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Matthew Chapter Sixteen


Matthew 16

Chapter 16 goes farther than the revelation of the simple grace of God. Jesus reveals what was about to be formed in the counsels of that grace, where He was owned, shewing the rejection of the proud among His people, that He abhors them as they abhor Him. (Zech. 11). Shutting their eyes (through perversity of will) to the marvellous and beneficent signs of His power, which He constantly bestowed on the poor who sought Him, the Pharisees and Sadducees-struck with these manifestations, yet unbelieving in heart and will-demand a sign from heaven. He rebukes them for their unbelief, shewing them that they knew how to discern the signs of the weather; yet the signs of the times were far more striking. They were the adulterous and wicked generation, and He leaves them: significant expressions of what was now passing in Israel.

He warns His forgetful disciples against the devices of these subtle adversaries to the truth, and to Him whom God had sent to reveal it. Israel is abandoned, as a nation, in the persons of their leaders. At the same time in patient grace He recalls His disciples to the remembrance of what explained His words to them.

Afterwards He questions His disciples as to what men in general said of Him. It was all matter of opinion, not of faith; that is, the uncertainty that belongs to moral indifference, to the absence of that conscious need of soul which can rest only in the truth, in the Saviour one has found. He then inquires what they themselves said of Him. Peter, to whom the Father had deigned to reveal Him, declares his faith, saying, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." No uncertainty, no mere opinion is here, but the powerful effect of the revelation, made by the Father Himself, of the Person of Christ, to the disciple whom He had elected for this privilege.

Here the condition of the people displays itself in a remarkable manner, not, as in the preceding chapter, with respect to the law, but with respect to Christ, who had been presented to them. We see it in contrast with the revelation of His glory to those who followed Him. We have thus three classes: first, haughty unbelieving Pharisees; next, persons conscious and owning there was divine power and authority in Christ, but indifferent; lastly, the revelation of God and divinely given faith.

In the fifteenth chapter, grace towards one who had no hope but in it, is put in contrast with disobedience to and hypocritical perversion of the law, by which the scribes and Pharisees sought to cover their disobedience with the pretence of piety.

The sixteenth chapter, judging the unbelief of the Pharisees respecting the Person of Christ, and setting aside these perverse men, brings in the revelation of His Person as the foundation of the assembly, which was to take the place of the Jews as the witness for God in the earth; and announces the counsels of God with respect to its establishment. It shews us, in adjunction to this, the administration of the kingdom, as it was now being established on the earth.

Let us consider, first, the revelation of His Person.

Peter confesses Him to be the Christ, the fulfilment of the promises made by God, and of the prophecies that announced their realisation. He was the One who should come, the Messiah whom God had promised.

Moreover, He was the Son of God. The second Psalm had declared that, in spite of the schemings of the leaders of the people, and the haughty animosity of the kings of the earth, God's King should be anointed on the hill of Zion. He was the Son, begotten of God. The kings and judges of the earth [1] are called to submit themselves to Him, lest they should be smitten with the rod of His power, when He takes the heathen for His inheritance. Thus the true believer waited for the Son of God born in due time upon this earth. Peter confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. So had Nathanael also: "Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel." And, still later, Martha did the same.

Peter however, especially taught of the Father, adds to his confession a word simple, yet full of power: "Thou art the Son of the living God." Not only He who fulfils the promises, and answers to the prophecies; it is of the living God that He is the Son, of Him in whom is life and life-giving power.

He inherits that power of life in God which nothing can overcome or destroy. Who can vanquish the power of Him-of this Son-who came forth from "Him that liveth"? Satan has the power of death; it is he who holds man under the dominion of this dreadful consequence of sin; and that, by the just judgment of God which constitutes its power. The expression "The gates of hades," of the invisible world, refers to this kingdom of Satan. It is then on this power, which leaves the stronghold of the enemy without strength, that the assembly is built. The life of God shall not be destroyed. The Son of the living God shall not be overcome. That; then, which God founds upon this rock of the unchangeable power of life in His Son shall not be overthrown by the kingdom of death. If man has been overcome and has fallen under the power of this kingdom, God, the living God, will not be overcome by it. It is on this that Christ builds His assembly. It is the work of Christ based on Him as Son of the living God, not of the first Adam nor based on him-His work accomplished according to the power which this truth reveals. The Person of Jesus, the Son of the living God, is its strength. It is the resurrection that proved it. There He is declared to be the Son of God with power. Accordingly it is not during His life, but when raised from the dead, that He begins this work Life was in Himself; but it is after the Father had burst the gates of hades-nay, He Himself in His divine power had done so and was risen-that He begins to build by the Holy Ghost as ascended on high, that which the power of death or of him who wielded it-already overcome-can never destroy. It is His Person that is here contemplated, and it is on His Person that all is founded. The resurrection is the proof that He is the Son of the living God, and that the gates of hades can do nothing against Him; their power is destroyed by it. Hence we see how the assembly (though formed on earth) is much more than a dispensation, the kingdom is not.

The work of the cross was needed; but it is not the question here of that which the righteous judgment of God required, or of the justification of an individual, but of that which nullified the power of the enemy. It was the Person of Him whom Peter was given to acknowledge, who lived according to the power of the life of God. It was a peculiar and direct revelation from heaven by the Father. Doubtless Christ had given proofs enough of who He was; but proofs had proved nothing to man's heart. The Father's revelation was the way of knowing who He was, and this went far beyond the hopes of a Messiah.

Here, then, the Father had directly revealed the truth of Christ's own Person, a revelation which went beyond all question of relationship with the Jews. On this foundation Christ would build His assembly. Peter, already so named by the Lord, receives a confirmation of that title on this occasion. The Father had revealed to Simon, the son of Jonas, the mystery of the Person of Jesus; and secondly, Jesus also betokens, by the name He gives him, [2] the steadfastness, the firmness, the durability, the practical strength, of His servant favoured by grace. The right of bestowing a name belongs to a superior, who can assign to the one who bears it his place and his name, in the family or the situation he is in. This right, where real, supposes discernment, intelligence, in that which is going on. Adam names the animals. Nebuchadnezzar gives new names to the captive Jews; the king of Egypt to Eliakim, whom he had placed on the throne. Jesus therefore takes this place when He says, The Father hath revealed this unto thee; and I also give you a place and a name connected with this grace. It is on that which the Father hath revealed unto thee that I am going to build My assembly, [3] against which (founded on the life that comes from God) the gates of the kingdom of death shall never prevail; and I who build, and build on this immovable foundation-I give you the place of a stone (Peter) in connection with this living temple. Through the gift of God thou belongest already by nature to the building-a living stone, having the knowledge of that truth which is the foundation, and which makes of every stone a part of the edifice. Peter was pre-eminently such by this confession; he was so in anticipation by the election of God. This revelation was made by the Father in sovereignty. The Lord assigns him, withal, his place, as possessing the right of administration and authority in the kingdom He was going to establish.

