Bede: When, as related above, He was about to refresh the believing multitude, He gave thanks, so now, on account of the foolish petition of the Pharisees, He groans; because, bearing about with Him the feelings of human nature, as He rejoices over the salvation of men, so He grieves over their errors.
Wherefore it goes on, “And He groaned in spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, If a sign shall be given to this generation.”
That is, no sign shall be given; as it is written in the Psalms, “I have sworn once by my holiness, if I shall fail David,” [Psa_80:36] that is, I will not fail David.
Augustine: Let no one, however, be perplexed that the answer which Mark says was given to them, when they sought a sign from heaven, is not the same as that which Matthew relates, namely, that concerning Jonah. He says that the Lord’s answer was, that no sign should be given to it; by which we must understand such an one as they asked for, that is, one from heaven; but he has omitted to say, what Matthew has related.
Theophylact: Now, the reason why the Lord did not listen to them was, that the time of signs from heaven had not arrived, that is, the time of the second Advent, when the powers of the heaven shall be shaken, and the moon shall not give her light. But in the time of the first Advent, all things are full of mercy, and such things do not take place.
Bede: For a sign from heaven was not to be given to a generation of men, who tempted the Lord; but to a generation of men seeking the Lord, He shews a sign from heaven, when in the sight of the Apostles He ascended into heaven. It goes on, “And He left them, and entering into a ship again, He departed to the other side.”
Theophylact: The Lord indeed quits the Pharisees, as men uncorrected; for where there is a hope of correction, there it is right to remain; but where the evil is incorrigible, we should go away.
Mar 8:11 Jesus Christ did not consent to the petition they made him, because there will be another time for signs and wonders, viz. his second coming, when the powers of heaven shall be moved, and the moon refuse her light. This his first coming is not to terrify man, but to instruct and store his mind with lessons of humility, and every other virtue. (Theophylactus)
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seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him — not in the least desiring evidence for their conviction, but hoping to entrap Him. The first part of the answer is given in Matthew alone (Mat_16:2, Mat_16:3): “He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather; for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day: for the sky is red and lowering [sullen, gloomy]. Hypocrites! ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” The same simplicity of purpose and careful observation of the symptoms of approaching events which they showed in common things would enable them to “discern the signs of the times” – or rather “seasons,” to which the prophets pointed for the manifestation of the Messiah. The scepter had departed from Judah; Daniel’s seventy weeks were expiring, etc.; and many other significant indications of the close of the old economy, and preparations for a freer and more comprehensive one, might have been discerned. But all was lost upon them.
And tempting, desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven: they came with no sincere view to be taught by him, or learn anything from him; but if they could, to ensnare him, and get an opportunity of exposing him to the people; and therefore pretending dissatisfaction with the miracles he wrought on the earth, they ask of him to produce a sign from heaven, of his coming from thence, of his being the Son of God, and the true Messiah. They wanted some such sign, as the standing still of the sun and moon, in the times of Joshua; and as raining manna, in the times of Moses; or some such appearances of thunder and lightning, as at the giving of the law.
Tempting – That is, trying him – feigning a desire to see evidence that he was the Messiah, but with a real desire to see him make the attempt to work a miracle and fail, so that they might betray him and ruin him.
A sign from heaven – Some miraculous appearance in the sky. Such appearances had been given by the prophets; and they supposed, if he was the Messiah, that his miracles would not all be confined to the earth, but that he was able to give some signal miracle from heaven. Samuel had caused it to thunder 1Sa_12:16-18; Isaiah had caused the shadow to go back ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz Isa_38:8; and Moses had sent manna from heaven, Exo_16:4; Joh_6:31. It is proper to say, that though Christ did not choose then to show such wonders, yet far more stupendous signs from heaven than these were exhibited at his death.
And groaning in his spirit. By these words Mark informs us that it occasioned grief and bitter vexation to our Lord, when he saw those ungrateful men obstinately resist God. And certainly all who are desirous to promote the glory of God, and who feel concern about the salvation of men, ought to have such feelings that nothing would inflict on their hearts a deeper wound than to see unbelievers purposely blocking up against themselves the way of believing, and employing all their ingenuity in obscuring by their clouds the brightness of the word and works of God. The words, in his spirit, appear to me to be added emphatically, to inform us that this groan proceeded from the deepest affection of his heart, and that no sophist might allege that Christ resorted to outward attitudes to express a grief which he did not inwardly feel; for that holy soul, which was guided by the zeal of the Spirit, must have been moved by deep sadness at the sight of such wicked obstinacy.
