Matthew 16:20
Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
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(20) Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man.—We may venture to analyse what we may reverently call the motives of this reticence. Had the disciples gone about, not only as proclaiming the kingdom and as preachers of repentance, but sounding the watchword that the Christ had come, it might not have been difficult for them to gather round Him the homage of excited crowds. It was not such homage, however, that He sought, but that which had its root in a deeper faith. It tended to present a false aspect of His kingdom to the minds of men; it tended also to prevent the consummation to which He was now directing the thoughts of His disciples as the necessary condition of His entering on the glory of His kingdom. The zeal of the multitude to make him a king after their own fashion (John 6:15) was what He deprecated and shunned.

Matthew 16:20. Then charged he his disciples — Greek, διεστειλατο, he strictly charged them: (Luke says, επιτιμησας αυτοις, παρηγγειλε, having severely charged, or charged with threats, he commanded to tell this to no one:) that he was Jesus the Christ — The word Jesus is omitted here in many MSS., some of which are of great authority and great antiquity, and in several ancient versions, and the omission is approved of by some eminent critics. Certainly the insertion of it is superfluous, and apparently improper: for the context shows, that what our Lord forbade them to tell was simply that he was the Christ, that is, the Messiah, or, as Luke expresses it, the Christ of God. This truth, however important to be known and believed, the disciples were not to announce to the people till the grand proof of it was given, namely, his resurrection. Then they were by office to be his witnesses, and to declare openly and publicly that he was the Christ, because then they could do it, not only without suspicion of confederacy, but with greater advantage and better success, as Christ would then be no longer subject to those humbling circumstances and sufferings, and that death, which could not fail to be a great obstruction to men’s receiving him as the Messiah, as well as a great stumbling-block in the way of his disciples, but would have taken possession of his kingdom, and given evidence of it, by sending down upon his followers the Holy Ghost, in his extraordinary gifts and operations, to enable them to confirm this testimony. Whereas, had his own disciples publicly declared him to be the Messiah, the king of the Jews, and the Son of God, while he was on earth, as this would have looked like a confederacy between them and their Master, so, on the one hand, it would have encouraged the attempt of a part of the Jews to come and take him by force to make him a king, John 6:15, and, on the other, would have provoked both the Jewish rulers and the Roman government. “Certainly,” says Mr. Locke, “the Romans would not have suffered him, if he had gone about preaching that he was the king whom the Jews expected; and such an accusation would have been forwardly brought against him by the Jews, if they could have heard it out of his own mouth, and if that had been his public doctrine to his followers, which was openly preached by his apostles after his death. For though the magistrates of this world paid no great regard to the talk of a king who had suffered death, and appeared no longer anywhere; yet if our Lord had openly declared this of himself in his lifetime, with a train of disciples and followers, everywhere owning and crying him up for their king, the Roman governors of Judea could not have forborne to take notice of it, and to make use of their force against it. The Jews well understood this, and therefore they made use of it, as the strongest accusation, and likeliest to prevail with Pilate against him for the taking away his life, it being treason, and an unpardonable offence, which could not escape death from a Roman deputy, without the forfeiture of his own life.”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.Then charged ... - That is, he commanded them.

Mark 8:30 and Luke Luk 9:21 say (in Greek) that he strictly or severely charged them. He laid emphasis on it, as a matter of much importance. The reason of this seems to be that his time had not fully come; that he was not willing to rouse the Jewish malice, and to endanger his life, by having it proclaimed that he was the Messiah. The word "Jesus" is wanting in many manuscripts, and should probably be omitted: "Then he charged them strictly to tell no man that he was the Christ or Messiah."

20. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ—Now that He had been so explicit, they might naturally think the time come for giving it out openly; but here they are told it had not.

Announcement of His Approaching Death and Rebuke of Peter (Mt 16:21-28).

The occasion here is evidently the same.

We met with some charges of this nature before, given to those whom he had miraculously cured, that they should tell no man of it, Matthew 8:4 9:30; but this seemeth to differ from them. There he only forbade the publication of his miracles; here he forbids them preaching that Jesus was the Christ, a doctrine necessary to be believed in order to people’s salvation. We are not able to give an account of all our Saviour’s particular actions.

1. We are sure this was a precept but of a temporary force and obligation, for we know that afterward they did sufficiently publish this abroad, only for a time he would not have it published by his disciples. We cannot certainly determine whether he forbade them;

a) Because they were not as yet fit to publish so great a truth. Or;

b) Because the time was not yet come for the publication of it. Or;

c) He would not have it published till he rose again from the dead, having triumphed over death, lest people, hearing of it before, should have had their faith shaken by his death; which seemeth very probable, because in the next words he begins to speak of his death.

d) That he might hereby (as much as might be) avoid the odium and envy of the Pharisees. Or;

e) That himself might publish first this great truth of the gospel, and confirm it by his miracles. Then charged he his disciples,.... When Peter had so freely and fully confessed him to be the Messiah, and which was the sense of all the disciples; and when Christ had expressed his approbation of his confession, and had promised such great and excellent things upon it, he gave a strict charge unto his disciples,

that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. The word Jesus is not in some copies; and is left out in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions; nor does it seem absolutely necessary; it was enough to charge them to tell no man that he was the Messiah: his reasons for it might be, lest his enemies, the Scribes and Pharisees, should be the more provoked and incensed against him, and seek his death before his time; and lest the jealousy of the Romans should be stirred up, who might fear he would set up himself against Caesar, as king of the Jews, which might lead them to take measures obstructive of his further designs; and lest some persons, hearing of this, should rise and proclaim him king of the Jews, who were big with the notion of the Messiah being a temporal prince: and moreover, because the disciples were to attest the truth of this after his resurrection; and he chose, for the present, that the people should collect this from his own ministry and miracles, which were sufficient to lead them into the knowledge of it, without any declarations of their's: and though they were possessed of true faith in him, as such, for themselves, as yet they had not the gifts and abilities to defend those doctrines respecting his person, and his offices, they had after the Spirit was poured down upon them.

