Matthew 16:17
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
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(17) Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona.—Looking to the reality of our Lord’s human nature, its capacity for wonder (Mark 6:6, Luke 7:9), anger (Mark 3:5), sorrow (John 11:35, Luke 19:41), and other emotions, it is not over-bold to recognise in these words something like a tone of exalted joy. It is the first direct personal beatitude pronounced by Him; and, as such, presents a marked contrast to the rebukes which had been addressed to Peter, as to the others, as being “without understanding,” “of little faith,” with “their heart yet hardened.” Here, then, He had found at last the clear, unshaken, unwavering faith which was the indispensable condition for the manifestation of His kingdom as a visible society upon earth. The beatitude is solemnised (as in John 1:42) by the full utterance of the name which the disciple had borne before he was called by the new name of Cephas, or Peter, to the work of an Apostle. He was to distinguish between the old natural and the new supernatural life. (Comp. John 21:15.)

Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.—Better, It was not flesh and blood that revealed. The words are used in their common Hebrew meaning (as in John 1:13; 1Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 6:12) for human nature, human agency, in all their manifold forms. The disciple had received the faith which he now professed, not through popular rumours, not through the teaching of scribes, but by a revelation from the Father. He was led, in the strictest sense of the words, through the veil of our Lord’s human nature to recognise the divine.

Matthew 16:17. Jesus answered, Blessed [or happy, as μακαριος signifies] art thou, Simon Bar-jona, (or the son of Jonas,) namely, in being brought thus firmly to believe and confess this most important truth, on believing and confessing which the present and everlasting salvation of mankind depends. For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee — “Thou hast not learned it by human report, or the unassisted sagacity of thy own mind; but my Father in heaven has discovered it to thee, and wrought in thy soul this cordial assent, in the midst of those various prejudices against it which present circumstances might suggest.” Our Lord proceeds, and promises, (alluding to his surname of Peter, from πετρα, a rock,) that he should have a principal concern in establishing Christ’s kingdom. Thou art Peter — As if he had said, “Thou art, as thy name signifies, a substantial rock; and as thou hast shown it in this good confession, I assure thee that upon this rock I will build my church. Faith in me as the Son of God shall be its great support, and I will use thee as a glorious instrument in raising it: yea, so immoveable and firm shall its foundation be, and so secure the superstructure, that though earth and hell unite their assaults against it, and death in its most dreadful forms be armed for its destruction; the gates of hell, or the unseen world, shall not finally prevail against it to its ruin: but one generation of Christians shall arise after another, even to the very end of time, to maintain this truth, and to venture their lives and their souls upon it, till at length the whole body of them be redeemed from the power of the grave.” See Doddridge, who further observes, “This is one of those scriptures, the sense of which might be most certainly fixed by the particular tone of voice and gesture with which it was spoken. If our Lord altered his accent, and laid his hand on his breast, it would show that he spoke, not of the person, but of the confession of Peter, (as most Protestant divines have understood it,) and meant to point out himself as the great foundation.” Compare 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. In confirmation of this sense, it may be observed, that when our Lord says, Upon this rock, he does not make use of the word πετρος, as if he referred to Peter himself, but πετρα, which is an appellative noun, and immediately refers to Peter’s confession. “But if, when our Lord uttered these words, he turned to the other apostles, and pointed to Peter, that would show he meant to intimate the honour he would do him, in making him an eminent support to his church. This is the sense which Grotius, Le Clerc, Dr. Whitby, and L’Enfant defend. But to be a foundation in this sense, was not Peter’s honour alone; his brethren shared with him in it, (see Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14,) as they did also in the power of binding and loosing, Matthew 18:18; John 20:23. — On the whole, how weak the arguments are which the Papists draw from hence, to support the supremacy of Peter in their wild sense of it, is sufficiently shown by Bishop Burnet On the Articles, p. 196; Dr. Barrow On the Creed, sermon twenty- eight; Dr. Patrick in his sermon on this text, and many more not necessary to be named. There seems a reference in this expression to the common custom of building citadels upon a rock.” The gates of hell — As gates and walls were the strength of cities, and as courts of judicature were held in their gates, this phrase properly signifies the power and policy of Satan and his instruments: shall not prevail against it — Not against the church universal, so as to destroy it. And they never did, for there hath been a small remnant in all ages. And they never will, for faithful is he who hath made this promise, and he will certainly fulfil it.

