Mark 8
Pulpit Commentary
In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,
Verses 1, 2. - The opening words of the first verse seem to imply that our Lord remained for some time on this, the north-east, side of the Sea of Galilee. The multitude being very great. The word here rendered "very great" is παμπόλλου, a word not to be found anywhere else in the New Testament. But according to the best authorities, the true reading is πάλιν πόλλου; so that the words would run, when there was again a great multitude. It has been supposed with some reason that, as an old ecclesiastical Lection began with this chapter, this may have led to the substitution of παμπόλλου for πάλιν πόλλου, in order to make the Lection more complete in itself, avoiding this reference to the context. In the original Greek construction the word ὄχλος, in the singular, is disintegrated in the next clause by a passage into the plural (καὶ μὴ ἐχόντων τί φάγουσι). This is properly marked in the Revised Version by the words, a great multitude, and they had nothing to eat. Our Lord has compassion on them. He desires not only to heal the sick, but to feed the hungry. We may here notice the burning zeal of the multitude. They were so intent upon hearing Christ, that they forgot to provide themselves with the necessaries of life. They continued with him for three days and had nothing to eat. Whatever small supplies they might have Brought with them at first were now exhausted; and still they remained, "esteeming his words to be more than their necessary food." Our Lord on his part was so. full of zeal for their good, that during all that time, with little interval, he had been preaching to them, denying himself rest, refreshment, and sleep. So true were those words of his, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."
I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.
Verse 3. - For divers of them came from far. These words, as they stand in the Authorized Version, might be supposed to be an observation thrown in by the evangelist himself. But the correct rendering of ἥκασι, is not "came," but have come, or rather, are come and instead of τινὲς γὰρ at the beginning of the clause, the more correct reading is καὶ τινὲς. This change makes the clause almost of necessity to be a part of our Lord's own words going before. It was not until the third day that our Lord interposed with a miracle, when the people were absolutely without food, and would therefore feel more sensibly the blessing as well as the greatness of the miracle. Their extremity was his opportunity.
And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?
Verse 4. - Whence shall one be able to fill these men with bread here in a desert place? St. Matthew (Matthew 15:33) gives the question thus: "Whence should we have so many loaves in a desert place, as to fill so great a multitude?" The disciples, measuring the difficulty by human reason, thought that it was impossible to find so many loaves in the desert. But Christ in this necessity, when human resources fail, supplies Divine; and meanwhile the disciples' estimate of the impossibility illustrates the grandeur of the miracle.
And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.
Verse 5. - The seven loaves and the few small fishes appear to have been the modest provision for our Lord and his disciples. As he often retired into the desert, they were no doubt accustomed to carry small supplies about with them, though poor and scanty. In the former miracle of the multiplying of the loaves (Mark 6:35), we find that their stock consisted of five loaves and two fishes. It was, of course, just as easy for our Lord to multiply the smaller quantity as the larger. But he chose so to order it that the original quantity of food, as well as the number requiring to be fed, should in each case be different, in order that it might be evident that they were different occasions, although the miracles were of the same kind.
And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.
Verse 6. - And he commandeth the multitude to sit down (ἀναπεσεῖν) - literally, to recline - on the ground (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς); not the green grass, as before. It was a different season of the year. "He gave thanks." In this expression is included the recognition of the Divine power to enable him to work the miracle. Christ indeed, as God, was able of his own will and by his own power to multiply the loaves. But as man he gave thanks. And yet, as Dr. Westcott excellently remarks, "The thanksgiving was not for any uncertain or unexpected gift. It was rather a proclamation of his fellowship with God. So that the true nature of prayer in the case of our blessed Lord was the conscious realization of the Divine will, and not a petition for that which was contingent." And having given thanks, he brake, and gave to his disciples (ἔκλάσε καὶ ἐδίδου). Observe the aorist and the imperfect. The giving was a continual act, till all were filled.
And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.
So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.
Verse 8. - And they did eat, and were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν). Wycliffe renders it, "were fulfilled;" according to the original meaning of "to fulfill," namely, "to fill full." And they took up, of broken pieces that remained over, seven baskets - as many as there were loaves. In the record of the other similar miracle, the number of baskets corresponded to the number of the disciples. Here, as in the former miracle, far more food remained after all were fed than the original supply on which our Lord exercised his miraculous power; for each basket would contain much more than one loaf. The Greek word here rendered "basket" (σπυρίς) is a different word from that used for "basket" in the record of the other miracle (Mark 6:43). There it is κόφινος. The κόφινος was a hand-basket of stout wicker-work. The was a much larger basket, made of a more flexible material, perhaps "rushes," like our "frail." It was by means of such a basket, called in Acts 9:25 σπυρίς, but σαργάνη in 2 Corinthians 11:33, that St. Paul was let down through a window at Damascus. This supplies another evidence, if it were needed, that these two recorded miracles took place on different occasions. Cornelius a Lapido mentions an opinion that the σπυρίς was double the size of the κόφινος, a large basket carried by two.
And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.
Verse 10. - He entered into a ship (εἰς τὸ πλοῖον) - literally, into the boat; probably the same boat which he had ordered to be in attendance upon him (Matthew 3:9) - and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. (St. Matthew 15:39) has "the coasts of Magdala;" more properly, "the borders of Magaden." This place was in all probability about the middle of the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, where now stand the ruins of the village of El-Mejdel.
And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.
Verse 11. - And the Pharisees came forth - St. Matthew (Matthew 16:1) says that the Sadducees came with them - and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. They had already asked for a sign from heaven (Matthew 12:38); but now this miracle gives them occasion to ask again. For when they saw how greatly it was extolled by the multitudes who had benefited by it, it was easy for them to urge that it was an earthly sign, and might have been wrought by him who is called "the God of this world;" and so they insinuated that he had wrought this miracle as well as his other miracles by the power of Satan. Therefore they seek a sign from heaven, that he who dwells in heaven might thus bear witness that he came from God, and that his doctrine was Divine; the Pharisees probably meant that if he did this they would believe in him as the Messiah, and lead the people to the same faith. The Sadducees, who were practically atheists, thought that no sign could be given from heaven by God, seeing that in their opinion it was doubtful whether there was any God to give it.