Mar 8:12 And he sighed deeply in his Spirit,…. In his human soul; and which shows that he had one, and was subject to grief and sorrow, and all passions and infirmities, excepting sin. This deep sigh was on account of the hardness of their hearts, the malignity of their minds, and insincerity of their intentions; who had no view to come at truth by this inquiry, but to ensnare him:
and saith, why doth this generation seek after a sign? when so many have been shown among them, and they will not believe:
verily I say unto you, there shall no sign be given to this generation: such as they desired; namely, one from heaven. The Evangelist Matthew adds, “but the sign of the Prophet Jonas”; See Mat_16:4, Mat_12:40.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Matthew says, “of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees;” Luke, however, of the Pharisees only. All three, therefore, name the Pharisees, as being the most important of them, but Matthew and Mark have each mentioned one of the secondary sects; and fitly has Mark added “of Herod,” as a supplement to Matthew’s narrative, in which they were left out. But in saying this, He by degrees brings the disciples to understanding and faith.
Theophylact: He means by leaven their hurtful and corrupt doctrine, full of the old malice, for the Herodians were the teachers, who said that Herod was the Christ.
Bede: Or, the leaven of the Pharisees is making the decrees of the divine law inferior to the traditions of men, preaching the law in word, attacking it in deed, tempting the Lord, and disbelieving His doctrine and His works; but the leaven of Herod is adultery, murder, rash swearing, a pretence of religion, hatred to Christ and His forerunner.
Theophylact: But the disciples themselves thought that the Lord spoke of the leaven of bread. Wherefore it goes on, “And they reasoned amongst themselves, saying, it is because we have no bread;” and this they said, as not understanding the power of Christ, who could make bread out of nothing; wherefore the Lord reproves them. For there follows: “And when Jesus knew it, He said unto them, Why reason ye because ye have no bread?”
Bede: Taking occasion then from the precept, which He had commanded, saying, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod,” our Saviour teaches them what was the meaning of the five and the seven loaves, concerning which He adds, “And do ye not remember, when I brake the five loaves amongst five thousand, and how many baskets full of fragments ye took up?”
For if the leaven mentioned above means perverse traditions, of course the food, with which the people of God was nourished, means the true doctrine.
Mar 8:15 And he charged them,…. When they were in the ship, and had just recollected themselves, that they had took no care to bring any provisions with them:
saying, take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees; and of the leaven of Herod: in Matthew, instead of “the leaven of Herod”, it is read, “the leaven of the Sadducees”: which are either the same, Herod and his courtiers being Sadducees, or favourers of them; or the Sadducees being sticklers for Herod, and his government, which the Pharisees had no good opinion of; or else distinct from one another; and so Christ cautions against the doctrines of the Pharisees, which regarded the traditions of the elders, and of the Sadducees, concerning the resurrection, and of the Herodians, who thought Herod to be the Messiah; and against the unreasonable request and demand of them all to have a sign from heaven, in proof of his own Messiahship; See Mat 16:6
Here Christ takes occasion from the circumstance that had just occurred to exhort his disciples to beware of every abuse that makes an inroad on sincere piety. The Pharisees had come a little before; the Sadducees joined them; and apart from them stood Herod, a very wicked man, and an opponent and corrupter of sound doctrine. In the midst of these dangers it was very necessary to warn his disciples to be on their guard; for, since the human mind has a natural inclination towards vanity and errors, when we are surrounded by wicked inventions, spurious doctrines, and other plagues of the same sort, nothing is more easy than to depart from the true and simple purity of the word of God; and if we once become entangled in these things, it will never be possible for the true religion to hold an entire sway over us. But to make the matter more clear, let us examine closely the words of Christ.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.Along with the Pharisees Matthew mentions the Sadducees Instead of the latter, Mark speaks of Herod Luke takes no notice of any but the Pharisees, (though it is not absolutely certain that it is the same discourse of Christ which Luke relates,) and explains the leaven to be hypocrisy In short, he glances briefly at this sentence, as if there were no ambiguity in the words. Now the metaphor of leaven, which is here applied to false doctrine, might have been employed, at another time, to denote the hypocrisy of life and conduct, or the same words might even have been repeated a second time. But there is no absurdity in saying, that those circumstances which are more copiously detailed by the other two Evangelists, in the order in which they took place, are slightly noticed by Luke in a manner somewhat different, and out of their proper place or order, but without any real contradiction. If we choose to adopt this conjecture, hypocrisy will denote here something different from a pretended and false appearance of wisdom. It will denote the very source and occasion of empty display, which, though it holds out an imposing aspect to the eyes of men, is of no estimation in the sight of God. For, as Jeremiah (Jer_5:3 ) tells us that the eyes of the Lord behold the truth, so they that believe in his word are instructed to maintain true godliness in such a manner as to cleave to righteousness with an honest and perfect heart; as in these words, An now, O Israel, what doth the Lord require from thee, but that thou shouldst cleave to him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul? (Deu_10:12.)
On the other hand, the traditions of men, while they set aside spiritual worship, wear a temporary disguise, as if God could be imposed upon by such deceptions; for to whatever extent outward ceremonies may be carried, they are, in the sight of God, nothing more than childish trifles, unless so far as they assist us in the exercise of true piety.