{7} Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

(7) Men must first learn, and then teach.

Matthew 16:20. Διεστείλατο] He appointed, strictly enjoined. Comp. Plat. Rep. p. 535 B; Aristot. Polit. ii. 5; Jdt 11:12; 2Ma 14:28; Mark 5:43; Acts 15:24; Hebrews 12:20.

ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ Χ.] that He Himself is the Messiah. This αὐτός points back to Matthew 16:14, according to which some one else was looked for as the Messiah, while Jesus was only regarded as His forerunner. The reason of this prohibition is not that He wanted to anticipate any offence that might afterwards arise in consequence of His sufferings (Chrysostom, Euth. Zigabenus), for Jesus quite foresaw His resurrection and δόξα, and the effect which these would have upon His followers (John 12:32); but (see note on Matthew 8:4) its explanation is to be found in His uniform desire to avoid awakening and fostering sanguine Messianic hopes among the people.Matthew 16:20. διεστείλατο (T. R.), “charged” (A. V[97]) not necessarily with any special emphasis = graviter interdicere, but = monuit (Loesner and Fritzsche). Cf. Hebrews 12:20, where a stronger sense seems required. For ἐπετίμησε in [98] [99] here and in Mk. Euthy. gives κατησφαλίσατο = to make sure by injunction.—τοῖς μαθηταῖς: all the disciples are supposed to say amen to Peter’s confession, thinking of God and of Jesus as he thought, though possibly not with equal emphasis of conviction.—ἵναὁ Χριστός: no desire to multiply hastily recruits for the new community, supreme regard to quality. Jesus wanted no man to call Him Christ till he knew what he was saying: no hearsay or echoed confession of any value in His eyes.—αὐτός, the same concerning whom current opinions have just been reported (Matthew 16:14). It was hardly necessary to take pains to prevent the faith in His Messiahship from spreading prematurely in a crude form. Few would call such an one as Jesus Christ, save by the Holy Ghost. The one temptation thereto lay in the generous beneficence of Jesus.

[97] Authorised Version.

[98] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[99] Codex Bezae20. they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ] Lest the Galilæan enthusiasm should endeavour to make Him a king.Matthew 16:20. Μηδενὶ, to no one) Jesus had not, even to His apostles, said that He was the Christ, but He left it that they might discover it themselves from the testimony of facts. It was not suitable, therefore, that that should be openly told by the apostles to others before His resurrection, which was to corroborate the whole testimony to the fact of His being the Christ.[753] For he who injudiciously propounds a mystery to those who do not comprehend it, injures both himself and others. Had they done so, those who believed in any way that Jesus was the Christ might have sought for an earthly kingdom with seditious uproar; whilst the rest, and by far the greater number, might have rejected such a Messiah at that time more vehemently, and have been guilty of greater sin in crucifying Him, so as to have had the door of repentance less open to them for the future. Afterwards,[754] the apostles openly bore witness to this truth.—ὁ Χριστὸς, the Christ) Soon after the disciples had acknowledged and confessed that Jesus was the Christ, He exhibited to them His transfiguration (ch. Matthew 17:1-5), and openly spoke of Himself among them as the Christ; see Mark 9:41, and John 17:3.

[753] Inasmuch as even Peter himself could hardly have reconciled the doctrine concerning the Son of GOD with that of His Passion.—Harm., p. 369.

[754] And that, too, after the lapse of but a few intervening weeks,—Harm., p. 369.Verse 20. - Then charged he his disciples. Immediately after Peter's confession and Jesus' promise. St. Matthew's word "charged" (διεστείλατο) becomes more emphatic in the other synoptists (ἐπετίμησεν), implying a command with a rebuke attached to it on its infringement; Vulgate, comminatus est (Mark 8:30). That they should tell no man that he (au)to\) was [Jesus] the Christ. The received text inserts the word "Jesus," but very many good manuscripts omit it; and it seems to have been received by inadvertence, the point being that he was Messiah. The injunction to tell no man (with which comp. Matthew 8:4) was necessary at this time for many reasons. The time was not ripe for the declaration which might have led to tumult and disorder among an excited populace. Any ambitious ideas which the apostles might have formed from what had just passed were here nipped in the bud. They were not sufficiently familiar with the true notion of the Messiah, especially a suffering Messiah, to be competent to preach him to others. This we see by Peter's inconsiderate remonstrance in ver. 22. Till they received the Holy Ghost after Christ's ascension, they could not rightly and profitably preach of Christ's nature, office, and kingdom. Jesus may have looked forward to their desertion of him in his hour of trial, and prevented them from proclaiming his real character, which, in the face of such desertion, would have proved a stumbling block to the faith of believers. Some of these reasons we may reverently believe were those which led Christ to lay this severe restriction on the enthusiasm of his followers (see on Matthew 17:9).
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