Matthew 16:23
But he turned, and said to Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense to me: for you mind not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) He turned, and said to Peter.—St. Mark adds, significantly, “when He had turned about and looked on His disciples.” They, we may believe, stood behind, watching the effect of the remonstrance which Peter had uttered as their spokesman, and therefore, the Lord reading their thoughts, the rebuke, though addressed to him, was spoken so that they too might hear.

Get thee behind me, Satan.—The sharpness of the words indicates a strong and intense emotion. The chief of the Apostles was addressed in the self-same terms as those which had been spoken to the Tempter (see Note on Matthew 4:10). It was, indeed, nothing less than a renewal of the same temptation. In this suggestion, that He might gain the crown without the cross, and attain a kingdom of this world as the princes of the world obtain their kingdoms, the Christ saw the recurrence of the temptation which had offered Him the glory of those kingdoms on condition of His drawing back from the path which the Father had appointed for Him, with the associations that had gathered round its original.

Thou art an offence unto me.—The Greek word is, of course, to be taken as meaning a stumbling block, an impediment. So taken, it presents a suggestive contrast to the previous promise. Peter is still a stone, but it is as “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” (Isaiah 8:14; 1Peter 2:8). He is hindering, not forwarding his Master’s work. For one who loved his Lord as Peter did—his very love in this instance prompting the rash words—this was at once the sharpest and yet the tenderest, and therefore the most effective, rebuke that could have been uttered.

Thou savourest not the things that be of God.—The verb, though found in all English versions from Wiclif downwards, and suggested by the sapis of the Vulgate, was never a very happy one, and is now so archaic as to be misleading. It may help us to understand it, to remember that our savour and the French savoir are both forms derived from the Latin sapere, and that the translators were so far justified in using it to describe a mental state, or rather act. Elsewhere the word is rendered “mind,” or “set affection on,” as, e.g.,mind the things of the flesh,” or “of the spirit” (Romans 8:5), and “set your affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2); and this is obviously a more satisfactory rendering. Peter’s sin lay in the fact that his mind was set on the things of earth, its outward pomp and pageantry, measuring the future by a human not a divine standard.

It is hardly a needless divergence from the work of mere interpretation to suggest that the weakness of Peter has been again and again reproduced in the history of Christendom at large, most conspicuously in the history of the Church which rests its claims on the greatness of the Apostle’s name. The annals of the Papacy, from the colossal sovereignty, which formed the ideal of Hildebrand, down to the last struggle for temporal power, is but the record of the zeal not according to knowledge of those who “savoured not the things that be of God, but those that be of man.” So far as this was so, they were working, though they knew it not, for evil and not for good, even as the chief of the Apostles when he thus became of one mind with the spirit of the world, which is also the spirit of the Tempter, placed himself for the moment on a level with the disciple whom our Lord had hinted at as a “devil,” because the seeds of treachery and greed of gain were already working in his soul (John 6:70).

Matthew 16:23. But he turned and said unto Peter — Mark reads, When he had turned about and looked on his disciples, (who by the air of their countenances, probably, seemed to approve what they had heard Peter say to him,) he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan — That is, out of my sight. “He looked at him,” says Baxter, “with displeasure, and said, I say to thee as I did to the devil when he tempted me, Get thee behind me, for thou doest the work of Satan, the adversary, in tempting me, for self-preservation, to violate my Father’s command, and my undertaking, and to forsake the work of man’s redemption and salvation. As thy counsel savoureth not the things that be of God, (namely, his will, work, and glory,) but the things that be of men, (or the love of the body and this present life,) so it signifies what is in thy heart; take heed lest this carnality prevail.” Our Lord is not recorded to have given so sharp a reproof to any other of his apostles, on any occasion. He saw it was needful for the pride of Peter’s heart, puffed up with the commendation lately given him. Perhaps the term Satan may not barely mean, Thou art my enemy, while thou fanciest thyself most my friend; but also, Thou art acting the very part of Satan, both by endeavouring to hinder the redemption of mankind, and by giving me the most deadly advice that can ever spring from the pit of hell. Thou savourest not — Dost not relish or desire. We may learn from hence, 1st, that whosoever says to us in such a case, Favour thyself is acting the part of the devil: 2d, that the proper answer to such an adviser is, Get thee behind me: 3d, that otherwise he will be an offence to us, an occasion of our stumbling, if not falling: 4th, that this advice always proceeds from the not relishing the things of God, but the things of men. Yea, so far is this advice, Favour thyself, from being fit for a Christian either to give or take, that if any man will come after Christ, his very first step is, To deny or renounce himself: in the room of his own will, to substitute the will of God, as his one principle of action. We see in this example of Peter, how soon a person favoured with the peculiar approbation of the Lord Jesus may, through pride and self-confidence, fall under his heavy displeasure, and incur a severe rebuke from him. “Our Lord, immediately after pronouncing Peter blessed, on account of his faith and the noble confession which he made of it, and after conferring on him the high dignity before mentioned, did openly, in the hearing of all the disciples, call him Satan, or adversary, and declare that he had then no relish for the divine appointments, but was influenced merely by human views and expectations of worldly interest. If the papists rightly attended to this passage of the history, they would see their fancies about the primacy of Peter, which they build upon it, in a better light than they now seem to do.”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.Get thee behind me, Satan - The word "Satan" literally means "an adversary," or one who opposes us in the accomplishment of our designs.

