Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.
“Matthew 16” pp. 412-435.
In Matthew 16 Jesus faces opposition from both Pharisees and Sadducees, two groups which often disagree with each other. Jesus’ confrontation in 16:1-4 leads to Jesus’ departure from Galilee and his warning to his disciples (Morris 1992, 412). When asked for a sign, Morris says Jesus “consistently refused” (Morris 1992, 413). The people of Jesus’ time would look for miracles rather than trusting the revelation God gave in Jesus (Morris 1992, 413). The people of Jesus’ time would look for miracles rather than trusting the revelation God gave in Jesus (Morris 1992, 415). The Pharisees and Sadducees taught a dependence on something other than God’s Word, hence Jesus’ warning against their “leaven” (Morris 1992, 415). As we reach 16:12, the disciples begin to realize that Jesus is the one who has cared for them thus far.
In a more private discussion with his disciples, in Caesarea Philippi, Gentile territory, Jesus has his disciples explore his identity (Morris 1992, 419). The disciples reported that generally favorable views of Jesus were held by people (Morris 1992, 420). The view of the disciples is reported by Peter in Matthew 16:16. He is the Messiah, which Peter describes as “the Son of the living God” (Morris 1992, 421). Jesus affirms that this realization comes from God (Morris 1992, 421).
Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18 has drawn no end of controversy as to the identity of the rock on which the Church is built (Morris 1992, 422). After considering several interpretations Morris concludes that the rock is probably the apostolic group and their faithful confession (Morris 1992, 424). This church is so powerful that even the gates of death cannot restrain it (Morris 1992, 425).
In verses 19 and following Jesus promises Peter a gift of “keys” indicating the ability to forgive or to bind people in their sin, a concept familiar in rabbinic thought (Morris 1992, 426). The ability to bind or loose is extended to all the apostles in chapter 18 (Morris 1992, 426). Jesus instructs the disciples not to reveal him as the Messiah, at least for the present time (Morris 1992, 427). He then begins to teach about his coming suffering (Morris 1992, 428). Peter’s objection to Jesus’ suffering is rejected (Morris 1992, 429) and Jesus reinforces the message of his arrest and death (Morris 1992, 431). Jesus also reminds his disciples that they must lay down their lives as he does his (Morris 1992, 432).