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THE APOSTLES' PROFESSION OF FAITH.
In return for this noble and explicit profession, JESUS pronounced Peter "blessed," or "happy," in being favoured with a DIVINE revelation, which flesh and blood, or man, could not give him; and alluding to his surname, Peter, (Пlɛrpoç,) as belonging to THE ROCK *, CHRIST, (Ty Пετon,) promised that on "THIS ROCK," (pointing, we may presume, to himself,) He would build his Church; which should endure for ever, and the gates of Hades should not prevail against it, to destroy it. He then promised Peter the keys of heaven, as the first who should open the door of faith to both Jews and Gentiles. As Peter actually did on the day of Pentecost, Acts ii. 14—38; and to Cornelius afterwards, Acts x. 6, xv. 7. He also promised him the power of binding and loosing, or of declaring the terms of salvation; that whatsoever things (óra) he should declare to be lawful or unlawful, on earth, should be ratified in heaven; and this privilege was extended to the rest of the Apostles afterwards, Matt. xviii. 18, and seems to correspond to the power of remitting and retaining sins in general, conferred on them jointly after our Lord's resurrection, John xx. 23, according to the Gospel terms of salvation; by which only, mankind shall be acquitted or condemned at the day of judgment. For the expression, whosesoever sins, &c. (av Tivwv) is plural, relating to men in general; not singular, (av Tivoç,) as if to guard against absolution of individuals, practised by the Church of Rome. For "who hath power on earth to forgive sins" to individuals, but GOD and CHRIST alone? Mark ii. 5-10. This was a power never assumed by the Apostles: Peter himself exhorted Simon Magus to "repent of his wickedness, and pray to GOD for forgiveness," Acts viii. 22, but did not grant him absolution.
As Peter, on this occasion, was the foremost to give a noble
* Peter could not be the rock meant, according to the misinterpretation of the Romanists, from the difference of the Greek terms which OUR LORD probably used, IIɛrpos, and Пerpn. Nor his confession of faith, with some Protestant divines. CHRIST himself is THE ROCK, or main foundation, both of the Jewish and Christian Church, Deut. xxxii. 15; Psalm xviii. 31; Isai. xxviii. 16; 1 Cor. x. 4; 1 Cor. iii. 11. "The Prophets and the Apostles" were "the architects," or "master builders," who laid thereon the foundation stones of the edifice of the Church, of which CHRIST was also the chief corner stone, that bound together, and crowned the partition walls of the whole edifice, Ephes. ii. 20; 1 Cor. iii. 10; "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of the whole." See Lightfoot on Matt. xvi. 18.
specimen of his faith, and to gain a distinguished blessing, so was he the first to give a lamentable instance of his frailty, and to draw down on himself the severest censure.
Immediately after the foregoing profession, JESUS took occasion, for the first time, to warn his Apostles openly of his approaching sufferings, death, and resurrection on the third day, at Jerusalem. Shocked at this, Peter, taking him aside, began to rebuke him, saying, GOD forbid * ! this shall not happen to thee, LORD! But Jesus turning, said to Peter, before the disciples, "Begone from my sight, Satan, thou art an offence to me, for thou mindest not divine, but human things."
He then took occasion to correct their worldly-minded prejudices respecting the nature of his kingdom, informed them of the necessity of self-denial, and taking up their cross as his followers in this world; but that they must look to their reward in the next, at the general judgment, when he should come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, to repay every one according to his practice. And as an earnest thereof, he promised in the life time of some of the bystanders, to come in judgment on Jerusalem, as foretold by Moses, the Prophets, and John the Baptist, Matt. xvi. 21-28; Mark viii. 31-38, ix. 1; Luke ix. 22-27.
For the fuller evidence of his Divine mission, and confirmation of their "faith, eight days after," (according to Luke,) or "six entire days," excluding the extremes, (according to Matthew and Mark,) JESUS took with him his three confidential disciples, Peter, James, and John, apart, to a high mountain, to pray; and while he was praying, he was transfigured before them. "His face shone as the sun, his garments became resplendent, white as the light, very white, as snow, such as no fuller on earth can whiten. And lo, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared to them, conversing with Him; who also appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and his companions were [at first] oppressed with sleep, but being afterwards thoroughly awake, (Siayonyopηoavтeç,) they saw his glory, and the two men standing
Ιλεως σοι, put elliptically for ίλεως σοι ῃ ὁ Θεός, “GoD be merciful to thee,” and forbid such an evil!
with him. And it came to pass, while they were departing from Him, Peter said to JESUS, LORD, it is good for us to be here. If thou willest, let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias; not knowing what he said *, for they were scared. While he was yet speaking, lo a bright cloud overshadowed them, and they were affrighted on entering into the cloud; and a voice came from the cloud, saying, This is MY SON, THE BELOVED, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him. And when the disciples heard, they fell on their face, for they were sore affrighted. And JESUS came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not affrighted. And when they lift up their eyes, they saw none, but JESUS only, with them."
Such is the collective account of this stupendous scene, furnished by the three Evangelists, Matt. xvii. 1-8, Mark ix. 2-8, Luke ix. 28-36; vouched also by two of the eye witnesses, Peter, 2 Pet. i. 16-18, and John, i. 14.
As they descended from the mountain, JESUS forbade them to mention the vision to any, until after his resurrection from the dead. And they observed his directions, but questioned among themselves, what "the resurrection from the dead meant."