16:13-20 Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they were assured of our Lord's being the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more than man. Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching of God made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christ added that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stability or firmness in professing the truth. The word translated rock, is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning. Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rock as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord next declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. He spoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them as well as to him. They had no certain knowledge of the characters of men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their own conduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way of acceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer's character and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers and hypocrites. In such matters their decision was right, and it was confirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either to absolve or retain men's sins, are blasphemous and absurd. None can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful.And Jesus answered, Blessed art thou ... - Simon Bar-jona is the same as Simon son of Jona. Bar is a Syriac word signifying son. The father of Peter, therefore, was Jona, or Jonas, John 1:42; John 21:16-17.

Blessed - That is, happy, honored, evincing a proper spirit, and entitled to the approbation of God.

For flesh and blood - This phrase usually signifies man (see Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 6:12), and it has been commonly supposed that Jesus meant to say that man had not revealed it, but he seems rather to have referred to himself. "This truth you have not learned from my lowly appearance, from my human nature, from my apparent rank and standing in the world. You, Jews, were expecting to know the Messiah by his external splendor; his pomp and power as a man; but you have not learned me in this manner. I have shown no such indication of my Messiahship. Flesh and blood have not shown it. In spite of my appearance, my lowly state - my lack of resemblance to what you have expected, you have learned it as from God." They had been taught this by Jesus' miracles, his instructions, and by the direct teachings of God upon their minds. To "reveal" is to make known, or communicate something that was unknown or secret.

17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou—Though it is not to be doubted that Peter, in this noble testimony to Christ, only expressed the conviction of all the Twelve, yet since he alone seems to have had clear enough apprehensions to put that conviction in proper and suitable words, and courage enough to speak them out, and readiness enough to do this at the right time—so he only, of all the Twelve, seems to have met the present want, and communicated to the saddened soul of the Redeemer at the critical moment that balm which was needed to cheer and refresh it. Nor is Jesus above giving indication of the deep satisfaction which this speech yielded Him, and hastening to respond to it by a signal acknowledgment of Peter in return.

Simon Bar-jona—or, "son of Jona" (Joh 1:42), or "Jonas" (Joh 21:15). This name, denoting his humble fleshly extraction, seems to have been purposely here mentioned, to contrast the more vividly with the spiritual elevation to which divine illumination had raised him.

for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee—"This is not the fruit of human teaching."

but my Father which is in heaven—In speaking of God, Jesus, it is to be observed, never calls Him, "our Father" (see on [1317]Joh 20:17), but either "your Father"—when He would encourage His timid believing ones with the assurance that He was theirs, and teach themselves to call Him so—or, as here, "My Father," to signify some peculiar action or aspect of Him as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Our Lord appeareth here to be mightily pleased with this confession of Peter and the rest of his disciples, (for we shall observe in the Gospel, that Peter was usually the first in speaking, John 6:68), he pronounces him

blessed, and giveth the reason of it afterward.

Simon bar-jona, that is, Simon son of Jona, or, as some would have it, son of John (they think Jona is a contraction of Johanna). Our Lord gives him the same name, John 21:15.

For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. By flesh and blood our Saviour meaneth man, and the reason and wisdom of man. Thus it is often used in Scripture, Isaiah 40:5 Galatians 1:16 Ephesians 6:12. Some note it always signifieth so when it is in Scripture opposed to God. Thou hast not learned this by tradition, or any dictates from man, nor yet by any human ratiocination, but from my Father which is in heaven. This confirmeth what we have Ephesians 2:8, that faith is the gift of God. No man cometh to the Son, but he whom the Father draweth, John 6:44. Men may assent to things from the reports of men, or from the evidence of reason, but neither of these is faith. Faith must be an assent to a proposition upon the authority of God revealing it. Nor doth any man truly and savingly believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, but he in whom God hath wrought such a persuasion; yet is not the ministry of the word needless in the case, because, as the apostle saith, faith comes by hearing, and ministers are God’s instruments by whom men believe. No faith makes a soul blessed but that which is of the operation of God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him,.... Not waiting for any other declaration from them; but taking this to be the sense of them all, he said,

