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latter were the prevalent notions, and a designation of Messiah, is founded alto. these lower conceptions of his character gether upon his real humanity.
By this would prevail just as the expectation of he was declared both to be the Messiah, the re-establishment of a temporal sov- and truly a man ; but was he nothing reignty prevailed, or by a gross interpre- more? The disciples in the ship, and tation of the prophecies was carnalized by now Peter in their name, again reply in the growing worldliness of their minds. the affirmative, and call him the Son or From about the time of the birth of our God, the Son of the Living God, which Lord, they appear to have become increa- is the high and distinguishing appellation singly uneasy under the Roman power, of Jehovah, in opposition to dead idols. and the desire to be avenged of it, and That this title, the Son of God, was given rescued from its control, was at length by the disciples with reference to their wrought up to passion and infatuation. faith in our Lord's divine nature, although The progress of this feeling among the as yet the mystery of the Trinity was not Jews, all through the life of our Lord, so distinctly revealed to them as afterwill account for the constantly diminish- wards, is rendered indubitable by the ing views of Messiah's character, as com- sense put upon that very phrase by the pared with the faith of their fathers. Jews themselves. Of its universally reFor earthly wars, conquests, and cares, a ceived import the Gospels afford complete mere man, if endowed with power to evidence, and that both as to the popular command signs from heaven, thunders, sense in which it was understood, and hail-storms, lightnings, to blast the ene- with which, therefore, the disciples could mies of Israel, or at most an angel, would not be unacquainted, and also of the inby such be naturally thought a Messiah terpretation put upon it by the learned. quite adequate to accomplish all they ex- As to the first, we have this pregnant inpected, and, in fact, all they desired. stance, that when our Lord, amidst an The Son of the Living God is therefore indiscriminate company of hearers, claimemphatically added, to express Peter's ed God as his proper Father, the Jews acown view and that of the other disciples cused him of blasphemy, and took up of the true nature of him whom they ac- stones to stone him. And of the second knowledged to be the Christ; an acknow- we have evidence in the fact, that he was ledgment not now made by them for the tried and condemned before the Jewish first time ; for, after he had walked on the Sanhedrim on a charge of blasphemy, water, and had come into the vessel, all grounded upon this fact, that he prothe disciples “worshipped him, saying,” fessed to be the Son of God. “Then in the most emphatic manner, “OF A said they all, Art thou then the Son of
THE Son Of Gon." God? And he saith unto them, Ye say That confession, indeed, they had made that I am ;” thereby affirming it. And in a moment of great excitement, occa- they said, “What need we any further witsioned by a most impressive display of ness ? for we ourselves have heard out of his divine power over the elements; but his own mouth ; ” and “the High Priest now they make it calmly and deliberately. rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken 3. That the title Son of God is a desig- blasphemy. Behold now ye have heard nation of nature, not of ofhce, like that his blasphemy, what think ye? They of the Christ. The latter, indeed, is a answered and said, He is guilty of Deatu.” noble part of the confession, for it in- So fully demonstrated is it, by these two cludes all those high offices to which he facts alone, that the title, “Son of God,” was anointed by the Holy Ghost, and was considered by the Jews to involve an which are so largely dwelt upon in the assumption of the divine nature, which prophetic scriptures; but the title, “Son of Jesus himself did not deny; but, by his enGod,” is added, and stands in manifest op- tire silence as to his having used the term position to the phrase, “the Son of Man,” in any lower sense, most forcibly and infal. in the question of our Lord, which, though libly confirmed. See note on chap. xxvi. 63.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That 'thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
f John i. 42.
Verse 17. Simon Barjona.—The son of pose new names upon their disciples; and Jona, or Jonah, which was the name of our Lord, in this instance, had followed his father; these patronymics being in the example, having given the name of frequent use among the Jews.