We now perceive the reason why hypocrisy was viewed by Luke as equivalent to doctrines invented by men, and why he included under this name the leavens of men, which only puff up, and in the sight of God contain nothing solid, and which even draw aside the minds of men from the right study of piety to empty and insignificant ceremonies. But it will be better to abide by the narrative of Matthew, which is more copious. The disciples, after having been reproved by our Lord, came at length to understand that he had charged them to be on their guard against certain doctrine. It was plainly, therefore, the intention of Christ to fortify them against prevailing abuses, by which they were attacked on all sides. The Pharisees and Sadducees were expressly named, because those two sects maintained at that time a tyrannical sway in the Church, and held opinions so utterly subversive of the doctrine of the Law and the Prophets, that almost nothing remained pure and entire.
But Herod did not in any way profess to teach; and a question arises, why does Mark class him with false teachers? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and Of The Leaven Of Herod. I reply: he was half a Jew,was mean and treacherous, and availed himself of every contrivance that was within his reach to draw the people to his side; for it is customary with all apostates to contrive some mixture, for the purpose of establishing a new religion by which the former may be abolished. It was because he was laboring craftily to subvert the principles of true and ancient piety, and thus to give currency to a religion that would be exceedingly adapted to his tyranny, or rather because he was endeavoring to introduce some new form of Judaism, that our Lord most properly charged them to beware of his leaven.From the temple of God the scribes disseminated their errors, and the court of Herod was another workshop of Satan, in which errors of a different kind were manufactured.
Thus in our own day we find that not only from Popish temples, and from the dens of sophists and monks, does Antichrist vomit out her impostures, but that there is a Theology of the Court, which lends its aid to prop up the throne of Antichrist, so that no stratagem is left untried. But as Christ opposed the evils which then prevailed, and as he aroused the minds of his followers to guard against those which were the most dangerous, let us learn from his example to make a prudent inquiry what are the abuses that may now do us injury. Sooner shall water mix with fire than any man shall succeed in reconciling the inventions of the Pope with the Gospel. Whoever desires to become honestly a disciple of Christ, must be careful to keep his mind pure from those leavens; and if he has already imbibed them, he must labor to purify himself till none of their polluting effects remain. There are restless men, on the other hand, who have endeavored in various ways to corrupt sound doctrine, and, in guarding also against such impostures, believers must maintain a strict watch, that they may keep a perpetual Passover with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, (1Co_5:8.)
And as on every hand there now rages an impiety like that of Lucian, a most pernicious leaven, or rather a worse than deadly poison, let them exercise this very needful caution, and apply to it all their senses.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees – See Mat_16:6.
Of Herod – Of the Herodians – of Herod and his followers. Matthew, instead of “Herod,” has “the Sadducees.” It is not improbably that he cautioned them against them all. The Pharisees sought his life, and were exceedingly corrupt in their doctrine and practice; the Sadducees denied some of the essential doctrines of religion, and the Herodians probably were distinguished for irreligion, sensuality, and corrupt living. They were united, therefore, with the Pharisees and Sadducees in opposing the claims of Jesus. Matthew has recorded his caution to avoid the Pharisees and Sadducees, and Mark has added, what Matthew had omitted. the caution likewise to beware of the Herodians. Thus, the evangelists speak the same thing.
Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod (Horate, blepete apo tes zumes ton Pharisaion kai tes zumes Heroidou). Present imperatives. Note apo and the ablative case. Zume is from zumoo and occurs already in Mat_13:33 in a good sense. For the bad sense See note on 1Co_5:6. He repeatedly charged (diestelleto, imperfect indicative), showing that the warning was needed. The disciples came out of a Pharisaic atmosphere and they had just met it again at Dalmanutha. It was insidious. Note the combination of Herod here with the Pharisees. This is after the agitation of Herod because of the death of the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus (Mark 6:14-29; Mat_14:1-12; Luk_9:7-9). Jesus definitely warns the disciples against “the leaven of Herod” (bad politics) and the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (bad theology and also bad politics).
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And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread — But a little while ago He was tried with the obduracy of the Pharisees; now He is tried with the obtuseness of His own disciples. The nine questions following each other in rapid succession (Mar_8:17-21) show how deeply He was hurt at this want of spiritual apprehension, and worse still, their low thoughts of Him, as if He would utter so solemn a warning on so petty a subject. It will be seen, however, from the very form of their conjecture, “It is because we have no bread,” and our Lord’s astonishment that they should not by that time have known better with what He took up His attention – that He ever left the whole care for His own temporal wants to the Twelve: that He did this so entirely, that finding they were reduced to their last loaf they felt as if unworthy of such a trust, and could not think but that the same thought was in their Lord’s mind which was pressing upon their own; but that in this they were so far wrong that it hurt His feelings – sharp just in proportion to His love – that such a thought of Him should have entered their minds! Who that, like angels, “desire to look into these things” will not prize such glimpses above gold?