And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
Verse 12. - He sighed deeply in his spirit (ἀναστενάξας) Another graphic touch of this evangelist; such as he had learnt in all probability from St. Peter. The word occurs nowhere but here. It is the outcome of grief and indignation, in which, however, grief predominates. There shall no sign be given unto this generation (εἰ δοθήσεται σημεῖον). This is a Hebrew idiom, based upon a form of taking an oath which prevailed amongst the Jews. The full form would be, "God do so and so to me, if so and so." Hence the hypothetical part of the clause came to be used alone, expressing a very strong form of denial or refusal.
And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.
Verse 13. - And he left them, and again embarking - ἐμβὰς for ἐμβὰς εἰς τὸ πλοῖον - departed to the other side. Again and again our Lord crossed this sea, that he might instruct the Galileans dwelling on either side; in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1, "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,... by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light."
Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.
Verse 14. - And they had forgotten (ἐπελάθοντο) - literally, they forgot - to take bread (ἄρτους); loaves. The conversation which follows took place on the boat while they were crossing. The passage would take perhaps six hours. And it was during that time that they would want food; for when they reached the port, they would find it in abundance.
And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
Verse 15. - Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. St. Matthew (Matthew 15:6) says, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees;" thus St. Mark identifies the leaven of the Sadducees with that of Herod. "Leaven" here means "doctrine." They were not to beware of this, so far as the Pharisees rightly taught and explained the Law of Moses; but only so far as they corrupted that Law by their own vain traditions, contrary to the Law of God, St. Luke (Luke 12:11) calls this leaven "hypocrisy;" because the Pharisees only regarded outward ceremonies, and neglected the inward sanctification of the Spirit. St. Jerome says, "This is the leaven of which the Apostle speaks where he says, 'A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.' Marcion and Valentinus and all heretics have had this kind of leaven, which is on every account to be avoided. Leaven has this property, that, however small it may be in quantity, it spreads its influence rapidly through the mass. And so if only a little spark of heretical doctrine be admitted into the soul, speedily a great flame arises, and envelopes the whole man."
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.
Verse 16. - According to the most approved readings, this verse should be read thus: And they reasoned one with another, saying, We have no bread. There is something very artless and simple in this narrative. Our Lord speaks of" leaven;" and the mention of this word reminds the disciples that they had forgotten to bring bread with them in the boat; and fearing lest Christ should direct them, according to his wont, to land on some desert shore, they were in some anxiety how they might obtain what they would need; and so they disputed among themselves; one, it may be, throwing the blame upon another.
And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?
Verse 17. - And when Jesus knew it (καὶ γνοὺς ὁ Ἰησοὺς) - literally and far more correctly, and Jesus perceiving it - he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Jesus perceived the direction in which their thoughts were moving, by the power of his divinity. It is as though he said, "Why reason ye because ye have no bread, as though I was referring to natural things, and speaking concerning bread for the body, and wishing you to be anxious about that; as though I could not provide that for you, if nccessary, just as easily here on the sea as I did just now in the desert?" Dr. John Lightfoot ('Hebrew Excrcitations on St. Matthew,' vol. 2:p. 201) says, "The rule of the Jews was very strict as to the kind of leaven that was to be used; and the disciples supposed that our Lord was alluding to this when he cautioned them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." Perhaps they also thought that our Lord was conveying a silent reproof to them for not having brought a sufficient supply of bread with them. The whole incident, while it shows their transparent simplicity of character, exhibits also their dulness of apprehension.
Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
Verses 19, 20. - Here St. Mark is as careful as St. Matthew to mention the details of the two miracles, even to the reference to the two kinds of baskets in which the fragments were gathered up. They had a distinct recollection of the facts, but they had failed to catch their spiritual import.
And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
Verse 21. - How is it that ye do not understand? A better reading here is οὔπω instead of πῶς οὐ. Therefore the words should run, Do ye not yet understand? It is as though our Lord said, "You ought to have perceived, both from my words and from my actions, that I was not speaking concerning earthly leaven or earthly bread, but concerning spiritual doctrine." St. Matthew here (Matthew 16:12) is careful to tell us that this reproof of Christ quickened their intellects, and forced them to understand.
And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.
Verse 22. - This miracle is recorded by St. Mark alone. And he cometh to Bethsaida. A better reading is ἔρχονται for ἔρχεται, they come unto Bethsaida. Which Beth-saida? It seems most probable that it was Bethsaida Julias. This Bethsaida was in the tetrarchy of Philip, who improved and adorned it, and named it Julias, in honor of the emperor's daughter Julia. A reference to Ver. 27 seems to make it quite clear that it must have been this Bethsaida, and not the Galilean Bethsaida on the other side of the lake. It is not surprising that there should have been, adjoining this great lake, more than one place called Beth-saida, i.e. the "place of fish." And they bring a blind man unto him, and besought (παρακαλοῦσιν) - literally, beseech - him to touch him. St. Mark is fond of the graphic present. There is here, as at Mark 7:32, something almost like dictating the mode of cure. They seem to have imagined that the healing virtue could not go forth from Christ except by actual contact.
And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
Verse 23. - And he took (ἐπιλαβόμενος) - literally, took hold of - the blind man by the hand, and led him - this is the rendering of ἐξήγαγεν; but a great weight of manuscript authority points to ἐξήνεγκεν as the better reading, brought him - out of the village (ἔξω τῆς κώμης). This Bethsaida was a village; but Philip had raised it to the rank of a city (πόλις), though it still seems to have retained its old appellation. Our Lord "led" or "brought" the blind man out of Beth-saida, for the same reason that he led the deaf and dumb man (Mark 7:33) away from the multitude:

(1) for the sake of prayer, that he might collect his mind, and unite himself more closely to God, and pray more intently and earnestly;

(2) that he might shun vain-glory and human praise, and teach us to shun it also. And when he had spit on his eyes - this act had a mystical meaning; it was the instrument by which his Deity operated - and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, Seest thou aught? Here were three acts -

(1) the spitting,

(2) the laying of the hands on him,

(3) the questioning of him.

We gather from ver. 25 that our Lord's hands were applied to the blind man's eyes. From the analogy of the miracle in the last chapter (Mark 7:33), we may perhaps infer that our Lord touched the man's eyes with saliva on his finger, and that the hands were withdrawn before he asked him if he saw aught.
And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
Verse 24. - And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. He looked ups natural action. He instinctively looked in the direction of the source of light. The words in the Greek of the next clause are as follows: - βλέπω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ὅτι ὡς δένδρα ὁρῶ περιπατοῦντας: I see men; for I behold them as trees, walking; that is, "I see something confusedly and obscurely, not clearly; for I see what I think must be men, and yet so dimly that they look to me like trees, only that I know that men move from their places, whereas trees do not." The word "walking" refers to the men, and not to the trees, as is evident from the Greek. This man, as yet partially blind, saw men as in shadow, magnified by the mist, looking much larger than they really were.
After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Verse 25. - Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes, and made him look up - this is the Authorized Version rendering of ἐποίησεν αὐτον ἀναβλέψαι: but the better authenticated reading is simply καὶ διέβλεψε, and he looked steadfastly - and was restored, and saw all things clearly. Now, here it pleased our Lord, not suddenly, but by degrees, to give perfect sight to this blind man. And this he did

