Luke 9
Clarke's Commentary
Christ sends his apostles to preach and work miracles, Luke 9:1-6. Herod, hearing of the fame of Jesus, is perplexed; some suppose that John Baptist is risen from the dead; others, that Elijah or one of the old prophets was come to life, Luke 9:7-9. The apostles return and relate the success of their mission. He goes to a retired place, and the people follow him, Luke 9:10, Luke 9:11. He feeds five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, Luke 9:12-17. He asks his disciples what the public think of him, Luke 9:18-21. Foretells his passion, Luke 9:22. Shows the necessity of self-denial, and the importance of salvation, Luke 9:23-25. Threatens those who deny him before men, Luke 9:26. The transfiguration, Luke 9:27-36. Cures a demoniac, Luke 9:37-43. Again foretells his passion, Luke 9:44, Luke 9:45. The disciples contend who shall be greatest, Luke 9:46-48. Of the person who cast out devils in Christ's name, but did not associate with the disciples, Luke 9:49, Luke 9:50. Of the Samaritans who would not receive him, Luke 9:51-56. Of the man who wished to follow Jesus, Luke 9:57, Luke 9:58. He calls another disciple who asks permission first to bury his father, Luke 9:59. Our Lord's answer Luke 9:60-62.

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
Power and authority - Δυναμιν και εξουσιαν. The words properly mean here, the power to work miracles; and that authority by which the whole demoniac system was to be subjected to them. The reader will please to observe:

1. That Luke mentions both demons and diseases; therefore he was either mistaken, or demons and diseases are not the same.

2. The treatment of these two was not the same: - the demons were to be cast out, the diseases to be healed. See Matthew 10:1.

And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
To preach the kingdom of God - For an explication of this phrase, see on Matthew 3:1 (note).

And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
Take nothing - See on Mark 6:7, Mark 6:8 (note).

Neither money - See on Matthew 10:9 (note).

Neither have two coats - Show that in all things ye are ambassadors for God; and go on his charges.

And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
There abide, and thence depart - That is, remain in that lodging till ye depart from that city. Some MSS. and versions add μη, which makes the following sense: There remain, and depart Not thence. See the note on Matthew 10:11.

And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;
Herod the tetrarch - See on Matthew 2:1 (note); Matthew 14:1 (note).

By him - This is omitted by BCDL, two others, the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, and four of the Itala. It is probable that Luke might have written, Herod, hearing of all the things that were done, etc.; but Matthew says particularly, that it was the fame of Jesus of which he heard: Matthew 14:1.

He was perplexed; - He was greatly perplexed διηπορει· from δια emphat. and απορεω, I am in perplexity. It is a metaphor taken from a traveler, who in his journey meets with several paths, one only of which leads to the place whither he would go; and, not knowing which to take, he is distressed with perplexity and doubt. The verb comes from α, negative, and πορος, a way or passage. A guilty conscience is a continual pest: - Herod had murdered John, and he is terribly afraid, lest he should arise from the dead, and bring his deeds to light, and expose him to that punishment which he deserved. See Mark 6:16.

And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.
And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
Told him all - Related distinctly - διηγησαντο, from δια, through, and ἡγεομαι, I:declare: hence the whole of this Gospel, because of its relating every thing so particularly, is termed διηγησις, Luke 1:1, a particular and circumstantially detailed narration. See on Mark 6:30 (note).

And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
The people - followed him - Observe here five grand effects of Divine grace.

1. The people are drawn to follow him.

2. He kindly receives them.

3. He instructs them in the things of God.

4. He heals all their diseases.

5. He feeds their bodies and their souls. See Quesnel.

Reader! Jesus is the same to the present moment. Follow him, and he will receive, instruct, heal, feed, and save thy soul unto eternal life.

And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
Send the multitude away - See this miracle explained at large, on the parallel places, Matthew 14:15-21 (note); Mark 6:36-44 (note).