Mark here (Mar_8:17-20) gives six keen questions of Jesus while Mat_16:8-11 gives us four that really include the six of Mark running some together. The questions reveal the disappointment of Jesus at the intellectual dulness of his pupils. The questions concern the intellect (noeite, from nous, suniete, comprehend), the heart in a hardened state (peporomenen, perfect passive predicate participle as in Mar_6:52, which see), the eyes, the ears, the memory of both the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand here sharply distinguished even to the two kinds of baskets (kophinous, sphuridon). The disciples did recall the number of baskets left over in each instance, twelve and seven. Jesus “administers a sharp rebuke for their preoccupation with mere temporalities, as if there were nothing higher to be thought of than bread” (Bruce). “For the time the Twelve are way-side hearers, with hearts like a beaten path, into which the higher truths cannot sink so as to germinate” (Bruce).
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How is it that ye do not understand? — “do not understand that the warning I gave you could not have been prompted by any such petty consideration as the want of loaves in your scrip.” Profuse as were our Lord’s miracles, we see from this that they were not wrought at random, but that He carefully noted their minutest details, and desired that this should be done by those who witnessed, as doubtless by all who read the record of them. Even the different kind of baskets used at the two miraculous feedings, so carefully noted in the two narratives, are here also referred to; the one smaller, of which there were twelve, the other much larger, of which there were seven.
Do ye not yet understand? (oupo suniete). After all this rebuke and explanation. The greatest of all teachers had the greatest of all classes, but he struck a snag here. Mat_16:12 gives the result: “Then they understood how that he bade them not beware of the loaves of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They had once said that they understood the parables of Jesus (Mat_13:51). But that was a long time ago. The teacher must have patience if his pupils are to understand.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He asks the question with a purpose, for it was right that His disciples should praise Him better than the crowd.
Bede: Wherefore He first asks what is the opinion of men, in order to try the faith of the disciples, lest their confession should appear to be founded on the common opinion. It goes on, “And they answered, saying, ‘Some [p. 158] say John the Baptist, some Elias, and others, One of the prophets.”
Theophylact: For many thought that John had risen from the dead, as even Herod believed, and that he had performed miracles after his resurrection. After however having enquired into the opinion of others, He asks them what was the belief of their own minds on this point. Wherefore it continues, “And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?”
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 54: From the manner, however, itself of the question, He leads them to a higher feeling, and to higher thoughts, concerning Him, that they might not agree with the multitude. But the next words shew what the head of the disciples, the mouth of the Apostles, answered; when all were asked, “Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ.”
Theophylact: He confesses indeed that He is the Christ announced by the Prophets; but the Evangelist Mark passes over what the Lord answered to his confession, and how He blessed him, lest by this way of relating it, he should seem to be favouring his master Peter; Matthew plainly goes through the whole of it.
Origen, in Matt. Tom., 12, 15: Or else, Mark and Luke, as they wrote that Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ,” without adding what is put down in Matthew, “the Son of the living God,” so they omitted to relate the blessing which was conferred on this confession. It goes on, “And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him.”
Theophylact: For He wished in the meantime to hide His glory, lest many should be offended because of Him, and so earn a worse punishment.
Chrys.: Or else, that He might wait to fix the pure faith in their minds, till the Crucifixion, which was an offence to them, was over, for after it was once perfected, about the time of His ascension, He said unto the Apostles, “Go ye and teach all nations.”
Theophylact: But after the Lord had accepted the confession of the disciples, who called Him the true God, He then reveals to them the mystery of the Cross.
Wherefore it goes on, “And He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again; and He spake that saying openly,” that is, concerning His future passion.
But His disciples did not understand the order of the truth, neither could they [p. 159] comprehend His resurrection, but thought it better that He should not suffer.
Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The reason, however, why the Lord told them this, was to shew, that after His cross and resurrection, Christ must be preached by His witnesses. Again, Peter alone, from the fervour of his disposition, had the boldness to dispute about these things. Wherefore it goes on, “And Peter took Him up, and began to rebuke Him.”
Bede: This, however, he speaks with the feelings of a man who loves and desires; as if he said, This cannot be, neither can mind ears receive that the Son of God is to be slain.
Chrys.: But how is this, that Peter, gifted with a revelation from the Father, has so soon fallen, and become unstable? Surely, however, it was not wonderful that one who had received no revelation concerning the Passion should be ignorant of this. For that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, he had learnt by revelation; but the mystery of His cross and resurrection had not yet been revealed to him. He Himself, however, shewing that He must come to His Passion, rebuked Peter. Wherefore there follows, “And when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, &c.”
Theophylact: For the Lord, wishing to shew that His Passion was to take place on account of the salvation of men, and that Satan alone was unwilling that Christ should suffer, and the race of man be saved, called Peter Satan, because he savoured the things that were of Satan, and, from unwillingness that Christ should suffer, became His adversary; for Satan is interpreted ‘the adversary.’