Thus far with respect to the assembly, now mentioned for the first time, the Jews having been rejected because of their unbelief, and man a convicted sinner.

Another subject presents itself in connection with this of the assembly that the Lord was going to build; namely, the kingdom which was going to be established. It was to have the form of the kingdom of heaven; it was so in the counsels of God; but it was now to be set up in a peculiar manner, the King having been rejected on earth.

But, rejected as He was, the keys of the kingdom were in the Lord's hand; its authority belonged to Him. He would bestow them on Peter, who, when He was gone, should open its doors to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles. He should also exercise authority from the Lord within the kingdom; so that whatsoever he bound on earth in the name of Christ (the true King, although gone up to heaven) should be bound in heaven; and if he loosed anything on earth, his deed should be ratified in heaven. In a word, he had the power of command in the kingdom of God on earth, this kingdom having now the character of kingdom of heaven, because its King was in heaven [4] and heaven would stamp his acts with its authority. But it is heaven sanctioning his earthly acts, not his binding or loosing for heaven. The assembly connected with the character of Son of the living God and built by Christ, though formed on earth, belongs to heaven; the kingdom, though governed from heaven, belongs to earth-has its place and ministration there.

These four things then are declared by the Lord in this passage:-First, the revelation made by the Father to Simon; Second, the name given to this Simon by Jesus, who was going to build His assembly on the foundation revealed in that which the Father had made known to Simon; Third, the assembly built by Christ Himself, not yet complete, on the foundation of the Person of Jesus acknowledged as Son of the living God; Fourth, the keys of the kingdom that should be given to Peter, that is to say, authority in the kingdom as administering it on the part of Christ, ordering in it that which was His will, and which should be ratified in heaven. All this is connected with Simon personally, in virtue of the Father's election (who, in His wisdom, had chosen him to receive this revelation), and of Christ's authority (who had bestowed on him the name that distinguished him as personally enjoying this privilege).

The Lord having thus made known the purposes of God with regard to the future-purposes to be accomplished in the assembly and in the kingdom, there was no longer room for His presentation to the Jews as Messiah. Not that He gave up the testimony, full of grace and patience towards the people, which He had borne throughout His ministry. No; that indeed continued, but His disciples were to understand that it was no longer their work to proclaim Him to the people as the Christ From this time also He began to teach His disciples that He must suffer and be killed and be raised again.

But, blessed and honoured as Peter was by the revelation which the Father had made to him, his heart still clung in a carnal manner to the human glory of his Master (in truth, to his own), and was still far from rising to the height of the thoughts of God. Alas! he is not the only instance of this. To be convinced of the most exalted truths, and even to enjoy them sincerely as truths, is a different thing from having the heart formed to the sentiments, and to the walk here below, which are in accordance with those truths. It is not sincerity in the enjoyment of the truth that is wanting. What is wanting is to have the flesh, self, mortified-to be dead to the world. We may sincerely enjoy the truth as taught of God and yet not have the flesh mortified or the heart in a state which is according to that truth in what it involves down here. Peter (so lately honoured by the revelation of the glory of Jesus, and made in a very special manner the depositary of administration in the kingdom given to the Son-having a distinguished place in that which was to follow the Lord's rejection by the Jews) is now doing the adversary's work with respect to the perfect submission of Jesus to the suffering and ignominy that were to introduce this glory and characterise the kingdom. Alas! the case was plain; he savoured the things of men, and not the things of God. But the Lord, in faithfulness, rejects Peter in this matter, and teaches His disciples that the only path, the appointed and necessary path, is the cross; if any one would follow Him, that is the path He took. Moreover what would it profit a man to save his life and lose all-to gain the world and lose his soul? For this was the question, [5] and not now the outward glory of the kingdom.

Having examined this chapter, as the expression of the transition from the Messianic system to the establishment of the assembly founded on the revelation of the Person of Christ, I desire also to call attention to the characters of unbelief which are developed in it, both among the Jews and in the hearts of the disciples. It will be profitable to observe the forms of this unbelief.

First of all, it takes the grosser form of asking a sign from heaven. The Pharisees and Sadducees unite to shew their insensibility to all that the Lord had done. They require proof to their natural senses, that is, to their unbelief. They will not believe God, either in hearkening to His words or in beholding His works. God must satisfy their wilfulness, which would be neither faith nor the work of God. They had understanding for human things that were much less clearly manifested, but none for the things of God. A Saviour lost to them, as Jews on earth, should be the only sign granted them. They would have to submit, willing or not, to the judgment of the unbelief they displayed. The kingdom should be taken from them; the Lord leaves them. The sign of Jonah is connected with the subject of the whole chapter.

We next see this same inattention to the power manifested in the works of Jesus; but it is no longer the opposition of the unbelieving will; occupation of heart with present things withdraws such from the influence of the signs already given. This is weakness, not ill-will. Nevertheless they are guilty; but Jesus calls them "men of little faith," not "hypocrites," and "a wicked and adulterous generation."

We then see unbelief manifesting itself in the form of indolent opinion, which proves that the heart and conscience are not interested in a subject that ought to command them-a subject that if the heart would really face its true importance, it would have no rest until it had arrived at certainty with respect to it. The soul here has no sense of need; consequently there is no discernment. When the soul feels this need, there is but one thing that can meet it; there can be no rest till it is found. The revelation of God that created this need, does not leave the soul in peace until it is assured of possessing that which awakened it. Those who are not sensible of this need can rest in probabilities, each according to his natural character, his education, his circumstances. There is enough to awaken curiosity-the mind is occupied about it, and judges. Faith has wants, and, in principle intelligence as to the object which meets those wants; the soul is exercised till it finds that which it needs. The fact is that God is there.

This is Peter's case. The Father reveals His Son to him Though weak, living faith was found in him, we see the condition of his soul when he says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Happy the man to whom God reveals such truths as these, in whom He awakens these wants! There may be conflict, much to learn, much to mortify; but the counsel of God is there, and the life connected with it. We have seen its effect in the case of Peter. Every Christian has his own place in the temple of which Simon was so eminent a stone. Does it then follow that the heart is, practically, at the height of the revelation made to it? No; there may be, after all, the flesh not yet mortified on that side where the revelation touches our earthly position.

