Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 29-
Near Caesarea Philippi
(46) Peter Confesses Jesus is the Christ
Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-21


What follows is a private conversation between Jesus and His disciples concerning Himself.  It took place on the coast of Cesarea Philippi, which is on the northern border of Canaan.  It is a remote area, so there may not have been very many people flocking after Him as there were in other places, which gave Him the needed leisure time for this conversation with His disciples.

 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13)

Jesus called himself the Son of Man, for He was really and truly a man, born of a woman.  He was also called the Son of God, for he was God’s Son.  Luke 1:35 said, “And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, therefore, also, that Holy One who is born will be called the Son of God.”  By referring to himself as the Son of Man He also showed himself to be humble. 

He asked what people thought about him.  He didn’t ask what the scribes and Pharisees thought, because He knew they were prejudiced against him; that they said He was a deceiver and in league with Satan.  Jesus didn’t ask this question because He didn’t know what men think or because He wanted to hear his own praises.  He asked it to make his disciples consider the success of their preaching, by showing that He was interested in its effect.  The common people conversed more easily with the disciples than they did with their Master.  He could find out from them what they were saying.  Jesus did not clearly state who He was, but left them to infer it from his works.  In John 10:24-25 we read, “Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do you keep us in doubt?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly’” Now He wanted to know what inferences they drew from his miracles and the miracles which the apostles did in his name.
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14)

Some said that Jesus was John the Baptist, returned from the dead.  That was the opinion of Herod’s court, and that is what Herod, himself, believed.

Some believed that He was the prophet Elijah.  The prevailing notion among the Jews was that Elijah would reappear before the Messiah came.  They believed that Jesus fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy.  Malachi wrote, "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.” (Malachi 4:5) John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ and he was like the prophet Elijah in his dress and manner. 

There were others who thought He was the prophet Jeremiah, perhaps because of the tears He shed.  They believed that He was the one who would be raised up from among the people according to Deuteronomy; one like Moses, who wrote "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites, and you must listen to that prophet. (Deuteronomy 18:15)

There were even some who supposed that He was one of the other prophets, for they believed that when the Messiah appeared that the prophets would rise again.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

He asked them this question, because even though they were his disciples and they believed in Him, that is not enough; they must confess Him.  Both are necessary, therefore, He doesn’t say who believe thee, but whom say ye that I am?  They had been with Him a long time.  They had heard His words and seen His miracles.  They would be the ones to preach the Gospel to the Jews and the Gentiles, so He asks them who do you say that I am?  They should know Him better than anyone else, and should be to the point that they can make a confession of their faith, and give a reason for the hope that is within them.  They should have no doubts about Him and be ready to declare what they know and believe about Him.

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

Peter declared that Jesus was not one of many, but that he was one set apart from all others.  He said, “You are the Christ,” which is the Greek title for the Messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting.  “Son of the living God” is a new title.  Peter not only declared that Jesus was the Messiah, he identified the Messiah as the Son of God.  Though the disciples had heard the Father call Jesus His beloved Son (Matt. 3:17) and had heard Jesus address God as His Father numerous times (Matt. 11:27), this confession went way beyond that to express the understanding of their hearts.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)

Jesus was very pleased with Peter’s confession.  But He reminds him of his beginning; that he is Simon Bar-Jonah, a simple fisherman, chosen and blessed by God, and that he did not come to this great understanding on his own, but by the grace of God.  It is the Spirit of God that has revealed the truth to Peter.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus gave him the name Peter, when they first met.  Peter means rock and Jesus was acknowledging that Peter would be a man who would not be swayed by what others think or say.  Jesus then said, “On this rock I will build My church.”  He is not speaking about any particular denomination; but He is referring to the called out body of believers that is being added to daily.  It is His church and several places in scripture Christ Himself is called the foundation. 
• For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.(1 Corinthians 3:11)
•  Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”(1 Peter 2:6)
Jesus Christ is the church’s one foundation; everything hinges upon Him.  He is Savior, Judge, Advocate, Creator, and a Stumbling Stone and Rock of offence to those who do not believe.

When He says that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against His church,” He is declaring that nothing, not even Satan and all his evil acts, will stop the church.

And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

Jesus promised Peter and the other apostles the keys of the kingdom.  Preaching the gospel would be the means to opening the kingdom to all believers and shutting it against unbelievers.  The binding and loosing is a reference to the distribution of the gospel.  Peter and all believers were given the gospel (“the keys of the kingdom”) to introduce women and men to Christ and His salvation and thereby build the church.

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. (Matthew 16:20)

They were to tell no one.  The revelation was to remain the property of the disciples until after the Lord’s resurrection.  The great proof of Christ being the Messiah was the resurrection and He did not want them declaring who He was until they had proof.  If the people were convinced now that He was the Christ, they would not have crucified Him.  But when Christ was glorified and the Spirit poured out, we find Peter proclaiming upon the house-tops what was here spoken in a corner (Acts 2:36), That God hath made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ; for, as there is a time to keep silence, so there is a time to speak.


Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” (Mark 8:27)

Jesus asked this question, not because he wanted to know the answer, but because He wanted them to think about it and disclose to one another what they thought about Him. 
So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8:28)

They told Him that the people believed that He was one raised from the dead; John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets.   They had left everything to follow Him and they were satisfied with Him and willing to go on, and that is evident in their answer to the next question. 

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29)

They didn’t hesitate, but replied, “Thou art the Christ.”  What does it mean to be a Christian?  It means to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and to act accordingly. 

Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him. (Mark 8:30)

They knew who He was and they would soon declare it, but for the present they must keep it secret.  They must wait until the proof was complete and until they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Then, as it was written in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”


And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  (Luke 9:18)

Notice that although Christ spent most of His time in the presence of crowds, He found time to pray alone to the Father and to converse in private with his disciples.  On this occasion, He asked His disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  He knew the answer better than they did, but Jesus will use this conversation to correct the wrong opinions of others and to lead the disciples to acknowledge the truth that was made known to them concerning their Master, for they had been given more light than anyone else.   

So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”  (Luke 9:19)

Some of the people said that He was John the Baptist, who was just recently beheaded; and others Elijah, or one of the prophets from the past.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)

Now we see what great advantage that they had over the common people.   Peter’s answer was, “The Christ of God.”  He is declaring that Jesus was the Christ of God, the Anointed of God, the Messiah who had been promised. 

And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, (Luke 9:21)

You would expect that next He would command them to tell everyone who He was; but instead He strictly commanded them to tell no one.  After his resurrection, which completed the proof of who He was, Peter made the temple ring with the declaration, that God had made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)

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