The Demand for a Sign from Heaven
1One day some of the Pharisees and those of the Jewish sect known as the Sadducees # 16:1 Of the three major sects of Judaism of that day (Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees), the Sadducees were a small but influential group that philosophically denied the supernatural and gravitated instead toward political control of the people. approached Jesus, insisting that he prove to them that he was the Messiah. “Show us a supernatural sign from heaven,” they demanded.
2Jesus answered, “You can read the signs of the weather, for you say, ‘Red sky at night, sailors delight.’ 3And, ‘Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.’ You’re so adept at forecasting the weather by looking at the sky, but you’re absolutely clueless in reading the obvious signs of the times. 4A wicked and wayward generation always asks for signs, but the only sign I provide for you will be the sign of Jonah the prophet.” # 16:4 The “sign of Jonah” points to Jesus in many ways. Jonah being thrown into the sea points to Christ’s death. Being swallowed by the fish for three days points to Christ’s burial. And being expelled from the fish speaks of Christ’s resurrection and triumph over death, which is the greatest “sign” God could ever give. The resurrected Jesus is the eternal sign that our sins are forgiven. Then he turned away and left them.
The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees
5Later, as Jesus and his disciples crossed over to the other side of Lake Galilee, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring any loaves of bread. 6Jesus spoke up and said, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
7Thinking Jesus was scolding them over not bringing bread, they began to discuss it among themselves. 8Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “You have such little faith! Why are you arguing with one another about having no bread? 9Are you so slow to understand? Have you forgotten the miracle of feeding the five thousand families and how each of you ended up with a basket full of fragments? 10And how seven loaves of bread fed four thousand families with baskets left over? 11Don’t you understand? I’m not talking about bread, but I’m warning you to avoid the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
12Then finally they realized he wasn’t talking about yeast found in bread, but the error of the teachings of the Pharisees # 16:12 “Pharisees” means “separated ones” (separatists). It is believed that during the time of Jesus there were approximately six thousand Pharisees in Israel. They refused to have dealings with common people because they were separated unto God. Jesus described them as religious frauds who loved money and wanted to be the final authority on all the doctrines that were taught to the people. They were not all priests, but zealous law keepers who wanted their interpretation of the Scriptures to be the standard in Israel. and the Sadducees. # 16:12 The Sadducees (Tzedukim) were wealthy aristocrats with political connections to Rome. They did not believe in the afterlife or angels or demons, and they denied the miraculous. It is believed that among them were Jewish converts from the Edomites who were forced to convert to Judaism in 129 BC by John Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean leader of the second century BC. The Sadducees loved Greek (Hellenistic) culture and basically rejected the oral law of the Pharisees. The Herodians would also be considered to be of the Sadducees. You can imagine how Jesus upset both the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus had no difficulty breaking the traditions, taboos, religious teachings, and political loyalties of both Pharisees and Sadducees in order to please his heavenly Father.
Peter’s Revelation of Christ
13When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi, # 16:13 This was a beautiful area north of Lake Galilee and near Tel-Dan. Located at the foothills of Mount Hermon, it was an ancient Roman city rebuilt by Herod Philip in honor of Tiberius Caesar. he asked his disciples this question: “What are the people saying about me, the Son of Man? Who do they believe I am?”
14They answered, “Some are convinced you are John the Baptizer, others say you are Elijah reincarnated, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
15“But you—who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked.
16Simon Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Anointed One, # 16:16 Or “the Christ” (Messiah). the Son of the living God!”
