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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - MATTHEW 16

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    CHAPTER XVI

    2. Fair weather (eudia). Colloquial. Looking at the evening sky, a may says to his neighbor, "Fine weather:" and in the morning (ver. 3), "Storm today" (shmeron ceimwn).

    3. Lowering (stugnazwn). The verb means to have a gloomy look. Dr. Morison compares the Scotch gloaming or glooming. Cranmer, the sky is glooming red. The word is used only here and at Mark x. 22, of the young ruler, turning from Christ with his face overshadowed with gloom. A.V., he was sad. Rev., his countenance fell.

    9, 10. Note the accurate employment of the two words for basket. See on xiv. 20.

    15. Thou art the Christ. Compare on i. 1. Note the emphatic and definite force of the article in Peter's confession, and also the emphatic position of the pronoun (su, thou): "Thou art the anointed, the Son of the God, the living."

    17. Blessed (makariov). See on ch. v. 3.

    18. Thou art Peter (ou ei Petrov). Christ responds to Peter's emphatic thou with another, equally emphatic. Peter says, "Thou art the Christ." Christ replies, "Thou art Peter." Petrov (Peter) is used as a proper name, but without losing its meaning as a common noun. The name was bestowed on Simon at his first interview with Jesus (John i. 42) under the form of its Aramaic equivalent, Cephas. In this passage attention is called, not to the giving of the name, but to its meaning. In classical Greek the word means a piece of rock, as in Homer, of Ajax throwing a stone at Hector ("Iliad," vii. 270), or of Patroclus grasping and hiding in his hand a jagged stone ("Iliad," xvi. 734).

    On this rock (epi tauth th petra). The word is feminine, and mean a rock, as distinguished from a stone or a fragment of rock (petrov, above).

    Used of a ledge of rocks or a rocky peak. In Homer ("Odyssey," ix. 243), the rock (petrhn) which Polyphemus places at the door of his cavern, is a mass which two-and-twenty wagons could not remove; and the rock which he hurled at the retreating ships of Ulysses, created by its fall a wave in the sea which drove the ships back toward the land ("Odyssey," ix. 484). The word refers neither to Christ as a rock, but to Peter himself, in a sense defined by his previous confession, and as enlightened by the "Father in Heaven."

    The reference of petra to Christ is forced and unnatural. The obvious reference of the word is to Peter. The emphatic this naturally refers to the nearest antecedent; and besides, the metaphor is thus weakened, since Christ appears here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: "On this rock will I build." Again, Christ is the great foundation, the "chief corner-stone," but the New Testament writers recognize no impropriety in applying to the members of Christ's church certain terms which are applied to him. For instance, Peter himself (1 Pet. ii. 4), calls Christ a living stone, and, in ver. 5, addresses the church as living stones. In Apoc. xxi. 14, the names of the twelve apostles appear in the twelve foundation-stones of the heavenly city; and in Eph. ii. 20, it is said, "Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (i.e., laid by the apostles and prophets), Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."

    Equally untenable is the explanation which refers petra to Simon's confession. Both the play upon the words and the natural reading of the passage are against it, and besides, it does not conform to the fact, since the church is built, not on confessions, but on confessors - living men. "The word petra," says Edersheim, "was used in the same sense in Rabbinic language. According to the Rabbins, when God was about to build his world, he could not rear it on the generation of Enos, nor on that of the flood, who brought destruction upon the world; but when he beheld that Abraham would arise in the future, he said: 'Behold, I have found a rock to build on it, and to found the world,' whence, also, Abraham is called a rock, as it is said: 'Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn.' The parallel between Abraham and Peter might be carried even further. If, from a misunderstanding of the Lord's promise to Peter, later Christian legend represented the apostle as sitting at the gate of heaven, Jewish legend represents Abraham as sitting at the gate of Gehenna, so as to prevent all who had the seal of circumcision from falling into its abyss" ("Life and Times of Jesus").

    The reference to Simon himself is confirmed by the actual relation of Peter to the early church, to the Jewish portion of which he was a foundation-stone. See Acts, i. 15; ii. 14, 37; iii. 13; iv. 8; v. 15, 29; ix. 34, 40; x. 25, 26; Gal. i. 18.

    Church (ekklhsian), ejk, out, kalew, to call or summon. This is the first occurrence of this word in the New Testament. Originally an assembly of citizens, regularly summoned. So in New Testament, Acts xix. 39. The Septuagint uses the word for the congregation of Israel, either as summoned for a definite purpose (1 Kings viii. 65), or for the community of Israel collectively, regarded as a congregation (Gen. xxviii. 3), where assembly is given for multitude in margin. In New Testament, of the congregation of Israel (Acts vii. 38); but for this there is more commonly employed sunagwgh, of which synagogue is a transcription; sun, together, agw, to bring (Acts xiii. 43). In Christ's words to Peter the word ejkklhsia acquires special emphasis from the opposition implied in it to the synagogue. The Christian community in the midst of Israel would be designated as ejkklhsia, without being confounded with the sunagwgh, the Jewish community. See Acts v. 11; viii. 1; xii. 1; xiv. 23, 27, etc. Nevertheless sunagwgh is applied to a Christian assembly in Jas. ii. 2, while ejpisunagwgh (gathering or assembling together) is found in 2 Thessalonians ii. 1; Heb. x. 25. Both in Hebrew and in New Testament usage ejkklhsia implies more than a collective or national unity; rather a community based on a special religious idea and established in a special way. In the New Testament the term is used also in the narrower sense of a single church, or a church confined to a particular place. So of the church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (Rom. xvi. 5); the church at Corinth, the churches in Judea, the church at Jerusalem, etc.