In fact the revelation made to Peter implied the rejection of Christ on earth-necessarily led to His humiliation and death. That was the point. To substitute the revelation of the Son of God, the assembly and the heavenly kingdom, for the manifestation of the Messiah on earth-what could it mean, except that Jesus was to be delivered up to the Gentiles to be crucified, and after that to rise again? But morally Peter had not attained to this. On the contrary, his carnal heart availed itself of the revelation made to him, and of that which Jesus had said to him, for self-exaltation. He saw, therefore, the personal glory without apprehending the practical moral consequences. He begins to rebuke the Lord Himself, and seeks to turn Him aside from the path of obedience and submission. The Lord, ever faithful, treats him as an adversary. Alas! how often have we enjoyed some truth, and that sincerely, and yet have failed in the practical consequences that it led to on earth! A heavenly glorified Saviour, who builds the assembly, implies the cross on earth. The flesh does not understand this. It will raise its Messiah to heaven, if you will; but to take its share of the humiliation that necessarily follows is not its idea of a glorified Messiah. The flesh must be mortified to take this place. We must have the strength of Christ by the Holy Ghost. A Christian who is not dead to the world is but a stumbling-stone to every one who seeks to follow Christ.

These are the forms of unbelief that precede a true confession of Christ, and that are found alas! in those who have sincerely confessed and known Him (the flesh not being so mortified that the soul can walk in the height of that which it has learnt of God, and the spiritual understanding being obscured by thinking of consequences which the flesh rejects).

But if the cross was the entrance into the kingdom, the revelation of the glory would not be delayed. The Messiah being rejected by the Jews, a title more glorious and of far deeper import is unfolded: the Son of man should come in the glory of the Father (for He was the Son of God), and reward every man according to his works. There were even some standing there who should not taste of death (for of this they were speaking) till they had seen the manifestation of the glory of the kingdom that belonged to the Son of man.

We may remark here the title of "Son of God" established as the foundation; that of Messiah given up so far as concerned the testimony rendered in that day, and replaced by that of "Son of man," which He takes at the same time as that of the Son of God, and which had a glory that belonged to Him in His own right. He was to come in the glory of His Father as Son of God, and in His own kingdom as Son of man.

It is interesting to remember here the instruction given us in the beginning of the Book of Psalms. The righteous man, distinguished from the congregation of the wicked, had been presented in the first Psalm. Then, in the second, we have the rebellion of the kings of the earth and the rulers against the Lord and against His Anointed (that is, His Christ). Now upon this the decree of Jehovah is declared. Adonai, the Lord, shall mock at them from heaven. Further, Jehovah's King shall be established on Mount Zion. This is the decree: "Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou art my Son: this day [6] have I begotten thee." The kings of the earth and the judges are commanded to kiss the Son.

Now in the Psalms that follow, all this glory is darkened. The distress of the remnant, in which Christ has a part, is related. Then, in Psalm 8, He is addressed as Son of man, Heir of all the rights conferred in sovereignty upon man by the counsels of God. The name of Jehovah becomes excellent in all the earth. These Psalms do not go beyond the earthly part of these truths, excepting where it is written, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them"; while in Matthew 16 the connection of the Son of God with this, His coming with His angels (to say nothing of the assembly), are set before us. That is to say, we see that the Son of man will come in the glory of heaven. Not that His dwelling there is the truth declared; but that He is invested with the highest glory of heaven when He comes to set up His kingdom on earth. He comes in His kingdom. The kingdom is established on the earth; but He comes to take it with the glory of heaven. This is displayed in the following chapter, according to the promise here in verse 28.

In each Gospel that speaks of it, the transfiguration immediately follows the promise of not tasting death before seeing the kingdom of the Son of man. And not only so, but Peter (in his second Epistle, 1:16), when speaking of this scene, declares that it was a manifestation of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He says that the word of prophecy was confirmed to them by the view of His majesty; so that they knew that whereof they spoke, in making known to them the power and the coming of Christ, having beheld His majesty. In fact it is precisely in this sense that the Lord speaks of it here, as we have seen. It was a sample of the glory in which He would hereafter come, given to confirm the faith of His disciples in the prospect of His death which He had just announced to them.


[1] The study of the Psalms will have made us understand that this is the connection with the establishment of the Jewish remnant in blessing in the last days.

[2] The passage (chap. 16:18) should be read, "And I also say unto thee."

[3] It is important here to distinguish the church which Christ builds, not yet finished, but which He Himself builds, and that which is, as a manifested whole in the world, built up in responsibility by man. In Ephesians 2:20, 21 and 1 Peter 2:4, 5, we have this divine building growing and built up. No mention of man's work is found in either passage; it is a divine one. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul is a wise master builder; others may build in wood, hay and stubble. The confusion of these has been the basis of Popery and other corruptions found in what is called the church. His church, looked at in its reality, is a divine work which Christ accomplishes and which abides.

[4] Remark here what I have spoken of elsewhere-there are no keys of or to the church or assembly. Peter had the keys of administration in the kingdom. But the idea of keys in connection with the church, or the power of the keys in the church, is a pure fallacy. There are none such at all. The church is built; men do not build with keys, and it is Christ (not Peter) who builds it. Further, the acts thus sanctioned were acts of administration down here. Heaven puts its sanction on them, but they did not relate to heaven, but to earthly administration of the kingdom. Further, it is to be remarked that what is conferred here is individual and personal. It was a name and authority conferred on Simon, son of Jonas. Some further remarks here may help us to understand more fully the bearing of these chapters. In the parable of the sower (chap. 13) the Person of the Lord is not brought forward, only that it is sowing, not reaping. In the first similitude of the kingdom He is Son of man, and the field is the world. He is quite out of Judaism. In chapter 14 we have the state of things from John's rejection, to the time the Lord is owned on His return where He had been rejected. In chapter 15 is the moral controversy, and God in grace in Himself as above evil. On this I dwell no further. But in chapter 16 we have the Person of the Son of God, the living God, and hereon the assembly, and Christ the builder; in chapter 17 the kingdom with the Son of man coming in glory. The keys (however heaven sanctioned Simon's use of them) were, as we have seen, of the kingdom of heaven (not of the assembly); and that, the parable of the tares shews, was to be corrupted and spoiled, and this irremediably. Christ builds the church, not Peter. Compare 1 Peter 2:4, 5.

[5] In the Epistle of Peter we continually find these same thoughts-the words, "living hope," "living stone"-applied to Christ, and afterwards to Christians. And again, in accordance with our present subject, salvation through life in Christ, the Son of the living God, we find "receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of [our] souls." We may read all the verses by which the apostle introduces his instructions.