It is applied to the devil commonly, as the opposer or adversary of man; but there is no evidence that the Lord Jesus meant to apply this term to Peter, as signifying that he was Satan or the devil, or that he used the term in anger. He may have used it in the general sense which the word bore as an adversary or opposer; and the meaning may be, that such sentiments as Peter expressed then were opposed to him and his plans. His interference was improper. His views and feelings stood in the way of the accomplishment of the Saviour's designs. There was, undoubtedly, a rebuke in this language, for the conduct of Peter was improper; but the idea which is commonly attached to it, and which, perhaps, our translation conveys, implies a more severe and harsh rebuke than the Saviour intended, and than the language which he used would express.

Thou art an offence - That is, a stumbling-block. Your advice and wishes are in my way. If followed, they would prevent the very thing for which Icame.

Thou savourest not - Literally, thou thinkest not upon; or your language and spirit are not such as spring from a supreme regard to the will of God, or from proper views of him, but such as spring from the common views entertained by people. You think that those things should not be done which God wishes to be done. You judge of this matter as people do who are desirous of honor; and not as God, who sees it best that I should die, to promote the great interests of mankind.

23. But he turned, and said—in the hearing of the rest; for Mark (Mr 8:33) expressly says, "When He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter"; perceiving that he had but boldly uttered what others felt, and that the check was needed by them also.

Get thee behind me, Satan—the same words as He had addressed to the Tempter (Lu 4:8); for He felt in it a satanic lure, a whisper from hell, to move Him from His purpose to suffer. So He shook off the Serpent, then coiling around Him, and "felt no harm" (Ac 28:5). How quickly has the "rock" turned to a devil! The fruit of divine teaching the Lord delighted to honor in Peter; but the mouthpiece of hell, which he had in a moment of forgetfulness become, the Lord shook off with horror.

thou art an offence—a stumbling-block.

unto me—"Thou playest the Tempter, casting a stumbling-block in My way to the Cross. Could it succeed, where wert thou? and how should the Serpent's head be bruised?"

for thou savourest not—thou thinkest not.

the things that be of God, but those that be of men—"Thou art carried away by human views of the way of setting up Messiah's kingdom, quite contrary to those of God." This was kindly said, not to take off the sharp edge of the rebuke, but to explain and justify it, as it was evident Peter knew not what was in the bosom of his rash speech.

Peter, thou thinkest that by this discourse thou showest some kindness unto me, like a friend, but thou art in this an adversary to me; for so the word Satan doth signify, and is therefore ordinarily applied to the devil, who is the grand adversary of mankind.

Get thee behind me, I abominate such advice. I told thee I must suffer. It was the determinate counsel of God; it is my Father’s will. He is mine enemy that dissuades me from a free and cheerful obedience to it. I will hear no more such discourse.

For thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. The word is froneiv, and, it may be, were better translated, Thou thinkest not of, or thou understandest not, the things that be of God, that is, the counsels of God in this matter, as to the redemption of mankind: thou considerest me only as thy Master and thy Friend, and wouldst have no harm come to me; thou dost not mind or think of me as the Saviour of the world, or the Redeemer of mankind, which cannot be redeemed otherwise than by my death. Though by thy intemperate affection to me thou wouldst hinder the redemption of mankind, this is not in this thing to mind, think on, or savour the things of God, but to suffer thyself to be seduced by thy carnal affection. It is a mistaken kindness to our friends, to persuade them, for our personal advantage, to do what they cannot do in consistency with their obedience to the will of God. But he turned,.... Either to Peter, changing his countenance, and looking sternly upon him, or rather to the disciples; for Mark says, "when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter": Peter had took him aside, and was arguing the case privately with him; but what he said was so offensive to him, that he chose to reprove him publicly before the disciples; and therefore turned himself from him to them, in a way of resentment,

and said unto Peter; in their hearing, and before them all,

get thee behind me, Satan. The Persic version renders it, O infidel! as he was at present, with respect to the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ: some take the word Satan, to be a general name for an adversary, or enemy, as it is used in 2 Samuel 19:22 and think that Christ calls Peter by this name, because he was against him, and opposed him in this point; which sense abates the harshness of this expression. But it seems rather to mean the devil, who took the advantage of Peter's weakness and ignorance; and put him upon dissuading Christ from suffering, for the salvation of his people: though it should be known, that the word Satan, is used by the, Jews (w), to signify the vitiosity and corruption of nature; of which they say, , this is Satan; so the messenger, or angel Satan, 2 Corinthians 12:7 may be thought to be the same; See Gill on 2 Corinthians 12:7 And then our Lord's sense is, be gone from me, I cannot bear the sight of thee; thou art under the influence of the corruption of thy heart, and nature; thou talkest like a carnal, and not like a spiritual man; and therefore Christ denominates him from his carnality, Satan, one of the names of the vitiosity of nature, whom a little before he had pronounced blessed; being then under the influence of another spirit, as appeared from the noble confession of his faith in Christ: this change shows the weakness of human nature, the strength of corruption, the inconstancy and fickleness of frames, and the imperfection of grace in the best of saints.

Thou art an offence unto me; or a stumbling block to me, a cause of stumbling and failing; not that he really was, but he endeavoured to be, and was as much as in him lay; and had he given heed unto him, would have been so. It may be observed, that nothing was more offensive to Christ, than to endeavour to divert him from the work his farther called him to; he had agreed to do; what he came into this world for, and his heart was so much set upon; namely, to suffer and die in the room of his people, in order to obtain salvation for them: never were such words uttered by him, and such resentment shown to any, but to the devil himself, when he tempted him to worship him.

For thou savourest not the things that be of God; meaning his sufferings and death, which were the appointment of God, the counsel of his will, the provision of his covenant; what he foretold in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and what he had an hand in, and in which the glory of his grace, power, and justice, was concerned, and were the end of the mission of his Son into this world; which things were out of sight and mind, and were not regarded by the apostle at this time;

but those that be of men: he thought of nothing but worldly grandeur in the kingdom of the Messiah, as a temporal prince and Saviour; and of the continuance of Christ's natural life, for his own carnal and worldly advantage; which showed him to be, at this time, greatly under the influence of corrupt nature. So, though the blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and death of Christ, are savoury things, things to be savoured, minded, and regarded by believers, and accounted precious; and they do mind them, so the word signifies, Romans 8:5 when being blessed with a spiritual and experimental knowledge, and application of them to themselves, they exercise faith, hope, and love upon Christ, with respect unto them; when they remember them aright in the ordinance of the supper, the love from whence they spring, and the benefits that come hereby; and when they discern the Lord's body in it, a crucified Jesus, and the blessings of grace which come by him, and ascribe their whole salvation to his sufferings and death, and taste the sweetness there is in these things, eating his flesh and drinking his blood by faith; yet being left to themselves, they do not savour, mind, and regard these things, but carnal things, and human schemes; as when they are dilatory to profess a crucified Christ, and submit to those ordinances of his, which set forth his sufferings and death; or are negligent in their attendance on them, their place being often empty at supper time; or if they do attend, their hearts go after other things.

(w) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 6. 2, 3. & passim.

{9} But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, {r} Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou {s} savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

(9) Against a preposterous zeal.

(r) The Hebrews call him Satan, that is to say an adversary, whom the Greeks call diabolos, that is to say, slanderer, or tempter: but it is spoken of them, that either of malice, as Judas, Joh 6:70, or of lightness and pride resist the will of God.

(s) By this word we are taught that Peter sinned through a false persuasion of himself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 16:23. Στραφείς] He turned away, by way of indicating His horror.

ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου] See note on Matthew 4:10.

σατανᾶ] Satan! A term of reproach, springing out of the intense displeasure with which He now saw Peter striving, like Satan, against that purpose of God of which he was so profoundly conscious. Not “moral vexation” (Keim), but moral displeasure. Comp. John 6:70. Seeing that Peter’s feelings have changed, it was proper that the testimony of Jesus regarding him should undergo a corresponding change (Augustine), although without prejudice to the high position just promised to him by Jesus; for this distinction neither excludes the idea of there being still a strong carnal element in Peter’s character, nor does it imply that he was beyond the need of correction; consequently, the evasive interpretation of Catholic expositors who, in this instance, take σατανᾶ as an appellative (adversarius; so Maldonatus, Jansen, Arnoldi), is utterly groundless.

σκάνδ. μου εἶ] ἐμπόδιόν μου νῦν ὑπάρχεις, ἀντικείμενος τῷ ἐμῷ θελήματι, Euth. Zigabenus.

φρονεῖς] thou, hast in thy mind; indicating the direction of his aims, the bent of the practical reason. Comp. note on Romans 8:5.

τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ] matters of divine interest; because God is to be understood as having ordained the sufferings of Jesus for the purpose of carrying out the plan of redemption.

τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων] who are concerned about having as their Messiah a mere earthly hero and prince.Matthew 16:23. ὕπαγε ὀ. μ. Σ.: tremendous crushing reply of the Master, showing how much He felt the temptation; calm on the surface, deep down in the soul a very real struggle. Some of the Fathers (Origen, Jerome) strive to soften the severity of the utterance by taking Satanas as an appellative = ἀντικείμενος, adversarius, contrarius, and pointing out that in the Temptation in the wilderness Jesus says to Satan simply ὔπαγε = depart, but to Peter ὔπ. ὀπίσω μου = take thy place behind me and be follower, not leader. But these refinements only weaken the effect of a word which shows that Jesus recognises here His old enemy in a new and even more dangerous form. For none are more formidable instruments of temptation than well-meaning friends, who care more for our comfort than for our character.—σκάνδαλον: not “offensive to me,” but “a temptation to me to offend,” to do wrong; a virtual apology for using the strong word Σατανᾶ.—οὐ φρονεῖς τὰ, etc., indicates the point of temptation = non stas a Dei partibus (Wolf), or φρονεῖν, etc. = studere rebus, etc. (Kypke), to be on God’s side, or to study the Divine interest instead of the human. The important question is: What precisely are the two interests? They must be so conceived as not entirely to cancel the eulogium on Peter’s faith, which was declared to be not of man but of God. Meyer’s comment on τὰ τ. .—concerned about having for Messiah a mere earthly hero and prince (so Weiss also)—is too wide. We must restrict the phrase to the instinct of self-preservation = save your life at all hazards. From Christ’s point of view that was the import of Peter’s suggestion; preference of natural life to duty = God’s interest. Peter himself did not see that these were the alternatives; he thought the two opposite interests compatible, and both attainable.23. Get thee behind me, Satan] Peter takes the place of the tempter, and argues for the false kingdom instead of for the true. If the words of the tempter are in Peter’s mouth he is addressed as the tempter; when he speaks the words of truth he is the foundation-stone of the Church.

an offence unto me] Literally, my stumblingblock; by suggesting visions of earthly pride.

