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2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day : for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky ; but can ye not discern the signs of the times ?
were not the Pharisees from Jerusalem, were chiefly miracles of healing, and dismentioned in the preceding chapter, but pensations of mercy which had in view persons of these sects residing in Galilee. the communication of some practical bene. Betwixt the Sadducees and Pharisees fit, that they fixed upon signs of quite a there were great differences of opinion; different kind and order, as flaming fires, but in their enmity to Christ all were destructive thunderbolts, &c., as necesunited, whether in Jerusalem or in other sary proofs, well knowing that he was not parts of the country.
likely to show them at their request, and And tempting him, desired that he would thus to create a pretence for their own gire them a sign from heaven.- To tempt incredulity, and to counteract among the signifies to put his claims as Messiah to people the impression of his miracles, by
This test, however, was one disparaging them as not worthy to be devised by themselves ; and, as in chap. compared to signs from heaven. Or this xii. 38, it was to be the exhibition of a expectation might rest upon their own sign from heaven ; by which they may be vain traditions; which is rendered somesupposed to have meant a luminous ap- what probable by this, that their late pearance, or thunder, or the descent of writers speak of such phenomena as fire, or some other prodigy similar to among the signs of Messiah. The appearsome of those mentioned in the Old Tes- ance of an extraordinary rainbow, for intament. It is not easy to say what led stance, is mentioned as one of these indithese Jewish sects to agree, as they appear
cations. Whatever origin this notion to have done, in fixing upon a sign in the might have, it was not for want of evidence heavens as a proof of the appearance of that they continued in unbelief. This is Messiah. They have by some been sufficiently proved by their disregarding thought to derive this from a literal inter- even signs from heaven. On one occasion pretation of Dan. vii. 13, where “ the there was a sign of this kind so manifest, Son of Man” is said to
that the people said, “ An angel spoke to clouds of heaven;" but as he is there re- him ;" yet the Pharisees did not believe. presented as coming in this manner that There were signs from heaven at the cru. he might appear before the Ancient of cifixion; and, by the testimony of the Days, it is scarcely to be admitted that Roman soldiers, on the morning of the they could so interpret this of his appear- resurrection ; and, finally, on the day of ance among MEN; nor is there a portion Pentecost; and yet they continued conof prophecy which speaks of any extra- temptuously to reject the truth. It was ordinary appearance in, or sign from, hea- therefore the state of their hearts which ven, as to be given by Messiah in demon- occasioned that blind and determined stration of his claims. It is more proba- unbelief which ultimately caused their ble, that, as there had been an agreement ruin. Their obstinate insensibility to the among the Pharisees, both in Jerusalem plainest evidence is reproved by what and in Galilee, to account for the miracles follows. See note on Mark viii. 12. of Christ, and to destroy their evidence, Verse 3. The signs of the times—By this as proofs of his divine mission, hy at- our Lord doubtless means those strong tributing them to Satan; so, as they had proofs already given, in the very aspect of observed that his extraordinary works public events, of the Messiah being come,
come with the
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
but which they utterly disregarded. One the prognostics of the weather which of these was the departure of the sceptre would follow; but they refused to apply from Judah, according to the prediction the same carefulness and seriousness to of Jacob; for Judea was now a Roman mark“ the signs of the times ;” to conprovince, and what remained of power sider their character, to inquire what they in Galilee, and the neighbouring districts, indicated, and to draw their conclusions to their last race of kings, Herod and his as honestly, and as much without prejudescendants, was fast passing away, and dice, as in the case of the signs of the was indeed altogether dependent upon weather. They are therefore called “hythe Romans. Another was the appear- pocrites ;” and this part of their conduct ance of the forerunner of our Lord in proved how truly they were so. They the person of the Baptist, who had so professed to be in quest of evidence to established the authority of his mission, ascertain whether Messiah had come, and that “all the people held John to be a they neglected all that had for years been prophet ;” but, if a prophet of God at all, urged upon them. They could not disthen his testimony was necessarily true; pute it, but they rejected it, because they and he had pointed to Jesus himself as had not some other sign which God in the Christ. To these were to be added his prophetic word had never promised the character and conduct of our Lord, to give, and which could not, in the nawhich so exactly answered to prophetic ture of things, be more convincing than description; the fact that a great and ex- those already before their eyes. It was traordinary teacher had appeared among not truth, therefore, that they sought; and them, learned in the law without being they were justly charged with hypocrisy taught in their schools, speaking as never for pretending it. man spake, refuting all objections, expos
Verse 4. A wicked and adulterous generaing all errors, and instructing all who tion.—See note on chap. xii. 39. would follow him, in the purest doctrines, And he left them, and departed.-As expressed with super-human eloquence, persons wholly incorrigible, he took and confirmed by the greatest miracles, no further pains with them, but depublicly wrought, extending to innu- parted to the vessel in which he had merable cases, conferring the most signal arrived, and passed over to the other side blessings, and filling the country with the of the lake. most indubitable witnesses of his mission. Verse 5. Forgotten to take bread.-For These were the “ signs of the times,” they had no more, says St. Mark, than strongly marked by the finger of God; one loaf in the ship; and had probably which yet, plain and palpable as they been so intent upon our Lord's discourse, were, the Pharisees and Sadducees dis- and had embarked so suddenly, as to forregarded. They could discern the face of get to purchase provision, which was the the sky, and, by carefully marking the more necessary, as they landed in an unatmospheric phenomena of their climate, frequented place, and had before them a a matter to which their wise men” ap- considerable journey towards Cæsarea plied themselves with attention, laid down Philippi.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye
have brought no bread ?