But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.
For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.
And they did so, and made them all sit down.
Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
Then he took the five loaves - A minister of the Gospel, who is employed to feed souls, should imitate this conduct of Christ:

1. He ought to exhort the people to hear with sedate and humble reverence.

2. He should first take the bread of life himself, that he may be strengthened to feed others.

3. He ought frequently to lift his soul to God, in order to draw down the Divine blessing on himself and his hearers.

4. He should break the loaves - divide rightly the word of truth, and give to all such portions as are suited to their capacities and states.

5. What he cannot perform himself, he should endeavor to effect by the ministry of others; employing every promising talent, for the edification of the whole, which he finds among the members of the Church of God. Under such a pastor, the flock of Christ will increase and multiply. See Quesnel.

And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
Whom say the people - Οἱ οχλοι, the common people, i.e. the mass of the people. See this question considered on Matthew 16:13 (note), etc.

They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.
He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
But whom say ye that I am? - Whom do ye tell the people that I am? What do ye preach concerning me? See also on Matthew 16:14 (note); and see the observations at the end of this chapter, (note).

The Christ of God - The Coptic and later Persic read, Thou art Christ God. After this comes in Peter's confession of our Lord, as related Matthew 16:16 (note), etc., where see the notes; and see also the observations of Granville Sharp, Esq., at the end of this chapter.

And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;
Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
If any man will come after me - See on Matthew 16:24 (note), and on Mark 8:34 (note), where the nature of proselytism among the Jews is explained.

Daily - Καθ' ἡμεραν is omitted by many reputable MSS., versions, and fathers. It is not found in the parallel places, Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
Will save his life - See on Matthew 16:24 (note), etc.

For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
Lose himself - That is, his life or soul. See the parallel places, Matthew 16:25 (note); Mark 8:35 (note), and especially the note on the former.

Or be cast away? - Or receive spiritual damage η ζημιωθεις. I have added the word spiritual here, which I conceive to be necessarily implied. Because, if a man received only temporal damage in some respect or other, yet gaining the whole world must amply compensate him. But if he should receive spiritual damage - hurt to his soul in the smallest degree, the possession of the universe could not indemnify him. Earthly goods may repair earthly losses, but they cannot repair any breach that may be made in the peace or holiness of the soul. See on Matthew 16:26 (note).

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
Ashamed of me - See on Mark 8:38 (note).

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
About an eight days after - See the whole of this important transaction explained at large on Matthew 17:1-13 (note).

And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
His decease - Την εξοδον αυτον, That going out (or death) of his. That peculiar kind of death - its nature, circumstances, and necessity being considered. Instead of εξοδον, thirteen MSS. have δοξαν, glory. They spoke of that glory of his, which he was about to fill up (πληρουν) at Jerusalem. The Ethiopic unites both readings. The death of Jesus was his glory, because, by it, he gained the victory over sin, death, and hell, and purchased salvation and eternal glory for a lost world.

But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
It is good for us to be here - Some MSS. add παντοτε, It is good for us to be Always here.

While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
This is my beloved Son - Instead of ὁ αγαπητος, the beloved one, some MSS. and versions have εκλεκτος, the chosen one: and the Ethiopic translator, as in several other cases, to be sure of the true reading, retains both.

In whom I am well pleased, or have delighted - is added by some very ancient MSS. Perhaps this addition is taken from Matthew 17:5.

And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.
Much people - See on Matthew 17:14 (note).

And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.
And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.
A spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out - Πνευμα λαμβανει αυτον. This very phrase is used by heathen writers, when they speak of supernatural influence. The following, from Herodotus, will make the matter, I hope, quite plain. Speaking of Scyles, king of the Scythians, who was more fond of Grecian manners and customs than of those of his countrymen, and who desired to be privately initiated into the Bacchic mysteries, he adds: "Now because the Scythians reproach the Greeks with these Bacchanals, and say that to imagine a god driving men into paroxysms of madness is not agreeable to sound reason, a certain Borysthenian, while the king was performing the ceremonies of initiation, went out, and discovered the matter to the Scythian army in these words: 'Ye Scythians ridicule us because we celebrate the Bacchanals, και ἡμεας ὁ θεος ΛΑΜΒΑΝΕΙ, and the God Possesses Us: but now the same demon, οὑτος ὁ δαιμων, has Taken Possession, ΛΕΛΑΒΗΚΕ, of your king, for he celebrates the Bacchanals, and ὑπο του θεου μαινεται, is filled with fury by this god." Herodot. l. iv. p. 250, edit. Gale.

