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Verse 20

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.”

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