blessed art thou Simon Bar Jona, or son of Jona, or Jonas, as in John 1:42. His father's name was Jonah, whence he was so called: so we read (i) of R. Bo bar Jonah, and of a Rabbi of this very name (k), , Rabbi Simeon bar Jona; for Simon and Simeon are one, and the same name. Some read it Bar Joanna, the same with John; but the common reading is best; Bar Jona signifies "the son of a dove", and Bar Joanna signifies "the son of one that is gracious". Our Lord, by this appellation, puts Peter in mind of his birth and parentage, but does not pronounce him blessed on that account: no true blessedness comes by natural descent; men are by nature children of wrath, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity: though he was Bar Jona, the son of a dove, and his father might be a good man, and answer to his name, and be of a dove like spirit; yet such a spirit was not conveyed from him to Peter by natural generation: and though he might be, according to the other reading, Bar Joanna, or the son of a gracious man, yet grace was not communicated to him thereby; for he was not "born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God", John 1:13. He was a blessed man, not by his first, but by his second birth; and the reason why our Lord makes mention of his father, is to observe to him, that he was the son of a mean man, and had had, but a mean education, and therefore his blessedness in general was not of nature, but of grace, and this branch of it in particular; the knowledge he had of the Messiah, was not owing to his earthly father, or to the advantage of an education, but to the revelation he had from Christ's Father which is in heaven, as is hereafter affirmed. He is pronounced "blessed", as having a true knowledge of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal; and all such as he are so, appear to be the favourites of God, to have an interest in Christ and in all the blessings of his grace; are justified by his righteousness, pardoned through his blood, are accepted in him, have communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, and shall live eternally with them hereafter.

For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee: nothing is more frequent to be met with in Jewish writings, than the phrase of "flesh and blood", as designing men in distinction from God: so the first man is said (l) to be

"the workmanship of the blessed God, and not the workmanship , "of flesh and blood".''

Again (m), , "flesh and blood", who knows not the times and seasons, &c. but the holy, blessed God, who knows the times and seasons, &c. Instances of this way of speaking are almost without number: accordingly, the sense here is, that this excellent confession of faith, which Peter had delivered, was not revealed unto him, nor taught him by any mere man; he had not it from his immediate parents, nor from any of his relations, or countrymen; nor did he attain to the knowledge of what is expressed in it, by the dint of nature, by the strength of carnal reason, or the force of his own capacity and abilities:

but my Father which is in heaven; from whom both the external and internal revelation of such truths come; though not to the exclusion of the Son, by whose revelation the Gospel is taught, and received; nor of the Holy Ghost, who is a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, but in opposition to, and distinction from any mere creature whatever. Neither the Gospel, nor any part of it, is an human device or discovery; it is not after man, nor according to the carnal reason of man; it is above the most exalted and refined reason of men; it has in it what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive of: its truths are the deep things of God, which the Spirit of God searches and reveals: and which men, left to the light of nature, and force of reason, must have been for ever ignorant of, and could never have discovered. The Gospel is a revelation, it consists of revealed truths; and which are to be received and believed upon the testimony and credit of the revealer, without entering into carnal reasonings, and disputes about them; and it is the highest reason, and the most noble use of reason, to embrace it at once, as coming from God; for this revelation is from heaven, and from Christ's Father; particularly the deity, sonship, and Messiahship of Christ, are doctrines of pure revelation: that there is a God, is discoverable by the light of nature; and that he is the living God, and gives being, and life, and breath, and all things, to his creatures; but that he has a Son of the same nature with him, and equal to him, who is the Messiah, and the Saviour of lost sinners, this could never have been found out by flesh and blood: no man knows the Son, but the Father, and he to whom he reveals him; he bears witness of him, and declares him to be his Son, in whom he is well pleased; and happy are those who are blessed with the outward revelation of Jesus Christ in the Gospel, but more especially such to whom the Father reveals Christ in them the hope of glory!

(i) Juchasin, fol. 85. 1.((k) Ib. fol. 105. 1.((l) Zohar in Gen. fol. 43. 3.((m) R. Simeon in Jarchi in Gen. ii. 2.

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

(4) Faith is of grace, not of nature.

(k) By this kind of speech is meant man's natural procreation upon the earth, the one who was made, not being destroyed, but deformed through sin: So then this is the meaning: this was not revealed to you by any understanding of man, but God showed it to you from heaven.

Matthew 16:17. Simon, son (בַּר) of Jona, a solemnly circumstantial style of address, yet not intended as a contrast to the designation of him as Peter which is about to follow (de Wette), in connection with which view many expositors have allegorized the Βαριωνᾶ in an arbitrary and nugatory fashion, but merely on account of the importance of the subsequent statement, in which case Βαριωνᾶ is to be ascribed to the practice of adding the patronymic designation, and blending the βάρ. with the proper name (Matthew 10:3; Acts 13:6; Mark 10:46).

ὅτι] because thou art favoured far above my other followers in having had such a revelation as this.