17Jesus replied, “You are favored and privileged Simeon, son of Jonah! # 16:17 Jonah means “dove.” Or “son of John.” Simeon means “he who hears.” Peter heard the Father’s whisper within that Jesus was the Christ. Simeon was his formal Hebrew name. Peter became his identity as Jesus gave him the nickname of “pebble.” He is also referred to as “Simon Peter.” For you didn’t discover this on your own, but my Father in heaven has supernaturally revealed it to you. 18I give you the name Peter, a stone. # 16:18 Or Keefa, the Aramaic word for “stone” or “pebble.” See Matt. 4:18 and footnote. There is an obvious pun only found in the Hebrew Matthew. The Hebrew word for “stone” is eben, and the Hebrew word for “build” is ebeneh. The Greek text does state that Peter is the “rock” on which the church is built. However, the implication is that it is Peter’s revelation from the Father and his confession of Jesus as the Son of God that becomes the “bedrock foundation” for the church. The earliest writings of the church fathers all acknowledge that the Rock is Jesus Christ, not Peter. See Deut. 32:18, 30–31; Ps. 18:46; Isa. 8:14; 17:10; 51:1–8. And this rock # 16:18 In context, the rock is not Peter but the revelation he received from the Father that Jesus is the Christ. will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly, # 16:18 The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia and means “legislative assembly” or “selected ones.” This is not a religious term at all, but a political and governmental term that is used many times in classical Greek for a group of people who have been summoned and gathered together to govern the affairs of a city. For Jesus to use this term means he is giving the keys of governmental authority in his kingdom to the church. See R. Scott and H. G. Liddell, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 206; J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 196; and Oskar Seyffert, A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, pp. 202–203. and the power of death # 16:18 Or “the gates of hell,” a metonymy for the power of death. will not be able to overpower it! # 16:18 Or “all the forces of hell will never have the power to win a victory over it!” There is no power of darkness that can stop the advancing church that Jesus builds. 19I will give you the keys # 16:19 The “keys” are symbols of authority and ruling power. See Isa. 22:22. of heaven’s kingdom realm to forbid on earth that which is forbidden in heaven, and to release on earth that which is released in heaven.” # 16:19 Or “Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.” Or “That which you forbid on earth must be that which is already forbidden in heaven, and that which you permit on earth must be that which is already permitted in heaven.” 20He then gave his disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Jesus Prophesies His Death and Resurrection
21From then on Jesus began to clearly reveal to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer injustice # 16:21 The Hebrew Matthew adds, “many scourgings and many mockings.” from the elders, leading priests, and religious scholars. He also explained that he would be killed and three days later be raised to life again.
22Peter took him aside to correct him privately. He reprimanded Jesus over and over, saying to him, “God forbid, Master! Spare yourself. You must never let this happen to you!”
23Jesus turned to Peter # 16:23 Or “He turned from Peter and said . . .” and said, “Get out of my way, you Satan! # 16:23 Or “adversary.” Jesus is equating Peter’s display of character to that of Satan. Peter was not possessed by Satan, but speaking from Satan’s realm and speaking demonic wisdom. See James 3:15. The Hebrew Matthew can be translated “Follow me! Don’t quarrel with me, adversary!” You are a hindrance to me, # 16:23 Or “You are laying a trap for me.” because your thoughts are only filled with man’s viewpoints and not with the ways of God.”
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, # 16:24 The Hebrew Matthew is “offer yourself up to death.” The words Jesus spoke were shocking and must be translated as such. as you continually surrender to my ways. 25For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep. 26For even if you were to gain all the wealth and power of this world—at the cost of your own life—what good would that be? And what could be more valuable to you than your own soul? # 16:26 Or “What would a person give in exchange for his life?” 27I, the Son of Man, will one day return with my messengers # 16:27 Or “angels.” and in the splendor and majesty of my Father. And then I will reward each person according to what they have done. # 16:27 See Pss. 28:4; 62:12; Prov. 24:12. 28But I promise you, there are some standing here now who won’t experience death until they have witnessed the coming of the Son of Man in the presence and the power of the kingdom realm of God!” # 16:28 Or “when they see the Son of Man appearing to inaugurate his regal reign.” This was a prophecy of what was about to take place with Peter, Jacob, and John on the Mountain of Transforming Glory. This promise would be fulfilled as they experienced the power of the kingdom of God and the cloud of glory. Christ’s appearing is equated to the power manifested in the cloud that overshadowed Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.