Matthew 16:16
And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.—The variations in the other Gospels—St. Mark giving simply, “Thou art the Christ,” and St. Luke, “The Christ of God”—are interesting in their bearing on the question of literal inspiration, but do not affect the meaning; and the fullest of the three reports may be received without hesitation as the most authentic. The confession was made by Peter, partly, we may believe, as the representative of the others, partly, as the special promise that follows implies, from the personal fervour of his character. He believed himself, and had impressed his faith on them. His words reproduced the confession of John 6:69, even verbally, if we follow the received text, but the better MSS. of that Gospel have a different reading: “Thou art the Holy One of God.” In any form they recognised to the full our Lord’s character as the Christ; they identified Him with the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision, and, more than this, they recognised in that Son of Man one who was also not “a son” only, but, in some high incommunicable sense, “the Son of the living God.”

16:13-20 Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they were assured of our Lord's being the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more than man. Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching of God made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christ added that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stability or firmness in professing the truth. The word translated rock, is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning. Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rock as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord next declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. He spoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them as well as to him. They had no certain knowledge of the characters of men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their own conduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way of acceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer's character and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers and hypocrites. In such matters their decision was right, and it was confirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either to absolve or retain men's sins, are blasphemous and absurd. None can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful.And Simon Peter answered ... - Peter, expressing the views of the apostles, with characteristic forwardness answered the question proposed to them by Jesus: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The Christ - The Messiah, the "Anointed" of God. See the notes at Matthew 1:1.

The Son - That is, the Son by way of eminence - in a special sense. See the notes at Matthew 1:17. This appellation was understood as implying divinity, John 10:29-36.

Of the living God - The term "living" was given to the true God to distinguish him from idols, that are dead, or lifeless blocks and stones. He is also the Source of life, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. The word "living" is often given to him in the Old Testament, Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26, 1 Samuel 17:36; Jeremiah 10:9-10, etc. In this noble confession Peter expressed the full belief of himself and of his brethren that he was the long-expected Messiah. Other people had very different opinions of him, but they were satisfied, and were not ashamed to confess it.

16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God—He does not say, "Scribes and Pharisees, rulers and people, are all perplexed; and shall we, unlettered fishermen, presume to decide?" But feeling the light of his Master's glory shining in his soul, he breaks forth—not in a tame, prosaic acknowledgment, "I believe that Thou art," &c.—but in the language of adoration—such as one uses in worship, "Thou Art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" He first owns Him the promised Messiah (see on [1316]Mt 1:16); then he rises higher, echoing the voice from heaven—"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"; and in the important addition—"Son of the Living God"—he recognizes the essential and eternal life of God as in this His Son—though doubtless without that distinct perception afterwards vouchsafed.Ver. 15,16. Mark saith, Mark 8:29, Thou art the Christ. Luke saith, Luke 9:20, Peter answering said, The Christ of God, that is, the Messiah. You that are my disciples and apostles, what is your opinion of me? Our Lord expects not only faith in our hearts, but the confession of our lips, Romans 10:10.

And Simon Peter answered, not because he had any priority amongst the apostles, but he was of a more quick and fervid temper than the rest, and so speaketh first; they silently agreed to what he said. What he saith is but little, but of that nature that it is the very foundation of the gospel.

Thou art Christ, the Anointed, the person of old promised to the world under the name of the Messiah, Daniel 9:25,26.

The Son, not by adoption, but by nature for they believed John the Baptist, Elias, and the old prophets the sons of God by grace. It is plain Peter means more than that.

Of the living God. Our Lord had asked, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And in the same sense he speaks to the disciples, Whom do ye say that I the Son of man am? Lord, saith Peter, we believe that thou the Son of man