σὰρξ κ. αἷμα] בָּשָׂר וְדָם (among the Rabbis), paraphrastic expression for man, involving the idea of weakness as peculiar to his bodily nature, Sir 14:18; Lightfoot on this passage; Bleek’s note on Hebrews 2:14. Comp. the note on Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 6:12. Therefore to be interpreted thus: no weak mortal (mortalium ullus) has communicated this revelation to thee; but, and so on. Inasmuch as ἀποκαλύπτειν, generally, is a thing to which no human being can pretend, the negative half of the statement only serves to render the positive half all the more emphatic. Others refer σὰρξ κ. αἷμα to ordinary knowledge and ideas furnished by the senses, in contradistinction to πνεῦμα (de Wette, following Beza, Calvin, Calovius, Neander, Olshausen, Glöckler, Baumgarten-Crusius, Keim). Incorrectly, partly because the lower part of man’s nature is denoted simply by σάρξ, not by σὰρξ κ. αἷμα (in 1 Corinthians 15:50 the expression flesh and blood is employed in quite a peculiar, a physical sense), partly because ἀπεκάλυψε (Matthew 11:25) compels us to think exclusively of a knowledge which is obtained in some other way than through the exercise of one’s human faculties. For a similar reason, the blending of both views (Bleek) is no less objectionable.

It must not be supposed that, in describing this confession as the result of a divine revelation, there is anything inconsistent with the fact that, for a long time before, Jesus had, in word and deed, pointed to Himself as the Messiah (comp. above all the Sermon on the Mount, and such passages as Matthew 11:5 f., 27), and had also been so designated by others (John the Baptist, and such passages as Matthew 8:29, Matthew 14:33), nay, more, that from the very first the disciples themselves had recognised Him as the Messiah, and on the strength of His being so had been induced to devote themselves to His person and service (Matthew 4:19; John 1:42; John 1:46; John 1:50); nor are we to regard the point of the revelation as consisting in the ὁ υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ τ. ζῶντος, sometimes supposed (Olshausen) to indicate advanced, more perfect knowledge, a view which it would be difficult to reconcile with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke; but observe: (1) That Jesus is quite aware that, in spite of the vacillating opinions of the multitude, His disciples continue to regard Him as the Messiah, but, in order to strengthen and elevate both them and Himself before beginning (Matthew 16:21) the painful and trying announcement of His future sufferings, and as furnishing a basis on which to take His stand in doing so, He seeks first of all to elicit from them an express and decided confession of their faith. (2) That Peter acts as the mouthpiece of all the others, and with the utmost decision and heartiness makes such a declaration of his belief as, at this turning-point in His ministry, and at a juncture of such grave import as regards the gloomy future opening up before Him, Jesus must have been longing to hear, and such as He could not fail to be in need of. (3) That He, the heart-searching one, immediately perceives and knows that Peter (as ὁ τοῦ χοροῦ τῶν ἀποστόλων κορυφαῖος, Chrysostom) was enabled to make such a declaration from his having been favoured with a special revelation from God (Matthew 11:27), that He speaks of the distinction thus conferred, and connects with it the promise of the high position which the apostle is destined to hold in the church. Consequently ἀπεκάλυψε is not to be understood as referring to some revelation which had been communicated to the disciples at the outset of their career as followers of Jesus, but it is to be restricted to Peter, and to a special revelation from God with which he had been favoured. This confession, founded as it was upon such a revelation, must naturally have been far more deliberate, far more deeply rooted in conviction, and for the Lord and His work of far greater consequence, than that contained in the exclamation of the people in the boat (Matthew 14:33) when under the influence of a momentary feeling of amazement, which latter incident, however, our present passage does not require us to treat as unhistorical (Keim and others); comp. note on Matthew 14:33.

Observe, further, how decidedly the joyful answer of Jesus, with the great promise that accompanies it, forbids the supposition that He consented to accept the title and dignity of a Messiah only from “not being able to avoid a certain amount of accommodation” to the ideas of the people (Schenkel; see, on the other hand, Weissenborn, p. 43 ff.).

