The Great Confession Made by Peter.

-. THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY.Subdivision B.
THE GREAT CONFESSION MADE BY PETER.

(Near Cæsarea Philippi, Summer, A. D. 29.)
a MATT. 16:13-20; b MARK 8:27-30; c LUKE 9:18-21.

      b 27 And Jesus went forth, and his disciples, into the villages of Cæsarea Philippi [The city of Paneas was enlarged by Herod Philip I., and named in honor of Tiberias Cæsar. It also bore the name Philippi because of the name of its builder, and to distinguish it from Cæsarea Palestinæ or Cæsarea Strotonis, a city on the Mediterranean coast. Paneas, the original name, still pertains to the village, though now corrupted to Banias. It is situated under the shadow of Mt. Hermon at the eastern of the two principal sources of the Jordan, and is the most northern city of the Holy Land visited by Jesus, and save Sidon, the most northern point of his travels]:

a 13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Cæsarea Philippi, c it came to pass, b on the way c as he was praying apart, the disciples were with him: and he asked b his disciples, saying, unto them, a Who do men say that the Son of man is? a Who do men {c the multitude} say that I am? [Jesus asks them to state the popular opinion concerning himself as contrasted with the opinion of the rulers, Pharisees, etc.]

19 And they answering b told him, saying, {c said,} a Some say John the Baptist; c but {b and} a some, b others, Elijah; but {c and} others, a Jeremiah, or c that one of the old prophets is risen again. [For comment on similar language, see Section 62 (Section LXII). It should be noted that popular opinion did not honor him as Messiah, but since it accepted him as a prophet, the people were therefore inexcusable in not receiving the statements which he made in regard to himself, and admitting the Messianic claims which he set forth.]

  20 And he said {a saith} unto them,

asked them, But who say ye that I am? [Jesus here first asks the disciples this question, having given them abundant time and opportunity in which to form a correct judgment. The proper answer of the heart to this question forms the starting-point of the true Christian life.]

  a 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, {c answering b answereth and saith} unto him, Thou art the Christ. c of God. a the Son of the living God. [Peter asserts this as an assured fact and not as a mere opinion. This confession embraces two propositions: 1. The office of Jesus--the Christ; 2. The divinity of Jesus--the Son of God. The Christhood of Jesus implies his humanity, for as such he was to be the son of David. It also identifies him as the hero or subject of prophecy, the long-expected deliverer. In declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, Peter rose above the popular theories as to the personality of Messiah, for the Jews generally did not expect him to be divine. The term "living God" was used by prophets to express the contrast between dead idols and the supreme Being who is possessed of vitality, reason, and feeling.]

  17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah [Jesus gives the full name to make his saying more personally emphatic]: for flesh and blood [The common words of contrast by which humanity was distinguished from divinity. See also Galatians 1:16 ] hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [Peter was blessed by having a revelation from God by which facts were made known that could not be discovered by the unaided human reason. God had revealed the truth to him in the words and works of Jesus, and this revealed truth was to him a source of happiness both temporal and eternal. Like confessions as to this truth had been made before ( Matthew 14:33 ; John 1:49 ), but they had been made under the pressure of miraculous display and strong emotion. Hence they were rather exclamatory guesses at the truth, and differed from this now made by Peter which was the calm expression of a settled conviction produced both by the character and by the miracles of Jesus.]

