Matthew 16:21
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
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(21) From that time forth began Jesus.—The prominence given to the prediction shows that it came upon the minds of the disciples as something altogether new. They had failed to understand the mysterious hints of the future which we find in, “Destroy this temple” (John 2:19), in the Son of Man being “lifted up” (John 3:14), in the sign of the prophet “Jonas” (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4). Now the veil is uplifted, and the order of events is plainly foretold—the entry into Jerusalem, the rejection, the condemnation, the death, the resurrection. It is obvious that if we accept the record as true the prediction is one which implies a foreknowledge that is at least supernatural, and is so far evidence of a divine mission, if not also of a divine nature in the speaker. And it may well be urged that in this case the incidents which surround the prediction—as, e.g., Peter’s protest, and the rebuke addressed to him in such striking contrast with the previous promise—have a character of originality and unexpectedness which negatives the hypothesis of its being a prophecy after the event. On the other hand, the fact that the disciples did not take in the meaning of the prediction as to His rising from the dead may, in its turn, be pleaded in bar of the assumption that the prophecy lingered in men’s minds, and suggested the belief in a mythical, in the absence of a real, fulfilment.

Matthew 16:21. From that time forth — When they had made that full confession of Christ that he was the Messiah, the Son of God; began Jesus to show unto his disciples — Another most important point, namely, that he must suffer and be put to death, as a malefactor. If they had not been well grounded in their belief of Christ’s being the Son of God, it would have been a great shock to their faith to be informed that he must suffer and die. Some hints, indeed, our Lord had already given of his sufferings, as when he said, Destroy this temple, and spoke of the Son of man being lifted up, and of eating his flesh and drinking his blood; but hitherto he had not spoken plainly and expressly of the subject, because the disciples were weak, and could not have borne the notice of a thing so very strange and so very melancholy. But now, as they were more advanced in knowledge and stronger in faith, he began to reveal this to them: for he declares his mind to his people gradually, and lets in light as they can bear it, and are prepared to receive it. How that he must go unto Jerusalem — The holy city, the royal city, and suffer there. Though he had lived most of his time in Galilee, he must die at Jerusalem; there all the sacrifices were offered; and there, therefore, He must die who was to be the great sacrifice. Thither he was to go within the short space of a few months, this declaration being made in the last year of his life: and instead of being owned, under the royal character he bore, and submitted to by the princes and people, must suffer many things from the elders — The most honourable and experienced men; from the chief priests — Accounted the most religious, and the scribes — The most learned body of men in the nation. These made up the great sanhedrim, which sat at Jerusalem, and was had in veneration by the people: and these one would have expected to have been the very first to receive him. But instead of this, they were the most bitter in persecuting him! Strange, indeed, that men of knowledge in the Scriptures, who professed to expect the Messiah’s coming, and sustained a sacred character, should use him with such contumely and cruelty when he came! It was the Roman power, indeed, that condemned and crucified Christ; but the principal share of the guilt of the whole business lies at the door of the chief priests and scribes, who were the first and principal movers in it. From them he suffered many things, things which manifested their insatiable malice, and his invincible patience, and in the issue was killed: for nothing short of his death would either satisfy the malice of his enemies, or render him a proper sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Our Lord, however, while he brought to his disciples these melancholy tidings, added, for their support and encouragement under this gloomy prospect, that in the third day he should be raised again. And thus, as all the prophets had done, when he testified beforehand his sufferings, he bore witness likewise to the glory that should follow, 1 Peter 1:11. His rising again the third day proved him to be the Son of God, notwithstanding his sufferings, and therefore he mentions it in order that the faith of the disciples might not fail.