This passage is exceedingly remarkable. The very expressions which Luke uses here are made use of by Herodotus. A demon, δαιμων, is the agent in the Greek historian, and a demon is the agent in the case mentioned in the text, Luke 9:42. In both cases it is said the demon possesses the persons, and the very same word, λαμβανει is used to express this in both historians. Both historians show that the possessions were real, by the effects produced in the persons: the heathen king rages with fury through the influence of the demon called the god Bacchus; the person in the text screams out, (κραζει), is greatly convulsed, and foams at the mouth. Here was a real possession, and such as often took place among those who were worshippers of demons.

And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.
And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
The devil threw him down, and tare him - See this case considered at large, on Matthew 17:15-18 (note), and on Mark 9:14-27 (note).

And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
The mighty power - This majesty of God, μεγαλειοτητι του Θεου. They plainly saw that it was a case in which any power inferior to that of God could be of no avail; and they were deeply struck with the majesty of God manifested in the conduct of the blessed Jesus.

Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
Let these sayings sink down into your ears - Or, put these words into your ears. To other words, you may lend occasional attention, but to what concerns my sufferings and death you must ever listen. Let them constantly occupy a place in your most serious meditations and reflections.

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.
But they understood not - See the note on Mark 9:32.

Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
There arose a reasoning - Εισηλθε δε διαλογισμος, A dialogue took place - one inquired, and another answered, and so on. See this subject explained on Matthew 18:1 (note), etc.

And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,
And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
We forbade him - See this subject considered on Mark 9:38 (note), etc.

And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
That he should be received up - Bishop Pearce says: "I think the word αναληψεως must signify, of Jesus's retiring or withdrawing himself, and not of his being received up: because the word συμπληρουσθαι, here used before it, denotes a time completed, which that of his ascension was not then. The sense is, that the time was come, when Jesus was no longer to retire from Judea and the parts about Jerusalem as he had hitherto done; for he had lived altogether in Galilee, lest the Jews should have laid hold on him, before the work of his ministry was ended, and full proofs of his Divine mission given, and some of the prophecies concerning him accomplished. John says, John 7:1 : Jesus walked in Galilee; for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Let it be observed, that all which follows here in Luke, to Luke 19:45, is represented by him as done by Jesus in his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem."

He steadfastly set his face - That is, after proper and mature deliberation, he chose now to go up to Jerusalem, and firmly determined to accomplish his design.

And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
Sent messengers - Αγγελους, angels, literally; but this proves that the word angel signifies a messenger of any kind, whether Divine or human. The messengers in this case were probably James and John.

And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
His face was - They saw he was going up to Jerusalem to keep the feast; (it was the feast of tabernacles, John 7:2); and knowing him thereby to be a Jew, they would afford nothing for his entertainment; for, in religious matters, the Samaritans and Jews had no dealings: see John 4:9. The Samaritans were a kind of mongrel heathens; they feared Jehovah, and served other gods, 2 Kings 17:34. They apostatized from the true religion, and persecuted those who were attached to it. See an account of them, Matthew 16:1 (note). Those only who have deserted the truth of God, or who are uninfluenced by it, hate them who embrace and act by it. When a man has once decidedly taken the road to heaven, he can have but little credit any longer in the world, 1 John 3:1.

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
That we command fire - Vengeance belongs to the Lord. What we suffer for his sake, should be left to himself to reprove or punish. The insult is offered to him, not to us. See the note on Mark 3:17.

But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of - Ye do not consider that the present is a dispensation of infinite mercy and love; and that the design of God is not to destroy sinners, but to give them space to repent, that he may save them unto eternal life. And ye do not consider that the zeal which you feel springs from an evil principle, being more concerned for your own honor than for the honor of God. The disciples of that Christ who died for his enemies should never think of avenging themselves on their persecutors.