[6] We have seen that Peter went beyond this. Christ is here seen as the Son born on the earth in time, not as the Son from eternity in the bosom of the Father. Peter, without the full revelation of this last truth, sees Him to be the Son according to the power of divine life in His own Person, upon which the assembly consequently could be built. But here we are to consider that which belongs to the kingdom.}

── John DarbySynopsis of Matthew


Matthew 16

Chapter Contents

The Pharisees and Sadducees ask a sign. (1-4) Jesus cautions against the doctrine of the Pharisees. (5-12) Peter's testimony that Jesus was the Christ. (13-20) Christ foretells his sufferings, and rebukes Peter. (21-23) The necessity of self-denial. (24-28)

Commentary on Matthew 16:1-4

(Read Matthew 16:1-4)

The Pharisees and Sadducees were opposed to each other in principles and in conduct; yet they joined against Christ. But they desired a sign of their own choosing: they despised those signs which relieved the necessity of the sick and sorrowful, and called for something else which would gratify the curiosity of the proud. It is great hypocrisy, when we slight the signs of God's ordaining, to seek for signs of our own devising.

Commentary on Matthew 16:5-12

(Read Matthew 16:5-12)

Christ speaks of spiritual things under a similitude, and the disciples misunderstand him of carnal things. He took it ill that they should think him as thoughtful about bread as they were; that they should be so little acquainted with his way of preaching. Then understood they what he meant. Christ teaches by the Spirit of wisdom in the heart, opening the understanding to the Spirit of revelation in the word.

Commentary on Matthew 16:13-20

(Read Matthew 16:13-20)

Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they were assured of our Lord's being the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more than man. Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching of God made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christ added that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stability or firmness in professing the truth. The word translated "rock," is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning. Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rock as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord next declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. He spoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them as well as to him. They had no certain knowledge of the characters of men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their own conduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way of acceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer's character and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers and hypocrites. In such matters their decision was right, and it was confirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either to absolve or retain men's sins, are blasphemous and absurd. None can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful.

Commentary on Matthew 16:21-23

(Read Matthew 16:21-23)

Christ reveals his mind to his people gradually. From that time, when the apostles had made the full confession of Christ, that he was the Son of God, he began to show them of his sufferings. He spake this to set right the mistakes of his disciples about the outward pomp and power of his kingdom. Those that follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in this world. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as he did; but we mistake, if we measure Christ's love and patience by our own. We do not read of any thing said or done by any of his disciples, at any time, that Christ resented so much as this. Whoever takes us from that which is good, and would make us fear to do too much for God, speaks Satan's language. Whatever appears to be a temptation to sin, must be resisted with abhorrence, and not be parleyed with. Those that decline suffering for Christ, savour more of the things of man than of the things of God.

Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28

(Read Matthew 16:24-28)

A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in the same way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads in his steps, whithersoever he goes. "Let him deny himself." If self-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Master learned and practised, to redeem us, and to teach us. "Let him take up his cross." The cross is here put for every trouble that befalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another's cross better than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, and we ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness and folly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them up when they are in our way. If any man will have the name and credit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and duty of a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when compared with the life of the body, how forcible the same argument with respect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness or misery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain, or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth and negligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ, that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soul is worth more than all the world. This is Christ's judgment upon the matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them; nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dying transgressor cannot purchase one hour's respite to seek mercy for his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value our souls, and Christ as the only Saviour of them.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Matthew


Matthew 16

Verse 2

[2] He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

Luke 12:54.

Verse 3

[3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

The signs of the times — The signs which evidently show, that this is the time of the Messiah.

Verse 4

[4] A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

A wicked and adulterous generation — Ye would seek no farther sign, did not your wickedness, your love of the world, which is spiritual adultery, blind your understanding.

Verse 5

[5] And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

Mark 8:14.

Verse 6

[6] Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees — That is, of their false doctrine: this is elegantly so called; for it spreads in the soul, or the Church, as leaven does in meal. Luke 12:1.

Verse 7

[7] And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

They reasoned among themselves — What must we do then for bread, since we have taken no bread with us?

Verse 8

[8] Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

Why reason ye — Why are you troubled about this? Am I not able, if need so require, to supply you by a word?

Verse 11

[11] How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

How do ye not understand — Beside, do you not understand, that I did not mean bread, by the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?

Verse 13

[13] When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

And Jesus coming — There was a large interval of time between what has been related, and what follows. The passages that follow were but a short time before our Lord suffered. Mark 8:27; Luke 9:18.

Verse 14

[14] And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

Jeremiah, 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.

Verse 16

[16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Peter — Who was generally the most forward to speak.

Verse 17

[17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Flesh and blood — That is, thy own reason, or any natural power whatsoever.

Verse 18

[18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

On this rock — Alluding to his name, which signifies a rock, namely, the faith which thou hast now professed; I will build my Church - But perhaps when our Lord uttered these words, he pointed to himself, in like manner as when he said, Destroy this temple, John 2:19; meaning the temple of his body. And it is certain, that as he is spoken of in Scripture, as the only foundation of the Church, so this is that which the apostles and evangelists laid in their preaching. It is in respect of laying this, that the names of the twelve apostles (not of St. Peter only) were equally inscribed on the twelve foundations of the city of God, Revelation 21:14.

The gates of hell — As gates and walls were the strength of cities, and as courts of judicature were held in their gates, this phrase properly signifies the power and policy of Satan and his instruments.

Shall not prevail against it — Not against the Church universal, so as to destroy it. And they never did. There hath been a small remnant in all ages.

Verse 19

[19] And 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.

I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven — Indeed not to him alone, (for they were equally given to all the apostles at the same time, John 20:21,22,23;) but to him were first given the keys both of doctrine and discipline. He first, after our Lord's resurrection, exercised the apostleship, Acts 1:15. And he first by preaching opened the kingdom of heaven, both to the Jews, Acts 2:14 etc., and to the Gentiles, Acts 10:34 etc. Under the term of binding and loosing are contained all those acts of discipline which Peter and his brethren performed as apostles: and undoubtedly what they thus performed on earth, God confirmed in heaven. Matthew 18:18.

Verse 20

[20] Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

Then charged he his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ — Jesus himself had not said it expressly even to his apostles, but left them tb infer it from his doctrine and miracles. Neither was it proper the apostles should say this openly, before that grand proof of it, his resurrection. If they had, they who believed them would the more earnestly have sought to take and make him a king: and they who did not believe them would the snore vehemently have rejected and opposed such a Messiah.

Verse 21

[21] From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

From that time Jesus began to tell his disciples, that he must suffer many things — Perhaps this expression, began, always implied his entering on a set and solemn discourse. Hitherto he had mainly taught them only one point, That he was the Christ. From this time he taught them another, That Christ must through sufferings and death enter into his glory.

From the elders — The most honourable and experienced men; the chief priests - Accounted the most religious; and the scribes - The most learned body of men in the nation. Would not one have expected, that these should have been the very first to receive him? But not many wise, not many noble were called.

Favour thyself — The advice of the world, the flesh, and the devil, to every one of our Lord's followers. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22.

Verse 23

[23] But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Get thee behind me — Out of my sight. It is not improbable, Peter might step before him, to stop him.