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He saith not to the devil, when tempting Him, “Get thee behind me,” but to Peter He saith, “Get thee behind me,” that is, follow Me, and resist not the design of My voluntary Passion. There follows, “For thou savourest not the things which be of God, but which be of men.”
Theophylact: He says that Peter savours the things which be of men, in that he in some way savoured carnal affections, for Peter wished that Christ should spare Himself and not be crucified.
Mark says that this conversation took place during the journey. Luke says that it took place while he was praying, and while there were none in company with him but his disciples. Matthew is not so exact in mentioning the time. All the three unquestionably relate the same narrative; and it is possible that Christ may have stopped at a certain place during that journey to pray, and that afterwards he may have put the question to his disciples. There were two towns called Cesarea, of which the former was more celebrated, and had been anciently called The Tower of Strato; while the latter, which is mentioned here, was situated at the foot of Mount Lebanon, not far from the river Jordan. It is for the sake of distinguishing between these two towns that Philippi is added to the name; for though it is conjectured by some to have been built on the same spot where the town of Dan formerly stood, yet, as it had lately been rebuilt by Philip the Tetrarch, it was called Philippi
Who do men say that I am?This might be supposed to mean, What was the current rumor about the Redeemer, who became the Son of man? But the question is quite different, What do men think about Jesus the Son of Mary? He calls himself, according to custom, the Son of man, as much as to say, Now that clothed in flesh I inhabit the earth like other men, what is the opinion entertained respecting me? The design of Christ was, to confirm his disciples fully in the true faith, that they might not be tossed about amidst various reports, as we shall presently see.
Cæarea Philippi, was first called Paneades, and was afterwards embellished and greatly enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod the great, and dedicated in honour of Augustus, hence its name. There was moreover another Cæsarea, called Straton, situated on the Mediterranean: and not in this, but in the former, did Christ interrogate his disciples. He first withdrew them from the Jews, that they might with more boldness and freedom deliver their sentiments. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lv.) — The Cæsarea here mentioned continued to be called by heathen writers Panea, from the adjoining spring Paneum, or Panium, which is usually taken for the source of the Jordan.
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Caesarea Philippi — It lay at the foot of Mount Lebanon, near the sources of the Jordan, in the territory of Dan, and at the northeast extremity of Palestine. It was originally called Panium (from a cavern in its neighborhood dedicated to the god Pan) and Paneas. Philip, the tetrarch, the only good son of Herod the Great, in whose dominions Paneas lay, having beautified and enlarged it, changed its name to Caesarea, in honor of the Roman emperor, and added Philippi after his own name, to distinguish it from the other Caesarea (Act_10:1) on the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea. [Josephus, Antiquities, 15.10, 3; 18.2, 1]. This quiet and distant retreat Jesus appears to have sought with the view of talking over with the Twelve the fruit of His past labors, and breaking to them for the first time the sad intelligence of His approaching death.
Cesarea Philippi – There were two cities in Judea called Caesarea. One was situated on the borders of the Mediterranean (See the notes at Act_8:40), and the other was the one mentioned here. This city was greatly enlarged and ornamented by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod, and called Caesarea in honor of the Roman emperor, Tiberius Caesar. To distinguish it from the other Caesarea the name of Philip was added to it, and it was called Caesarea Philippi, or Caesarea of Philippi. It was situated in the boundaries of the tribe of Naphtali, at the foot of Mount Hermon. It is now called Panias or Banias, and contains (circa 1880’s) about 200 houses, and is inhabited chiefly by Turks. The word “coasts” here now usually applied to land in the vicinity of the sea – means “borders” or “regions.” He came into the part of the country which appertained to Cesarea Philippi. He was passing northward from the region of Bethsaida, on the coasts of Magdala Mat_15:39, where the transactions recorded in the previous verses had occurred.
When Jesus came – The original is, “when Jesus was coming.” Mark says Mar_8:27 that this conversation took place when they were in the way, and this idea should have been retained in translating Matthew. While in the way, Jesus took occasion to call their attention “to the truth that he was the Messiah.” This truth it was of much consequence that they should fully believe and understand; and it was important, therefore, that he should often learn their views, to establish them if right, and correct them if wrong. He began, therefore, by inquiring what was the common report respecting him.
Whom do men say … – This passage has been variously rendered. Some have translated it, “Whom do men say that I am? the Son of man?” Others, “Whom do men say that I am – I, who am the Son of man – i. e., the Messiah?” The meaning is nearly the same. He wished to obtain the sentiments of the people respecting himself.