For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
And they went to another village - Which probably did entertain them; being, perhaps, without the Samaritan borders.

The words, Ye know not of what spirit ye are; for the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them, are wanting in ABCEGHLS-V, and in many others. Griesbach leaves the latter clause out of the text. It is probable that the most ancient MSS. read the passage thus: But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not of what spirit ye are. And they went to another village. See the authorities in Griesbach.

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
A certain man - He was a scribe. See on Matthew 8:19-22 (note). It is probable that this took place when Christ was at Capernaum, as Matthew represents it, and not on the way to Jerusalem through Samaria.

And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
Another also said - This circumstance is not mentioned by any of the other evangelists; and Matthew alone mentions the former case, Luke 9:57, Luke 9:58.

Let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home - Επιτρεψον μοι αποταξασθαι τοις εις τον οικον μου - Permit me to set in order my affairs at home. Those who understand the Greek text will see at once that it will bear this translation well; and that this is the most natural. This person seems to have had in view the case of Elisha, who made a similar request to the Prophet Elijah, 1 Kings 19:19, 1 Kings 19:20, which request was granted by the prophet; but our Lord, seeing that this person had too much attachment to the earth, and that his return to worldly employments, though for a short time, was likely to become the means of stifling the good desires which he now felt, refused to grant him that permission. That which we object to the execution of God's designs is sometimes the very thing from which we should immediately disengage ourselves.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Put his hand to the plough - Can any person properly discharge the work of the ministry who is engaged in secular employments? A farmer and a minister of the Gospel are incompatible characters. As a person who holds the plough cannot keep on a straight furrow if he look behind him; so he who is employed in the work of the ministry cannot do the work of an evangelist, if he turn his desires to worldly profits. A good man has said: "He who thinks it necessary to cultivate the favor of the world is not far from betraying the interests of God and his Church." Such a person is not fit, ευθετος, properly disposed, has not his mind properly directed towards the heavenly inheritance, and is not fit to show the way to others. In both these verses there is a plain reference to the call of Elisha. See 1 Kings 19:19, etc.

1. Considering the life of mortification and self-denial which Christ and his disciples led, it is surprising to find that any one should voluntarily offer to be his disciple. But there is such an attractive influence in truth, and such a persuasive eloquence in the consistent steady conduct of a righteous man, that the first must have admirers, and the latter, imitators. Christianity, as it is generally exhibited, has little attractive in it; and it is no wonder that the cross of Christ is not prized, as the blessings of it are not known; and they can be known and exhibited by him only who follows Christ fully.

2. It is natural for man to wish to do the work of God in his own spirit; hence he is ready to call down fire and brimstone from heaven against those who do not conform to his own views of things. A spirit of persecution is abominable. Had man the government of the world, in a short time, not only sects and parties, but even true religion itself, would be banished from the face of the earth. Meekness, long-suffering, and benevolence, become the followers of Christ; and his followers should ever consider that his work can never be done but in his own spirit.

Since the notes on Matthew were published, I have received from Granville Sharp, Esq., a short Treatise, entitled, Remarks on an important Text, (viz. Matthew 16:18), which has long been perverted by the Church of Rome, In Support Of Her Vain And Baneful Pretensions To A Superiority Or Supreme Dominion Over All Other Episcopal Churches.

As I should feel it an honor to introduce the name of such a veteran in the cause of religion, liberty, and learning, into my work, so it gives me pleasure to insert the substance of his tract here, as forming a strong argument against a most Anti-christian doctrine.

"And I also say 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." Matthew 16:18.

