Matthew 16:1-20

  1. Christ condemns, in verses 1-4, the Jews’ inability to read ‘the signs of the times’.
    What does he mean by this?
    How were the disciples similarly guilty?
    See verses 5-12. What response should such signs produce?
  2. Verses 13-20. This incident at Caesarea Philippi is clearly the ‘hinge-point’ of the Gospel narrative.
    From now on Christ withdraws from the crowds, and concentrates on teaching the disciples.
    Why is the question about this person so crucial?
    Cf. 1 John 4:2, 3; 5:1a, 5.
  3. Note the three things that our Lord says to Peter in verses 17-19.
    With verse 17, cf. 1 Cor. 12:3; with verse 18, cf. 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:4-6; and with verse 19, cf. 18:18; John 20:23.

Note: Verses18, 19. There is a play on words in Greek in verse 18 (see mg.). ‘Petros’ means ‘stone’; ‘petra’ means ‘rock’. Note that Christ did not say, ‘On you I will build my church.’ Peter had just made the classic confession of faith in Christ. Equally in verses 22, 23 he can be seen as an agent of Satan. The power of the keys, i.e., of ‘loosing’ and ‘binding’, is one of the great authority; but it is that of steward rather than a door-keeper. The keys are the keys of knowledge (cf. Luke 11:52) which Christ entrusts to those who preach the gospel, and thus ‘open the kingdom of heaven to all believers’.

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