Satan — Our Lord is not recorded to have given so sharp a reproof to any other of his apostles on any occasion. He saw it was needful for the pride of Peter's heart, puffed up with the commendation lately given him. Perhaps the term Satan may not barely mean, Thou art my enemy, while thou fanciest thyself most my friend; but also, Thou art acting the very part of Satan, both by endeavouring to hinder the redemption of mankind, and by giving me the most deadly advice that can ever spring from the pit of hell.

Thou savourest not — Dost not relish or desire. We may learn from hence, 1. That whosoever says to us in such a case, Favour thyself, is acting the part of the devil: 2. That the proper answer to such an adviser is, Get thee behind me: 3. That otherwise he will be an offence to us, an occasion of our stumbling, if not falling: 4. That this advice always proceeds from the not relishing the things of God, but the things of men. Yea, so far is this advice, favour thyself, from being fit for a Christian either to give or take, that if any man will come after Christ, his very first step is to deny, or renounce himself: in the room of his own will, to substitute the will of God, as his one principle of action.

Verse 24

[24] Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

If any man be willing to come after me — None is forced; but if any will be a Christian, it must be on these terms, Let him deny himself, and take up his cross - A rule that can never be too much observed: let him in all things deny his own will, however pleasing, and do the will of God, however painful. Should we not consider all crosses, all things grievous to flesh and blood, as what they really are, as opportunities of embracing God's will at the expense of our own? And consequently as so many steps by which we may advance toward perfection? We should make a swift progress in the spiritual life, if we were faithful in this practice. Crosses are so frequent, that whoever makes advantage of them, will soon be a great gainer. Great crosses are occasions of great improvement: and the little ones, which come daily, and even hourly, make up in number what they want in weight. We may in these daily and hourly crosses make effectual oblations of our will to God; which oblations, so frequently repeated, will soon amount to a great sum. Let us remember then (what can never be sufficiently inculcated) that God is the author of all events: that none is so small or inconsiderable, as to escape his notice and direction. Every event therefore declares to us the will of God, to which thus declared we should heartily submit. We should renounce our own to embrace it; we should approve and choose what his choice warrants as best for us. Herein should we exercise ourselves continually; this should be our practice all the day long. We should in humility accept the little crosses that are dispensed to us, as those that best suit our weakness. Let us bear these little things, at least for God's sake, and prefer his will to our own in matters of so small importance. And his goodness will accept these mean oblations; for he despiseth not the day of small things. Matthew 10:38.

Verse 25

[25] For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Whosoever will save his life — At the expense of his conscience: whosoever, in the very highest instance, that of life itself, will not renounce himself, shall be lost eternally. But can any man hope he should be able thus to renounce himself, if he cannot do it in the smallest instances? And whosoever will lose his life shall find it - What he loses on earth he shall find in heaven. Matthew 10:39; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25.

Verse 27

[27] For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

For the Son of man shall come — For there is no way to escape the righteous judgment of God.

Verse 28

[28] Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

And as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live to see tho Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom, with great power and glory, by the increase of his Church, and the destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Matthew


