Page images

(Rom. xi. 7). The obstinacy of Israel in error is entirely through their rigid adherence to that which is true to a certain point; true in itself, but not in their application of it; and the consequence is that they are hardened, cruel bigots. The parallel is easily drawn in the Calvinist. He who will stick in his five points, finds them nothing but "a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompence" unto him, whereby his

eyes are darkened so that he does not see.” The consequence is similar also : he becomes a hardened, cruel-hearted bigot.

[ocr errors]


OBSERVATIONS ON MATT. xvi.—xxii. * And Jesus, after he had been praying alone, went out, and his disciples with him, into the towns of Cesarea Philippi. And by the way, when Jesus came into the districts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom 'do men* say that I, the Son of man, am? And they answered, Some (say), • John the Baptist; but some (say), Elias; and others, Jeremias ; and oihers, " that one of the old prophets is risen again. And he said unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter, answering, said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Add Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed (it) unto thee, .but my Father, which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art a rock;

and upon this rock I will build my church, over which the gates of hadest shall not prevail : And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the "heavens : and what thing soever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound ia heaven; and what thing soever thou shalt loose in earth shall be loosed in "heaven. And then he straitly charged his disciples, and commanded that

they should tell no man that thing of him, that he was (Jesust) the Christ; say‘ing, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes; and be slain, and raised the third day. And from that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, and to teach them how that he, the Son of man, must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. And he spake that saying openly ll; and then • Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be propitious to thee, Lord :

this shall not be unto thee. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan : thou art m. hindrance f; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the thing's

In Luke, the Alexandrian copy and the Arabic version read “men,” as in Matt. xvi. 13. But possibly, repeating to some who might not have heard him the first time, he said, according to Luke, “Whom say the people that I am?”

+ Campbell's translation. I “The word “Jesus' is not in many manuscript translations and fathers.” (Wall). It is not in the Syriac, Arabic, or Persic version; and it is improbable that he should charge his disciples not to say that his name was Jesus, but that he, Jesus, was the Messiab.

Ś It must be noted, that Luke alone professed to give the words said at that time by Jesus. The other Evangelists say, that from that time forth he began to instruct them in those truths.

|| Campbell renders it thus, " This he spoke so plainly, that Peter, taking him aside, reproved him."

q“My bindrance :" so Henry renders it. “An obstacle in my way,” as rendered by Campbell.

that be of men. And then, when he had called the people unto him, with his "disciples, also, he said unto them all, If any whosoever be willing to come after 'me, let him renounce himself, and take up his cross daily*, and follow me : for

whosoever would save his life (soul) shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his “life (soul) for my sake and the gospel, the same shall save itt. For what would 'it profit a man I if he should gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be a

cast-away, and lose his own soul (life)? Or what shall a man give in ransom for ‘his soul ? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, in this adul• terous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he

shall come in his own glory, and the glory of his father, and of the holy angels. . For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his father, with his holy angels; "and then he shall recompense every man, according to his works. And he said • unto them, Verily I say unto you of a truth, that there be some of them that are standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power; the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings [i. e. after six ş '(entire) days), Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves to pray. And as he prayed the fashion of his countenance was altered, and he was transfigured • before them: his face shone as the sun; and his raiment became white as the • light; of a dazzling whiteness, glittering, and like snow, of such a whiteness 6 as no fuller on the earth could imitate. And, behold, there appeared unto them 'two men, which were Moses and Elias ; who appeared in glory; and they were "talking with Jesus, and spake of the departure which he should accomplish at • Jerusalem. Now Peter and those that were with him,were overpowered with sleep; .but when they awoke they saw his glory,and the two men that stood with him. And • as they were removing from Jesus, Peter said to him, not knowing what he said, • Master, is it good for us to stay here; and let us make here, if thou wilt, three