"The Greek word πετρος (Petros or Peter) does not mean a rock, though it has, indeed, a relative meaning to the word πετρα, a rock; for it signifies only a little piece of a rock, or a stone, that has been dug out of a rock; whereby the dignity of the real foundation intended by our Lord, which he expressed by the prophetical figure of Petra, (a rock), must necessarily be understood to bear a proportionable superiority of dignity and importance above the other preceding word, Petros; as petra, a real rock, is, comparatively, superior to a mere stone, or particle from the rock; because a rock is the regular figurative expression in Holy Scripture for a Divine Protector: יהוה סלעי Jehovah (is) my rock, (2 Samuel 22:2, and Psalm 18:2). Again, אלהי צורי, my God (is) my rock; (2 Samuel 22:2, and Psalm 18:2); and again, ומי צור מבלעדי אלהינו, and who (is) a rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32.

"Many other examples may be found throughout the Holy Scriptures; but these six alone are surely sufficient to establish the true meaning of the figurative expression used by our Lord on this occasion; as they demonstrate that nothing of less importance was to be understood than that of our Lord's own Divine divinity, as declared by St. Peter in the preceding context - 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!'

"That our Lord really referred to this declaration of Peter, relating to his own Divine dignity, as being the true rock, on which he would build his Church, is established beyond contradiction by our Lord himself, in the clear distinction which he maintained between the stone (πετρος, petros) and the rock, (πετρα, petra), by the accurate grammatical terms in which both these words are expressly recorded. (For whatsoever may have been the language in which they were really spoken, perhaps in Chaldee or Syriac, yet in this point the Greek record is our only authoritative instructer). The first word, πετρος, being a masculine noun, signifies merely a stone; and the second word, πετρα, though it is a feminine noun, cannot signify any thing of less magnitude and importance than a rock, or strong mountain of defense. The true meaning of the name was at first declared by our Lord to be Cephas, a stone; and a learned commentator, Edward Leigh, Esq., asserts that πετρος, doth always signify a Stone, never a rock. Critica Sacra, p. 325.

"With respect to the first. - The word πετρος, petros, in its highest figurative sense of a stone, when applied to Peter, can represent only one true believer, or faithful member of Christ's Church, that is, one out of the great multitude of true believers in Christ, who, as figurative stones, form altogether the glorious spiritual building of Christ's Church, and not the foundation on which that Church is built; because that figurative character cannot, consistently with truth, be applied to any other person than to God, or to Christ alone, as I have already demonstrated by several undeniable texts of Holy Scripture. And though even Christ himself is sometimes, in Holy Scripture, called a stone, (λιθος, but not πετρος), yet, whenever this figurative expression is applied to him, it is always with such a clear distinction of superiority over all other figurative stones as will not admit the least idea of any vicarial stone to be substituted in his place; as, for instance: He is called 'the head stone of the corner,' (Psalm 118:22), 'in Zion a precious corner stone,' (Isaiah 28:16), by whom alone the other living stones of the spiritual house are rendered 'acceptable to God;' as St. Peter himself (previous to his citation of that text of Isaiah) has clearly declared in his address to the Churches dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; wherein he manifestly explains that very text of Isaiah, as follows: - 'Ye also,' (says the apostle), 'as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices Acceptable To God, By' (or through) 'Jesus Christ.' (1 Peter 2:5). Thus plainly acknowledging the true foundation, on which the other living stones of the primitive catholic Church were built, in order to render them 'acceptable to God,' as 'a holy priesthood.'

And the apostle then proceeds (in the very next verse) to his citation of the above-mentioned text from Isaiah: - 'Wherefore also,' (says he, 1 Peter 2:6), 'it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him' (επ' αυτῳ, on him, that is, on Jesus Christ, the only Chief Corner Stone) 'shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore, which believe' (he) 'Is Precious,' (or, an honor; as rendered in the margin), 'but unto them which be disobedient' (he is, δε, also) 'the stone which the builders disallowed, the same' (οὑτος, for there is no other person that can be entitled to this supreme distinction in the Church) 'is made the Head Of The Corner.'

"From this whole argument of St. Peter, it is manifest that there cannot be any other true head of the Church than Christ himself; so that the pretense for setting up a vicarial head on earth, is not only contrary to St. Peter's instruction to the eastern Churches, long after Christ's ascent into heaven; but also (with respect to the inexpediency and impropriety of acknowledging such a vicar on earth as the Roman pretender) is equally contrary to our Lord's own instruction to his disciples (and, of course, also contrary to the faith of the true primitive catholic Church throughout the whole world) when he promised them, that, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name' (said our Lord Jesus, the true rock of the Church) 'there am I in the midst of them,' Matthew 18:20.