Chapter 16. Who Is the Son of Man

Gain the Whole World
Lose the Soul

I. Signs of the Times

  1. The Pharisees
  2. The Sadducees
  3. The Sign of Jonah

II. Confess Jesus Is the Christ

  1. Two Points of View
  2. Two Rocks
  3. Two Authorities

III. The Way of the Cross

  1. Hindrance from Satan
  2. Hindrance from Men
  3. Hindrance from Self
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Beware Of Leaven (16:5-12)
1. In the course of His public ministry, Jesus was often challenged by
   the Pharisees, along with the Sadducees...
   a. They questioned why He ate with sinners - Mt 9:11
   b. They accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath - Mt 12:1-2
   c. They accused His disciples of violating the traditions of the
      elders - Mt 15:1-2
   d. They sought to test Him by asking for a sign - Mt 16:1
2. Jesus therefore warned His disciples concerning these religious
   a. They were "blind leaders of the blind" - Mt 15:12-14
   b. The disciples were to beware of their doctrine - Mt 16:5-12
3. Jesus described their doctrine as "leaven" (yeast)...
   a. Used in the making of bread, leaven gradually spreads through
      the dough, making it rise
   b. Jesus used the figure of leaven to describe the spread of His
      kingdom - Mt 13:33
   c. But in Mt 16:6, He uses it to depict the pernicious doctrines of
      the Pharisees and Sadducees - Mt 16:11-12
[What were the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus
warned about?  Are there modern Pharisees and Sadducees that we should
beware of today?  To answer these questions, let's begin by taking a
look at...]
      1. A religious and political group noted for its conservatism
         a. They were strict observers of the Law of Moses
         b. They also adopted "the traditions of the elders", 
            interpretations of the Law that had been handed down 
            - cf. Mk 7:1-5
      2. Jesus described them as "blind leaders of the blind" - Mt 15:
         a. They made the commandments of God of no effect by their
            traditions - Mt 15:3-6
         b. They were hypocrites, teaching one thing and practicing
            another - Mt 15:7-8; 16:3; 23:1-4, 27-28; cf. Lk 12:1
         c. They did their works to be seen of men - Mt 23:5
         d. They loved the attention and special treatment by others 
            - Mt 23:6-7
         d. They wore religious titles - Mt 23:8-10
         e. They prevented others from finding the way to the kingdom
            of heaven - Mt 23:13
         f. They used their religion to make money and impress others
            - Mt 23:14
         g. They didn't make people better, they made them worse! - Mt
         h. They made distinctions where God did not - Mt 23:16-22
         i. Though sticklers for some commandments, they ignored others
            - Mt 23:23-24
         j. They honored men of God who went before them, but were more
            like those who persecuted the people of God - Mt 23:29-31
      1. Many people accuse those who stress the keeping of God's 
         commands as legalists, and therefore "Pharisees" today - but 
         a. The words legalism, legalist, are not found in the 
            Scriptures - they are labels often used to defame those who
            seek to encourage the keeping of God's commands
         b. Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for strict adherence to
            the Law itself
            1) Only for making the commands of God of no effect by 
               their traditions!
            2) Only for leaving some commands of God undone while doing
         c. If calling for strict observance of God's commandments 
            makes one a legalist, then Jesus was a legalist!
            1) While the Law was in force, He expected it to be taught
               and observed down to its smallest detail - Mt 5:17-19
            2) He expected His disciples to surpass the Pharisees in
               their righteousness - Mt 5:20
            3) He called for His disciples to express their love for
               Him by keeping His commandments - Jn 14:15,21,23
            4) He promised His love and friendship to those who would
               keep His commandments - Jn 15:10,14
            5) He expected disciples from all nations to observe 
               whatever He commanded His apostles - Mt 28:19-20
         d. If calling for strict observance of God's commandments
            makes one a legalist, then the apostles were legalists!
            1) Paul stressed the keeping of commandments - 1 Co 7:19;
               1 Th 4:1-2
            2) John stressed the keeping of commandments - 1 Jn 2:3-5;
               3:22-24; 5:2-3
      2. The true Pharisees today are those who:
         a. Teach and practice traditions of men, instead of the 
            commands of God
         b. Teach one thing, while practicing another
         c. Do things to be seen of men, wearing special garments and
            asking to be called by religious titles
         d. Do not truly show people the way to the kingdom of heaven
         e. Use religion to make money and impress others
         f. Make distinctions where God has made none
         g. Stress some commands, but neglect others as unnecessary
[Such are the Pharisees of today, who often condemn others as
"legalists" (as a way to deflect the charge that their lives and 
teachings are contrary to the commandments of our Lord).
Now let's take a look at...]
      1. A religious and political group noted for its liberalism
         a. Included many powerful members of the priesthood - Ac 5:17
         b. They insisted only the laws found in the Pentateuch (first
            five books of the OT) were binding
         c. They rejected "the traditions of the elders", 
            interpretations of the Law that had been handed down
         d. They did not believe in the resurrection, spirits, angels 
            - Ac 23:8; Mt 22:23
         e. They did not believe in rewards or punishment after death,
            nor in heaven or hell
      2. Jesus charged them with two faults - Mt 22:23-29
         a. They did not know the Scriptures
            1) Even those scriptures they held to be true!
            2) For Jesus used a statement in the Pentateuch to show
               their error - Mt 22:31-32; Exo 3:6
         b. They did not know the power of God
            1) Like many liberals, they were influenced by rationalism
            2) They assumed that if they could not conceive or 
               comprehend something, it could not be
            3) They failed to believe what Gabriel and Jesus both knew:
               that with God, nothing is impossible! - Lk 1:37; 
               Mt 19:26
      1. Those who take some portions of God's word, but reject the 
         rest; such as:
         a. Those who heed only the "red-letter" words of Jesus
         b. Those who will accept the words of Jesus, but not His 
         c. Those who accept the words of His apostles, but hold that
            all of Jesus' teachings in the gospels are Old Covenant 
         -- The apostles' words are just as authoritative (Jn 13:10;
            Ac 2:42; 1 Co 14:37), and so were the words of Jesus 
            spoken during His earthly ministry (Mt 28:20; Ac 20:35;
            1 Ti 5:18b; Lk 10:7)
      2. Those who accept human reason over divine revelation
         a. Many will not accept a Biblical doctrine unless it "makes 
            sense" to them
         b. A dangerous position to hold, since God has chosen to 
            confound the wise and arrogant with the foolishness of the
            gospel message - cf. 1 Co 1:18-31
         c. Some doctrines revealed may contain elements beyond man's
            ability to fully comprehend (such as the mystery of 
            godliness:  God manifested in the flesh - 1 Ti 3:16; or the
            nature of the Godhead itself)
         -- A child-like trust is more becoming of a Christian - cf. 
            Mt 18:3; Psa 131:1-3
      3. Those who rule out the power of God
         a. Who reject any doctrine, any promise, of the Scriptures if
            conceived as not being physically possible
         b. Such as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, the
            miracles of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead
         -- Once we accept the premise that with God all things are
            possible, we cannot reject Biblical testimony or doctrine
            just because it does not fit our preconceived ideas of what
            is possible
1. Is there a need to "Beware Of Leaven" today?
   a. Are there modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees?
   b. Are there doctrines that can permeate and spread through the 
      Lord's church like leaven?
2. The answer to such questions is a resounding "Yes!"
   a. Such doctrines abound in the denominational world around us
   b. Much error that makes its way into the church usually falls into
      one of two categories:
      1) Traditions of men proclaimed as doctrines (like the Pharisees)
      2) Doctrines of the Bible rejected as impossible (like the
And so the warning by Jesus is just as great today:
 "...beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Mt 16:11)