16:21-23 Christ reveals his mind to his people gradually. From that time, when the apostles had made the full confession of Christ, that he was the Son of God, he began to show them of his sufferings. He spake this to set right the mistakes of his disciples about the outward pomp and power of his kingdom. Those that follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in this world. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as he did; but we mistake, if we measure Christ's love and patience by our own. We do not read of any thing said or done by any of his disciples, at any time, that Christ resented so much as this. Whoever takes us from that which is good, and would make us fear to do too much for God, speaks Satan's language. Whatever appears to be a temptation to sin, must be resisted with abhorrence, and not be parleyed with. Those that decline suffering for Christ, savour more of the things of man than of the things of God.See also Mark 7:31-33; Luke 9:22. "From that time forth." This was the first intimation that he gave that he was to die in this cruel manner. He had taken much pains to convince them that he was the Messiah; he saw by the confession of Peter that they were convinced, and he then began to prepare their minds for the awful event which was before him. Had he declared this when he first called them they would never have followed him. Their minds Were not prepared for it. They expected a temporal, triumphant prince as the Messiah. He first, therefore, convinced them that he was the Christ, and then, with great prudence, began to correct their apprehensions of the proper character of the Messiah.

Elders - The men of the great council or Sanhedrin. See the notes at Matthew 5:7.

Chief priests and scribes - See the notes at Matthew 3:7.

21. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples—that is, with an explicitness and frequency He had never observed before.

how that he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things—"and be rejected," (Mr 8:31; Lu 9:22).

of the elders and chief priests and scribes—not as before, merely by not receiving Him, but by formal deeds.

and be killed, and be raised again the third day—Mark (Mr 8:32) adds, that "He spake that saying openly"—"explicitly," or "without disguise."

Our Lord taught his hearers by degrees, as they were able to hear and to bear his instruction. He therefore first instructs them in the truth of his Divine nature, and bringeth them to a firm and steady assent to this proposition, That he was the Christ, the Son of God. Lest they should have this faith of theirs shaken by his sufferings and death, he begins to instruct them as to those things, that when they saw it come to pass, they might not be offended, but wait for his resurrection from the dead.

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples,.... From the time that Peter made the confession concerning Jesus, as that he was the Messiah, and Son of God, and which things were clear to all the apostles, he began to teach them more expressly, and to point out to them more clearly, and plainly, his sufferings and death, than he had done before: and this he chose to do now, partly because that their faith in him was well grounded and established, so that they were the better able to bear these things he told them, which before might have been more staggering and discouraging to them; and partly, that being forewarned of them, they would not be so shocking when they came to pass: as also to destroy all their expectations of a temporal kingdom, which they might now be big with, he having so fully and freely owned himself to be the Messiah: and this also furnishes out some reasons why Jesus would not have his disciples, for the present, declare him to be the Messiah, that his death might not, by any means, be prevented, which was so necessary; since, should the princes of the world know him, they would not crucify him: and besides, seeing he was to suffer, and die, and rise again for the salvation of his people, it was proper that all this should be over before he was so publicly declared to be the Messiah, the Saviour, and Redeemer.

How that he must go to Jerusalem: the metropolis of the nation, where the great sanhedrim sat, who only could take cognizance of him, under the imputation of a false prophet, and condemn him to death, and which therefore would be in the most public manner; and though it would add to his reproach, would leave no room to be doubted of. The word "must", not only belongs to his going to Jerusalem, but to his sufferings, death, and resurrection; all which must be because of the immutable decree of God, the council, and covenant of grace, and peace, the prophecies of the Old Testament, and the redemption and salvation of God's elect; these required them, and made them absolutely necessary:

and suffer many things of the elders, chief priests, and Scribes: who would lie in wait for him, send persons to apprehend him, insult, reproach, and despitefully use him; load him with false charges, accusations, and calumnies, and deliver him to the Gentiles, to be mocked, scourged, and crucified: and this is aggravated as what would be done to him, not by the common people, or the dregs of them, but by the principal men of the city, by the sanhedrim, which consisted of the "elders" of the people, their senators; for this is not a name of age, but of office and dignity; and of the "chief priests", the principal of them, those of the greatest note among them, who were chosen members of the grand council; and of "the Scribes", a set of men in high esteem for their learning and wisdom:

and be killed; signifying, that he should not die a natural death, but that his life should be taken from him in a cruel and violent manner, without any regard to law or justice; indeed, that he should be properly murdered; but for the comfort of his disciples, and that they might not be overmuch pressed and cast down, at the hearing of these things, he adds,

and be raised again the third day according to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and the type of Jonas.