Into the villages of Caesarea Philippi (eis tas komas Kaisarias tes Philippou). Parts (mere) Mat_16:13 has, the Caesarea of Philippi in contrast to the one down on the Mediterranean Sea. Mark means the villages belonging to the district around Caesarea Philippi. This region is on a spur of Mount Hermon in Iturea ruled by Herod Philip so that Jesus is safe from annoyance by Herod Antipas or the Pharisees and Sadducees. Up here on this mountain slope Jesus will have his best opportunity to give the disciples special teaching concerning the crucifixion just a little over six months ahead. So Jesus asked (eperota, descriptive imperfect)
Who do men say that I am? (Tina me legousin hoi anthropoi einai). Mat_16:13 has “the Son of Man” in place of “I” here in Mark and in Luk_9:18. He often described himself as “the Son of Man.” Certainly here the phrase could not mean merely “a man.” They knew the various popular opinions about Jesus of which Herod Antipas had heard (Mar_3:21, Mar_3:31). It was time that the disciples reveal how much they had been influenced by their environment as well as by the direct instruction of Jesus.
And they said, some say that thou art John the Baptist,…. It was the opinion of some of the Jews, that he was John the Baptist risen from the dead. This notion was spread, and prevailed in Herod’s court, and he himself, at last, gave into it.
Some Elias; the Tishbite, because an extraordinary person was prophesied of by Malachi, under the name of Elias; and who was to come in his power and spirit before the great day of the Lord; and it being a prevailing notion with the Jews, that Elias was to come before the Messiah; See Gill on Mat_11:14 they concluded that he was now come:
and others Jeremias; this is omitted both by Mark and Luke; the reason why he is mentioned, is not because of what is said of him, in Jer_1:5 but because the Jews thought he was that prophet spoken of, in Deu_18:15 that should be raised up from among them, like unto Moses: and this is the sense of some of their writers (g): and in their very ancient writings a parallel is run between Moses and Jeremy (h).
“R. Judah, the son of R. Simon, opened Deu_18:18 thus: “as thee”, this is Jeremiah, who was, as he, in reproofs; you will find all that is written of the one, is written of the other; one prophesied forty years, and the other prophesied forty years; the one prophesied concerning Judah and Israel, and the other prophesied concerning Judah and Israel; against the one those of his own tribe stood up, and against the other those of his own tribe stood up; the one was cast into a river, and the other into a dungeon; the one was delivered by means of an handmaid, and the other by the means of a servant; the one came with words of reproof, and the other came with words of reproof.”
Now they fancied, either that the soul of Jeremy was transmigrated into another body, or that he was risen from the dead.
Or one of the prophets; one of the ancient ones, as Hosea, or Isaiah, or some other: they could not fix upon the particular person who they thought was risen from the dead, and did these wondrous works among them. From the whole it appears, that these persons, whose different sentiments of Christ are here delivered, were not his sworn enemies, as the Scribes and Pharisees, who could never speak respectfully of him; saying, that he was a gluttonous man, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, a very wicked man, and far from being one, or like one of the prophets: they sometimes represent him as beside himself, and mad, yea, as being a Samaritan, and having a devil, as familiar with the devil, and doing his miracles by his assistance; but these were the common people, the multitude that followed Christ from place to place, and had a great opinion of him on account of his ministry, and miracles: wherefore, though they could not agree in their notions concerning him, yet each of them fix upon some person of note and worth, whom they took him for; they all looked upon him as a great and good man, and as a prophet, as John the Baptist was accounted by all the people, and as one of the chief of the prophets, as Elias and Jeremiah; and they that could not fix on any particular person, yet put him into the class of the prophets: but still they came short of the true knowledge of him; they did not know him to be a divine person, which his works and miracles proved him to be: nor to be that prophet Moses had spoken of, who was alone to be hearkened unto, though his ministry was a demonstration of it: nor that he was the Messiah, so much spoken of in prophecy, and so long expected by the Jewish nation, though he had all the characters of the Messiah meeting in him. The chief reason why they could not entertain such a thought of him, seems to be the mean figure he made in the world, being of a low extract, in strait circumstances of life, regarded only by the poorer sort; and there appearing nothing in him promising, that he should deliver them from the Roman yoke, and set up a temporal kingdom, which should be prosperous and flourishing, which was the notion of the Messiah that then generally obtained: and since they could not, by any means, allow of this character as belonging to Jesus, though otherwise they had an high opinion of him; hence they could not agree about him, but formed different sentiments of him; which is usually the case in everything, where the truth is not hit upon and received.
(g) Baal Hatturim in Deut. xviii. 15. R. Abraham Seba; Tzeror Hammor, fol. 127. 4. & 143. 4. (h) Pesikta Rabbati apud R. Abarbinel, Praefat. ad Jer. fol. 96. 2.