I Will Build My Church (16:13-20)
1. In Mt 16:13-17, Jesus questioned His disciples concerning His
   a. He asked who others thought He was
   b. He then asked who they thought He was
   c. Peter responded: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
   d. Jesus commended Peter, stating that his confession of faith was
      based upon what the Father Himself had revealed - Mt 16:17
2. Jesus then used this opportunity to speak of His church - Mt 16:
   a. He promised to build His church
   b. He mentioned the foundation upon which it would be built
   c. He described the ultimate victory of His church
   d. He spoke of great authority that would be given
3. This passage naturally raises several questions...
   a. What is this "church" Jesus promised to build?
   b. What is the "foundation" upon which it would be built?
   c. How would "the gates of Hades" not prevail against it?
   d. What "authority" was given by Jesus, and to whom?
[Anyone who believes in Jesus should have a vital interest in the
answers to these questions.  So let's begin by noting first of all...]
      1. The Greek word is ekklesia, meaning "an assembly, a
      2. It is used in the Bible most often in two senses:
         a. The church "universal" - the whole assembly of people who
            are saved, both living and dead
         b. The church "local" - a company of saved people in a
            geographical area who work and worship together as a local
      3. In our text, Jesus is using the word "church" in its universal
      1. It is called "the body of Christ" - Ep 1:22-23
      2. It is called "the household of God" - 1 Ti 3:15
      3. It is called "the temple of God" - Ep 2:19-22; 1 Pe 2:5
      4. It is called "the kingdom of Christ" - Co 1:13; cf. Re 1:9
      5. It is called "the bride of Christ" - 2 Co 11:2; cf. Re 19:
         6-9; 21:2
      -- Each of these expressions emphasize some blessing or 
         responsibility we have as those who have been called out of
         the world into this spiritual assembly of God's people
      1. It is evident that the church was not established at the time
         Jesus spoke...
         a. He said "I WILL build My church..." - Mt 16:18
         b. He told His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the
            Christ (a fact certainly related to the establishment of 
            His church!) - Mt 16:20
      2. The church is mentioned after Jesus' resurrection...
         a. The Lord was adding people to the church - Ac 2:47
         b. From that time forward, the church is spoken of as being in
      3. It is fair to conclude that the church began on the day of
         a. When the Spirit was poured out on the apostles - Ac 2:1-21
         b. When Peter preached the first gospel sermon - Ac 2:22-40
         c. When thousands were saved, and the Lord added them to His
            church - Ac 2:41,47
      1. The church "universal" is a spiritual body of people
         a. Known only by the Lord Himself - cf. Ac 2:47; 2 Ti 2:19;
            Jn 10:14
         b. There is no earthly organization, headquarters, etc., for
            the church universal
         c. Any attempt to organize and activate the church "universal"
            results only in denominationalism
      2. The church "local" is the only visible sign of the church
         a. Local churches are made up of Christians in geographical
            areas who work and worship together as a unit - cf. Ac 8:1;
            13:1; 14:21-23,27
         b. With their frequent assembling, it is easy to identify a
            local church - cf. 1 Co 1:2; 11:17-18; 14:23
[The church Jesus built, then, is that great gathering of people who
respond to the gospel in faith and obedience (cf. Ac 2:41).  Wherever
faithful disciples of Christ assemble to work and worship as a local
congregation, a church of Christ is found (cf. Ro 16:16).  As we return
to our text, we next consider...]
      1. As foretold by Isaiah - Isa 28:16
      2. As proclaimed by Peter - Ac 4:11-12; 1 Pe 2:6-8
      3. As taught by Paul - 1 Co 3:11; Ep 2:20
      1. Some believe the "rock" is Peter, as the first pope
         a. This is the claim of the Roman catholic church
         b. This idea was first raised only after various bishops began
            claiming universal authority over the church, hundreds of
            years after the church began
         c. Even if Peter is the "rock" in this passage, there is no
            Biblical basis for the idea that the church was built upon
            Peter alone
      2. Some think the "rock" may be Peter, but with scriptural 
         a. I.e., the church would be built upon Peter, but not solely
            upon him
            1) Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the primary foundation
               - cf. Ep 2:20; 1 Pe 2:6
            2) But one may also speak of the church built upon the
               apostles (including Peter) as the church's foundation,
               in a secondary sense - cf. Ep 2:20; Re 21:14
         b. That Jesus may be referring to what we learn later to be
            true, that upon Peter (along with the other apostles and
            Christ Himself) Jesus would build His church
      3. Jesus might be referring to the principle of divine revelation
         working through His apostles, like Peter...
         a. Jesus had just praised Peter for his confession, which was
            the result of divine revelation - Mt 16:16-17
         b. Jesus went on to say how Peter would possess the keys of
            the kingdom and the power of binding and loosing, all 
            related to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the
            apostles - cf. Mt 16:19; Jn 16:12-13; 20:22-23
         -- If so, then Jesus is making the point that His church,
            while established through the work of men like Peter and
            the apostles, would be built on a solid foundation since
            they would be led by divine revelation
      4. A strong possibility is that the "rock" is the confession
         Peter just made...
         a. I.e., the truth of the confession:  "You are the Christ,
            the Son of the Living God"
         b. Just as Simon had been called "a rock" (Gr., petros), so
            the church would be established on a solid "rock" (Gr.,
            petra) or fact:  that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the
            Living God"!
[Whatever the "rock" in Mt 16:18, the church is built upon the strong
foundation of Christ Himself and His apostles (Ep 2:20). At this point,
let's skip ahead to what we learn about...]
      1. To Peter was promised "the keys of the kingdom" - Mt 16:19
         a. The figure of "keys" suggest the ability to allow entrance
            into the kingdom
         b. Peter exercised this ability through preaching the gospel,
            as he did on the day of Pentecost - Ac 2:17-41
      2. To the apostles was promised the power "to bind" and "to 
         a. To Peter in this passage - Mt 16:19
         b. To the rest of the disciples was promised similar power 
            - Mt 18:18
         -- Of course, presumed in all this would be the guidance of
            the Spirit, promised to lead the apostles into all the
            truth - Jn 16:12-13
      1. They "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." 
         - Ac 2:42
      2. Christians were commended for their acceptance of the 
         apostles' doctrine - 1 Co 11:2; 1 Th 2:13
      3. They were exhorted to receive the apostles' teaching - 1 Co
         14:37; 2 Th 2:15
[The Lord's church today, then, is wherever there are souls who have
been saved and who continue to abide in the apostles' doctrine.  For
those who remain faithful to the Lord and His apostles, they can look
forward to...]
      1. The phrase "gates of Hades" has been variously interpreted as:
         a. The powers of death (i.e., death itself)
         b. The forces of hell (whatever forces Satan might bring to
      2. In either case, the "gates of Hades" have not prevailed!
         a. Death did not prevent Jesus from building His church
         b. The forces of Satan have not succeeded in destroying His
      1. By putting on the armor of God - Ep 6:10-13
      2. By steadfastly resisting our adversary, the devil - 1 Pe 5:
      3. Nothing, not even death itself, can prevent us from being
         "more than conquerors" - Ro 8:35-39
      4. The glory of this ultimate victory is beautifully portrayed in
         the visions of the Revelation - e.g., Re 7:9-17
1. Do we desire to participate in this glorious victory of Jesus'
   a. Then we must first be saved - Ac 2:38-41,47
   b. We must also abide steadfastly in Jesus' doctrine, which is also
      the apostles' doctrine - Jn 8:31; Ac 2:42; 1 Th 2:13; 2 Th 2:
   c. We must remain faithful until death - Re 2:10
2. Through God's grace and our faithful obedience, we can be privileged
   to be a part of that church...
   a. Which Jesus built as promised
   b. Which shall withstand whatever "the gates of Hades" might throw
      against it
Don't you want to be a part of the church of Christ?  May the words of
Jesus in Mt 16:18-19 encourage us to be satisfied with nothing less!