tabernacles; one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias: for he wist not what to say, for they were sore afraid. And while he yet spake there came a bright cloud, that overshadowed them : and the disciples feared when those men entered the cloud [. And, behold, there came a voice out of the cloud, ' which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased : hear ye him. • The disciples, hearing this, fell on their faces, and were greatly frightened; but Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, be not afraid. Then, when the voice was past , lifting up their eyes and instantly looking about, Jesus ' was found alone : they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. * And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell

the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And "this they kept secret, telling nobody in those days aught of what they had seen. . And they took notice of this expression, and inquired $9 among themselves what

the rising from the dead could mean. And his disciples asked him, saying, • Why then say the Scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and

said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. Yet how is it written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought? but I say unto you that Elias is indeed come already; and they ac• knowledged him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed ; as it is written of bim, Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the *disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”

* “ According to the day.” (Gill.)

+ Our translation of Matthew is, “And whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.I'Matthew : “What is a man profited ?" Luke: “What will a man profit ?" Š Exclusive of the day of conversation and day of transfiguration.

{ Campbell's translation. $$ Rather, “ debating.” (Macknight).

TOWARDS understanding the connection of this most important passage, the turning point of the disciples' opinions, so necessary to be kept in mind for the right comprehension of the Gospel history, it appears to me necessary to bear in mind three pro. minent features : Ist. Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah; 2d, the promise of the Messiah concerning hades; 3d, the opposite principles displayed in Peter's conduct. The first is the remote cause of the transfiguration; the second is the occasion of Peter's misunderstanding respecting Messiah's death; the third occasions the declaration of the necessity of a (spiritual) man renouncing his (carnal) self.

In Luke we have it mentioned that Jesus had been praying before he put the question to his disciples. This, being recorded of him who prayed without ceasing, may be intended to imply, that, the step being of considerable moment, he, before examining them on their faith, had made it a subject of special supplication. By the disciples' reply, respecting the general opinion entertained of Jesus, we learn, that, though the Pharisees and lawyers said he had a devil and was mad, the common people had good thoughts of him; though none of them conjectured that a lowly son of man, acquainted with grief and subject to infirmities, could be the King of Glory.

Henry's observation I think is sound: “Ezekiel was often called a son of man, to keep him humble; Christ called himself so, to shew that he was humble." His observation on the people's opinion is, I think, also very good : “It is possible,” says he,“ to have good thoughts of Jesus, and yet not right ones; to have a high opinion of him, and yet not high enough.” However, they appear to have conjectured that he was connected with Messiah's kingdom; for all supposed him to be one raised from the dead. And I think there are many intimations that the people generally thought that Messiah's kingdom would be connected with the resurrection. Take, for example, the Sadducees' question, which of course must have been in opposition to the general notions ; and Our Lord's expressions also, concerning the resurrection and regeneration, appear to have been quite familiar to the Jews. It is clear that they likewise supposed that Messiah himself would not be subject to death (John xii. 34); and Bloomfield observes, that one of the Jewish opinions at the time of Messiah's appearing was, that he was to decend into the receptacle of departed spirits (i.e. hades), and to bring to earth the souls of the Israelites, which were to be re-united to their glorified bodies : and this was to be the first resurrection. This opinion, I think, throws light on the following discourse.

The different ideas of the people were probably in consequence of their various traditions. 'l. John the Baptist might be supposed, from their notion that martyrs were to rise first: The VOL. III.-NO. II.



Kings of the world shall raise us up, who have died for his laws, unto everlasting life' (2 Mac. vii.9).-2. Elias, from the prophecy Mal. iv. 5.-3. Jeremiah, because the Jews thought that he was “ " that prophet” spoken of in Deut. xviii. 15, “ that should be raised up from among them like unto Moses;” and we learn from Peter's sermon, Acts iii. 22, that the expression in Deut. xviii. 15—19 denoted a raising from the dead (compare ver. 26). -4. One of the old prophets; “ that is,” says Gill, “one of the former prophets.” It is well known that the Jews distinguished the prophets into former and latter. In the Talmud it is asked, Who are the former prophets? Says R. Huna, They are David, Samuel, and Solomon, &c.