(1) that he might give examples of different kinds of miracles, showing that" there are differences of operations," and that he, as sovereign Lord, was not absolutely tied to any one particular method of working; and

(2) that he might administer his power in increasing measures, as the faith of the recipient waxed stronger; that so he might gradually kindle greater hope and desire in him. It may be that the spiritual condition of this blind man was one which specially needed this gradual method of treatment. Our Lord was a wise and skillful Physician. At first he healed him in part, as one who imperfectly believed; that he who as yet saw little with a little sight, might believe more perfectly, and so be healed at last more perfectly; and thus by this miracle Christ teaches us that for the most part the unbeliever and the sinner is by degrees illuminated by God, so as to advance step by step in the knowledge and worship of God. "By this miracle," says Bede, "Christ teaches us how great is the spiritual blindness of man, which only by degrees, and by successive stages, can come to the light of Divine knowledge." The experiences of this blind man in gradually recovering his eyesight show as in a parable the stages of the spiritual change from absolute darkness to glimmering light, and thence to bright and clear vision. Cornelius a Lapide says, "We see an example of this in children and scholars, who must be taught and instructed by degrees. Otherwise, if the master, impatient of delay and labour, seeks to deliver all things to them at once, he will overwhelm their mind and their memory, so that they will take in nothing; as wine, when it is poured into a narrow-necked vessel, if you attempt to pour in the whole at once, scarcely any will enter, but almost all is wasted." A Lapide adds the well-known Italian proverb, "Piano, piano, siva lontano."
And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
Verse 26. - This verse, according to the best reading, runs thus: And he sent him away to his home, saying, Do not even enter into the village. It thus appears that Bethsaida was not the home of this blind man. He might naturally have wished to exhibit himself in Bethsaida, where many must have known him, and to have sung the praises of his great Benefactor. But this was far from what Christ wished. He wished to be in seclusion. He had no desire to excite more than could be helped the idle curiosity of the multitude. His miracles were for the sake of his doctrine, and not his doctrine for the sake of his miracles. The whole character of his administration was retiring and gentle. "My doctrine shall distil as the dew." "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any hear his voice in the streets."
And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
Verses 27, 28. - And Jesus went forth, and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. This verse seems to corroborate the view that the Bethsaida just referred to was Bethsaida Julias. Caesarea Philippi lies at the roots of Libanus. Cornelius a Lapide says that it was originally celled Dan, the place where two little streams united, namely, Jeor and Daniel These two streamlets so united make the Jordan, whence the name Jeer-Dan, or Jordan. But since Pan, the God of shepherds, was better known to the Gentiles than Dan, a Hebrew tribe, it was hence called by them "Paneas.' It is celled Bahias at the present day. It lay at the extreme north, as Beersheba lay at the extreme south. Hence the phrase, "from Dan even to Beersheba." On this account many neighboring Gentiles, especially the Phoenicians, flocked to this city, as is frequently the case with border towns. And so Christ visited this neighborhood, not only because it presented favorable opportunities to him for teaching Jews and Gentiles alike, but also that he might speak more freely than he could have done in Judaea concerning a Messiah, whom the Jews expected as their king. in Judaea itself, and especially in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, it would have been perilous to speak on such a subject; for the scribes would at once have accused him to the Roman power that he was seeking the kingdom. The student who wishes for further information respecting the site of Caesarea Philippi may consult with advantage Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine' (ch. 11, "The Lake of Merom and the sources of the Jordan" ). A more familiar derivation of the Jordan than that given by A Lapide is that of the "descender," from Jarad, "to descend." Our Lord went from Bethsaida Julias directly northwards towards Paneas, named by Philip the Tetrach Caesarea Philippi, to distinguish it from the other Caesarea in Samaria on the Mediterranean coast. It will be observed that he went into the villages of Caesarea Philippi, avoiding the city itself. In the way thither he asked his disciples,... Who do men say that I am? This incident is mentioned also by St. Matthew and St. Luke. St. Luke (Luke 9:18) says that he was alone praying, his disciples being doubtless not far off. According to this evangelist, our Lord says, "Who do the multitudes say that I am? "thus distinguishing them more particularly from his own disciples. The common people among the Jews knew that not long after the Babylonish Captivity the gift of prophecy had