"So that the appointment of any 'vicar on earth,' to represent that rock or eternal head of the Church whose continual presence, even with the smallest congregations on earth, is so expressly promised, would be not only superfluous and vain, but must also be deemed a most ungrateful affront to the benevolent Promiser of his continual presence; such as must have been suggested by our spiritual enemies to promote an apostasy from the only sure foundation, on which the faith, hope, and confidence of the true catholic Church can be built and supported!

"Thus, I trust that the true sense of the first noun, πετρος, a stone, is here fairly stated; and also, its relative meaning to the second noun, πετρα, a rock, as far as it can reasonably be deemed applicable to the Apostle Peter.

"And a due consideration also of the second noun, πετρα, a rock, will produce exactly the same effect; that is, it will demonstrate that the supreme title of the rock, which, in other texts of Holy Scripture, is applied to Jehovah, or God, alone, (as I have already shown), most certainly was not intended by our Lord to be understood as applicable to his disciple Peter; but only to that true testimony which St. Peter had just before declared, concerning the Divine dignity of the Messiah - 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'

"I have already remarked that πετρα (a rock) is a feminine noun; and a clear distinction is maintained between πετρος, the masculine noun, in this text, and the said feminine noun πετρα, the rock, by the grammatical terms in which the latter, in its relatives and articles, is expressed, which are all regularly feminine throughout the whole sentence; and thereby they demonstrate that our Lord did not intend that the new appellation, or nominal distinction, which he had just before given to Simon, (viz. πετρος, the masculine noun in the beginning of the sentence), should be construed as the character of which he spoke in the next part of the sentence; for, if he had really intended that construction, the same masculine noun, πετρος, must necessarily have been repeated in the next part of the sentence with a masculine pronoun, viz. επι τουτῳ τῳ πετρῳ, instead of επι ταυτῃ τῃ πετρᾳ, the present text; wherein, on the contrary; not only the gender is changed from the masculine to the feminine, but also the figurative character itself, which is as much superior, in dignity, to the Apostle Simon, and also to his new appellative πετρος, as a rock is superior to a mere stone. For the word πετρος cannot signify any thing more than a stone; so that the popish application to Peter, (or πετρος), as the foundation of Christ's Church, is not only inconsistent with the real meaning of the appellative which Christ, at that very time, conferred upon him, and with the necessary grammatical construction of it, but also with the figurative importance of the other word, πετρα, the rock; επι ταυτῃ τῃ πετρᾳ, 'upon this rock;' the declared foundation of the Church, a title of dignity, which (as I have already shown by several texts of Scripture) is applicable only to God or to Christ.

"And be pleased to observe farther, that the application of this supreme title (the rock) to Peter, is inconsistent (above all) with the plain reference to the preceding Context; made by our Lord in the beginning of this very verse - 'And I Also say unto thee' - which manifestly points out (both by the copulative 'and,' and the connective adverb 'also') the inseparable connection of this verse with the previous declaration of Peter, concerning our Lord's Divine dignity in the preceding sentence - 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;' and thereby demonstrates that our Lord's immediate reply ('And I Also Say unto thee, etc). did necessarily include this declaration of Peter, as being the principal object of the sentence - the true foundation, or rock, on which alone the catholic Church can be properly built; because our faith in Christ (that he is truly 'the Son of the living God') is unquestionably the only security or rock of our salvation.

"And Christ was also the rock even of the primitive Church of Israel; for St. Paul testifies, that 'they' (i.e. the hosts of Israel) 'did all drink of that spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ,' 1 Corinthians 10:4. And the apostle, in a preceding chapter, (1 Corinthians 3:11), says, 'Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.'