{8} From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the {p} elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

(8) The minds of men are at this time to be prepared and made ready against the stumbling block of persecution.

(p) It was a name of dignity and not of age: and it is used for those who were the judges, whom the Hebrews call the Sanhedrin.

Matthew 16:21. Ἀπὸ τότε ἤρξατο] Comp. Matthew 4:17; a note of time marking an important epoch. “Antea non ostenderat,” Bengel. To announce His future sufferings[460] to His disciples, and that immediately after their decided confession, Matthew 16:16, was highly opportune, both as regards their capability and their need—their capability to stand so trying an intimation, and their need of beginning to relinquish their false hopes, and of attaining to a true and exalted conception of what constitutes the work of the Messiah. Mark 8:31 likewise introduces the beginning of the announcement of the future sufferings somewhat prominently after Peter’s confession, whereas Luke 9:21 f. omits it altogether.

δεῖ] Necessity in accordance with a divine purpose, Matthew 26:54; Luke 24:26; John 3:14.

ἈΠΕΛΘΕῖΝ ΕἸς ἹΕΡΟς.] because connected with ΚΑῚ ΠΟΛΛᾺ ΠΑΘΕῖΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., does not forbid the idea of previous visits to Jerusalem mentioned by John (in answer to Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 89); comp. Matthew 23:37.

ἀπό] at the hands of; comp. note on Matthew 11:19.

τῶν πρεσβ. κ. ἀρχ. κ. γραμμ.] This circumstantial way of designating the Sanhedrim (comp. note on Matthew 2:4) has here something of a solemn character.

ἀποκτανθ.] further detail (though with Matthew 16:24 already in view) reserved for Matthew 20:19. What Jesus contemplates is not being stoned to death by the people (Hausrath), but judicial murder through the decision of a court of justice.

ΚΑῚ Τῇ ΤΡΊΤῌ ἩΜ. ἘΓΕΡΘῆΝΑΙ] With so clear and distinct a prediction of the resurrection, it is impossible to reconcile the fact that, utterly disheartened by the death of their Lord, the disciples should have had no expectation whatever that He would come to life again, that they consequently embalmed the body, and that even on the Sunday morning the women wanted to anoint it; that they should have placed a heavy stone at the mouth of the grave, and afterwards are utterly at a loss to account for the empty sepulchre, and treat the statement that He has risen and appeared again as simply incredible, some of them even doubting His identity when they do see Him; and further, that the risen Jesus appeals, indeed, to an Old Testament prediction (Luke 24:25), but not to His own; just as John, in like manner, accounts for Peter and himself not believing in the resurrection till they had actually seen the empty grave, merely from their having hitherto failed to understand the scripture (John 20:9). All this is not to be disposed of by simply saying that the disciples had not understood the prediction of Jesus (Mark 9:22); for had it been so plainly and directly uttered, they could not have failed to understand it, especially as, in the course of His own ministry, cases had occurred of the dead being restored to life, and as the Messianic hopes of the disciples must have disposed them to give a ready reception to tidings of a resurrection. Then, again, the fulfilment would necessarily have had the effect of awakening both their memory and their understanding, and that all the more that precisely then light was being shed upon the mysterious saying regarding the temple of the body (John 2:21 f.). We must therefore suppose that Jesus had made certain dark, indefinite allusions to His resurrection, which as yet had not been apprehended in their true meaning, and that it was only ex eventu that they assumed, in the course of tradition, the clear and definite form of a prediction such as is now before us. It is only such faint, obscure hints that are as yet to be met with in John 2:19; John 10:17 f., and see observation on Matthew 12:40. Comp. besides, Hasert, üb. d. Vorhersag. Jesu von s. Tode u. s. Auferst. 1839, Neander, de Wette, Ammon. Other expositors (Paulus, Hase, Scholten, Schenkel, Volkmar), arbitrarily ignoring those traces of a dim prophetic hint of the resurrection, have contended that, originally, nothing more was meant than a symbolical allusion,—an allusion, that is, to the new impetus that would be given to the cause of Jesus, while some of them have denied that any announcement of the death ever took place at all (Strauss; see, on the other hand, Ebrard). But the arguments of Süskind (in Flatt’s Magaz. VII. p. 181 ff.), Heydenreich (in Hüffel’s Zeitschr. II. p. 7 ff.), Kuinoel, Ebrard, and others in favour of the perfect authenticity of the definite and literal predictions of the resurrection, are not conclusive, and, to some extent, move in a circle.

