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Matthew 16:24

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Will come after me - i.e. to be my disciple. This discourse was intended to show Peter and the rest of the disciples the nature of his kingdom; and that the honor that cometh from the world was not to be expected by those who followed Christ.

The principles of the Christian life are:

    First. To have a sincere desire to belong to Christ - If any man be Willing to be my disciple, etc.

Secondly. To renounce self-dependence, and selfish pursuits - Let him deny Himself.

Thirdly. To embrace the condition which God has appointed, and bear the troubles and difficulties he may meet with in walking the Christian road - Let him take up His Cross.

    Fourthly. To imitate Jesus, and do and suffer all in his spirit - Let him Follow Me.

Let him deny himself - Απαρνησασθω

may well be interpreted, Let him deny, or renounce, himself fully - in all respects - perseveringly. It is a compounded word, and the preposition απο abundantly increases the meaning. A follower of Christ will need to observe it in its utmost latitude of meaning, in order to be happy here, and glorious hereafter. A man's self is to him the prime cause of most of his miseries. See the note on Mark 8:34.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 24-28

This discourse is also recorded in Mark 8:34-38; Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:23-27.

Let him, deny himself - That is, let him surrender to God his will, his affections, his body, and his soul. Let him not seek his own happiness as the supreme object, but be willing to renounce all, and lay down his life also, if required.

Take up his cross - See the notes at Matthew 10:38.

Matthew 16:25

Whosoever will save his life … - See the notes at Matthew 10:39.

Matthew 16:26

For what is a man profited … - To gain the whole world means to possess it as our own - all its riches, its honors, and its pleasures.

“To lose his own soul” means to be cast away, to be shut out from heaven, to be sent to hell. Two things are implied by Christ in these questions:

1.That they who are striving to gain the world, and are unwilling to give it up for the sake of religion, will lose their souls; and,

2.That if the soul is lost, nothing can be given in exchange for it, or that it can never afterward be saved. There is no redemption in hell.

Matthew 16:27

For the Son of man … - That is, he will return to judge the world.

He will come in glory the glory of his Father the majesty with which God is accustomed to appear, and which befits God. He will be attended by angels. He will judge all people.

Reward - The word “reward” means recompense. He will deal with them according to their character. The righteous he will reward in heaven with glory and happiness. The wicked he will send to hell, as a reward or recompense for their evil works. This fact, that he will come to judgment, he gives as a reason why we should be willing to deny ourselves and follow him. Even though it should be now attended with contempt and suffering, yet then he will reward his followers for all their shame and sorrow, and receive them to his kingdom. He adds Mark 8:38, that if we are ashamed of him here, he will be ashamed of us there. That is, if we reject and disown him here, he will reject and disown us there.

Matthew 16:28

Verily I say unto you … - To encourage them, he assured them that, though his kingdom was now obscure and despised - though he was cast out and little known - yet the time was near when he would be regarded in a different manner, and his kingdom be established with great power.

This cannot refer to the end of the world, and there is no need of referring it to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Taste of death - That is, die. Before they die they shall see this.

Son of man coming in his kingdom - Mark and Luke have explained this: Mark 9:1, “Until they have seen the kingdom of God come with power;” Luke 9:27, “Till they see the kingdom of God.” The meaning evidently is, “till they shall see my kingdom,” i. e., my church, now small, feeble, and despised, greatly enlarged, established, and spreading with great rapidity and extent. All this was accomplished. All these apostles, except Judas, lived to see the wonders of the day of Pentecost; some of them, John particularly, saw the Jewish nation scattered, the temple destroyed, the gospel established in Asia, Rome, Greece, and in a large part of the known world.

Remarks On Matthew 16:1-3. In respect to natural objects they are watchful. In them they feel a deep interest, and they watch for every sign that may affect their interest. They are too much concerned to judge falsely. But they feel no such interest in religious things. Hence, it happens that people who have good sense and much wisdom in regard to worldly concerns, are often exceedingly foolish in regard to religion. They believe reports respecting religion, revivals, and missions, which they would despise on any other subject. They read and believe newspapers and other publications, which they would hold in contempt on any other topic but religion. They give a degree of weight to arguments against the Bible, and against the doctrines of the gospel, to which they would attach little or no importance on any other subject. They sustain themselves in infidelity by arguments which they would regard as of no force if the same kind of reasoning was urged in defense of anything else.

