said to them: A few important ancient manuscripts omit the rest of verse 2 as well as all of verse 3. Although there is some uncertainty regarding the authenticity of these words, many authorities favor including them based on the great number of other early and later manuscripts that include them.
adulterous: Refers to spiritual adultery, or unfaithfulness to God.
sign of Jonah: Jonah compared his deliverance from the belly of the fish after about three days to being raised from the Grave. (Jon 1:17–2:2) Jesus’ resurrection from the literal grave was to be just as real as Jonah’s deliverance from the belly of the fish. However, even when Jesus was resurrected after being dead for parts of three days, his hardhearted critics did not exercise faith in him.
to the other side: That is, to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, evidently toward Bethsaida on the northeastern shore of the lake.
baskets: Reporting on the two occasions when Jesus miraculously fed the crowds (see study notes on Mt 14:20; 15:37; 16:10 and parallel accounts at Mr 6:43; 8:8, 19, 20), the accounts consistently distinguish between the types of baskets used for collecting leftovers. When he fed about 5,000, the Greek term koʹphi·nos (rendered “basket”) is used; when he fed the 4,000, the Greek word sphy·risʹ (rendered “large basket”) is used. This indicates that the writers were present or had received the facts from reliable eyewitnesses.
Caesarea Philippi: A town situated at the headwaters of the Jordan River at an elevation of 350 m (1,150 ft) above sea level. The town is some 40 km (25 mi) N of the Sea of Galilee and near the SW foot of Mount Hermon. It was named Caesarea by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod the Great, in honor of the Roman emperor. In order to distinguish it from the seaport city of the same name, it was called Caesarea Philippi, which means “Caesarea of Philip.”
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.
John the Baptist: See study note on Mt 3:1.
Simon Peter: See study note on Mt 10:2.
the Christ: Peter identifies Jesus as “the Christ” (Greek, ho Khri·stosʹ), a title equivalent to “the Messiah” (from Hebrew Ma·shiʹach), both meaning “Anointed One.” Here “Christ” is preceded by the definite article in Greek, evidently as a way of emphasizing Jesus’ office as the Messiah.
the living God: An expression used to highlight that Jehovah is alive and active in contrast with the lifeless gods of the nations (Ac 14:15), such as the gods worshipped in the region of Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13). This term also occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures.
son of Jonah: Or “Bar-jonah.” Many Hebrew names included the Hebrew word ben or the Aramaic word bar, both meaning “son,” followed by the name of the father as a surname. The use of the Aramaic loanword bar in several proper names, such as Bartholomew, Bartimaeus, Barnabas, and Bar-Jesus, is evidence of the influence of Aramaic on the Hebrew spoken in Jesus’ day.
flesh and blood: Or “a human,” a common Jewish expression. In this context, it evidently refers to fleshly or human thinking.
You are Peter, and on this rock: The Greek word peʹtros in the masculine gender means “a piece of rock; a stone.” Here it is used as a proper name (Peter), the Greek form of the name Jesus gave Simon. (Joh 1:42) The feminine form peʹtra is rendered “rock,” and it may denote bedrock, a cliff, or a mass of rock. This Greek word also occurs at Mt 7:24, 25; 27:60; Lu 6:48; 8:6; Ro 9:33; 1Co 10:4; 1Pe 2:8. Peter evidently did not view himself as the rock on which Jesus would build his congregation, since he wrote at 1Pe 2:4-8 that Jesus was the long-foretold “foundation cornerstone,” chosen by God himself. Similarly, the apostle Paul referred to Jesus as the “foundation” and “the spiritual rock.” (1Co 3:11; 10:4) So Jesus was evidently using a play on words, saying in effect: ‘You, the one I called Peter, a Piece of Rock, have discerned the true identity of the Christ, “this rock,” the one who will serve as the foundation of the Christian congregation.’
