There be some - which shall not taste of death - This verse seems to confirm the above explanation, as our Lord evidently speaks of the establishment of the Christian Church after the day of pentecost, and its final triumph after the destruction of the Jewish polity; as if he had said, "Some of you, my disciples, shall continue to live until these things take place." The destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish economy, which our Lord here predicts, took place about forty-three years after this: and some of the persons now with him doubtless survived that period, and witnessed the extension of the Messiah's kingdom; and our Lord told them these things before, that when they came to pass they might be confirmed in the faith, and expect an exact fulfillment of all the other promises and prophecies which concerned the extension and support of the kingdom of Christ.
To his kingdom, or in his kingdom. Instead of βασιλεια, kingdom, four MSS., later Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Saxon, and one copy of the Itala, with several of the primitive fathers, read δοξη, glory: and to this is added, του πατρος αυτου, of his Father, by three MSS. and the versions mentioned before. This makes the passage a little more conformable to the passage already quoted from Daniel; and it must appear, very clearly, that the whole passage speaks not of a future judgment, but of the destruction of the Jewish polity, and the glorious spread of Christianity in the earth, by the preaching of Christ crucified by the apostles and their immediate successors in the Christian Church.
In the proper use of this word there can be no such thing as The church, exclusively; there may be A church, and the Churches, signifying a particular congregation, or the different assemblies of religious people: and hence, the Church of Rome, by applying it exclusively to itself, abuses the term, and acts as ridiculously as it does absurdly. Church is very properly defined in the 19th article of the Church of England, to be "a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered, according to Christ's ordinance."
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.
Whosoever will save his life - See the notes at Matthew 10:39.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The disciples do not yet comprehend the scene; but they rejoice that the patient Teacher, the meek and lowly One, who has wandered to and fro a helpless stranger, is honored by the favored ones of heaven. They believe that Elijah has come to announce the Messiah's reign, and that the kingdom of Christ is about to be set up on the earth. The memory of their fear and disappointment they would banish forever. Here, where the glory of God is revealed, they long to tarry. Peter exclaims, “Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” The disciples are confident that Moses and Elijah have been sent to protect their Master, and to establish His authority as king. DA 422.1
But before the crown must come the cross. Not the inauguration of Christ as king, but the decease to be accomplished at Jerusalem, is the subject of their conference with Jesus. Bearing the weakness of humanity, and burdened with its sorrow and sin, Jesus walked alone in the midst of men. As the darkness of the coming trial pressed upon Him, He was in loneliness of spirit, in a world that knew Him not. Even His loved disciples, absorbed in their own doubt and sorrow and ambitious hopes, had not comprehended the mystery of His mission. He had dwelt amid the love and fellowship of heaven; but in the world that He had created, He was in solitude. Now heaven had sent its messengers to Jesus; not angels, but men who had endured suffering and sorrow, and who could sympathize with the Saviour in the trial of His earthly life. Moses and Elijah had been colaborers with Christ. They had shared His longing for the salvation of men. Moses had pleaded for Israel: “Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” Exodus 32:32. Elijah had known loneliness of spirit, as for three years and a half of famine he had borne the burden of the nation's hatred and its woe. Alone he had stood for God upon Mount Carmel. Alone he had fled to the desert in anguish and despair. These men, chosen above every angel around the throne, had come to commune with Jesus concerning the scenes of His suffering, and to comfort Him with the assurance of the sympathy of heaven. The hope of the world, the salvation of every human being, was the burden of their interview. DA 422.2Read in context »
Satan had been trying to find something wherewith to accuse Moses before the angels. He exulted at his success in leading him to displease God, and he told the angels that he could overcome the Saviour of the world when He should come to redeem man. For his transgression, Moses came under the power of Satan—the dominion of death. Had he remained steadfast, the Lord would have brought him to the Promised Land, and would then have translated him to heaven without his seeing death. EW 164.1
Moses passed through death, but Michael came down and gave him life before his body had seen corruption. Satan tried to hold the body, claiming it as his; but Michael resurrected Moses and took him to heaven. Satan railed bitterly against God, denouncing Him as unjust in permitting his prey to be taken from him; but Christ did not rebuke His adversary, though it was through his temptation that the servant of God had fallen. He meekly referred him to His Father, saying, “The Lord rebuke thee.” EW 164.2
Jesus had told His disciples that there were some standing with Him who should not taste of death till they should see the kingdom of God come with power. At the transfiguration this promise was fulfilled. The countenance of Jesus was there changed and shone like the sun. His raiment was white and glistening. Moses was present to represent those who will be raised from the dead at the second appearing of Jesus. And Elijah, who was translated without seeing death, represented those who will be changed to immortality at Christ's second coming and will be translated to heaven without seeing death. The disciples beheld with astonishment and fear the excellent majesty of Jesus and the cloud that overshadowed them, and heard the voice of God in terrible majesty, saying, “This is My beloved Son; hear Him.” EW 164.3Read in context »
There had been a time in Peter's experience when he was unwilling to see the cross in the work of Christ. When the Saviour made known to the disciples His impending sufferings and death, Peter exclaimed, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.” Matthew 16:22. Self-pity, which shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering, prompted Peter's remonstrance. It was to the disciple a bitter lesson, and one which he learned but slowly, that the path of Christ on earth lay through agony and humiliation. But in the heat of the furnace fire he was to learn its lesson. Now, when his once active form was bowed with the burden of years and labors, he could write, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” AA 525.1
Addressing the church elders regarding their responsibilities as undershepherds of Christ's flock, the apostle wrote: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” AA 525.2
Those who occupy the position of undershepherds are to exercise a watchful diligence over the Lord's flock. This is not to be a dictatorial vigilance, but one that tends to encourage and strengthen and uplift. Ministry means more than sermonizing; it means earnest, personal labor. The church on earth is composed of erring men and women, who need patient, painstaking effort that they may be trained and disciplined to work with acceptance in this life, and in the future life to be crowned with glory and immortality. Pastors are needed—faithful shepherds—who will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life—men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit and who cherish a strong, unselfish love toward those for whom they labor. AA 526.1Read in context »
The disciples still expected Christ to reign as a temporal prince. Although He had so long concealed His design, they believed that He would not always remain in poverty and obscurity; the time was near when He would establish His kingdom. That the hatred of the priests and rabbis would never be overcome, that Christ would be rejected by His own nation, condemned as a deceiver, and crucified as a malefactor,—such a thought the disciples had never entertained. But the hour of the power of darkness was drawing on, and Jesus must open to His disciples the conflict before them. He was sad as He anticipated the trial. DA 415.1
Hitherto He had refrained from making known to them anything relative to His sufferings and death. In His conversation with Nicodemus He had said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14, 15. But the disciples did not hear this, and had they heard, would not have understood. But now they have been with Jesus, listening to His words, beholding His works, until, notwithstanding the humility of His surroundings, and the opposition of priests and people, they can join in the testimony of Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Now the time has come for the veil that hides the future to be withdrawn. “From that time forth began Jesus to show 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.” DA 415.2
Speechless with grief and amazement, the disciples listened. Christ had accepted Peter's acknowledgment of Him as the Son of God; and now His words pointing to His suffering and death seemed incomprehensible. Peter could not keep silent. He laid hold upon his Master, as if to draw Him back from His impending doom, exclaiming, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.” DA 415.3Read in context »