[460] Whoever supposes that it was only somewhere about this time that the thought of His impending sufferings and death first began to dawn upon Jesus (Hase, Weizsäcker, Keim, Wittichen), can do so only by ignoring previous statements on the part of the Lord, which already point with sufficient clearness to His painful end (see especially Matthew 9:15, Matthew 10:38, Matthew 12:40)—statements the testimony of which is to be set aside only by explaining away and rejecting them by the artifice of mixing up together dates of different times, and the like, and thus depriving them of validity, a course which is decidedly opposed to the Gospel of John (comp. John 1:29,John 2:19, John 3:14, John 6:51 ff.) so long as its authenticity is recognised!

Matthew 16:21-28. Announcement of the Passion with relative conversation (Mark 8:31 to Mark 9:1; Luke 9:22-27).

21. From that time forth] An important note of time. Now that the disciples have learned to acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, He is able to instruct them in the true nature of the Kingdom.

elders and chief priests and scribes]=the Sanhedrin. See ch. Matthew 2:4, and Matthew 26:3.

be killed] As yet there is no mention of the Roman judge or of the death upon the cross; this truth is broken gradually, see Matthew 16:24.

be raised again the third day] How can the plainness of this intimation be reconciled with the slowness of the disciples to believe in the Resurrection? Not by supposing that obscure hints of the Passion were afterwards put into this explicit form; but rather (1) partly by the blindness of those who will not see; (2) partly by the constant use of metaphor by Jesus. “Might not,” they would argue, “this ‘death and rising again’ be a symbol of a glorious visible kingdom about to issue from our present debasement?”

21–23. The Passion is foretold

Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9:22. St Luke omits the rebuke to Peter

Matthew 16:21. Ἀπὸ τότε, at that time and thenceforwardἤρξατο, κ.τ.λ., began, etc.) It is clear, therefore, that He had not shown it them before.[755] The Gospel may be divided into two parts, from which the Divine plan of Jesus shines forth. The first proposition is, Jesus is the Christ; the second, Christ must suffer, die, and rise again (cf. John 16:30-32), or more briefly, Christ by death will enter into glory. Jesus first convinced His disciples of the first proposition (de subjecto):[756] in consequence of which they were bound to believe Him concerning the second (de prædicato), even before His passion. After His ascension, the people first learnt the second proposition (prædicatum), and thence were convinced of the first (de subjecto); see Acts 17:3. As soon as Jesus had persuaded His disciples of the first proposition (Matthew 16:16), He added the second.[757] Afterwards He led them to the mountain of Transfiguration.[758] The order of the evangelic harmony is of great importance with regard to the observing of these things. Men frequently teach all things at once: Divine wisdom acts far otherwise.—δεικνύειν, to show), i.e. openly.—ὅτι δεῖ Αὐτὸν ἀπελθεῖν, that He must go) and at the same time relinquish that mode of living to which the disciples had become habituated.—παθεῖν, to suffer) When aught of glory accrued to Jesus, as in this instance by the confession of Peter, then He was especially wont to make mention of His approaching passion. This first announcement mentions His passion and death generally; the second, in ch. Matthew 17:22-23, adds His being betrayed into the hands of sinners; the third, in ch. Matthew 20:17-19, at length expresses His stripes, cross, etc. The first was nearer in point of time to the second, than the second to the third.—πρεσβυτέρων, ἀρχιερέων, γραμματέων, elders—chief priests—scribes) Three classes of those who ought to have led the people to the Messiah; corresponding nearly to the Council of Justice, the Consistory, and the Theological Faculty of modern times.—ἐγερθῆναι, to be raised) He adds nothing yet of His ascension. By degrees, all further and later particulars are disclosed; see Matthew 16:27.