2. It is of importance to watch the signs of the times, Matthew 16:3. In the days of Christ it was the duty of the people to look at the evidence that he was the Messiah. The proofs were clear that he was the Messiah. It is also important to look at the signs of the times in which we live. They are clear also. Much is doing; and the diffusion of the Bible, the labors among the pagan, the distribution of tracts, and perhaps, above all, the institution of Sunday schools, betoken an eventful age, and are an indication that brighter days are about to dawn on the world. We should watch these signs that we may rejoice; that we may pray with more fervor, and that we may do our part to advance the kingdom of God. Little children should grow up believing that they live in an important age; that they enjoy many special privileges, and that they may and must do much to spread the gospel through the earth. Even in childhood, they should pray, and they should give to benefit others; and, most of all, they should give themselves to Christ, that they may benefit others with a right spirit.

3. Sinners should be addressed with deep feeling and faithfulness, Mark 8:12. Jesus sighed deeply. So should we. We should not be harsh, or sour, or cold and unfeeling when we address our fellow-men about eternity. We should weep over them, and pray for them, and speak to them, not as if we were better than they, but with an earnest desire for their salvation. Compare Acts 20:31; Philemon 3:18.

4. People easily mistake plain instruction, Matthew 16:7. And especially is this the case where there is any chance of giving a worldly turn to the instruction. If people‘s thoughts - even those of Christians were more off from the world, and they thought less of the supply of their temporal wants, they would understand the truths of religion much better than they do. No man can understand the doctrines of religion aright whose principal concern is what he shall eat, and drink, and wear. Hence, even Christians are often strangely ignorant of the plainest truths of religion; and hence the importance of teaching those truths to children before their thoughts become engrossed by the world; and hence, too, the importance of Sunday schools.

5. We should not have undue anxiety about the supply of our wants. Christ supplied many thousands by a word, and he can easily supply us, Matthew 16:9-12.

6. We should learn, from his past goodness, to trust him for the future, Matthew 16:9-12.

7. We should be on our guard against error, Matthew 16:11. It is sly, artful, plausible, working secretly, but effectually. We should always be cautious of what we believe, and examine it by the word of God. False doctrines are often made as much like the truth as possible, for the very purpose of deceiving. “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14.

8. It is important to ascertain our views of Christ, Matthew 16:13-15. Our all depends on this. If we do not think and feel right respecting him we cannot be safe. We should often, then, ask ourselves - we should ask one another - what we think of Christ.

9. It is our duty to profess attachment to Christ. It should be done boldly, and always, Matthew 16:16. We should never be ashamed of him. And to do this, we should always, in our own hearts, believe that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

10. We should esteem it a great happiness and honor to be enabled thus to show our attachment to him. The world may not honor us, but God will, and He will pronounce us blessed, Matthew 16:17.

11. God only reveals to people right views of Christ, Matthew 16:17. This he does by his word and Spirit. We should, then search the Bible; and we should pray much that God would reveal his Son in us, and enable us boldly to confess him before people.

12. The church is safe, Matthew 16:18. It may be small - it may be feeble - it may weep much - it may be much opposed and ridiculed - it may have mighty enemies - the rich and the great may set themselves against it - but it is safe. It is founded upon a rock. Its enemies shall never be able to overcome it. Jesus has promised it, and in all ages he has shown that he has remembered his promise. It has not been suffered to become extinct. It has been persecuted, opposed, ridiculed, and almost driven from the world; but a few have been found who have loved the Lord; and soon the flame has kindled, and the church has shone forth “fair as the sun, clear as the moon, and terrible as any army with banners.” So it is still. Feeble churches may mourn much - iniquity may abound - the few pious people may weep in secret places, but Jesus hears their groans and counts their tears, and they and the church are safe. He is their friend, and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against his church.

13. The importance of prudence in delivering truth, Matthew 16:21. It should be well-timed - it should be when people are prepared to receive it. Especially is this true of young converts. They have need of milk, and not of strong meat. They should not be surprised that many doctrines of the Bible are mysterious now, but they will fully comprehend them hereafter. Peter, a young convert, did not understand the plain doctrine that Jesus must die for sin, yet it was made clear to him later, and, most cordially, he loved it.