congregation: This is the first occurrence of the Greek term ek·kle·siʹa. It comes from two Greek words, ek, meaning “out,” and ka·leʹo, meaning “to call.” It refers to a group of people summoned or called together for a particular purpose or activity. (See Glossary.) In this context, Jesus foretells the formation of the Christian congregation, made up of anointed Christians, who as “living stones” are being “built up into a spiritual house.” (1Pe 2:4, 5) This Greek term is frequently used in the Septuagint as an equivalent of the Hebrew term rendered “congregation,” which often refers to the entire nation of God’s people. (De 23:3; 31:30) At Ac 7:38, the Israelites who were called out of Egypt are referred to as a “congregation.” Similarly, Christians who are “called . . . out of darkness” and “chosen . . . out of the world” make up “the congregation of God.”
the Grave: Or “Hades,” that is, the common grave of mankind. (See Glossary, “Grave.”) The Bible speaks of the dead as being within “the gates of death” (Ps 107:18) and “the gates of the Grave” (Isa 38:10), that is, subject to the power of death. Jesus promises victory over the Grave, meaning that “the gates” of the Grave will open to release the dead by means of a resurrection. His own resurrection confirmed the truthfulness of his promise. (Mt 16:21) Because the congregation is built on Jesus, the one who can release its members from death, it cannot be overpowered by or permanently restrained by the Grave.
keys of the Kingdom of the heavens: In the Bible, those who were given certain keys, whether literal or figurative, were entrusted with a degree of authority. (1Ch 9:26, 27; Isa 22:20-22) So the term “key” came to symbolize authority and responsibility. Peter used these “keys” entrusted to him to open up for Jews (Ac 2:22-41), Samaritans (Ac 8:14-17), and Gentiles (Ac 10:34-38) the opportunity to receive God’s spirit with a view to their entering the heavenly Kingdom.
bind . . . loosen: Or “lock . . . unlock.” Evidently referring to decisions forbidding or allowing certain actions or developments.
will already be bound . . . will already be loosened: The unusual construction of Greek verbs here (future form of “to be” combined with perfect passive participle of “bind” and “loosen”) indicates that whatever decision Peter made (“whatever you may bind”; “whatever you may loosen”) would be made after the corresponding decision was made in heaven; it would not precede it.
the Christ: See study note on Mt 16:16.
Jesus: A few ancient manuscripts read “Jesus Christ.”
elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25; Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. Here it refers to the leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes. The Sanhedrin was made up of men from these three groups.
Satan: Jesus was not identifying Peter with Satan the Devil but was referring to him as a resister, or opposer, which is the meaning of the Hebrew expression sa·tanʹ. Jesus may have implied that Peter, by his action on this occasion, had allowed himself to be influenced by Satan.
stumbling block: The original meaning of the Greek word skanʹda·lon, rendered “stumbling block,” is thought to have referred to a trap; some suggest that it was the stick in a trap to which the bait was attached. By extension, it came to refer to any impediment that would cause one to stumble or fall. In a figurative sense, it refers to an action or circumstance that leads a person to follow an improper course, to stumble or fall morally, or to fall into sin. At Mt 18:8, 9, the related verb skan·da·liʹzo, translated “make stumble,” could also be rendered “become a snare; cause to sin.”
let him disown himself: Or “let him give up all right to himself.” This indicates a person’s willingness to deny himself utterly or to relinquish ownership of himself to God. The Greek phrase can be rendered “he must say no to himself,” which is fitting because it may involve saying no to personal desires, ambitions, or convenience. (2Co 5:14, 15) The same Greek verb is used by Matthew when describing Peter’s denial that he knew Jesus.
torture stake: Or “execution stake.” In classical Greek, the word stau·rosʹ primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, this term sometimes stands for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.
life: Or “soul.”
Truly: Greek, a·menʹ, a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ, meaning “so be it,” or “surely.” Jesus frequently uses this expression to preface a statement, a promise, or a prophecy, thereby emphasizing its absolute truthfulness and reliability. Jesus’ use of “truly,” or amen, in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature. When repeated in succession (a·menʹ a·menʹ), as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.”
In the Bible, a number of different words are used to describe various types of baskets. For example, the Greek word identifying the 12 vessels used to gather leftovers after Jesus miraculously fed about 5,000 men indicates that they may have been relatively small wicker handbaskets. However, a different Greek word is used to describe the seven baskets that contained the leftovers after Jesus fed about 4,000 men. (Mr 8:
Jesus and his disciples traveled by boat from Magadan to Bethsaida, which is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. (Mr 8: