Up to this point, the Lord Jesus had been demonstrating His Messiahship through His teachings and works. There had been different responses from the people to Jesus’ ministry and various views as to who Jesus was. Peter’s confession of Christ in this chapter is the pivotal point in the gospel. The identity of Jesus was now fully revealed. From verse 21 on, the gospel moves into the last phase of Jesus’ ministry. The Lord Jesus would face increasing opposition and ultimately fulfill his mission through suffering, death, and glory.
Did You Know...?
- Caesarea Philippi (16:13): Caesarea Philippi was built by Herod Philip the tetrarch (cf. 2:20, 22), who enlarged a small town on a plane 1150 feet above sea level at the base of Mount Hermon, renaming it in honor of Caesar, “Philippi” being added to distinguish it from the coastal city of the same name. It lies twenty-five miles north of Galilee…The inhabitants were largely Gentile. [ref]
- Bar-Jonah (16:17): Son of Jonah or John.
Compare Jesus’ different attitudes and responses to the two groups of people in 1-12 and explain the difference.Hide Answer
The Lord did not say much in response to the Pharisees and Sadducees because He knew of their evil intent. He called them “hypocrites.” On the other hand, although the Lord rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, He still patiently dealt with their dullness and explained to them until they finally understood His teaching. This was because the disciples, though slow in learning, were not hard-hearted like the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were genuine followers of Christ to whom God has chosen to reveal His will (17).
What is the connection between 1-12 and 13-20?Hide Answer
Both passages are about the identity of Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted proof that Jesus was indeed from God. But Jesus refused to meet their demands. On the contrary, Jesus revealed his identity to the disciples plainly and foretold of his sufferings and glory.
We also see a contrast between the two passages. The first has to do with opposition in Jewish territory, whereas the second, which records Peter’s confession, took place in Gentile territory. There is once again the hint that the Christ was rejected by his own people.
Between 13-20 and 21-28?Hide Answer
13-20 is about Jesus’ identity. 21-28 is about Jesus’ mission and the way of discipleship. As disciples of Christ, we need to truly know our Lord and what He came to do. Only then can we follow in His footsteps of suffering and ultimate glory.
What was the intention of the Pharisees and Sadducees in seeking for a sign from Jesus?Hide Answer
Their demand was a sign of their unbelief. Jesus had already shown that He was the Son of God through His works. But with their callous hearts, they wanted to put the burden of proof on Jesus. They thought that Jesus owed it to them to “prove” Himself, or else they would not believe Him.
Do you ever ask for something from God with a similar intention? What is wrong with such intention?Hide Answer
Sometimes we want God to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” what He has already commanded in the Bible or has shown to us clearly (E.g. Balaam, Num 22). The reason for such demand is simply our reluctance to obey His word. But we have no right to ask God to show us a sign so as to convince us to believe and obey His words. Miracles and signs are meaningless and ineffective to those who do not believe (Lk 16:27-31).
What are the signs of the times (3)?Hide Answer
They refer to the works that Christ had done, which marked the time of the coming of God’s kingdom.
What is the sign of Jonah, and how is it a sign?Hide Answer
See 12:39-41, and Lesson 17, question 8.
Why did the Lord call the people the “wicked and adulterous” generation?Hide Answer
In the Old Testament, God called Israel an adulteress people because they had forsaken God and gone after other gods. Likewise, the people of Jesus’ time rejected Christ and persisted in their unbelief and sin.
In view of 1-4, what were the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees?
Why were the teachings of Pharisees and Sadducees “leaven”?Hide Answer
They bring subtle influence on people who are not aware.
How did the disciples’ ignorance show that they were of little faith?Hide Answer
The disciples had little faith in the sense that they still did not trust the power of Jesus even after the two miracles of feeding the multitude. They were concerned with food when Jesus was speaking of something much more important than bread.
What is the difference between Jesus’ two questions (13,15)?Hide Answer
The first was about people’s understanding of Him, and the second is about the disciples’ understanding of Him.
Why was it important for the disciples to know who Jesus was?Hide Answer
Knowledge of who Jesus is is necessary for the followers of Christ so that they would not follow Him for the wrong reasons. This knowledge must also be a personal one so that the believer will remain true to the Lord without being affected by popular opinion.
Do you have a personal knowledge of Jesus? Who is Jesus to you?
What does it mean that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”?
Do the Lord’s words in 18 mean that Peter would be the foundation of the church? Explain your answer.Hide Answer
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the foundation and cornerstone (
1Cor 3:11; 1Pet 2:4-6). But Ephesians also says, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph 2:20). There is no contradiction between the two. It is Christ who chose the apostles and built His church with the authority He has given them and the teachings He has entrusted to them (19). Peter, whose name means “rock,” was chosen to represent the apostles and foundation of the church. But this does not mean that Peter was infallible or higher than the other believers, or that believers should build their faith on Him. The apostles were simply servants sent by God to build up the church ( 1Cor 3:9-11).
What is “church”?
What is the “gates of Hades”? Why shall it not prevail against the church?Hide Answer
“Gates” is symbolic of power, referring to fortifications (Gen 22:17; Ps 127:5). “Gates of Hades” means the power of death (Job 17:16, 38:17; Ps 9:13, 107:18; Isa 38:10). The church, purchased by Christ’s blood, is victorious over everlasting death and will never be destroyed because Christ has overcome death (
Explain “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” and “the authority to bind and lose” in 19.Hide Answer
The keys of the kingdom refers to the gospel of salvation. By God’s revelation, the apostles were given the keys to God’s kingdom (cf. Lk 11:52). Christ has also given the authority to bind and lose, which has to do with retaining and forgiveness of sins (Jn 20:22, 23). When the church preaches the gospel of the kingdom, those who obey the gospel will be loosed from the dominion of Satan (Acts 26:18). But for those who do not accept the message, their sins will remain (see Acts 18:6).
Why did the Lord want the disciples to conceal His identity?Hide Answer
People at that time had a false expectation of what the Messiah would be. Jesus wanted the people to come to believe Him not because they expected Him to be a national hero, but through belief, repentance, and obedience. It is God’s will that at this point in Jesus’ ministry, Christ’ identity be revealed only to the humble and faithful and not to the unbelieving and callous (11:25, 13:11-15). The disciples would proclaim Christ only after the resurrection (17:9). Another possible reason is that widespread proclamation of his Messiahship might bring about intense opposition prematurely.
Why did Jesus consider Peter’s words and actions the work of Satan?Hide Answer
Jesus considered any hindrance to the will of the Father the work of Satan (4:8-10). Although Peter might have meant well, he had become a stumbling block. He spoke and acted according to the will of men rather than the will of God. Satan often uses the desires and thinking of men to obstruct God’s work.
Explain the following terms: a. Deny himself; b. Take up his cross; c. Follow Me; d. Saving and losing life. See also 26.Hide Answer
a. Deny himself:
Giving up of one’s will and desires.
b. Take up his cross: The man condemned to crucifixion would be forced to take up his cross. This command means being ready to go through suffering and death for Christ. It involves putting to death the sinful nature (Rom 8:13; Gal 5:24, 6:14).
d. Saving and losing life. See also 26:
The first “life” refers to things of the world, i.e.walking according to our desires (
1Jn 2:15-17). The second “life” refers to spiritual, or eternal, life and the glory that we will receive (26,27). We cannot have eternal life unless we deny our own will and follow the will of God in our lives.
With these teachings about discipleship in mind, what should you do about your personal life to be a true disciple of Christ?
What event was the Lord referring to in 28?Hide Answer
Out of many interpretations that have been offered, two are most plausible. The first interpretation states that the coming of the Son of Man in His kingdom refers to the transfiguration, which would take place six days after its prediction (17:1ff). During the transfiguration, the disciples witnessed Christ in His glory, and the subject of Christ’s conversation with Moses and Elijah was the glory that will be achieved through suffering (Lk 9:31). The second interpretation, which is linked to the first, believes this prediction to be referring to the mighty work of the Holy Spirit in the church after Jesus’ ascension. Christ exercised great authority in His church through powerful preaching, large numbers of conversions, and signs and miracles.