Cephas to Simon, “which is by interpreFlesh and blood hath not revealed, &c.- tation a stone," at his first calling. Jobni. Flesh and blood is the Hebrew periphrasis 42. That it was not considered improper for man ; and the meaning of our Lord in a Jew to use a name derived from the is, that Peter had not derived this know- Greeks or Latins, is also clear from the ledge of Christ from his own sagacity, or example of Saul, who assumed the name from the teaching of man, or from the of Paul, or Paulus. Peter, lletpos, signotions respecting the nature of Messiah nifies a stone or rock, and from this sigcurrent among the Jews, but from the nification of his name, our Lord declares special teaching of the Father, giving
that he should be a foundation stone upon him a right understanding of these great which he would build his church: “Thou truths, and a docile disposition to yield to art Peter,” a stone, and €T: TaeTy Tn T&Tpq, those demonstrations of them which upon this stone, this foundation stone, “will he had beheld in the works of Christ. I build my church.” The Papists take the Nor is this to be understood exclusively words to have been addressed to Peter of Peter, but of all the other apostles, exclusively, and ground upon this famous whose knowledge of this mystery could and oft.controverted passage, their notion only come from the same source, the re- of the supremacy of Peter and his sucvelation of the Father; and as Peter was cessors; whilst many Protestants, in on this account pronounced blessed, so order to rebut this conclusion, contend was the benediction pronounced through that the foundation on which the church him upon them all; for, as he had answered was to be built, was either Christ, who is in the name of the rest, so he receives the supposed to have pointed to himself with blessing as representing the rest.
his finger; or the profession of faith Verse 18. And I say also unto thee, which Peter had just made. The latter That thou art Peter, &c.—Here, again, the view was also that of Chrysostom, key to our Lord's meaning is that peculi- τη πετρι-τουτέστι τη πιστει της ομολογιας, arity in his teaching, which, by the use of “Upon the rock, that is, the faith of his beautiful and easily-understood enigmas, profession.” In favour of this, an arguand by taking terms in a literal and figu- ment has been founded by some upon the rative sense in the same sentence, or giv- difference of termination between lletpus ing a lower and a higher application of and Netpa. If the apostle, say they, had the same term, for the moinent involves himself been the rock, our Lord would his meaning in obscurity, only to unveil not have changed the term to η πετρα και it in greater force and clearness to atten. and it would have been more direct to tive minds. In this passage our Lord have said, Thou art Peter, and upon thee confirms to Simon the new name of Peter, will I build, &c. But this change of which had before been given him; instead gender is sufficiently explained by the of his old name Simon Barjona. It was figurative manner in which our Lord must not unusual for the Jewish doctors to im- on every scheme of interpretation bo supposed to have spoken. After all that Peter stands foremost on several occasions has been said, the most natural interpre- in the history of the Gospels, and he was tation of the words is that which refers chosen, notwithstanding his foul offence, them to Peter. His name signified a the denial of his Master, to preach the stone, and our Lord taking the term figu- first evangelical sermon to the Jews, and ratively in his usual manner, says, Upon to be the first also to open the gate of this stone will I build my church, mean- faith to the Gentiles : but the notion of ing unquestionably not upon Peter's per. his supremacy over the other apostles is son, but upon Peter's office and ministry, a pure fiction, no shadow of evidence which—as that necessarily includes Peter's appears in the history of the New Testadoctrine, for his ministry was to teach ment in favour of it; nay, on the contrathat Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the ry, he was “ withstood” by St. Paul, “ to living God, and the only true object of the face,” in a matter of indecision, for the trust of men for salvation-brings us, which that apostle declares "he was to be in fact, round to the opinion of those who blamed.” St. Paul, therefore, allowed hold that the true foundation referred to him neither infallibility por supremacy. is Peter's profession of faith. No ill con- My church.—The church of Christ is sequence can therefore result from allow- the assembly of true believers. The word ing that Peter was intended as the foun- itself, ekkinoia, signifies a public assembly ; dation on which the church was to be but in a religious sense, an assembly col. built, when that necessary distinction is lected for the public confession and wormade, that Peter is not spoken of as a ship of Christ, united in affection as man, but as an apostle, whose sole office brethren, and pledged to walk by the it was to bring men to trust in Christ rules of their divine Master. Every soalone for salvation ; for from hence it ciety of true Christians is a church, for follows that the doctrine he taught was such particular societies are so denomithe true foundation of the church. But nated in the New Testament; but the here again it is to be observed, that al- body of the faithful throughout the world though Peter is addressed, it is still as constitutes the CHURCH OF CHRIST, and before, not exclusively, but as the repre- it is in this general sense that the term is sentative of the rest of the apostles. They here used. It is not the church of Jeruhad all joined in the same confession; salem, nor the church of Rome, nor the they had all been taught of the Father, church of Antioch, or of any other place, not by flesh and blood; they had all been nor any body of Christians distinguished pronounced blessed in the blessing pro- from others by some external peculiarity; nounced upon Peter ; and now Peter's but all who love our Lord Jesus Christ name is enigmatically made use of to in every place. This church is here and show, that they were all, collectively, in in other places compared to a building, their office and doctrine, to be the foun- "a spiritual house," a temple,” because dation of the Christian church; and thus it is established for spiritual ends, and this passage is in entire harmony with for holy services; and its members are that of St. Paul : “ And are built