    Gates of hell (pulai adou). Rev., Hades. Hades was originally the name of the God who presided over the realm of the dead - Pluto or Dis. Hence the phrase, house of Hades. It is derived from aj, not, and ijdein, to see; and signifies, therefore, the invisible land, the realm of shadow. It is the place to which all who depart this life descend, without reference to their moral character.

    By this word the Septuagint translated the Hebrew Sheol, which has a similar general meaning. The classical Hades embraced both good and bad men, though divided into Elysium, the abode of the virtuous, and Tartarus, the abode of the wicked. In these particulars it corresponds substantially with Sheol; both the godly and the wicked being represented as gathered into the latter. See Gen. xlii. 38; Ps. ix. 17; cxxxix. 8; Isa. xiv. 9; lvii. 2; Ezek. xxxii. 27; Hos. xiii. 14. Hades and Sheol were alike conceived as a definite place, lower than the world. The passage of both good and bad into it was regarded as a descent. The Hebrew conception is that of a place of darkness; a cheerless home of a dull, joyless, shadowy life. See Psalms vi. 5; xciv. 17; cxv. 17; lxxxviii. 5, 6, 10; Job x. 21; iii. 17-19; xiv. 10, 11; Ecclesiastes iv. 5. Vagueness is its characteristic. In this the Hebrew's faith appears bare in contrast with that of the Greek and Roman. The pagan poets gave the popular mind definite pictures of Tartarus and Elysium; of Styx and Acheron; of happy plains where dead heroes held high discourse, and of black abysses where offenders underwent strange and ingenious tortures.

    There was, indeed, this difference between the Hebrew and the Pagan conceptions; that to the Pagan, Hades was the final home of its tenants, while Sheol was a temporary condition. Hence the patriarchs are described (Heb. xi. 16) as looking for a better, heavenly country; and the martyrs as enduring in hope of "a better resurrection." Prophecy declared that the dead should arise and sing, when Sheol itself should be destroyed and its inmates brought forth, some to everlasting life, and others to shame and contempt (Isa. xxvi. 19; Hos. xiii. 14; Dan. xii. 2). Paul represents this promise as made to the fathers by God, and as the hope of his countrymen (Acts xxvi. 7). God was the God of the dead as well of the living; present in the dark chambers of Sheol as well as in heaven (Psalms cxxxix. 8; xvi. 10). This is the underlying thought of that most touching and pathetic utterance of Job (xiv. 13-15), in which he breathes the wish that God would him with loving care in Hades, as a place of temporary concealment, where he will wait patiently, standing like a sentinel at his post, awaiting the divine voice calling him to a new and happier life. This, too, is the thought of the familiar and much-disputed passage, Job xix. 23-27. His Redeemer, vindicator, avenger, shall arise after he shall have passed through the shadowy realm of Sheol. "A judgment in Hades, in which the judge will show himself his friend, in which all the tangled skein of his life will be unravelled by wise and kindly hands, and the insoluble problem of his strange and self-contradicting experience will at last be solved - this is what Job still looks for on that happy day when he shall see God for himself, and find his Goel (vindicator) in that Almighty Deliverer" (Cox, "Commentary on the Book of Job").

    In the New Testament, Hades is the realm of the dead. It cannot be successfully maintained that it is, in particular, the place for sinners (so Cremer, "Biblico-Theological Lexicon"). The words about Capernaum (Matt. xi. 23), which it is surprising to find Cremer citing in support of this position, are merely a rhetorical expression of a fall from the height of earthly glory to the deepest degradation, and have no more bearing upon the moral character of Hades than the words of Zophar (Job xi. 7, 8) about the perfection of the Almighty. "It is high as heaven - deeper than Sheol." Hades is indeed coupled with Death (Apoc. i. 18; vi. 8; xx. 13, 14), but the association is natural, and indeed inevitable, apart from all moral distinctions. Death would naturally be followed by Hades in any case. In Apoc. xx. 13, 14, the general judgment is predicted, and not only Death and Hades, but the sea give up their dead, and only those who are not written in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire (ver. 15). The rich man was in Hades (Luke xvi. 23), and in torments, but Lazarus was also in Hades, "in Abraham's bosom." The details of this story "evidently represent the views current at the time among the Jews. According to them, the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life were the abode of the blessed.... We read that the righteous in Eden see the wicked in Gehenna and rejoice; and similarly, that the wicked in Gehenna see the righteous sitting beatified in Eden, and their souls are troubled (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus"). Christ also was in Hades (Acts ii. 27, 31). Moreover, the word geenna, hell, (see on Matt. v. 22), is specially used to denote the place of future punishment.