"In the margin of our English version of 1 Corinthians 10:4, instead of 'followed them,' we find, 'went with them;' which is not only the literal meaning of the Greek, 'followed them,' but it is also unquestionably true that Christ was, in a more particular manner, the Rock of their defense, when he 'followed them,' than when he 'went before them,' as related in Exodus 13:21, 'And the Lord' (in the Hebrew, expressly, Jehovah) 'Went Before Them by day in a pillar of a cloud to Lead Them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire,' etc. Yet, afterwards, a necessary change was made by the Protector of the hosts of Israel, in his military manoeuvres with the two marching armies, as we are informed in the next chapter, Exodus 14:19. For though, at first, 'he went Before the camp of Israel,' yet he afterwards 'removed, and went Behind them; and the pillar of the cloud removed from before them, and stood' (or rather, was stationed in the order of marching) 'behind them.' Which is properly expressed by St. Paul (in the above-cited text, 1 Corinthians 10:4) as 'the rock that followed them.' For Christ was more particularly 'a rock of defense to Israel,' by this changed manoeuvre in following them; because he thereby prevented the pursuit of their cruel enemies, the standing armies of the Egyptian tyrant.

"I must remark, however, that in the text, which is parallel to St. Paul's testimony that Christ was the Rock which followed, viz. Exodus 14:19, Exodus 14:20, Christ is not mentioned under the supreme title of Jehovah, (as in the preceding chapter, Exodus 13:21), but only as 'an angel of God.' But the angel appointed to this most gracious and merciful purpose of the Almighty was really of a supreme Divine dignity, infinitely superior to all other angels, For (in another parallel text on the same subject, wherein the title of angel is also given, viz. Exodus 23:20-23), God declared, saying, 'My name is in him,' (viz. the name Jehovah, signifying all time, past, present, and future, or the eternal Being). 'Behold,' (said God to the hosts of Israel), 'I send An Angel' (or a messenger) 'before thee, to keep thee in the way,' (the object of intention before described), 'and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him,' [or rather, watch, (thyself), or be respectful before him, לפניך or in his presence], 'and obey his Voice,' (i.e. the Word of God, the true character of Christ, even before the creation); 'provoke him not,' (or rather, murmur not, against him), 'for he will not pardon your transgressions, for My Name Is In Him,' (not placed upon him, as the outward tokens of mere temporary authority are given, to be exhibited like the insignia of nobility, or robes of magistrates, but really 'in him,' בקרבו 'within him,' i.e. thoroughly included in his personal existence). 'But if thou shalt indeed obey His Voice,' (i.e. 'the word of God,' the true figurative character of the Son of God), 'and shalt do all that I Speak,' (for it is Jehovah, the Lord God, that speaketh in Christ), 'then I will be an enemy to thine enemies,' etc. It is therefore unquestionably evident, from the examination of all these texts, that Christ, whom St. Paul has declared to be 'the rock that followed' the Israelites, was also the Lord, or Jehovah, (as he is expressly called in the first text here cited, Exodus 13:21), that 'went before' the Israelites 'by day,' in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in 'the way, and by night in a pillar of fire,' etc., as expressly declared in the first text cited in this note; and, therefore, an attempt to set up any mere mortal man, as the rock or foundation of the true catholic Church, must be attributed either to extreme ignorance of the Holy Scriptures, or to extreme wickedness; but certainly, also, to the delusions of spiritual enemies."

That the power of the keys, or of binding and loosing, belonged equally to all the apostles, the author goes on to prove.

"But there is a testimony of high authority, which renders it unquestionable that this declaration of our Lord respecting the power of 'binding and loosing,' related 'to them,' (the other disciples), 'as well as to him:' - even another declaration, made by our Lord himself, 'to his disciples,' respecting the same identical power, which our Lord attributed equally to all the disciples then present.