the called “living stones” in the building, foundation of the apostles and prophets, not merely as they are living men; but Jesus Christ himself being the chief cor- as persons quickened into spiritual life, ner stone:” where we see no distinction by the power of the Holy Spirit. made among the apostles, but all are re- Ard the gates of hell, &c.—Aidns, renpresented as constituting the foundation dered hell in our translation, does not neof a building, the chief corner stone of cessarily mean the place of the punishwhich is Christ. It corresponds also with ment of the wicked, but generally the the representation of the city or church world of the dead, the unseen world, from of God, the new Jerusalem, which had a privatve and elow, to see. It is the vast twelve foundations, bearing “the names receptacle of disembodied human spirits of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." until the resurrection, having two re
gions, one of the blessed, or, as the He- In the book of Revelation, hades is rebrews called it, Paradise ; the other the presented as a region under the governabyss or Gehenna, the place where the ment of death as its sovereign : this is one wicked are collected, and are in a state of instance of striking personification applied misery. This lower region is also the to this subject. In the epistle to the He. abode of evil spirits or devils, though not brews, the devil is represented as a soverigidly so, since they are permitted to reign who has “the power of death,” have access to our world; whilst Paradise whose dominion our Lord was “to abois inhabited not only by the departed lish.” This is an instance in which we faithful, but by the angels of God. Fi- see Satan brought into immediate collo. guratively, this region of the dead, and cation with the ravages of death, and the particularly with reference to them, is state of separate spirits. By hades we said to have gates, the keys of which are may therefore understand that region in the hands of Christ, so that “ he opens which is not only the receptacle of the and no man shuts, and shuts and no man wicked dead, but the abode of the devil opens ;" by which we are to understand and his angels, who are represented as his absolute power over life and death, having dominion there, and who issue and that his dominion extends not only from this Abyss to carry on their ravages over earth, but into the world of spirits, among men, to oppose the life-giving and and is absolute over all the beings which saving doctrine of Christ, and to disturb it contains,—angels, devils, and men. and destroy the church, which is the shelter The promise, that the gates of hades shall of souls from their malice and wiles. not prevail against the church has been Now, as the strongly fortified Gates of differently understood by interpreters. cities were anciently the places, not only Since hades is the place of the spirits of where the sovereign and his chief men, the dead, the gates of hades bave been the elders, sat to give judgment, but also understood to mean death. Thus, Isaiah to hold their councils and arrange their xxxviii. 10, “I shall go to the gates of plans of peace or war ; by a metaphor the grave,” ev mulais qdov, meaning I shall easily understood, our Lord promises that die. And Wisdom xvi. 13, Thou lead- all the counsels of Satan against the est to the gates of hades, er avlas qdov, church, and the wars he may wage by his and bringest up again.” The import of agents to overthrow it, shall never so prevail the promise is therefore taken to be, My against it as to vanquish and subdue it. church shall endure for ever ; death shall Such has been the glorious fact; the not so prevail against it that it shall ever church still survives the conflicts of cenbecome extinct, but it shall continue turies; it still lives and flourishes, in spite from generation to generation to the end of persecutions and corruptions : from its of time. But though this be an import lowest depressions it has risen with renoant and encouraging sense, it does not vated vigour ; and it is again seen carrywell comport with the imagery of the ing on offensive and successful warfare text. The idea suggested by the church against the kingdom of darkness throughbeing built upon massive foundation- out the world. To this day the fulfilment stones, intimates its power to resist as- of this prophetic promise gives clear and saults of war, like the strong fortresses of powerful evidence to the truth of the gosantiquity, built upon the strongest sites; pel. These words of our Lord also seand the word "allo xuw, used in the text, cure to us the continuance of the church, indicates the application of violent force, not of any particular church, but of the as of an assault of enemies to vanquish church universal; the world shall never and subdue : a metaphor which cannot be without true believers, openly confeswell be applied to express the slow and sing Christ and maintaining the institusilent wastes of death. We must there- tions of his religion ; for avins is more nafore look for another interpretation, and turally taken to refer to the ekkanoiav, and this is intimated to us by other scriptures. not to the foundation stone, because the
19 & And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
g John xx. 23.
