Matthew 16

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Matthew 16
BookGospel of Matthew
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part1

Matthew 16 is the sixteenth chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament section of the Christian Bible. Jesus begins a journey to Jerusalem from the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi, near the southwestern base of Mount Hermon. Verse 24 speaks of his disciples "following him".

The narrative can be divided into the following subsections:


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 28 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:


Matthew 15 ends with Jesus sending the multitude of his followers away and He and his disciples sail to Magdala (or Magadan) on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.[2] In Matthew 16:1 the Pharisees and Sadducees come to him, presumably in the same location. Theologian John Gill suggests that "these were Galilean Sadducees and Pharisees, of whom mention is made in the Misna", and distinct from the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem, mentioned in Matthew 15:1.[3]

Matthew 16:5 refers again to travel to "the other side", and verses 16:13–20 are set "in the region of Caesarea Philippi".

The "other side" of the lake would have been the eastern side.[4] In regard to the statement in verse 5 that they had forgotten to take bread, Joseph Benson suggests that they should have obtained bread before embarking on the western side, noting that in Mark's parallel passage (Mark 8:14) they had only one loaf with them,[5] whereas Henry Alford and Heinrich Meyer both argue that they should have obtained more supplies when they arrived on the eastern side, because they had a further journey in mind.[6][7]

Caesarea Philippi is the furthest point north referred to in Matthew's Gospel, and marks the turning point from which Jesus and his disciples will travel south to Jerusalem.

Pharisees and Sadducees (16:1–12)

Verse 1

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.[8]

The opposition to Jesus' teaching this time came from a coalition of Pharisees and Sadducees, whose theological views and policies were markedly different from each other, but who were forced to co-operate as members of Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme court.[9] Biblical commentator Dale Allison describes the coalition as an "unlikely" one;[10] Arthur Carr suggests that the formation of this coalition "can only be accounted for by the uniting influence of a strong common hostility against Jesus".[11]

Verses 2–3

2 He answered and said to them,
"When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red';
3 and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.'
Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times."[12]

Allison notes that, had he wanted to do so, Jesus could have provided the "spectacular sign" they were requesting: in Matthew 26:53 Jesus reminds his followers, "do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?".[10]

Verse 6

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees".[13]

"Leaven" means "teaching" or "doctrine".[10][14]

Peter's Confession (16:13–20)

This pericope is considered the climax of the first part of the Gospel of Matthew, when Peter received a revelation from God telling him that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.[9] Allison argues that "the primary function of this passage is to record the establishment of a new community, one which will acknowledge Jesus' true identity and thereby become the focus of God's activity in history".[10]

Verse 13

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?[15]
  • "Region" (Ancient Greek: μέρη, merē, the plural form of meros, "part, portion, share"): The King James Version refers to the "coasts" of Caesarea Philippi, although Caesarea Philippi is not in the vicinity of a sea: the sense is one of "borders" or "regions".[16] The regions of Caesarea Philippi are called "the northern coasts of the land of Israel",[17] marking "the most northerly point" reached by Jesus Christ in his ministry.[11]

The Textus Receptus has Greek: τινα με λεγουσιν, tina me legousin, but the με is omitted by Westcott-Hort. Hence translations vary as to whether Jesus' question is set out in the first person or third person:

Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? - New King James Version,
Who do people say I am? - Easy-to-Read Version
Who do people say that the Son of Man is? - American Standard Version, NABRE, Revised Standard Version

Verse 14

So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets".[18]

The popular consensus is that Jesus is a prophet: all the forerunners mentioned were prophets.[10]

Verse 16

Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."[19]

This answer from Peter combined a traditional Jewish title of "Messiah" (Greek: Christos, "Christ") meaning "anointed" (which is a royal title), with a Greek title "Son of ... God" for a ruler or divine leader (a favorite of the first Roman Emperor Augustus, among others), which is also another Hebrew royal title (see Psalm 2:7).[20]

Verse 18

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.[21]
  • "Shall...prevail against": or "be victorious",[22] from the Greek word κατισχύσουσιν, katischysousin.[23]

Pope Francis notes that "this is the first time that Jesus uses the word 'Church'. He does so expressing all His love for the new Covenant community "which He defines as 'My Church'".[24]

Verse 19

"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."[25]
  • "Will be bound... will be loosed": or "will have been bound . . . will have been loosed".[26]

Death and Glory (16:21–28)

Still at the location near Caesarea Philippi, the narrative follows Peter's confession with a decisive new phase of Jesus' ministry, with Jerusalem as the next geographical focus.[27] Verse 21 states that Jesus "must go to Jerusalem",[28] but this journey does not properly begin until Matthew 19:1.

See also


  1. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966)
  2. ^ Matthew 15:39
  3. ^ Gill's Exposition of the Bible on Matthew 16, accessed 1 March 2021
  4. ^ Barnes, A. (1832), Barnes' Notes: Matthew 16, accessed 5 March 2021
  5. ^ Benson, J., Benson Commentary: Matthew 16, accessed 5 March 2021
  6. ^ Alford, H., Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary: Matthew 16, accessed 5 March 2021
  7. ^ Meyer, H. A. W., Meyer's NT Commentary: Matthew 16, accessed 5 March 2021
  8. ^ Matthew 16:1 KJV
  9. ^ a b France 1994, p. 925.
  10. ^ a b c d e Allison, D. Jr., Matthew in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 864
  11. ^ a b Carr, A. (1893), Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Matthew 16, accessed 14 September 2019
  12. ^ Matthew 16:2–3 NKJV
  13. ^ Matthew 16:6
  14. ^ Footnote f at Matthew 16:12 in the New King James Version
  15. ^ Matthew 16:13 NKJV
  16. ^ Barnes, Albert. Notes on the Bible - Matthew 16. James Murphy (ed). London: Blackie & Son, 1884.
  17. ^ Bengel, Johann. Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. Matthew 16. Accessed 24 April 2019.
  18. ^ Matthew 16:14 NKJV
  19. ^ Matthew 16:16 NKJV
  20. ^ Coogan 2007, p. 32 New Testament.
  21. ^ Matthew 16:18 NKJV
  22. ^ Note [a] on Matthew 16:18 in NKJV
  23. ^ Greek Text Analysis: Matthew 16:18. Biblehub
  24. ^ Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, Pope Francis at Angelus: ‘Christians are certain of Jesus’ identity', Vatican News, published 29 June 2018, accessed 27 February 2021
  25. ^ Matthew 16:19 NKJV
  26. ^ Note [a] on Matthew 16:19 in NKJV
  27. ^ France 1994, p. 926.
  28. ^ Matthew 16:21


  • Coogan, Michael David (2007). Coogan, Michael David; Brettler, Marc Zvi; Newsom, Carol Ann; Perkins, Pheme (eds.). The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, Issue 48 (Augmented 3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195288810.
  • France, R. T. (1994). "Matthew". In Carson, D. A.; France, R. T.; Motyer, J. A.; Wenham, G. J. (eds.). New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (4, illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 904–945. ISBN 9780851106489.

External links

Preceded by
Matthew 15
Chapters of the New Testament
Gospel of Matthew
Succeeded by
Matthew 17
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