9 "Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up ?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “ Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am ?
b Matt. xiv. 17.
c Matt. xv. 34.
d Mark viii. 27; Luke ix. 18.
Verse 7. And they reasoned among Verse 12. But of the doctrine of the themselves, saying, It is because we have Pharisees and Sadducees. Leaven is taken no bread.--Lightfoot illustrates the usually the metaphor for evil affections ; meaning by referring to a practice of the but here and in Gal. v. 9, it is used for Jewish doctors, who frequently forbade bad doctrine, which actively diffuses itself, their disciples to buy the bread of Hea- and in the results corrupts and vitiates. thens and Samaritans, which was a par- St.Mark says, “And the leaven of Herod,” taking of their leaven. This well con- because Herod was a Sadducee, and the nects the observation of our Lord with head therefore of the Sadducees of Galilee, the occasion, although the disciples were with whom the conversation had been held. perplexed as to his meaning. They could Verse 13. Cesarea Philippi.—This city not understand him literally, for they was situated at the foot of the mountain were not likely to buy bread of the opu. Paneas, whence flow the springs or lent Pharisees and Sadducees, nor were source of the river Jordan. It was anthey in a place where they could buy it at ciently called Laish and Paneas, and was all, being in a desert; and they did not rebuilt by Philip the tetrarch, who gave as yet lay hold of the spiritual meaning it the name of Cæsarea in honour of Tibeof his words. On this account they rea- rius Cæsar, and added Philippi from his soned among themselves, both as to the own name, to distinguish it from Cæsarea, supply of their necessities, and what might a sea-port on the Mediterranean, formerly be the meaning of their Lord's words. called Strato's Tower, and magnificently This clearly appears, because our Lord's rebuilt by Herod the Great, Philip's reproof relates both to their want of faith father, and named in honour of Augustus as to supplies, and their want of a prompt Cæsar. The city is destroyed, but th. spiritual discernment.
circuit of the walls is still discernil
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist : some, Elias ; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
A few miserable huts inhabited by Maho. therefore a most unsupported opinion of metans stand upon its site.
Macknight, that our Lord had not yet Whom do men say that I, the Son of directly declared to his disciples that he Man, am?_This question, as we learn was the Messiah. The use of this very from Mark, was put to the disciples as he title, from the commencement of his miwas travelling to visit the towns of this nistry, was a declaration of it; beside that district; and from St. Luke we have the all those of his apostles who had been further particulars, that it was when he disciples of John the Baptist had left was alone with them, and had been en- their master and joined Christ, on the gaged in prayer.