The Value Of A Soul (16:26)
1. In a chapel in southern France, the great emperor Charlemagne is
   buried in an unusual way...
   a. He is seated on a marble chair and wrapped in his emperor's robes
   b. In his lap is a copy of the NT, and his finger is pointing to a
      verse which reads:
   "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and
   loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his
   soul?" - Mt 16:26
2. In these words of Jesus we are reminded of the value of the soul...
   a. It is the most valuable possession one has
   b. All the wealth and power one might gain is not worth the price of
      one's soul!
   -- Which may be the point of Charlemagne's unusual burial
3. It is a lesson we do well to remember, and so in this study we shall
   examine three questions...
   a. Does the Bible teach that man has a soul?
   b. Why is one's soul so valuable?
   c. What will one give in exchange for his or her soul?
[Because of error taught by some, it is important to provide a Bible
answer to the first question...]
      1. Such as members of the Watchtower Society (i.e., "Jehovah's
      2. Who say man "is" a soul, not "has" a soul
      3. The controversy revolves around the multi-faceted use of the
         words for "soul"
         a. The Hebrew is "nephesh", and at times it may refer to:
            1) Animal life - Gen 1:20-21 ("living")
            2) The person - Num 31:19 ("killed any person")
            3) The body - Num 6:6 ("a dead body")
            4) Something distinguished from the body - Isa 10:18 ("soul
               and body")
            5) Breath - Job 41:21 (referring to Leviathan)
         b. The Greek word is "psuche", and at times it may refer to:
            1) The person - 1 Pe 3:20 ("eight souls saved by water")
            2) Life itself - Jn 13:38 ("lay down your life")
            3) Something distinguished from the spirit - He 4:12 ("soul
               and spirit")
            4) Something distinguished from the body - 1 Th 5:23
               ("spirit and soul and body")
            5) That which exists after the body is dissolved - Mt 10:28
               ("kill the body but not the soul")
         -- Those who deny that man "has" a soul fail to consider that
            words may have many different meanings and applications
      1. In the teaching of Jesus
         a. Man is both body and soul, and the soul can survive murder
            by a fellow man - cf. Mt 10:28
         b. The story of Lazarus and the rich man - cf. Lk 16:22-23
            1) Some say this is only a parable
            2) Even if it is (which is highly unlikely), parables were
               "true to life" stories, not fantasy!
         c. His promise to the thief on the cross - Lk 23:42-43
      2. In the teaching of Paul
         a. There is "the inner man" that can renewed, even while "the
            outer man" decays - 2 Co 4:16-18
         b. One can be with the Lord, while absent from the body - 2 Co
         c. There is a part of man that can be "out of the body" - 2 Co
         d. One can be dead, yet still be with Christ - Ph 1:23
         e. Reference is made to the "spirits of just men" - He 12:
      3. The teaching of Peter
         a. He wrote of those who are "dead, but live in the spirit"
            - 1 Pe 4:6
         b. He described the body as a tabernacle to be put off...if
            the body is a tabernacle (dwelling place), what dwells in
            it? - 2 Pe 1:13-14
         c. The unjust are under punishment, just like some angels 
            - 2 Pe 2:4,9-10
      4. John, in the Revelation given to him, saw "souls of those 
         slain", and they were capable of crying out with loud voices,
         and being comforted - Re 6:9-11
      -- There is also much material in the OT
[So while one may say in the right context that man "is" a soul, we
must also be willing to say that the Bible teaches man "has" a soul.
Now let's consider the next question...]
      1. Man was created in the image of God - Gen 1:26-27
         a. Yet God does not have a physical body like ours - Jn 4:24;
            Lk 24:39
         b. Therefore it must be our soul, or spirit, that is in God's
      2. This is what enable us to comprehend abstract concepts as:
         a. Life, death, eternity
         b. Things of beauty
         c. A moral sense of ought, right and wrong, good and evil
         -- Making us more than just animal creatures - cf. Psa 8:3-8
      1. The body is mostly the result of genetics
         a. We might be able to change a little through exercise, 
            plastic surgery, etc.
         b. But we cannot stop the eventual aging and dying process
      2. The soul, however, is different...
         a. Despite one's genetics, there is much that can be changed
         b. By cooperating with God, we can change attitudes,
            dispositions, character - Ro 12:1-2; Ga 5:21-22; Co 3:12-15
      1. The body dies, and soon returns back to the dust
         a. The soul, or spirit, returns back to God - Ecc 12:7
         b. Awaiting the resurrection of the body - cf. 1 Co 15:35-58
      2. After which comes the Judgment - He 9:27; 2 Co 5:10
         a. The soul, in its resurrected body, will bear the brunt of
            that Judgment
         b. Either eternal life, honor, glory, and immortality - Ro 2:7
         c. Or indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish - Ro 2:8-9
      -- Which is why we need to evaluate all things (possessions,
         decisions, actions) from an eternal perspective, from the 
         soul's viewpoint - Mt 10:28; 16:26
      1. What price was required to redeem our souls from the wrath of
         God's judgment?
      2. Nothing less than the blood of the Son of God! - 1 Pe 1:18-19
      -- Even if we cannot fully comprehend why Jesus had to die, we
         should able to see that the souls of men must be extremely
         valuable if His death was necessary
[So the Bible teaches that the soul is more valuable than the whole
world!  And yet, many people "sell their souls" for what surely are
petty bargains...]
      1. The word "exchange" pictures a business transaction in which
         one is bartering for something else
      2. "Barter" means "to trade or exchange one commodity for 
      -- Thus it means to trade your soul for something else
      1. For some people, it is earthly riches and fame
         a. In their quest for riches, they neglect their service to
            God - 1 Ti 6:10
         b. Yet they have traded their souls for that which is 
            corruptible and can be stolen - Mt 6:19-21
      2. For others, it is the "passing pleasures of sin"
         a. Like the young man tempted by the harlot - Pro 5:1-14
            1) In a moment's passion, lives are destroyed (AIDS,
               unwanted pregnancies)
            2) Marriages and families are ruined
         b. Young people like Joseph, Moses, and Daniel should inspire
            us to make the right choices - cf. Gen 39:7-9; He 11:24-25;
            Dan 1:8
      3. Then others allow their souls to be sold for some convenient
         false doctrine
         a. Of which we need to beware - Co 2:8,18
         b. For the devil is a master at this - 2 Co 11:13-15
         c. Through our own lack of Bible study, we can loose the most
            valuable thing we have! - cf. Hos 4:6
      4. Finally, many will trade their souls through simple laziness!
         a. They will not use the opportunities the Lord has given them
            - cf. Mt 25:24-30
         b. They fail to apply the diligence necessary to grow 
            spiritually - cf. 2 Pe 1:5-11
1. How valuable is your soul...?
   a. Think of what the rich man in Hades would tell you - cf. Lk 16:
   b. Think of what the souls of the redeemed would say to you - cf. 
      Re 7:13-17
   c. Think of what God has done to save your soul! - Jn 3:16
2. It matters not what else you do in this life, if you do not save
   your own soul, you have been a complete failure...
   a. You might gather about you great riches and fame, and leave
      thousands of friends to mourn your departing, but if you have not
      saved your soul, you have been a miserable failure!
   b. On the other hand, you may die in a charity home for the poor,
      and be buried in a potter's field without a single friend to
      mourn, but if you saved your soul, your life was a marvelous 
3. You can't afford to loose your soul, for if you loose it, you loose
   a. To the faithful will be given the place of eternal rest
      1) There will be no pain, sickness, or death there
      2) It is the inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that
         fades not away
      3) It is that city built by the living God
   b. On the other hand, there is the place of eternal punishment
      1) It is where the wicked will be tormented day and night forever
      2) It is where you will bemoan your great foolishness for having
         sold your soul for such petty things!
4. Dear friends and brethren, you don't have to loose your soul...
   a. Humbly submit yourself to the will of God
   b. Let His Word guide you, and let no man beguile you of your reward
   c. Overcome temptations, and suffer for His cause with rejoicing
   -- If you do these things, you will save your soul, and heaven will
      be yours, because God who cannot lie, has promised it!
Note:  The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by David Riggs.  The URL for his web site of sermons is:


--《Executable Outlines