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Bible Commentaries

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Matthew 16



Verse 1

A sign from heaven; some great prodigy in the heavens, more stupendous and imposing than the miracles of healing which he was accustomed to perform. This was the second time that such a demand had been made. (Matthew 12:38-45.)--Tempting; that is, the proposal was made as a sort of challenge, with evil and unfriendly designs.

Verse 3

The idea is, that, if they would pay the same careful and candid attention to the predictions of the prophets, compared with the character and ministry of Christ, which it had been necessary to exercise in regard to the weather, in order to learn that redness of the sky in the evening indicated serenity, while in the morning it portended rain, they would have easily been satisfied.

Verse 4

The sign of the prophet Jonas; as it had been previously explained. (Matthew 12:40.)

Verse 5

Had forgotten, &c. This and similar passages indicate that a regular and systematic, arrangement was made for supplying the wants of Jesus and his disciples when on their journeys, (see Matthew 15:34; John 12:6,) although the pecuniary means by which the supplies were obtained, were probably the gifts of friends. (Luke 8:3.) A different system was adopted for the twelve and the seventy who were sent out. (Matthew 10:9-11.) They went only two and two; and there was, therefore, a greater propriety in their relying upon the hospitality of friends, than in the case of the larger company that attended the Savior. We see, therefore, in the different arrangements made in the two cases, a delicate regard, on the part of Jesus, to the ordinary us usages and proprieties of life.

Verse 7

That is they supposed he might have meant that, by taking no supply, they had left themselves dependent, perhaps, upon the Pharisees and Sadducees for bread.

Verse 13

Jesus had never openly and directly acknowledged himself as the Messiah. The time had not come. It would have led, probably, to an insurrection. His caution on this point is strikingly manifest in John 2:23, 24.--Cæsarea Philippi; a city in the northern part of Judea, near Mount Lebanon.

Verse 14

Elias. The Jews understood Malachi 4:5, as predicting that Elijah would rise, in person, from the dead, as the forerunner of Christ. The prophecy was, however, fulfilled in John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Verse 16

The Christ; the promised Messiah.

Verse 17

Bar-jona; the son of Jona. (John 21:15.)--Flesh and blood, man.

Matthew 16:18,19. Peter is a Greek word, meaning rock. Peter held a very prominent and conspicuous place among the apostles, during our Savior's life; and he was afterwards foremost in counsel and action, in the early efforts made for the promulgation of the gospel. This continued until at length the apostle Paul entered the field; and from that time Peter disappears from the sacred history. His prominence while it remained, was due to the boldness and energy, of his personal character--qualities in which he excelled all others, until he was excelled himself by Paul, who united the boldness and energy of Peter with the calmness and steadiness of John.--The Romish church rely mainly on this passage, so far as they rely at all on the direct authority of the Scriptures, for supporting the claims of the bishop of Rome to be the head of the church,--considering him the successor of the apostle Peter. That the apostles, however, did not understand these words as investing Peter with any official supremacy, is evident from the conversation in respect to precedency, which afterwards arose among them, (Matthew 18:1, stated more fully in Mark 9:33,34,) and also from Salome's request. (Matthew 20:20,21.) The preëminence of Peter was personal, not official; and accordingly we find him acting, after the Savior's ascension with boldness, promptness, energy, but without any traces of official authority over the other apostles.

Matthew 16:22,23. The false positions into which Peter was continually placing himself by his forward and unreflecting, though prompt and energetic action, show very plainly that he did not possess a character to fit him for a post of preëminent authority. He had many excellent qualities for action; but he was not calm, patient, and trustworthy enough for command.

Verse 28

The Son man coming in his kingdom; the open establishment and extension of Christ's kingdom in the world. At this time Jesus had not announced himself as the Messiah. (See Matthew 16:20.)


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Bibliography Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Matthew 16:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

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