Mount Tabor, in Galilee, is usually supposed to have been the scene of this wondrous transaction, in which JESUS unveiled a portion of his divine glory, even in the flesh, as the ONLY GENUINE SON OF GOD. But there is reason to doubt the correctness of the tradition. It seems rather to have been some mountain near Cesarea Philippi; for JESUS did not re
The faith of Peter seems to have been subjected to various paroxysms. On his public profession, it was raised to a great height; when CHRIST foretold his sufferings and death, he was offended, and it sunk. Now it rose again, at the sight of this glorious vision; when he was transported with rapture, and rashly proposed to make three tabernacles, for the worship of him and his two glorified companions, Moses and Elijah, "not knowing what he said," or the infinite superiority of CHRIST, as THE SON of God, above Moses and Elijah, his servants, Heb. iii. 3-6, so signified, indeed, immediately after they had disappeared, by the voice from the cloud. Again it sunk to the lowest when JESUS was apprehended, and tried before the council; so that he even denied his LORD but was pardoned upon his speedy repentance. Thus the Apostles themselves, as well as meaner Christians, had occasion frequently to cry, LORD, encrease our faith! Luke xvii. 5. Even theirs was not fully established till they received the baptism of THE SPIRIT, and became regenerate, on the day of Pentecost. Happy those believers, whose faith and trust, surmounting all obstacles and trials, is firmly and invariably built and secured upon THE ROCK, CHRIST, "THE ROCK of ages," THE SAME, yesterday, and to-day, and for ever! Matt. vii. 24, 25; Isai. xxvi. 4; John xiv. 1; Heb. i. 12, xiii. 8.
turn to Galilee until some time after this transaction, Matt. xvii. 22, Mark ix. 30. Lightfoot on Mark ix. 2, ingeniously conjectures, that it was the highest mountain of that country, according to Josephus, hanging over the springs of Jordan, at the foot of which Cesarea Philippi was built, which had been the scene of the early idolatry of the Danites, but now of the presence of the eternal Son of God.
CURE OF THE LUNATIC AND DEMONIAC.
During the absence of CHRIST and his three prime Apostles, a patient was brought to the rest, labouring under a complication of disorders, deafness, dumbness, lunacy, and possession, from his infancy, but they could not cure him, for want of faith, to work the miracle; and when he returned from the mountain next day, he saw a great multitude about them, and the Scribes, as usual, questioning with them, and scoffing at them for their failure.
And when the multitude saw him, they were excessively amazed (ε0aμẞnon), probably because his face and raiment still shone after his transfiguration †, like the face of Moses after his descent from Mount Sinai, Exod. xxxiv. 29-35; still they ran to salute him. JESUS then asked the Scribes about what they were questioning his disciples? Upon this, the father of the sick child came out of the crowd, fell at his knees, and besought him to cure his son, whom he had brought during his absence, and applied to his disciples to cure, but they could not.
JESUS answered, " O faithless and perverse generation! how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?"— or, How long shall I endure your obstinate infidelity?—The edge of this rebuke seems to have been principally levelled against the Scribes, yet the Disciples escaped not altogether untouched. Then said he to the father, " Bring hither thy Son," and they brought him in the agony of a violent convulsion. The father, considering the case as well nigh desperate, said, If thou art able [to do] any [thing,] assist us, and have tender compassion on us. JESUS said unto him, " If thou art able to believe, [I am able:] all things are possible [to be done] for him that
This supposition, Mark ix. 15, is warranted by the application of the same verb to the women who saw the second angel in OUR LORD'S tomb. Mark xvi. 5, εкdaμβεομαι marks a higher expression of fear and astonishment than φοβεομαι, Μatt. xxviii. 5, when they saw the first angel.
believeth; and immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, I do believe, LORD, help thou mine unbelief!"
JESUS then seeing the crowd closing together upon him from every part, rebuked the impure spirit, and said, Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I order thee to come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the demoniacal spirit, having screamed, and rent him sorely, came out of him, and left him for dead, so that many said he was dead; but JESUS, taking him by the hand, raised him, and cured the child from that hour, and delivered him to his father. And all were struck with astonishment at the mighty power of GOD, Matt. xvii. 14-21; Mark ix. 14-29, Luke ix. 37-43.
CHRIST RETURNS TO GALILEE.
Immediately after this signal miracle, JESUS left Cesarea Philippi, and returned to Galilee privately, where he appears to have remained till the ensuing feast of tabernacles, about the beginning of autumn. On the way, he took occasion, a second time, to inform his disciples more particularly of his approaching sufferings, death, and resurrection on the third day. And they were greatly grieved, but they understood not the saying of his resurrection, for it was hidden from them, but they feared to enquire of him its meaning, Matt. xvii. 22, 23, Mark ix. 30—32, Luke ix. 43–45.
MIRACULOUS SUPPLY OF THE TRIBUTE MONEY.
When they had reached Capernaum, the tax-gatherers of Herod and of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, (the former for Galilee, the latter for Judea and Samaria,) came to enquire before hand from his disciples, whether their master was disposed to pay the capitation tax of two drachmas * ? suspecting
The exact frugality of this miracle and prophecy combined, still more surprizing than the superfluity of the loaves and fishes, has been greatly obscured by our translators, for want of retaining, or paraphrasing the technical terms of the original, and mistaken by most commentators, supposing that it was the capitation tax of half a shekel for each of the congregation of Israel, above twenty years old, prescribed by the law of Moses, for sacred uses, Exod. xxx. 13. Two Greek drachmas, or two Roman denarii, equal to half a shekel, (about fifteen pence of our currency,) was the "census" here mentioned, or the capitation tax paid to Cæsar, Matt. xxii. 17. And the sameness of The the amount probably occasions this confusion of the Roman with the sacred tax. stater was an Attic silver coin, equal in value to the sacred shekel, four drachmas, or four