ceased amongst their nation. So they thought that Christ was not a new Prophet, but one of the old. They could not but see in him the renewal of the powers of the old prophets, their miracles and their teaching; but there were very few of them who believed that he was the Messiah. The great body of them were offended at his poverty and humility; for they thought that Messiah would appear amongst them with royal state as a temporal king. So that when some said, moved it might be by the sight of his miracles, "This is that Prophet that should come into the world," they did but give utterance to a momentary and fugitive feeling, and not a firm or abiding conviction. The mass of mankind are fickle, easily led to change their opinions. Perhaps some of the Jewish multitude thought that the soul of one of the ancient prophets had entered into Christ, according to the Pythagorean notion of the transmigration of souls; or perhaps they thought that one of the old prophets had risen again in the person of Jesus. For though the Sadducees denied a resurrection, the great body of the Jews believed in it. Some thought that Christ was John the Baptist, because he resembled the Baptist in age (there was only six months difference in ago between them), as he also resembled him in holiness and in fervor of preaching. It was but a short time before, that John the Baptist had been put to death by Herod. His character and actions were fresh in their memories; and Herod himself had given currency to the idea that the Baptist had risen again in the person of our Lord. Then there was Elijah. Some thought that our Lord was Elijah, because it was known that Elijah had not died, and because there was an expectation, founded on Malachi's prophecy (Malachi 4:5), that he would return. They thought, therefore, that Elijah had returned, and that our Lord was Elijah.
And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
Verse 29. - By this second putting of the question, our Lord warned his disciples that they who had been better instructed ought to think greater things of him than these. It was necessary that he should show them that these current opinions and floating notions were far below his real claims. Therefore he says with emphasis, But who say ye that I am? - ye, my disciples, who, being always with me, have seen me do far greater things than they; ye, who have listened to my teaching, confirmed as it has been by those miracles; ye, who yourselves also have been enabled to work many miracles in my name; - who say ye that I am? Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. St. Peter here spoke as the mouthpiece of the rest. The suddenness and terseness of the answer is eminently characteristic of St. Peter. In St. Matthew's narrative it is given a little more in full, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." But the strength of the answer really lies in St. Mark's words, "Thou art the Christ," that is, the promised Messiah. What, however, St. Mark does omit here - a circumstance not to be passed without notice - is the great blessing pronounced by our Lord upon St. Peter (Matthew 16:17-19) as the reward of his confession. The explanation of this omission is to be found in the fact that this Gospel is really for the most part St. Peter's Gospel, recorded by St. Mark. It has already been observed, that, as far as it is possible to do so, considering Peter's prominent position amongst the other apostles, he retires into the background. It was necessary that it should be recorded that he made the good confession of our Lord as the Messiah; but beyond this the evangelist suppresses all mention of the distinction subsequently conferred upon him, although the rebuke which he afterwards received is recorded in full. It is, moreover, a significant circumstance (noticed in the 'Speaker's Commentary') that this Gospel was written at Rome, and in the first instance for Roman readers.
And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
Verse 30. - And he charged them (επετίμησεν) - a strong word, implying almost rebuke, he strictly charged them - that they should tell no man of him. Why was this? There were many reasons for this reticence. The state of parties in Palestine was most inexpedient for such a disclosure at that time. Those who were favorable to his cause would have wanted at once to take him by force and make him a king. In fact, some of them made no secret of their intentions (John 6:15). Those, on the other hand, who were opposed to him were only watching their opportunity to destroy him. Moreover, his own disciples had yet many things to learn; and besides all this, faith in his Godhead would be easier when his death should have been followed by his glorious resurrection and ascension.
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 scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Verse 31. - And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, etc. In St. Matthew's narrative he says (Matthew 16:21), "From that time began Jesus to show unto his disciples," etc. - from the time, that is, of this great confession; from the time when he had openly acknowledged to his disciples the truth of his essential Divinity; from that time he began to instruct them as to his passion and his death. There are two great principles of faith, namely,