[755] Except in covert [enigmatical] words.—V. g.

[756] “De subjecto,” “de prædicato,” lit. “of the subject,” “of the prædicate.” I have ventured to render the passage in language more generally intelligible.—(I. B.)

[757] Viz., In Matthew 16:21, etc., as to His suffering, death, and resurrection.—ED.

[758] Where the same voice sounded from heaven, as before His baptism, “This is my Beloved Son;” there being added the Epiphonema, or appended exhortation, “Hear Him.” To wit, He was to be heard, or given heed to, especially in regard to those things which had constituted the main subject of the conversation very recently held on the mountain (between the Lord and Moses and Elias, Luke 9:31), concerning his approaching “decease at Jerusalem”—concerning His Passion, I say, His Death and His Resurrection.—Harm., p. 370.

Verse 21-ch. 25:46. - SUFFERING: JESUS ACCEPTS AND DOES NOT SHUN IT. Verses 21-28. - Jesus announces plainly his death and resurrection. Rebukes Peter. (Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:22-27.) Verse 21. - From that time. Henceforward Christ changes his teaching and his behaviour. He tells of his sufferings, and of their necessity in the order of things, so that any one who opposes this design is fighting against God; and shows how self-denial and pain must be the lot of his followers. Began to show unto his disciples. No longer obscurely, but plainly and without reserve. He had already intimated his future sufferings, though his disciples had been slow to receive these dark hints, so opposed to all their preconceived opinions of Messiah's glory and victorious career. Such sayings as, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19); and, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John 3:14), had fallen unheeded on the disciples' ears, and had not guided them to forecast the future. Even the allusions to their own trials, in the warnings about bearing the cross and following him (Matthew 10:38), were not understood. The great point of his real nature had become clear to them; they had now to learn that the way to glory, both for him and them, led through suffering and death. Conscious of Christ's Divinity, they could now more patiently endure the mystery of his cross and Passion. Unto Jerusalem. The appointed scene of these events (see Matthew 20:17). He must (δεῖ) go thither to meet and endure these sufferings, because it was so ordained in the counsels of God and announced by the prophets (comp. Matthew 26:54; Luke 24:26, 46). Many things. These are detailed in Matthew 20:18, 19; Luke 18:31-33. Elders, chief priests, and scribes. The various members of the Sanhedrin (see Matthew 2:4). The three classes are, in Nosgen's opinion, intentionally named here - the elders, as the most aged and venerated members, or such as were distinguished by rank and character; the chief priests, heads of the twenty-four courses, as office bearers of the theocracy; and scribes, at that time occupying almost the position of the prophets. The whole religious world would thus be combined against Christ. Be killed. He does not here say "crucified," as he did afterwards (Matthew 20:19), only gradually revealing the whole awful truth. Be raised again the third day. This announcement was intended to support the disciples in view of Christ's sufferings and death. And "the third day" is mentioned, not only for typical reasons, but to assure them that his death should be speedily followed by his return to life from the grave. It is obvious to us that Jesus prophesied plainly concerning his resurrection; but such an event, so unprecedented, so unexperienced, was not understood; and though the prediction was so far known as to cause his grave to be watched, it was only a vague kind of expectation, without form or definiteness, that was cherished, and the actual fact came as a surprise (see Mark 9:10, 32). Matthew 16:21From that time began (ἀπὸ τότε ἤρξατο)

He had not shown it to them before.

Must (δεῖ)

It was necessary in fulfilment of the divine purpose. See Matthew 26:54; Hebrews 8:3; Luke 24:26.


This first announcement mentions his passion and death generally; the second (Matthew 17:22, Matthew 17:23), adds his betrayal into the hands of sinners; the third (Matthew 20:17-19), at length expresses his stripes, cross, etc.

Elders and chief priests and scribes

A circumstantial way of designating the Sanhedrim, or supreme council of the Jewish nation.

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