Thou art the Christ. The confession is short, but it embraces all that is contained in our salvation; for the designation Christ, or Anointed, includes both an everlasting Kingdom and an everlasting Priesthood, to reconcile us to God, and, by expiating our sins through his sacrifice, to obtain for us a perfect righteousness, and, having received us under his protection, to uphold and supply and enrich us with every description of blessings. Mark says only, Thou art the Christ.Luke says, Thou art the Christ of God But the meaning is the same; for the Christs ( χριστοί) of God was the appellation anciently bestowed on kings, who had been anointed by the divine command. And this phrase had been previously employed by Luke, ( Luk_2:26,) when he said that Simeon had been informed by a revelation from heaven that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ For the redemption, which God manifested by the hand of his Son, was clearly divine; and therefore it was necessary that he who was to be the Redeemer should come from heaven, bearing the impress of the anointing of God. Matthew expresses it still more clearly, Thou art the Son of the living God; for, though Peter did not yet understand distinctly in what way Christ was the begotten of God, he was so fully persuaded of the dignity of Christ, that he believed him to come from God, not like other men, but by the inhabitation of the true and living Godhead in his flesh. When the attribute living is ascribed to God, it is for the purpose of distinguishing between Him and dead idols, who are nothing, ( 1Co_8:4.)
Thou art the Christ (Su ei ho Christos). Mark does not give “the Son of the living God” (Mat_16:16) or “of God” (Luk_9:20). The full confession is the form in Matthew. Luke’s language means practically the same, while Mark’s is the briefest. But the form in Mark really means the full idea. Mark omits all praise of Peter, probably because Peter had done so in his story of the incident. For criticism of the view that Matthew’s narrative is due to ecclesiastical development and effort to justify ecclesiastical prerogatives, see discussion on Mat_16:16, Mat_16:18. The disciples had confessed him as Messiah before. Thus Joh_1:41; Joh_4:29; Joh_6:69; Mat_14:33. But Jesus had ceased to use the word Messiah to avoid political complications and a revolutionary movement (Joh_6:14.). But did the disciples still believe in Jesus as Messiah after all the defections and oppositions seen by them? It was a serious test to which Jesus now put them.
Mar 8:30 He enjoined them silence for the present, That he might not encourage the people to set him up for a temporal king; That he might not provoke the scribes and Pharisees to destroy him before the time and, That he might not forestall the bright evidence which was to be given of his Divine character after his resurrection.
Mar_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.
Mar 8:31 And he began to teach them,…. For as yet he had said nothing to them about his sufferings and death, at least in express terms; but now they being firmly established in the faith of him, as the Messiah, he thought it proper to inform them,
that the son of man must suffer many things; meaning himself, as that he should be betrayed, apprehended, and bound, should be smitten, spit upon, buffeted, and scourged; and which things must be done, and he suffer them, because it was so determined by God, and foretold in the Scriptures:
and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests and Scribes; which composed the grand sanhedrim of the nation, and are the builders that were prophesied of by whom he should be rejected, Psa_118:22,
and be killed; in a violent manner; his life be taken away by force, without law, or justice:
and after three days rise again: not after three days were ended, and on the fourth day, but after the third day was come; that is, “on the third day”, as the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read; and even the Pharisees themselves thus understood Christ, Mat_27:63, so the phrase, “after eight days”, is used for the eighth day, being come, or that same day a week later; see Luk_9:28 compared with Mat_17:1.
From that time forth began Jesus, etc. – Before this time our Lord had only spoken of his death in a vague and obscure manner, see Mat_12:40, because he would not afflict his disciples with this matter sooner than necessity required; but now, as the time of his crucifixion drew nigh, he spoke of his sufferings and death in the most express and clear terms. Three sorts of persons, our Lord intimates, should be the cause of his death and passion: the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes. Pious Quesnel takes occasion to observe from this, that Christ is generally persecuted by these three descriptions of men: rich men, who have their portion in this life; ambitious and covetous ecclesiastics, who seek their portion in this life; and conceited scholars, who set up their wisdom against the wisdom of God, being more intent on criticising words than in providing for the salvation of their souls. The spirit of Christianity always enables a man to bear the ills of life with patience; to receive death with joy; and to expect, by faith, the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come.
Mar_7:31-33; Luk_9:22. “From that time forth.” This was the first intimation that he gave that he was to die in this cruel manner. He had taken much pains to convince them that he was the Messiah; he saw by the confession of Peter that they were convinced, and he then began to prepare their minds for the awful event which was before him. Had he declared this when he first called them they would never have followed him. Their minds Were not prepared for it. They expected a temporal, triumphant prince as the Messiah. He first, therefore, convinced them that he was the Christ, and then, with great prudence, began to correct their apprehensions of the proper character of the Messiah.
He began to teach them (erxato didaskein autous). Mark is fond of this idiom, but it is not a mere rhetorical device. Mat_16:21 expressly says “from that time.” They had to be told soon about the approaching death of Jesus. The confession of faith in Jesus indicated that it was a good time to begin. Death at the hands of the Sanhedrin (elders, chief priests, and scribes) in which Pharisees and Sadducees had about equal strength. The resurrection on the third day is mentioned, but it made no impression on their minds. This rainbow on the cloud was not seen.