(1) the Divinity and the humanity of Christ, and

(2) his cross and passion, whereby he has redeemed the world.

And it was necessary that the disciples should be thus instructed in his amazing dignity as the Son of God, lest, when they saw him put to death, they might doubt as to his Godhead. And after three days rise again. St. Matthew and St. Luke say, "on the third day" - the day of his death counting for one, and the day of his resurrection for another, with one clear day intervening.
And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
Verse 32. - And he spake the saying openly (παῥῤησία); literally, without reserve. This sudden announcement excited St. Peter. It was a new and startling communication. Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. The word προσλαβόμενος indicates that he "took hold of him," to lead him apart, as though to have the opportunity of warning him with the greater familiarity and secrecy. So say St. Chrysostom and others. Peter would not have his own confession of Christ thus evacuated, as it were; nor does he think it possible that the Son of God could be slain. So he takes him apart, lest he should seem to reprove him in the presence of the other disciples; and then he says (Matthew 16:22), "Mercy on thee, Lord (ἵλεώς σοι Κύριε): this shall never be unto thee."
But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
Verse 33. - But he turning about, and seeing his disciples, rebuked Peter. The words indicate a sudden movement (ὁ δὲ ἐπιστραφεὶς), accompanied by a keen searching look at his disciples. Then he singles out Peter, and addresses to him, in their presence, the severe rebuke, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not (οὐ φρονεῖς) - literally, thou mindest not -the things of God, but the things of men. The form of words is the same as that used by our Lord to Satan himself, when he was tempted by him in the wilderness. It reminded him of that great conflict. The visions of worldly glory again floated before him. The crown without the cross was again held out to him. This explains his language. Peter was indeed rebuked; but the rebuke was aimed through him at the arch adversary who was addressing him through Peter. Here is the striking significance of his "turning about." Peter was for the moment doing the tempter's work, and in "turning about" our Lord was again putting Satan behind him.
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Verse 34. - He called unto him the multitude with his disciples. This shows that there was an interval between what had just taken place and what is now recorded. Our Lord now, without any further special reference to St. Peter, delivers a lesson of universal application; although, no doubt, he had Peter in his mind. If any man would (εἴ τις θέλει) come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. This self-denial ought to extend to everything, even to life itself, which we ought to be willing to resign, if need be, for the sake of Christ. Take up his cross. It is as though he said, "Let him take up his cross, as I have borne my cross, that I might be the standard-bearer and Leader of all cross-bearers - I, who carried the cross on which I was to be crucified to the mount of Calvary." St. Luke (Luke 9:23) adds the words (καθ ἡμέραν), "daily:" "let him take up his cross daily;" thus showing that "every day," and often "at every hour," something occurs which it becomes us to bear patiently and bravely, and so on continually through our whole life. He takes up his cross who is crucified to the world. But he to whom the world is crucified follows his crucified Lord. This cross assumes various forms; such as persecution and martyrdom, affliction and sorrow of whatever kind, appointed by God; temptations of Satan, permitted by God for our trial, to increase our humility and virtue, and to make brighter our crown.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
Verse 35. - Because the cross is sharp and afflicting, our Lord animates his followers to bear it by the thought of its great and everlasting rewards. The meaning of the verse is this: he who by trying to shun the cross and to escape self-denial would save his life here, will lose it hereafter. But he who loses his life here for the sake of Christ, either by dying in his cause or by denying and mortifying his lusts out of love for him, he in the life to come shall find his life in the bosom of Christ and in eternal joy.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Verse 36. - What doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (ζημιωθῆναι); literally, forfeit his life (ψυχή). The word ψυχή in the Greek, originally meaning simply "breath," as the sign of life, is of very comprehensive import, embracing not merely "the breath of life," but also the "soul," or immortal part of man, as distinguished from his mortal body, also the mind or understanding, as the organ of thought. "Life" seems here to be the best English synonym, as being, like the Greek ψυχή, the more comprehensive term.
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Verse 37. - In exchange (ἀντάλλαγμα) for his life. The Greek term here means an "equivalent," "a compensation." The" life," in its largest sense and meaning, defies all comparison, surpasses all value. It has been bought and redeemed with the precious blood of Christ; therefore the whole world would be a poor price for the soul of one man.
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Verse 38. - Our Lord here looks onward to the day of judgment. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me. "Whosoever:" the word includes all, whatever their position or circumstances may be. "Shall be ashamed of me;" that is, shall deny my faith, or blush to confess me here. Of him shall the Son of man be ashamed; that is, Christ will despise him, when he shall appear with power and great glory, in that sublime majesty which he gained by his death upon the cross. In this adulterous and sinful generation. It adds to the disgrace of being ashamed of Christ that the shame is manifested in the presence of the base and the worthless; and therefore our Lord exhibits the contrast between the mean and contemptible people in the presence of whom men are ashamed of him here, and the magnificent assemblage in whose presence he will be ashamed of them hereafter. The cross of Christ appeared to the great body of mankind to be shameful and contemptible. To the Jews it was a stumbling-block, and to the Greek's foolishness. Hence vast numbers, whether through shame or fear, did not dare to confess it, and still less to preach it. And therefore it is that St. Paul says (Romans 1:l6), "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ."

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

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