been reviled this new information?
Why would Jesus give Peter such honor when shortly after he is scolded and told to get back?
Why Is Jesus insisting that they tell nobody about what they have been told?
What has Changed that Jesus is no ready to tell them what is going to happen in Jerusalem and why don't they believe him?
Why does Peter who knows he is the Messiah call foul and rebuke Jesus?
What does it mean to pick up your cross daily?
What does Jesus mean when he says that there are some with him that will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom?
Albright, W. F., and C. S. Mann. The Anchor Bible Mathew. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1971. Print.
Bromiley, Geoffrey W. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1986. Print.
Davies, William David., and Dale C. Allison. Commentary on Matthew VIII - XVIII. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2001. Print.
Gaebelein, Frank Ely, J. D. Douglas, D. A. Carson, Walter W. Wessel, and Walter L. Liefeld. The Expositor's Bible Commentary: with the New International Version of the Holy Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1984. Print.
Hagner, Donald A. World Biblical Commentary. Vol. 33b. Dallas: Word , Publisher, 1995. Print.
Hare, Douglas R. A. Matthew. Louisville: John Knox, 1993. Print. Interpretaion.
Jones, Lindsay, Mircea Eliade, and Charles J. Adams. Encyclopedia of Religion. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. Print.
Luz, Ulrich. Mathew 8-20. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001. Print. Hermeneia.
Maclaren, Alexander, ed. Expositions of Holy Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974. Print.
Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2006. Print.