art the Christ, the Son of the living God. God is often in Scripture called the living God, in opposition to idols, which had eyes and saw not, ears and heard not, nor had any life in them, Genesis 16:13 Hebrews 3:12 9:14 &c. So as here we have a full and plain confession of that doctrine, which is the foundation of the gospel. And Simon Peter answered and said,.... Either of his own accord, and for himself, being a warm, zealous, and forward man; one that dearly loved Christ, truly believed in him, and was ready to make a confession of him; or, as the mouth of the rest, in their name, and with their consent; or, at least, as full well knowing the sentiments of their minds. Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God: a short, but a very full confession of faith, containing the following articles: as that there is a God, that there is but one God; that he is the living God, has life in himself, is the fountain of life to others, and by this is distinguishable from the idols of the Gentiles: that Jesus is the Christ, the Christ of God, the true Messiah, that was promised by God, prophesied of by all the prophets, from the beginning of the world, and expected by the people of God: a character that includes all his offices, of prophet, priest, and king, to which he is anointed by God; and that this Messiah was not a mere man, but a divine person, the Son of God; not by creation, as angels and men are, nor by adoption, as saints, nor by office, as magistrates, but by nature, being his own Son, his proper Son, the only begotten of the Father, of the same nature with him, being one with him, and equal to him. This confession, as it is uniform, and all of a piece, and consistent with itself, and is what all the disciples of Christ agreed in, so it greatly exceeds the most that can be made of the different sentiments of the people put together. They took him, one and all, to be but a mere man; their most exalted thoughts of him rose no higher: but in this he is acknowledged to be the Son of God, a phrase expressive of his divine nature, and distinct personality: they thought him to be a dead man brought to life; but here he is called the Son of the living God, as having the same life in him the Father has: they indeed judged him to be a prophet, but not that prophet that was to come, superior to all prophets; but here he is owned to be the Christ, which not only takes in his prophetic office in a higher sense than they understood it, but all his other offices, and declares him to be the promised Messiah; which they who thought, and spoke the most honourably of him, could not allow of. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 16:16. As was to be expected from his impetuous character, his personal superiority, as well as from the future standing already assigned him in John 1:43, Peter (τὸ στόμα τῶν ἀποστόλων, Chrysostom) assumes the part of spokesman, and in a decided and solemn manner (hence: ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ξῶντος, the higher, and not, as in Matthew 14:33, the merely theocratic meaning of which the apostle could as yet but dimly apprehend, it being impossible for him to understand it in all its clearness till after the resurrection, comp. note on Romans 1:4) declares Jesus to be the Messiah (ὁ Χριστός), the Son of the living God (τοῦ ζῶντος, in contrast to the dead idols of the heathen). Both elements combined, the work and the person constituted then, as they do always, the sum of the Christian confession. Comp. Matthew 26:63; John 11:27; John 20:31; Php 2:11; 1 John 2:22 f. Observe the climax at the same time; “nam cognitio de Jesu, ut est filius Dei, sublimior est quam de eodem, ut est Christus,” Bengel.Matthew 16:16. Σίμων Πέτρος: now as always spokesman for the Twelve. There may be deeper natures among them (John?), but he is the most energetic and outspoken, though withal emotional rather than intellectual; strong, as passionate character is, rather than with the strength of thought, or of a will steadily controlled by a firm grasp of great principles: not a rock in the sense in which St. Paul was one.—σὺ εἶτοῦ ζῶντος: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” in Mk. simply “Thou art the Christ,” in Lk. “the Christ of God”. One’s first thought is that Mk. gives the original form of the reply; and yet in view of Peter’s vehement temperament one cannot be perfectly sure of that. The form in Mt. certainly answers best to the reply of Jesus, vide on Matthew 16:17. In any case the emphasis lies on that which is common to the three reports: the affirmation of the Christhood of Jesus. That was what differentiated the disciples from the favourably disposed multitude. The latter said in effect: at most a forerunner of Messiah, probably not even that, only a prophet worthy to be named alongside of the well-known prophets of Israel. The Twelve through Peter said: not merely a prophet or a forerunner of the Messiah, but the Messiah Himself. The remainder of the reply in Mt., whether spoken by Peter, or added by the evangelist (to correspond, as it were, to Song of Solomon of Man in Matthew 16:13), is simply expansion or epexegesis. If spoken by Peter it serves to show that he spoke with emotion, and with a sense of the gravity of the declaration. The precise theological value of the added clause cannot be determined.16. Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God] This confession not only sees in Jesus the promised Messiah, but in the Messiah recognises the divine nature. He is more than one of the old prophets risen from the dead.Matthew 16:16. Ἀποκριθεὶς, answering) Peter everywhere, from the warmth of his disposition, took the lead among the apostles in speaking.—Σίμων Πέτρος, Simon Peter) On this solemn occasion his name and surname are joined. It is clear that Simon acknowledged, the Son of God more quickly and fully, and outshone his fellow-disciples.—Σὺ εἶ, Thou art) He says firmly, Thou art, not I say that Thou art. It behoved that Peter should first believe this, and then hear it on the Mount of Transfiguration; see ch. Matthew 17:5. Peter had already uttered a similar confession; see John 6:69; but this is mentioned with greater distinction, since he delivered it after so many temptations,[736] on being so solemnly interrogated.—Ὁ ΧΡΙΣΤῸς, Ὁ ΥἹῸς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ΤΟῦ ΖῶΝΤΟς, the Christ, the Son of the living God) These two appellations, therefore, are not exactly synonymous, as John Locke[737] pretended, though the one is implied in the other (see Acts 9:20); and there is a gradation here; for the knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God is sublimer than that of Him as the Christ.

[736] John 7:10.—E. B.

[737] The Author of the Essay concerning “The human understanding;” born at Wrington in 1632, died in 1704.—(I. B.)Verse 16. - Simon Peter answered and said. The ardent Peter, when all were asked, replies in the name of the rest, giving, however, his own personal sentiment and belief, as we see from Christ's answer (ver. 17). Some of the others probably would have been less ready to make the same confession; but in his vehement loyalty, Peter silences all hesitation, and declares boldly what must be the conviction of all his comrades. He speaks out the persuasion wrought in his soul by Divine grace. Thou art the Christ (ὁ Ξριστὸς), the Son of the living God. The Christ; the Anointed, the Messiah. The Son of God; of the same substance, one with the Father. Living; as alone "having life in himself," "the living and true God" (John 5:26; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). The same (or nearly the same) confession was made by Peter in the name of all the apostles at Capernaum (John 6:69); but the sense of the expression was different, and sprang from very different conviction. It referred rather to the subjective view of Christ's character, as it influenced the believer's inward assurance of the source of eternal life. Here the acknowledgment concerns the nature, office, and Person of our Lord. That there was some special distinction between the two enunciations is evident from Christ's unique commendation of Peter on this occasion compared with his silence on the former. The present confession is indeed a noble one, containing itself a compendium of the Catholic faith concerning the Person and work of Christ. Herein Peter acknowledges Jesus to be the true Messiah, commissioned and sent by God to reveal his will to man, and accomplishing all that the prophets had foretold concerning him; no mere man, not even the most exalted of men (which common opinion held Messiah to be) but the Son of God, of the substance of the Father, begotten from everlasting, God of God, perfect God and perfect man, Son of God and Son of man. Such was Peter's faith. The Church has added nothing to it, though she has amplified and explained and illustrated it in her Creeds; for it comprises belief in Christ's Messiahship, Divinity, Incarnation, personality, and the momentous issues depending thereon. We need not suppose that Peter understood all this or speculated on the question how these several attributes were united in Christ. He was content to accept and acknowledge the truth, waiting patiently for further light. This is the attitude which Christ approves.
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