The Lord then asks the view that his own disciples had taken of him. It does appear to us strange, that they, who witnessed all his miracles, could have had any doubt : and I must say for myself, that I have read the Gospels without considering the thoughts the people bad of Jesus, but supposed that he was very generally considered to be the Messiah; whereas that does not appear to have been at all the case. They had some transient impressions of that kind (John vi. 15), but generally they viewed him as no more than a prophet. Even John the Baptist, who had received the assurance of Heaven that Jesus was the Lamb of God, or, as I conceive, that High Priest anointed with the holy oil at whose death liberty was to be proclaimed to the captives in the city of refuge (compare Numb. xxxv. 25 with John i. 33)-even John could not see that he was also that glorious Coming One prophesied of in Psalm cxviii. who was to give deliverance to the nation by valiant deeds (Psal. cxviii. 15—26). And I think our Lord purposely keeps this in a state of ambiguity, from all but his immediate followers, until after bis resurrection. Even when applying this prophecy to himself, if I mistake not he does it in a manner that might leave a doubt whether he himself were the Coming One: "Ye shall not see me until he come, when


Blessed is he that cometh [or, the coming one] in the name of the Lord ” (Luke xiii. 35).

We now come to Peter's confession : “ Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” A short confession, but containing, it may be, a summary of our faith in the nature and essence of God, and the person and office of Christ; being, what St. Bartholomew said of the doctrine of the Trinity, “ Little, and yet large." But it may be doubted how much Peter at that time understood that confession to imply. I suppose all will admit, that by this answer he intended that Jesus was God's anointed King. It certainly must have been his principal meaning, and I think his sole one.

It is commonly supposed, that being anointed implied either the prophetical, priestly, or kingly offices. With respect to the first, it appears doubtful whether prophets were anointed to their office; so that they could not with any propriety be styled Messiahs. Of course I do not deny that Messiah was anointed to preach, &c. (Luke iv. 18). It is certainly said that Elijah should anoint Elisha to be his successor; but Moses does not hint any thing of such an ordinance respecting the “ Prophet like unto him whom the Lord was to raise up :" and I think we may fairly infer, from the language of the rulers, John i. 21, who spake of that prophet distinct from the Messiah ; and the language of the people, John vi. 14; that had Peter meant to confess him as that prophet, he would simply have said, “Thou art That Prophet.”. With respect to the priestly office, it is true Philo had some suspicion that the high priest, anointed with the holy oil, alluded to the Messiah; but that was not the view of the Jews in the days of our Lord respecting Messiahben-David. At any rate, it is clear, by Peter's future conduct, that he could have no idea of the priestly office of Jesus. It therefore follows, that by saying Jesus was the Christ, he meant that he was God's anointed King. And indeed it appears to me that his confession refers directly to Psalm ii. : “ Yet I have anointed my King upon my holy hill of Zion*. I will declare the decree : Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou art my Son.” Now we know that “the Messiah” implied God's King, in the Jews' estimation. “Thou art the Anointed," then, answers to “ Yet have I anointed my King :” The Son” answers to “Thou art my Son :” and “ of the living God” answers to its being the declaration of “ Jehovah;" which name, I apprehend, implies the underived Self-existent from eternity. This Psalm appears to have been much in the mind of the Jews, as referring to Messiah; for Nathanael also appears to have alluded to it, when he said, “Rabbi, thou art that Son of God; thou art that King of Israel.”

We now come to our Lord's observation on Peter's confession : “ Blessed art thou, Simon-bar-Jona ; for flesh and blood hath not revealed (it) unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven"-or, “ which is in the heavens." "Not flesh and blood ; not an earthly parent of Jesus : but the “I AM" in the Godhead; the living God.

I do not know whether it will be considered a conceit or not, but, as our Lord immediately after alludes to the meaning of Peter's name, may he not here allude to Peter's being born of the dove-like Spirit, which his confession evinced ? « Blessed.

Though I think the Septuagint may be more correct, “Nevertheless I am anointed King upon my holy hill of Zion,” yet, as it does not alter the allusion, I take no notice of it.

« PreviousContinue »