former is the nearest antecedent; but in exegetical of the power of the keys. These either way the sense is the same, for the expressions are manifestly Jewish, and foundation would only be declared per- may therefore be satisfactorily explained by petual with reference to the edifice which reference to this mode of speaking. With it is in all ages to sustain.
the Jews to bind and loose was a usual Verse 19. And I will give unto thee the phrase for declaring what was lawful or keys of the kingdom of heaven, &c.—Some unlawful ; what was BINDING upon men's who apply these words to Peter exclu- consciences; and that from the obligation sively, understand by the gift of the keys of which they were loosed or free. Lightthe honour assigned to Peter to open the foot, Schoetgenius, and others, have progates of the kingdom of heaven, that is, duced a great number of examples froin the perfected evangelical dispensation, the Rabbinical writings; one or two into the Jews at the day of pentecost, and stances will suffice. “He asked one vise then afterwards to the Gentiles, when he man, and he bound; do not ask another, went down to Cornelius at Cæsarea. lest perhaps he loose.” “The school of Others, as the Papists, understand by Schammai binds it; the school of Hillel the phrase the committal of a special au- looseth it." Get thyself a heart to hear thority to Peter over the church of Christ, the words of them that pronounce unof which it is certain that we have no clean, and the words of them that proevidence or illustration in the New Testa- nounce clean ; the words of them that ment. The emblem of the keys was a fami- bind, and the words of them that loose ; liar one to the apostles, if the later Jewish the words of them that reject, and the writers have correctly described the ancient words of them that declare it right.” ceremony of constituting a rabbi or doc- Under these terms, therefore, our Lord tor of the law; for according to them the gave his disciples authority to declare the person admitted to this office had a key laws of the gospel dispensation under the given to him as an emblem both of his guidance of his own teaching and the inability and duty to open the MEANING of spiration of the Holy Spirit; which authe law, which key he wore as a badge of thoritative declaration of the terms of his office. Still, without any reference to man's forgiveness, and how Christians this custom, supposing it as old as our ought to walk so as to secure the approLord's day, the figure very naturally ex- bation of God, and that infliction of the presses the opening of “the mysteries of divine displeasure which should follow the kingdom of heaven ” BY
disobedience, he promises should be conTeaching, and so setting open the doors firmed in heaven ; as constituting his own of evangelical knowledge, and, by conse- law and rule of moral government to be quence, of the Christian church. This is laid down by them, first in their preacha much more natural exposition of the ing and then in their writings. It is this emblem in this connexion, than that which which distinguishes those writings from regards it as significant of the committal all others. They not only contain a reof power and authority to govern the velation of truth from God, but they have church; and is indeed pointed out with an authority as Law derived from this,great clearness to be its meaning, by that God himself acts upon them. Whatwhat follows as to the power of binding ever the apostles have in those writings and loosing, which must be taken as BOUND is a matter of conscience, it must