CHAPTER 16:1-28 TEXT:
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 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. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 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. And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 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? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 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 they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 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. 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. 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. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 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. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 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. 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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 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. 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.
3 ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
History reveals that there was a great deal of "Messianic fervor" among the Jews at this time in history. The Dead Sea Scrolls texts show this began at least 100 years before Yeshua's time. This "Messianic period" lasted until about the time of the second war with Rome, around 132 AD. The determination that this was a time that Messiah would appear was arrived at, through a proper study of the Tenakh.
Between the "timing," His teachings and the specific miracles He performed (always giving glory to God), Yeshua says there was enough evidence for the Pharisees and Saducess to see what was going on and who He was. Although this is true, this "evidence" is not easily seen when reading the Bible in a modern day, non-Jewish, out-of-context way. Much of the method of understanding that the Pharisees and Saducees had (or should have had), has been lost since shortly after that time. This began in the 2nd and 3rd centuries when "following the Messiah" changed from being a continuation of the faith of Israel with its Torah and Yeshua Messiah, to following a non-Jewish, anti-Torah Christian "Jesus." This subject is discussed in detail in our article, "Not Subject to the Law of God?"
People today will often point to "Old Testament" verses, saying they are "Messianic prophecies," (which they well may be), and then claim that Yeshua fulfilled these (which He may have), but they lack the means to prove the connection, as often the correlation is often at mystical (sod) level of interpretation. Our Revelation study will deal with these deeper aspects to Yeshua's claim.
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign
A comparison is made here (and later in Matthew's gospel) between the generation of Yeshua's time and that of the time of Moses following Mount Sinai. (See also Matthew 23:30.) The Pharisees and Saducees had the witness of Torah for about 1300 years by the time Yeshua arrived. By this point, Yeshua had already performed many miracles, so there was no need for more.
It should be noted that His miracles alone did not attest to Him being the Messiah. In fact, Torah warns not to blindly follow anyone who can perform miracles, saying that such miracles must support the revealed will of God as found in the Torah.
11 the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
As discussed already, the Pharisees and Saducees had corrupted the truth of God's Torah through their own self-righteousness, and the creation of laws that contradicted Torah.
14 Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
It is interesting to note that three deceased invividuals are noted here (even more if you count "one of the prophets"). There were (and still are) beliefs in Judaism regarding resurrection, as well as the idea of the "spirit" of someone resting on another. (i.e., Elijah's spirit onto Elias, Moses' spirit onto the elders.) A point being made here, and in the following verse, is that the people, though they knew Yeshua was a significant person, did not (yet) have the clear understanding that He was the promised Messiah.
17 flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Peter was given insight that others did not yet have. In chapter 13, Yeshua had said that there were those who would receive special understanding of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, that others did not (yet) have. Peter's revelation is one of those moments. Obviously, this was a "benefit" of following the Messiah directly. The twelve "apostles" (as they are usually called) do seem to merit a special place in the Kingdom (Revelation 21:14). The revelation Peter received is the gift of prophecy, mentioned earlier in this study. (See notes to verse 18 below.)
18 upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
As mentioned earlier, the word "church" is not in Scripture, and represents a theology based on the concept that God replaced Israel's faith with a new one ("the Church"), and that Torah is no longer the standard to live by. Yeshua is saying that the type of revelation that Peter received, (that comes by humility and submission to Torah), is the essence of what "faith" in Him is all about. This is the part of the gift of prophecy discussed in chapter 14.
The reference to "gates of hell" is an example of a concept deeply rooted in Jewish mystical studies and will be addressed in our Revelation study. For now, suffice it to say that the demonic world will not prevail against those "walking in the Kingdom."
19 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.
The important reference here is to the Kingdom, which as we mentioned in the notes to chapter 13, is the main message of Scripture. This is another verse that has been misused through history, (mostly by Catholicism) though not due to the reasons cited by its critics (Protestantism).
As the text shows, the concept of "keys" is directly tied to "binding and loosing." The issue at hand (as with all of the text of the "New Testament") must be understood within the context of Judaism.
Yeshua is passing along a degree of authority to his immediate disciples regarding matters of halakha, which is best translated as "the way we walk out our faith." (Hence Catholicism has the basic concept correct, but neglects Torah as the final authority.) Scripture does not give us all the minute details of how we are to carry out all of God's commandments. Decisions have to be made as to how Torah is applied both by individuals and communities, as circumstances do change in people's lives and through the course of history.
Torah is eternal and resolutions must be made in accordance with it. The idea of a "governing authority" that makes rulings for the body of believers is biblical. We can see this with the 70 elders of Moses' time and the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.
As mentioned in the last chapter, by giving this authority to His disciples, Yeshua is allowing for "traditions" to be established. He had no problem with traditions based in Torah.
23 Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me
Peter allowed himself to stray away from the light of God's revelation, and fell back to his own understanding (i.e., Proverbs 3:5). God's ways are not our ways, and in this case Yeshua makes it clear that regarding understanding the mystical revelations of the Kingdom, there are but two sides to the story - God's and Satan's (see notes on chapter 13).
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.
The allusion here is to the book of Revelation (and other Hebrew writings), which helps explain the following verse.
28 There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
This is another deeply mystical verse, as it is obvious that all those present have since died, and Yeshua has not yet come into His kingdom. Here is another example of how one must go beyond the literal text (the p'shat) and look into the mystical (sod) level to understand what is being said. Yeshua's statement ties into what was said in the previous verses in this chapter. Those who completely surrender themselves to God and seek to be conformed to His image, through Torah and prayer, can (to a degree) experience the Kingdom of God in the present time.
We know that Peter, James, and John received a direct revelation of a "transfigured" Yeshua (indicative of the Kingdom) in Matthew 17. John was given a vision of the coming of Yeshua and subsequent Kingdom (in the book of Revelation).