"The particular discourse of our Lord to which I now refer seems to have been made at Capernaum, after the miracle of the fish (bearing the tribute money in his mouth) which Peter was sent to catch; as related in the 17th chapter of St. Matthew. And in the beginning of the very next chapter we are informed as follows: - 'At the Same Time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' Our Lord's answer to this question (wherein he urges the necessity of a humiliation like that of little children, as the proper disposition to qualify mankind for the kingdom of heaven) is continued from the 2d verse to the 14th verse of this chapter; which shows that the disciples, in general, were still present, as they would certainly wait for the desired answer to their own question; and then our Lord immediately afterwards proceeded to instruct them (from the 15th to the 17th verse) in the general duty of behavior towards a brother that has trespassed against us. After which our Lord added, (in the 18th verse), 'Verily I say unto You, (ὑμιν, a plural pronoun, which must refer unto all the disciples that were then assembled), 'Whatsoever Ye Shall Bind on earth,' (δησητε, a verb in the second person plural, plainly including all the disciples that were then present), 'shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever Ye Shall Loose on earth,' (λυσητε, another plural verb), 'shall be loosed in heaven.'

"This is exactly the power of the keys, which the Church of Rome has, most absurdly, attributed to St. Peter alone, in order to invest the bishops of Rome (on the vain pretense of their being St. Peter's successors) with an exclusive claim to all these ecclesiastical privileges of binding and loosing, which our Lord manifestly, in this parallel text, attributed to all his faithful apostles, without any partial distinction.

"But the importance of examining, not only parallel texts, but also more particularly the context, of any difficult sentence in Holy Scripture, for a more easy comprehension of the true meaning, is clearly exemplified in the examination of the first text in question, viz. Matthew 16:18, Matthew 16:19; for we are informed in the very next verse, the 20th, that our Lord 'Then charged his disciples,' (τοτε, then, that is, immediately after his discourse about the rock and keys), 'that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ;' manifestly referring to the first circumstance of the context concerning himself, viz. the declaration of Peter, 'Thou art the Christ,' etc., in answer to his own question to all the disciples - 'Whom say ye that Iam?'

"That this question was not addressed to Peter alone is manifest by the plural pronoun and verb, (ὑμεις λεγετε), 'Whom say Ye that I am?' And therefore St. Peter's answer must be considered as intended not merely for himself, but also for his brethren, the other faithful witnesses of Christ's miracles and doctrines; so that the substance of this answer - 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God' - must necessarily be understood as the true foundation or rock of the Catholic Church, revealed to Peter by our heavenly Father, as stated in the 17th and 18th verses.

"This declaration, therefore, that he was the Christ, was manifestly the subject of our Lord's charge to the disciples, that 'they should tell no man;' that is, not until after the time of his sufferings and death, which were the next topics in the continuation of his discourse. The declaration of Peter, therefore, demonstrated the true foundation, or rock, of the Church, which (as Christ himself testified) our heavenly Father had revealed to Peter. And it is also remarkable, that the very next discourse of our Lord to his disciples, recorded in the context, (Matthew 16:21), should produce that severe censure against Peter, which still farther demonstrated that Peter could not be the rock on which Christ's Church was to be built. (Matthew 16:21). 'From that time forth' (απο τοτε) 'began Jesus to show 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,' (all the predicted consequences of his being the Christ, the character which Peter himself had declared), 'and' (that he should) 'be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him,' (Matthew 16:22), 'and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord,' (or, rather, according to the Greek original, as rendered in the margin - 'Pity thyself, Lord') - 'this shall not be unto thee. But he' (Christ, Matthew 16:23) 'turned and said unto Peter,' [τῳ πετρῳ, the same appellative (signifying a stone, or a small part of a rock) which was given to Peter by our Lord, in the 18th verse] - 'Get thee behind me, Satan, (said our Lord), thou art an offense unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God; but those that be of men.'

"Thus a fair examination and comparison of the whole context, completely sets aside the vain supposition of the Romish Church, that Peter was the rock of Christ's Church. And I sincerely hope that a similar attention to this whole context may prevent any future attempts, that might otherwise be prompted by the prejudices of Roman Catholics, to bring forward again this long-disputed question, on which they have vainly set up the pretended supremacy of the Romish Church above all other episcopal Churches; and that it may be silenced, and set at rest, for ever hereafter."

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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