After three days (meta treis hemeras). Mat_16:21 has “the third day” (tei tritei hemerai) in the locative case of point of time (so also Luk_9:22). There are some people who stickle for a strict interpretation of “after three days” which would be “on the fourth day,” not “on the third day.” Evidently Mark’s phrase here has the same sense as that in Matthew and Luke else they are hopelessly contradictory. In popular language “after three days” can and often does mean “on the third day,” but the fourth day is impossible.
And Peter, taking him aside, began to rebuke him.It is a proof of the excessive zeal of Peter, that he reproves his Master; though it would appear that the respect he entertained for him was his reason for taking him aside,because he did not venture to reprove him in presence of others. Still, it was highly presumptuous in Peter to advise our Lord to spare himself, as if he had been deficient in prudence or self-command. But so completely are men hurried on and driven headlong by inconsiderate zeal, that they do not hesitate to pass judgment on God himself, according to their own fancy. Peter views it as absurd, that the Son of God, who was to be the Redeemer of the nation, should be crucified by the elders, and that he who was the Author of life should be condemned to die. He therefore endeavors to restrain Christ from exposing himself to death. The reasoning is plausible; but we ought without hesitation to yield greater deference to the opinion of Christ than to the zeal of Peter, whatever excuse he may plead.
And here we learn what estimation in the sight of God belongs to what are called good intentions. So deeply is pride rooted in the hearts of men, that they think wrong is done them, and complain, if God does not comply with every thing that they consider to be right. With what obstinacy do we see the Papists boasting of their devotions! But while they applaud themselves in this daring manner, God not only rejects what they believe to be worthy of the highest praise, but even pronounces a severe censure on its folly and wickedness. Certainly, if the feeling and judgment of the flesh be admitted, Peter’s intention was pious, or at least it looked well. And yet Christ could not have conveyed his censure in harsher or more disdainful language. Tell me, what is the meaning of that stern reply? How comes it that he who so mildly on all occasions guarded against breaking even a bruised reed, (Isa_42:3,) thunders so dismally against a chosen disciple? The reason is obvious, that in the person of one man he intended to restrain all from gratifying their own passions. Though the lusts of the flesh, as they resemble wild beasts, are difficult to be restrained, yet there is no beast more furious than the wisdom of the flesh. It is on this account that Christ reproves it so sharply, and bruises it, as it were, with an iron hammer, to teach us that it is only from the word of God that we ought to be wise.
Spake the saying openly (parresiai ton logon elalei). He held back nothing, told it all (pan, all, resia, from eipon, say), without reserve, to all of them. Imperfect tense elalei shows that Jesus did it repeatedly. Mark alone gives this item. Mark does not give the great eulogy of Peter in Mat_16:17, Mat_16:19 after his confession (Mar_8:29; Mat_16:16; Luk_9:20), but he does tell the stinging rebuke given Peter by Jesus on this occasion. See discussion on Mat_16:21, Mat_16:26.
Get thee behind me, Satan – The word “Satan” literally means “an adversary,” or one who opposes us in the accomplishment of our designs.
It is applied to the devil commonly, as the opposer or adversary of man; but there is no evidence that the Lord Jesus meant to apply this term to Peter, as signifying that he was Satan or the devil, or that he used the term in anger. He may have used it in the general sense which the word bore as an adversary or opposer; and the meaning may be, that such sentiments as Peter expressed then were opposed to him and his plans. His interference was improper. His views and feelings stood in the way of the accomplishment of the Saviour’s designs. There was, undoubtedly, a rebuke in this language, for the conduct of Peter was improper; but the idea which is commonly attached to it, and which, perhaps, our translation conveys, implies a more severe and harsh rebuke than the Saviour intended, and than the language which he used would express.
Thou savourest not – Literally, thou thinkest not upon; or your language and spirit are not such as spring from a supreme regard to the will of God, or from proper views of him, but such as spring from the common views entertained by people. You think that those things should not be done which God wishes to be done. You judge of this matter as people do who are desirous of honor; and not as God, who sees it best that I should die, to promote the great interests of mankind.
He turning about and seeing his disciples (epistrapheis kai idon tous mathetas autou). Peter had called Jesus off to himself (proskalesamenos), but Jesus quickly wheeled round on Peter (epistrapheis, only strapheis in Matthew). In doing that the other disciples were in plain view also (this touch only in Mark). Hence Jesus rebukes Peter in the full presence of the whole group. Peter no doubt felt that it was his duty as a leader of the Twelve to remonstrate with the Master for this pessimistic utterance (Swete). It is even possible that the others shared Peter’s views and were watching the effect of his daring rebuke of Jesus. It was more than mere officiousness on the part of Peter. He had not risen above the level of ordinary men and deserves the name of Satan whose role he was now acting. It was withering, but it was needed. The temptation of the devil on the mountain was here offered by Peter. It was Satan over again. See note on Mat_16:23.