thou savourest not the things that be of God] The Greek word, literally, to think, is often used of political partisanship, “to take a side,” “thou art not on God’s side but on man’s.” The English “savourest” is connected with Lat. sapere through the French savoir.Matthew 16:23. Ὕπαγε, depart) It is not your place to take hold of and rebuke Me. By how much the more He had declared Peter blessed, by so much the more does He now reprove him who was previously prepared by faith to digest the reproof, in order that He may both correct him and preserve the other disciples; see Matthew 16:24.—ὀπίσω Μου, behind Me[761]) out of My sight. He had commanded Satan to do the same; see ch. Matthew 4:10.—Σατανᾶ, Satan) an appellative. Cf. John 6:70, where our Lord says, concerning Judas Iscariot, καὶ ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν, and one of you is a devil.—But cf. Gnomon on Revelation 12:9.—Peter thought himself very kind when he said ἵλεως, κ.τ.λ., but yet he is called Satan for so doing. Cf. 2 Samuel 19:22, where שטן signifies one who puts himself in the way as a hinderance.[762]—σκάνδαλόν Μου, My stumbling-block[763]) i.e. thou dost not only stumble or take offence at My words, but, if it were possible, thou wouldst furnish Me with a hurtful stumbling-block by thy words. This is said with the utmost force, and declares the reason of our Lord’s swift severity towards Peter.[764] If anything could have been able to touch the soul of Jesus, the words of the disciple would have been more dangerous than the assaults of the tempter, mentioned in the fourth chapter of this Gospel. Cf. Gnomon on Hebrews 4:15.—Rock and stumbling-block (LAPIS offensionis, lit. stumbling STONE) are put antithetically. Our Lord sends away behind Him the stumbling-block placed before His feet.—τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, the things of God) sc. the precious word of the Cross. The perception of Jesus is always divine.[765]—τῶν ἀνθρώπων of men) the same as flesh and blood in Matthew 16:17.

[761] It becomes thee not to be My adviser, but My follower [ὀπίσω Μου].—V. g.

[762] Where David so calls the sons of Zeruiah.—(I. B.)

[763] E. V. “An offence unto Me.”—(I. B.)

[764] In this way the Saviour repelled, at the very moment of their approach, all things whatever might have been a stumbling-block or offence, just as fire repels water which approaches very close to it, but which cannot possibly mix with it.—V. g.

[765] The Cross is a stumbling-block to the world: the things which are opposed to the Cross were a stumbling-block (offence) to Christ. This feeling and perception concerning the ‘suffering’ of Christ, and of those who belong to Christ, and concerning the ‘glory’ which follows thereupon [1 Peter 1:11], Peter cherished at a subsequent time, as his own first Epistle abundantly testifies.—V. g.Verse 23. - He turned. Peter and the rest were following Christ, as he walked onward. Now Jesus stops, turns, and faces them. Get thee behind me, Satan. Jesus uses nearly the same words in rebuking Peter that he had used to the devil in his temptation (Matthew 4:10); and justly, because the apostle was acting the adversary's part, by opposing the Divine economy, and endeavouring to persuade Jesus that the way he proposed was wholly unnecessary. The lively stone has became a very Satan in opposing the Divine will; hence the sharpness of the rebuke administered to him. An offence unto me (σκάνδαλον ἐμοῦ); my stumbling block. Petros, the stone, to maintain the metaphor, is now "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence" (1 Peter 2:8). He stood in the Saviour's way, and impeded his onward progress in the course ordained. He who would turn him aside from Calvary is the enemy of man's salvation, which was to be won there. Thou savourest (φρονεῖς) not; mindest not (as Romans 8:5); thy taste is not for the Divine plans, but for human considerations; thou art not promoting the great purpose of God, but worldliness and self-pleasing. "Peter," says St. Chrysostom, "examining the matter by human and earthly reasoning, accounted it disgraceful to him [Christ] and an unmeet thing. Touching him therefore sharply, he saith, 'My Passion is not an unmeet thing, but thou givest this sentence with a carnal mind; whereas if thou hadst hearkened to my sayings in a godly manner, disengaging thyself from thy carnal understanding, thou wouldst know that this of all things most becometh me. For thou indeed supposest that to suffer is unworthy of me; but I say unto thee, that for me not to suffer is of the devil's mind;' by the contrary statements repressing his alarm" (Oxford transl.). Turned (στραφεὶς)

Not toward Peter, but away from him.

Get thee behind me

See Matthew 4:10.

Offence (σκάνδαλον)

Rev., better, stumbling-block. See on Matthew 5:29. Not, thou art offensive, but thou art in my way. Dr. Morison, "Thou art not, as before, a noble block, lying in its right position as a massive foundation-stone. On the contrary, thou art like a stone quite out of its proper place, and lying right across the road in which I must go - lying as a stone of stumbling."

Savourest not (οὐ φρονεῖς)

Rev., better, mindest not. Thy thoughts and intents are not of God, but of men. Savourest follows the Vulgate sapis, from sapere, which means 1st, to have a taste or flavor of: 2d, to have sense or discernment. Hence used here as the rendering of φρονεῖν, to be minded. Thus Wyc., 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child I savoured (ἐφρόνουν) as a child." The idea is, strictly, to partake of the quality or nature of.

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