Matthew 16:17-19. Solemn address of Jesus to Peter, peculiar to Mt., and of doubtful authenticity in the view of many modern critics, including Wendt (Die Lehre Jesu, i., p. 181), either an addendum by the evangelist or introduced at a later date by a reviser. This question cannot be fully discussed here. It must suffice to say that psychological reasons are in favour of something of the kind having been said by Jesus. It was a great critical moment in His career, at which His spirit was doubtless in a state of high tension. The firm tone of conviction in Peter’s reply would give Him a thrill of satisfaction demanding expression. One feels that there is a hiatus in the narratives of Mk. and Lk.: no comment, on the part of Jesus, as if Peter had delivered himself of a mere trite commonplace. We may be sure the fact was not so. The terms in which Jesus speaks of Peter are characteristic—warm, generous, unstinted. The style is not that of an ecclesiastical editor laying the foundation for Church power and prelatic pretensions, but of a noble-minded Master eulogising in impassioned terms a loyal disciple. Even the reference to the “Church” is not unseasonable. What more natural than that Jesus, conscious that His labours, outside the disciple circle, have been fruitless, so far as permanent result is concerned, should fix His hopes on that circle, and look on it as the nucleus of a new regenerate Israel, having for its raison d’être that it accepts Him as the Christ? And the name for the new Israel, ἐκκλησία, in His mouth is not an anachronism. It is an old familiar name for the congregation of Israel, found in Deut. (Matthew 18:16; Matthew 23:2) and Psalms (Matthew 22:26), both books well known to Jesus.

17. Bar-jona] “son of Jonah.” Bar is Aramaic for son; cp. Barabbas, Bar-tholomew, Bar-nabas.

for flesh and blood, &c.] Not man, but God; “flesh and blood” was a common Hebrew expression in this contrast.

Matthew 16:17. Μακάριος, blessed) This word signifies a condition not only blessed, but at the same time rare; see ch. Matthew 13:16. Jesus had not previously told His disciples explicitly that He was the Christ. He had done and said those things by which, through the revelation of the Father, they might recognise Him as the Christ.—Σίμων Βὰρ Ἰωνᾶ, Simon Bar-jona) This express naming signifies that the Lord knoweth them that are His, and recalls to Peters remembrance that sample of omniscience which had been given to him in John 1:42; cf. ibid. Matthew 21:15.[738]—ΣᾺΡΞ ΚΑῚ ΑἿΜΑ, flesh and blood) i.e. any man whatsover; flesh and blood are put by metonymy[739] for body and soul: see Ephesians 6:12; Galatians 1:16. No mortal at that time knew this truth before Peter; see Matthew 16:14.—ΟὐΚ ἈΠΕΚΆΛΥΨΕ, hath not revealed) The knowledge of Christ is not obtained except by Divine revelation; see ch. Matthew 11:27.—ὁ Πατήρ Μου, κ.τ.λ., My Father, etc.) By these words the sum and substance of Peter’s confession is repeated and confirmed. The heavenly Father had revealed it to Peter by the teaching of Jesus Christ, and thus inscribed it on the apostle’s heart.

[738] Peter himself hardly thought that he was so acceptable [before God]. Blessed is the man, not he who attributes aught to himself on his own authority, but whom the Lord pronounces to be blessed.—V. g.

[739] See explanation of technical terms in Appendix.—(I. B.)

Verse 17. - Jesus answered and said unto him. This weighty and momentous answer is given alone by St. Matthew. St. Mark, who wrote under the instruction of Peter, and for Roman Christians, mentions it not; the other two evangelists are equally silent, having evidently not understood the special importance attached to it. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona. "Blessed," as in the sermon on the mount (ch. 5.), expressing a solemn benediction, not a mere encomium. Peter was highly favoured by a special revelation from God. Christ calls him "son of Jona," to intimate that Peter's confession is true - that he himself is as naturally and truly Son of God as Peter is son of Jona. So Christ addresses him when he restores the fallen apostle at the Sea of Galilee after the second miraculous draught of fishes, reminding him of his frail human nature in the face of great spiritual privileges (John 21:15, etc.; comp. Matthew 1:42). Simon would be the name given at his circumcision; Bar-jona, a patronymic to distinguish him from others of the same name. For (ὅτι). This introduces the reason why Christ calls him "Blessed." Flesh and blood. This is a phrase to express the idea of the natural man, with his natural endowments and faculties. So St. Paul says (Galatians 1:16), "I conferred not with flesh and blood;" and "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12). The Son of Sirach speaks of "the generation of flesh and blood" (Ecclus. 14:18). No natural sagacity, study, or discernment had revealed the great truth. None of these had overcome slowness of apprehension, prejudices of education, slackness of faith. No unregenerate mortal man had taught him the gospel mystery. My Father which is in heaven. Christ thus accepts Peter's definition of him as "the Son of the living God." None but the Father could have revealed to thee the Son. Matthew 16:17Blessed (μακάριος)

See on Matthew 5:3.

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