ground of the former having borne bis Some, by altering the pointing, resolve testimony that Jesus was the Messiah of this question into two,
“ Whom do men whom he himself was the forerunner. say that I am ? The Son of Man ?” But, Under this persuasion too, all his other though the ancient mss. were written disciples had joined themselves to him. without points, and to supply thein is the The question then in the text is the same work of criticism, regard must always be as if he had said, Whom do men say paid to the most obvious sense, and to that I, THE MESSIAH, am? What are the the construction ; and as the second ques- opinions of those who have not acknowtion is made to begin without any inter- ledged me under that character ?” Lightrogative particle, as un, or unti, usage is foot, indeed, conjectures that Christ inviolated. Beside, it is clear from the an- quires what kind of person they thought swer that our Lord did not inquire whe- him to be ; since tiva, rendered whom, ther the people said that he was the Son often relates to the quality of the person : of Man or Messiah, to which their reply but quality here is no further intended is as indirect an answer as can be con- than as it would be involved with the ceived; but indefinitely, what were the particular character men might judge our reports respecting him. The question Lord to be, as the answer of the disciples must, therefore, be taken as one. Our sufficiently proves. Some mss. omit me, Lord declares himself, as he had often which, however, makes no difference in done, to be THE SON OF MAN; and asks, the sense, since Christ is evidently speak. Whom do men, the people in general, saying of himself. Griesbach marks it as that I am? There is, however, no reason only doubtful; but, as it has been well to suppose, with other commentators, observed, it would be less difficult to that our Lord intended, by calling himself account for its omission in some mss. than “the Son of Man,” to intimate, empha- for its insertion in others. tically, his low and humbled condition. Verse 14. John the Baptist, &c.— From This is the title of Messiah, as given by this answer of the disciples it has been Daniel, who, by using it, doubtless pre- contended by some commentators, that dicted his incarnation ; but it is one which the Pharisees held the doctrine of the does not necessarily imply humiliation, transmigration of souls, and supposed inasmuch as he is now, though glorified, that the soul of John, or Elijah, or of one as much the Son of Man as when he of the prophets had assumed the body sojourned upon earth; that is to say, as of our Lord ; forgetting that these truly a human being. Stephen saw the opinions of Christ were not those of the SON OF MAN standing at the right hand Pharisees, who had no views so honour. of God. This was the prophetic designa. able of our Saviour, but of the people tion of the Messiah, and as such our at large, and especially those of Galilee, Lord had adopted it; and no other reason among whom this doctrine of the Greek can indeed be assigned for its use. and oriental philosophy was not probably
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
e John vi. 69.
beard of. Nor is it at all clear that any them are satisfactory. They are chiefly of the Jewish sects held this notion of taken from the Rabbinical writings, and the metempsychosis. The Sadducees, who are the speculations of later ages, without were materialists, could not entertain it; having sufficient proof that they preserve and all the evidence for the Pharisees the sentiments of our Lord's time on this having adopted it, is an equivocal passage point, which was indeed less a Rabbinical in Josephus, which appears rather to than a popular notion. Here too it is to regard the resurrection of the body at the be noted, that our Lord makes no remark last day. But the case is determined by upon these various opinions, or he suffers other considerations.
It appears from
the statement of them by the disciples to chap. xiv. 2, that Herod had heard it as pass in silence ; the only reason for his a common rumour that John had risen asking the question, as to the opinion from the dead in the person of Jesus ; not entertained of him by others, being to that his soul had passed into a new body. give them an occasion of solemnly declarAnd with respect to the prophets also ing their own. Hence he subjoins, But mentioned, St. Luke has it, “ And others whom say ye that I am ? say, that one of the old prophets is risen Verse 16. And Simon Peter answered and again ;” so that whether they thought said, Thou art the Christ, &c.—On this conJesus to be John, or Elias, or one of the fession of Peter it may be remarked, prophets, they conceived of him as one 1. That it was made by Peter in the name "risen from the dead.” The notion that of the rest of the apostles, for the quesJesus was John the Baptist raised from tion was put to them collectively, “Whom the dead, could only exist in those parts say ye that I am ?” and the answer is to of the country, distant from the scenes of be taken in the same way 2. That the their joint or neighbouring ministrations. confession has two great parts, “ Thou art This was, however, in a limited district, The Christ,” is the first part; and the and John's public ministry soon termina- Messiah, taken alone, might be held withted after that of Christ commenced. The out any higher conceptions of his nature report, however, shows the great venera- than were entertained by the majority of tion in which John was held, for the the Jews and their teachers in that day. popularity of our Lord in Galilee was now That the views entertained of the Messiah very great. As for Elijah, the Jews tak- by the Jews of that age were very various, ing the prophecy of Malachi literally, is not only a natural inference, for ancient expected that illustrious prophet in per- truth does not all at once vanish from the son ; (See note on chap. xi. 14 ;) and minds of a whole people, but is niade cerbeing greatly perplexed as to the myste- tain by the different opinions entertained rious character of our Lord, the solution of our Lord during his ministry, by those in which others rested was, that Elias had who either did acknowledge him to be risen and appeared in him, though under the Christ, or were withheld from doing
That the Jews expected so, not by their want of conviction, but Jeremiah, rather than any other of the from the fear of persecution. A few only, prophets in particular, appears from this such as Nathanael, attached the ancient passage, although the addition of, or one idea of divinity to the title Messiah ; of the prophets, shows that they were not others seem to have regarded the Messiah very confident. Several reasons have as a glorious but middle being between been given by commentators for their God and men ; others an angel, others a having fixed upon Jeremiah, but none of supernaturally endowed man.