|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:27-33 These things are written, that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. These miracles of our Lord assure us that he was not conquered, but a Conqueror. Now the disciples are convinced that Jesus is the Christ; they may bear to hear of his sufferings, of which Christ here begins to give them notice. He sees that amiss in what we say and do, of which we ourselves are not aware, and knows what manner of spirit we are of, when we ourselves do not. The wisdom of man is folly, when it pretends to limit the Divine counsels. Peter did not rightly understand the nature of Christ's kingdom.
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jesus went out, and his disciples,.... From Bethsaida and even from Galilee
into the towns Caesarea Philippi; in the jurisdiction of Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis; for this Caesarea was rebuilt by him and called so in honour of Tiberius Caesar; and the towns and villages adjacent to it are here intended: See Gill on Matthew 16:13;
and by the way he asked his disciples; as they were going from Galilee to those parts:
saying unto them; whom do men say that I am? not that he needed any information of this; for he knew not only what was said by men but What was in them; but he put this question, in order to bring out their sense of, and faith in him, and to impart something to them which was necessary they should be acquainted with; See Gill on Matthew 16:13, where it is read, "whom do men say that I, the son of man am?"
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mr 8:27-38. Peter's Noble Confession of Christ—Our Lord's First Explicit Announcement of His Approaching Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection—His Rebuke of Peter, and Warning to All the Twelve. ( = Mt 16:13-27; Lu 9:18-26).
For the exposition, see on Mt 16:13-28.
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