    Hades, then, in the New Testament, is a broad and general conception, with an idea of locality bound up with it. It is the condition following death, which is blessed or the contrary, according to the moral character of the dead, and is therefore divided into different realms, represented by Paradise or Abraham's bosom, and Gehenna.

    The expression Gates of Hades is an orientalism for the court, throne, power, and dignity of the infernal kingdom. Hades is contemplated as a mighty city, with formidable, frowning portals. Some expositors introduce also the idea of the councils of the Satanic powers, with reference to the Eastern custom of holding such deliberations in the gates of cities. Compare the expression Sublime Porte, applied to the Ottoman court. The idea of a building is maintained in both members of the comparison. The kingdom or city of Hades confronts and assaults the church which Christ will build upon the rock. See Job xxxviii. 17; Ps. ix. 13; cvii. 18; Isa. xxxviii. 10.

    19. Keys (kleidav). The similitude corresponding to build. The church or kingdom is conceived as a house, of which Peter is to be the steward, bearing the keys. "Even as he had been the first to utter the confession of the church, so was he also privileged to be the first to open its hitherto closed gates to the Gentiles, when God made choice of him, that, through his mouth, the Gentiles should first hear the words of the Gospel, and at his bidding first be baptized" (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus").

    Bind-loose (dhshvlushv). In a sense common among the Jews, of forbidding or allowing. No other terms were in more constant use in Rabbinic canon-law than those of binding and loosing. They represented the legislative and judicial powers of the Rabbinic office. These powers Christ now transferred, and that not in their pretension, but in their reality, to this apostles; the first, here, to Peter, as their representative, the second, after his resurrection, to the church (John xx. 23, Edersheim). "This legislative authority conferred upon Peter can only wear an offensive aspect when it is conceived of as possessing an arbitrary character, and as being in no way determined by the ethical influences of the Holy Spirit, and when it is regarded as being of an absolute nature, as independent of any connection with the rest of the apostles. Since the power of binding and loosing, which is here conferred upon Peter, is ascribed (Matt. xviii. 18) to the apostles generally, the power conferred upon the former is set in its proper light, and shown to be of necessity a power of a collegiate nature, so that Peter is not to be regarded as exclusively endowed with it, either in whole or in part, but is simply to be looked upon as first among his equals" (Meyer on Matt. xvi. 19; xviii. 18).

    21. From that time began (apo tote hrxato). He had not shown it to them before.

    Must (dei). It was necessary in fulfilment of the divine purpose. See Matt. xxvi. 54; Heb. viii. 3; Luke xxiv. 26.

    Suffer. This first announcement mentions this passion and death generally; the second (xvii. 22, 23), adds his betrayal into the hands of sinners; the third (xx. 17-19), at length expresses his stripes, cross, etc. Elders and chief priests and scribes. A circumstantial way of designating the Sanhedrim, or supreme council of the Jewish nation.

    22. Took (proslabomenov). Not, took him by the hand, but took him apart to speak with him privately. Meyer renders, correctly, after he had taken him to himself. "As if," says Bengel, "by a right of his own. He acted with greater familiarity after the token of acknowledgment had been given. Jesus, however, reduces him to his level."

    Began. For Jesus did not suffer him to continue.

    Be it far from thee (ilewv soi). Rev., in margin, God have mercy on thee. In classical usage, of the gods as propitious, gracious toward men, in consideration of their prayers and sacrifices. The meaning here is, may God be gracious to thee.

    Shall not be (ou mh estai). The double negative is very forcible: "Shall in no case be." Rev. renders it by never.

    23. Turned (strafeiv). Not toward Peter, but away from him.

    Get thee behind me. See iv. 10.

    Offense (skandalon). Rev., better, stumbling-block. See on v. 29. Not, thou art offensive, but thou art in my way. Dr. Morison, "Thou art not, as before, a noble block, lying in its right position as a massive foundation-stone. On the contrary, thou art like a stone quite out of its proper place, and lying right across the road in which I must go - lying as a stone of stumbling."

    Savorest not (ou froneiv). Rev., better, mindest not. Thy thoughts and intents are not of God, but of men. Savorest follows the Vulgate sapis, from sapere, which means 1st, to have a taste or flavor of: 2nd, to have sense or discernment. Hence used here as the rendering of fronein, to be minded. Thus Wyc., 1 Cor. xiii. 11, "When I was a child I savored (efronoun) as a child." The idea is, strictly, to partake of the quality or nature of.

    26. Gain-lose (kerdhshzhmiwqh). Note that both words are in the past (aorist) tense: "if he may have gained or lost. The Lord looks back to the details of each life as the factors of the final sum of gain or loss. For lose, Rev. gives forfeit. The verb in the active voice means to cause loss or damage. Often in the classics, of fining or mulcting in a sum of money. Compare 2 Cor. vii. 9.

    Soul (yuchn). Rev., life, with soul in margin. This will be specially considered in the discussion of the psychological terms in the Epistles.

    In exchange (antallagma). Lit., as an exchange.

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