Matthew 16:13-16. When Jesus came, &c. There was a large interval of time between what has been related already, and what follows. The passages that follow were but a short time before our Lord suffered: came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi “This city, while in the possession of the Canaanites, was called Lesheim, Joshua 19:47; and Laish, Judges 18:27. But when the children of Dan took it, they named it after their progenitor. In latter times it was called Paneas, from the mountain beneath which it stood. The situation of Paneas pleased Philip the tetrarch so exceedingly, that he resolved to make it the seat of his court. For which purpose he enlarged and adorned it with many sumptuous buildings, and called it Cesarea in honour of the Roman emperor. The tetrarch’s own name, however, was commonly added, to distinguish it from the other Cesarea, so often mentioned in the Jewish history, and in the Acts of the Apostles, which was a fine port on the Mediterranean sea, and had been rebuilt by Herod the Great, and named in honour of Augustus Cæsar.” Macknight. Josephus gives Philip so good a character, that some have thought our Lord retired into his territories for security from the insults of his enemies elsewhere. He asked his disciples, Who do men (Luke says, the people,) say that I, the Son of man, am Who do they take me to be, who am really a man, born of a woman, and in outward appearance a mere man? Or, as some understand the expression, Who do men say that I am? the Son of man? Do they say that I am the Son of man, the Messiah? So Macknight, with some others, thinks the words ought to be placed and pointed, to make them agree with the question which Christ afterward proposed to his disciples, namely, But who say ye that I am? words which imply that he had not yet directly assumed the title of the Messiah, at least in their hearing. Dr. Lightfoot, however, conjectures that Christ here inquires, not barely whether the people thought him to be the Christ, but what kind of person they thought him to be: the Jews then doubting concerning the original of him who was to be the Messiah, and whether he was to come from the living or the dead. And it must be acknowledged, that the word τινα , whom, often relates to the quality of the person spoken of. So John 8:53, τινα , whom makest thou thyself? Christ made this inquiry, not because he was ignorant what the people thought and spoke of him, for their thoughts and words were perfectly known to him, but that he might have, from themselves, a declaration of their faith, and might therefrom take occasion of confirming and strengthening them in it. In answer to the question concerning the people, the disciples reply, Some say, thou art John the Baptist Namely, risen from the dead, and with an additional power of working miracles; some, Elias That thou art Elijah the prophet, come to prepare the way of the Messiah; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets There was at that time a current tradition among the Jews, that either Jeremiah, or some other of the ancient prophets, would rise again before the Messiah came. Most part of the people took Jesus for a different person from what he was, because he had nothing of the outward pomp or grandeur in which they supposed the Messiah was to appear. Therefore, that he might give his disciples, who had long been witnesses of his miracles, and had attended on his ministry, an opportunity of declaring their opinion of him, he proceeded to ask, But who say ye that I am? And Peter, who was generally the most forward to speak, replied in the name of the rest, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God That is, his son in a peculiar sense, and therefore a person of infinitely greater dignity than either John the Baptist, or Elias, or Jeremiah, or any other prophet.
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