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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Matthew 16:1-28

16  Here the Pharisees and Sadducees approached him, and to test him, they asked him to display to them a sign from heaven.+  In reply he said to them: “When evening falls, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is fire-red,’+  and in the morning, ‘It will be wintry, rainy weather today, for the sky is fire-red but gloomy.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but the signs of the times you cannot interpret.  A wicked and adulterous generation keeps seeking a sign,* but no sign will be given it+ except the sign of Joʹnah.”+ With that he went away, leaving them behind.  Now the disciples crossed to the other side and forgot to take bread along.+  Jesus said to them: “Keep your eyes open and watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”+  So they began to reason among themselves, saying: “We did not take any loaves along.”  Knowing this, Jesus said: “Why are you discussing among yourselves that you have no loaves, you with little faith?  Do you not yet see the point, or do you not remember the five loaves in the case of the 5,000 and how many baskets you took up?+ 10  Or the seven loaves in the case of the 4,000 and how many large baskets you took up?+ 11  How is it you do not discern that I did not speak to you about bread? But watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”+ 12  Then they grasped that he said to watch out, not for the leaven of bread, but for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 13  When he had come into the region of Caes·a·reʹa Phi·lipʹpi, Jesus asked his disciples: “Who are men saying the Son of man is?”+ 14  They said: “Some say John the Baptist,+ others E·liʹjah,+ and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15  He said to them: “You, though, who do you say I am?” 16  Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ,+ the Son of the living God.”+ 17  In response Jesus said to him: “Happy you are, Simon son of Joʹnah, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father in the heavens did.+ 18  Also, I say to you: You are Peter,+ and on this rock+ I will build my congregation, and the gates of the Grave will not overpower it.+ 19  I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you may bind on earth will already be bound in the heavens, and whatever you may loosen on earth will already be loosened in the heavens.”+ 20  Then he sternly instructed the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.+ 21  From that time forward, Jesus began explaining to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed, and on the third day be raised up.+ 22  At this Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this happen to you at all.”+ 23  But turning his back,* he said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”*+ 24  Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and keep following me.+ 25  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.+ 26  Really, what good will it do a man if he gains the whole world but loses his life?+ Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?+ 27  For the Son of man is to come in the glory of his Father with his angels,+ and then he will repay* each one according to his behavior.+ 28  Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.”+


Or “miraculous proof.”
Or “turning around.”
Or “you have, not God’s mind, but that of humans.”
Or “reward; recompense.”

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.—See study note on Mr 8:38.

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.

leaven: Often used figuratively in the Bible to denote corruption and sin, here referring to corrupt teachings.Mt 16:12; 1Co 5:6-8; compare study note on Mt 13:33.

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.

large baskets: Or “provision baskets.”—See study notes on Mt 15:37; 16:9.

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.”—See App. B10.

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.Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.

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.—See study notes on Mt 1:1; 2:4.

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.De 5:26; Jer 10:10.

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.Ga 1:16, ftn.

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.”1Pe 2:9; Joh 15:19; 1Co 1:2.

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.Ac 2:31; Re 1:18; 20:13, 14.

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.—Compare study note on Mt 18:18.

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.—Compare study note on Mt 18:18.

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.Mt 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 41; 28:12; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man.”

chief priests: See study note on Mt 2:4 and Glossary, “Chief priest.”

scribes: See study note on Mt 2:4 and Glossary, “Scribe.”

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.Mt 26:34, 35, 75.

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.—See Glossary.

life: Or “soul.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”

life: See study note on Mt 16:25 and Glossary, “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.”Joh 1:51.



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 8:8, 9) This word denotes a large basket or hamper, and the same Greek word is used to describe the kind of basket in which Paul was lowered to the ground through an opening in the wall of Damascus.Ac 9:25.

From the Sea of Galilee to the Region of Caesarea Philippi
From the Sea of Galilee to the Region of Caesarea Philippi

Jesus and his disciples traveled by boat from Magadan to Bethsaida, which is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. (Mr 8:22) This body of water is 210 m (nearly 700 ft) below sea level. They probably spent some days making the 40 km (25 mi) ascent to Caesarea Philippi, which was located at an elevation of 350 m (1,150 ft) above sea level.—For comprehensive maps of Jesus’ ministry, see Appendix A7-E.