Matthew 16

Matthew 16  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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These views of the kingdom and of the ways of God toward Israel having been given; the uselessness of a religion of forms by ordinances, however privileged, having been declared; the principles of man's heart, and the impossibility of closing the heart of God having been shown; the Spirit of God enters, in this chapter, upon another ground. The existing generation is abandoned; there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. It was not so difficult to discern the times. Thereupon the Lord, amidst the uncertainty of the masses, on the answer of the faith of Simon Peter, reveals what is to succeed this generation, namely, the church, never named before.
Here it is not Christ who sows, but the faith of another, faith given to Peter, which discerns in Jesus the Son of the living God. The Jews had only the sign of a risen Savior; the generation was then rejected, and nothing built upon the first mission of Jesus (the Messiah should "be cut off and shall have nothing"); but the Son of the living God-here is a power and a strength which the energy of the prince of this world could not overturn, against which evidently the gates of hades should not prevail; for in His resurrection, on the contrary, they should be broken by Christ. The resurrection of the Son of God, according to the power of life which was in Him, the foundation and measure of the life and security of the church, was sheltered, and the church by it, from all the attacks of him who had the power of death. In vain the tomb shrouded itself in darkness, out of the midst of which came forth the life more powerful than ever. Simon makes this confession by the revelation of the Father, and it is upon that the church is founded. Indeed Peter is the only one who adds this word "living" to the expression "Son of God." Nathaniel just owns Him as the Son of God and King of Israel; but Peter has the secret of the immovable security of the church of God. It will be found in his epistles that this idea of "living," associated with the resurrection of Christ, forms their basis and ruling thought.
Moreover, not only the church, more powerful than death, like its divine Founder, should be based on the confession of Peter; but the administration of the kingdom here below should be entrusted to him. Not he, but Christ builds the church upon the foundations which the Father Himself had laid in the revelation of His life in the Son; but the keys of the kingdom are entrusted to Peter. This administration was to begin among the Jews, and Peter was specially their apostle.
Here the Lord forbids them to announce Him as the Christ-that is no more the question, and from this time He speaks to them of His rejection and death; but the heart of Peter, favored as he was, answered in no wise (for he was still in the flesh, not having received the Spirit) to this revelation which had been made to him. He opposes himself to the cross, and the Lord treats him as being identified with Satan and doing his work. Such is the flesh; whatever may be the revelations enjoyed by him who is not yet set free. On this occasion the Lord presents the cross as the portion of all those who followed Him, but He supports them in difficulty by the revelation of His coming in glory, and there were even some there who should see before their death the Son of man coming in His kingdom.
The church is built upon this confession of Jesus, the Son of the living God, manifested in resurrection; this supposes the death and cross of Christ; but one is sustained in cleaving to the good of the soul, even though life should be lost; for the Son of man will come in the glory of His Father.
Here we may remark that in verse 21, it is Jerusalem, the scribes, the chief priests who alone are presented as culpable. It is not the question yet of the Gentiles; but their very guilt puts Jesus in the position, not of Messiah only, but of Son of God in power, and of Son of man, coming in the glory of His Father with His angels, with a view to judging all men.