Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 16:23-17:12

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Get behind me, Satan! - Matthew 16:23

Get behind me, Satan! Peter and the other disciples have come to believe fully in Jesus as the Messiah and God's Son (Matt. 16:16). However, they did not yet understand that to complete God's work Jesus the Messiah and Son must endure suffering, death, and then resurrection (Matt. 16:21). Peter represents this imperfect understanding of the Messiah's role in the world and gets reproved by Jesus, seeing behind Peter's words the temptation of Satan (4:1-11) for Jesus to take glory upon himself without first obediently suffering.

His cross – Matthew 16:24

Take up his cross. This looks ahead to how Jesus will die, crucified on a Roman cross. This becomes an important Christian image for following Jesus faithfully in the midst all different kinds of suffering.

Rewards according to deeds – Matthew 16:27

Reward every person according to what he has done. Jesus' teaching here is part of a repeated theme of reward and recompense in Matthew (5:12, 46; 6:1-21; 10:41-42; 20:8). This theme is part of the same message of discipleship that Jesus has been teaching, that Christians are the ones who do God's will (Matt. 12:50) and thus will be honored according to their faithfulness. See also the teachings about faithful and wise servants (Matt. 24:45-51) and the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30).

A taste of his glory – Matthew 16:28

Will not taste death until they see ... This does not mean that Jesus' final return would happen in that generation. Rather, the following story of Jesus' Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8) is a taste of the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in his glory.

Transfigured - Matthew 17:2

Transfigured ... face shone like the sun. These moments of transfiguration communicated Jesus' true identity and nature; he shares in God's radiant glory. This indicates Jesus divine nature. He is like Moses but greater (2 Cor. 3:7-18).

Moses and Elijah – Matthew 17:3

Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are two of the most important figures of the Old Testament, both of whom saw a glimpse of God's glory (Exod. 33:18-34:7; 1 Kgs. 19:5-18). Here they met with Jesus who shined forth God's glory. Moses and Elijah also represent two key aspects of the Jewish Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40).

Three shelters – Matthew 17:4

Three shelters. Peter's suggestion that they build three shelters referred to the time of the Exodus when the Israelites lived in tents in the wilderness. This came to be remembered as the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43). Peter must have believed that the kingdom of heaven was coming to the earth at that moment and thus the expectant Jews would celebrate with this appropriate feast (Zech. 14:16).

Jesus' sonship – Matthew 17:5

Voice out of the cloud. This was the second time when God speaks from the heavens to affirm Jesus' sonship and divine authority. The first was at another crucial event and turning point in the book, at Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:16-17). In both cases God the Father affirmed the unique Father-Son relationship he has with Jesus, confirming Jesus' authority over all the earth — "Listen to him."

Elijah's coming – Matthew 17:12

Elijah has already come. The Jewish expectation was that the mysterious prophet Elijah (who never died but was taken up by God to heaven, 2 Kgs. 2:1-18) would come back as a herald of the coming of God's kingdom (Isa. 40:1-11; Mal. 3:1-18). There is a double sense in which this came true through Jesus: Elijah returned and met with Jesus at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-11) and Elijah came figurally in John the Baptist who played the role of herald (Matt. 3:1-5; 17:13).

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