14. It is highly wicked and improper to attempt to counsel God, or to think that we understand things better than he does, Matthew 16:22-23. God‘s plan is the best plan; and though it does not fall within our views of “wisdom,” yet we should be still. It is all wise. What He does we do not know now, yet we shall know hereafter.

15. We see what religion requires, Matthew 16:24. We must deny ourselves. We must submit to trials. We must do our duty. We must welcome persecution, Matthew 5:10. We must be, in all places, among all people, and in every employment, Christians, no matter what may happen. Come poverty, disease, persecution, death, it is ours to take up the cross and do our duty. So, apostles, and martyrs, and the Saviour himself have gone before us, and we must follow in their steps:

“Shall I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize

And sailed through bloody seas?

“Sure I must fight if I would reign;

Increase my courage, Lord,

To bear the cross, endure the shame,

Supported by Thy Word.”

16. How foolish are the people of this world! Matthew 16:26. In a little time how worthless will be all their wealth! It is gained by anxiety, and toil, and tears. It never satisfies. It harasses them with constant care. It smooths no wrinkles on their brow, alleviates no pain when they are sick, saves no friend from death, gives no consolation in regard to the future, and may be left at any moment. Others will soon possess, and perhaps scatter in dissipation, what they have obtained by so much toil. See Psalm 39:6. And while they scatter or enjoy it, where shall the soul of him be who spent all his probation to obtain it? Alas! Lost, lost, lost - forever lost! And no wealth, no man, no devil, no angel, can redeem him, or be given for his soul. The harvest will be past, the summer ended, and he not saved. In gaining the world he made two things certain - disappointment and trouble here, and an eternity of woe hereafter. How foolish and wicked is man!

17. The righteous should rejoice that Jesus will come again to our world. He will reward them, Matthew 16:27. He will come as their friend, and they shall ascend with him to heaven.

18. The wicked should weep and wail that Jesus will come again to our world. He will punish them for their crimes, Matthew 16:27. They cannot escape. See Revelation 1:7.

19. It will not be long before he will come, Matthew 16:28. At any rate, it will not be long before we shall meet him. Death is near; and then we must stand before him, and give an account of the deeds done in the body.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in the same way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads in his steps, whithersoever he goes. "Let him deny himself." If self-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Master learned and practised, to redeem us, and to teach us. "Let him take up his cross." The cross is here put for every trouble that befalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another's cross better than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, and we ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness and folly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them up when they are in our way. If any man will have the name and credit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and duty of a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when compared with the life of the body, how forcible the same argument with respect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness or misery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain, or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth and negligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ, that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soul is worth more than all the world. This is Christ's judgment upon the matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them; nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dying transgressor cannot purchase one hour's respite to seek mercy for his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value our souls, and Christ as the only Saviour of them.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 560

True sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love. “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16. The life of him in whose heart Christ abides, will reveal practical godliness. The character will be purified, elevated, ennobled, and glorified. Pure doctrine will blend with works of righteousness; heavenly precepts will mingle with holy practices. AA 560.1

Those who would gain the blessing of sanctification must first learn the meaning of self-sacrifice. The cross of Christ is the central pillar on which hangs the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” “If any man will come after Me,” Christ says, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” 2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 16:24. It is the fragrance of our love for our fellow men that reveals our love for God. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul. It is through humble, diligent, faithful toil that the welfare of Israel is promoted. God upholds and strengthens the one who is willing to follow in Christ's way. AA 560.2

Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience. AA 560.3

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 118

There are some who seem to be always seeking for the heavenly pearl. But they do not make an entire surrender of their wrong habits. They do not die to self that Christ may live in them. Therefore they do not find the precious pearl. They have not overcome unholy ambition and their love for worldly attractions. They do not take up the cross and follow Christ in the path of self-denial and sacrifice. Almost Christians, yet not fully Christians, they seem near the kingdom of heaven, but they cannot enter there. Almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost. COL 118.1

The parable of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls has a double significance: it applies not only to men as seeking the kingdom of heaven, but to Christ as seeking His lost inheritance. Christ, the heavenly merchantman seeking goodly pearls, saw in lost humanity the pearl of price. In man, defiled and ruined by sin, He saw the possibilities of redemption. Hearts that have been the battleground of the conflict with Satan, and that have been rescued by the power of love, are more precious to the Redeemer than are those who have never fallen. God looked upon humanity, not as vile and worthless; He looked upon it in Christ, saw it as it might become through redeeming love. He collected all the riches of the universe, and laid them down in order to buy the pearl. And Jesus, having found it, resets it in His own diadem. “For they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land.” Zechariah 9:16. “They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels.” Malachi 3:17. COL 118.2