thee, That thou art Peter [petros, a noun masculine] and upon this rock [Petra, a noun feminine] I will build my church [The tense here is future. Christ had followers, but they were not yet organized, and hence had no such structural form as to suggest a similitude to a building]; and the gates of Hades [Hades was the name of the abode of the dead. Its gate symbolized its power because the military forces of an ancient city always sallied forth from its gates] shall not prevail against it. [Death shall neither destroy the organic church which is in the world, nor the members thereof which go down into the grave ( 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ; 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 ). No passage in the word of God has called forth more discussion than this and the succeeding verse, the first point in dispute being as to what is meant by the rock; i. e., whether Christ or Peter or Peter's confession is the foundation of the church; the second point being as to the extent of the power and authority bestowed on Peter by the symbol of the keys. To aid us in reaching a correct conclusion we must note that Jesus speaks in metaphorical language. He represents: 1. His kingdom as a city about to be built upon a rock. 2. Himself as a builder of the city. 3. Simon Peter as the one who holds the keys to the gates by which egress and regress is had to the city. 4. The gates or powers of the opposing city of Hades are not able to prevail against this kingdom city. Now, since Jesus himself occupies the position of builder in the metaphor, and Simon Peter the position of key-bearer, neither of them can properly be regarded as the foundation. The foundation must therefore be the confession which Peter has just spoken, since it is all that remains that is liable to such application. The case could present no difficulty at all were it not for the unmistakable allusion to Peter (petros, a loose stone) as in some way associated with petra, the bedrock or foundation. But in the light of other Scriptures this allusion presents no difficulty; for all the apostles were such stones, and were closely allied to the foundation ( Ephesians 2:19-22 ; Galatians 2:9 ). Compare also 1 Peter 2:3-8 . The Christian religion in foundation than Christ ( 1 Corinthians 3:11 ). But the church or kingdom of Christ among men rests organically and constitutionally upon a foundation of apostolic authority, for the apostles were the mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit; but in this apostolic foundation the other apostles had equal rights, each one of them becoming a living foundation stone as soon as his faith led him to make a like confession with Simon Peter. Hence we find the apostle Paul asserting the superior authority of the apostles to all other Christian teachers and workers ( 1 Corinthians 12:28 ), and times without number asserting his apostolic office and authority-- 1 Corinthians 9:1 1 Corinthians 9:2 ; 2 Corinthians 12:12 ; 13:1-4 ; Galatians 1:1 Galatians 1:8 ; Ephesians 3:1-6 ; Philippians :9 .]

  19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [Continuing his metaphorical language, Jesus promised to Peter the keys; i. e., the authority to lay down the rules or laws (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, however) for admission to or exclusion from the kingdom or church. This office was, of course, given to Peter in a secondary sense, since it must ever belong to Christ in a primary sense ( Revelation 3:7 ). The figure of key-bearer is taken from Isaiah 22:22 . Peter used the keys on the day of Pentecost to open the church to the Jews, and about seven years afterward, at Cæsarea Palestinæ, he used them again to admit the Gentiles. In fixing the terms of admission, he also fixed the terms of exclusion, for all who are not admitted are excluded. The keys as used by Peter have never been changed; that is to say, the terms of admission abide forever. Plurality of keys is merely part of the parabolic drapery, since cities were accustomed to have several gates, thus requiring a plurality of keys. The kingdom was not opened to Jews and Gentiles by different keys, since both were admitted on the same terms. The words "bind" and "loose" were commonly used among the Jews in the sense of forbid and allow. Abundant instances of this usage have been collected by Lightfoot. In this sense the word for loose, is used very many times in the New Testament, but it is translated by the word break or broken ( Matthew 5:19 ; John 7:23 ; 10:35 ). The power here given to Peter was soon after extended to the rest of the apostles ( Matthew 18:18 ). The apostles were to lay down, as they afterward did, the organic law of the new kingdom, defining what things were prohibited and what permitted. Their actions in this behalf would of course be ratified in heaven, because they were none other than the acts of the Holy Spirit expressed through the apostles.]

  b 30 And   a 20 Then {c 21 But} a charged he the disciples c and commanded them to tell this to no man; b that they should tell no man of him. a that he was the Christ. [The people were not ready to receive this truth, nor were the apostles sufficiently instructed to rightly proclaim it. Their heads were full of wrong ideas with regard to Christ's work and office, and had they been permitted to teach about him, they would have said that which it would have been necessary for them to subsequently correct, thus producing confusion.]