But Christ as the precious pearl, and our privilege of possessing this heavenly treasure, is the theme on which we most need to dwell. It is the Holy Spirit that reveals to men the preciousness of the goodly pearl. The time of the Holy Spirit's power is the time when in a special sense the heavenly gift is sought and found. In Christ's day many heard the gospel, but their minds were darkened by false teaching, and they did not recognize in the humble Teacher of Galilee the Sent of God. But after Christ's ascension His enthronement in His mediatorial kingdom was signalized by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit was given. Christ's witnesses proclaimed the power of the risen Saviour. The light of heaven penetrated the darkened minds of those who had been deceived by the enemies of Christ. They now saw Him exalted to be “a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31. They saw Him encircled with the glory of heaven, with infinite treasures in His hands to bestow upon all who would turn from their rebellion. As the apostles set forth the glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father, three thousand souls were convicted. They were made to see themselves as they were, sinful and polluted, and Christ as their friend and Redeemer. Christ was lifted up, Christ was glorified, through the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon men. By faith these believers saw Him as the One who had borne humiliation, suffering, and death that they might not perish but have everlasting life. The revelation of Christ by the Spirit brought to them a realizing sense of His power and majesty, and they stretched forth their hands to Him by faith, saying, “I believe.” COL 118.3

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 331

But Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected. COL 331.1

Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you can not overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God. COL 331.2

Many whom God has qualified to do excellent work accomplish very little, because they attempt little. Thousands pass through life as if they had no definite object for which to live, no standard to reach. Such will obtain a reward proportionate to their works. COL 331.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 289

There are many in the church who at heart belong to the world, but God calls upon those who claim to believe the advanced truth, to rise above the present attitude of the popular churches of today. Where is the self-denial, where is the cross-bearing that Christ has said should characterize His followers? The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world. Parents need to awake, and purify their souls by practicing the truth in their home life. When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists. “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” FE 289.1

We are under solemn, sacred covenant to God to bring up our children, not for the world, not to put their hands into the hands of the world, but to love and fear God, and to keep His commandments. We are to instruct them to work intelligently in Christ's lines, to present a noble, elevated Christian character to those with whom they associate. For this reason our schools have been established, that youth and children may be so educated as to exert an influence for God in the world. Then shall our schools become converted to the world, and follow its customs and fashions? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” FE 289.2

When those who have reached the years of youth and manhood see no difference between our schools and the colleges of the world, and have no preference as to which they attend, though error is taught by precept and example in the schools of the world, then there is need of closely examining the reasons that lead to such a conclusion. Our institutions of learning may swing into worldly conformity. Step by step they may advance to the world; but they are prisoners of hope, and God will correct and enlighten them, and bring them back to their upright position of distinction from the world. I am watching with intense interest, hoping to see our schools thoroughly imbued with the spirit of true and undefiled religion. When the students are thus imbued, they will see that there is a great work to be done in the lines in which Christ worked, and the time they have given to amusements will be given up to doing earnest missionary work. They will endeavor to do good to all about them, to lift up souls that are bowed down in discouragement, and to enlighten those who are in the darkness of error. They will put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.—The Review and Herald, January 9, 1894. FE 290.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 178

Your actions testify that you are strangers to Christ. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” 2T 178.1

Here are enumerated the fruits which are marked evidences that one who has been walking in the vigor of life has met with a change—a change so marked as to be represented by death. From living, active life, to death! What a striking figure! None need be deceived here. If this transformation has not been experienced by you, rest not. Seek the Lord with all your hearts. Make this the all-important business of your lives. 2T 178.2

You have an account to render for the good you might have done during your life, had you been in the position in which God required you to be, and which He has made ample provision that you might occupy. But you have failed to glorify God upon the earth, and to save souls around you, because you did not avail yourselves of that grace and strength, wisdom and knowledge, which Christ has provided for you. You knew His will, but did it not. There will have to be a most manifest reformation in you both, or you will never hear from Jesus: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” 2T 179.1

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