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The Demand for a Sign

16 Now when the Pharisees[a] and Sadducees[b] came to test Jesus,[c] they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.[d] He[e] said, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.’[f] You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky,[g] but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then[h] he left them and went away.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread. “Watch out,” Jesus said to them, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees[i] and Sadducees.”[j] So[k] they began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “It is because we brought no bread.” When Jesus learned of this,[l] he said, “You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing[m] among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000, and how many baskets you took up? 10 Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many baskets you took up? 11 How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 12 Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter’s Confession

13 When[n] Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,[o] “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,[p] and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered,[q] “You are the Christ,[r] the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him,[s] “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood[t] did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[u] will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” 20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.[v]

First Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

21 From that time on[w] Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer[x] many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law,[y] and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him:[z] “God forbid,[aa] Lord! This must not happen to you!” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”[ab] 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower,[ac] he must deny[ad] himself, take up his cross,[ae] and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life[af] will lose it,[ag] but whoever loses his life because of me[ah] will find it. 26 For what does it benefit a person[ai] if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.[aj] 28 I tell you the truth,[ak] there are some standing here who will not[al] experience[am] death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”[an]


  1. Matthew 16:1 sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7.
  2. Matthew 16:1 sn See the note on Sadducees in 3:7.
  3. Matthew 16:1 tn The object of the participle πειράζοντες (peirazontes) is not given in the Greek text but has been supplied here for clarity.
  4. Matthew 16:1 sn What exactly this sign would have been, given what Jesus was already doing, is not clear. But here is where the fence-sitters reside, refusing to commit to him.
  5. Matthew 16:2 tn Grk “But answering, he said to them.” The construction has been simplified in the translation and δέ (de) has not been translated.
  6. Matthew 16:3 tn Or “red and gloomy” (L&N 14.56).
  7. Matthew 16:3 tn Grk “The face of the sky you know how to discern.”
  8. Matthew 16:4 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
  9. Matthew 16:6 sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7.
  10. Matthew 16:6 sn See the note on Sadducees in 3:7.
  11. Matthew 16:7 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of Jesus’ saying about the Pharisees and Sadducees.
  12. Matthew 16:8 tn Or “becoming aware of it.”
  13. Matthew 16:8 tn Or “discussing.”
  14. Matthew 16:13 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  15. Matthew 16:13 tn Grk “he asked his disciples, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant and has been left untranslated.
  16. Matthew 16:14 sn The appearance of Elijah would mean that the end time had come. According to 2 Kgs 2:11, Elijah was still alive. In Mal 4:5 it is said that Elijah would be the precursor of Messiah.
  17. Matthew 16:16 tn Grk “And answering, Simon Peter said.”
  18. Matthew 16:16 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 1:16.
  19. Matthew 16:17 tn Grk “answering, Jesus said to him.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (apokritheis) is redundant, but the syntax of this phrase has been modified for clarity.
  20. Matthew 16:17 tn The expression “flesh and blood” could refer to “any human being” (so TEV, NLT; cf. NIV “man”), but it could also refer to Peter himself (i.e., his own intuition; cf. CEV “You didn’t discover this on your own”). Because of the ambiguity of the referent, the phrase “flesh and blood” has been retained in the translation.
  21. Matthew 16:18 tn Or “and the power of death” (taking the reference to the gates of Hades as a metonymy).sn In the OT, Hades was known as Sheol. It is the place where the unrighteous will reside (Matt 11:23; Luke 16:23; Rev 20:13-14). Some translations render this by its modern equivalent, “hell”; others see it as a reference to the power of death.
  22. Matthew 16:20 tc Most mss (א2 C W Γ 579 1241 M lat bo) have “Jesus, the Christ” (᾿Ιησοῦς ὁ Χριστός, Iēsous ho Christos) here, while D has “Christ Jesus” (ὁ Χριστὸς ᾿Ιησοῦς). On the one hand, this is a much harder reading than the mere Χριστός, because the name Jesus was already well known for the disciples’ master—both to them and to others. Whether he was the Messiah is the real focus of the passage. But the addition of “Jesus” is surely too hard a reading: There are no other texts in which the Lord tells his disciples not to disclose his personal name. Further, it is plainly a motivated reading in that scribes had the proclivity to add ᾿Ιησοῦς to Χριστός or to κύριος (kurios, “Lord”), regardless of whether such was appropriate to the context. In this instance it clearly is not, and it only reveals that scribes sometimes, if not often, did not think about the larger interpretive consequences of their alterations to the text. Further, the shorter reading is well supported by א* B L Δ Θ ƒ1, 13 565 700 1424 it Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 1:16.
  23. Matthew 16:21 tn Grk “From then.”
  24. Matthew 16:21 sn The necessity that the Son of Man suffer is the particular point that needed emphasis since for many 1st century Jews the Messiah was a glorious and powerful figure, not a suffering one.
  25. Matthew 16:21 tn Or “and scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4.
  26. Matthew 16:22 tn Grk “began to rebuke him, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant in English and has not been translated.
  27. Matthew 16:22 tn Grk “Merciful to you.” A highly elliptical expression: “May God be merciful to you in sparing you from having to undergo [some experience]” (L&N 88.78). A contemporary English equivalent is “God forbid!”
  28. Matthew 16:23 tn Grk “people.”
  29. Matthew 16:24 tn Grk “to come after me.”
  30. Matthew 16:24 tn This translation better expresses the force of the Greek third person imperative than the traditional “let him deny,” which could be understood as merely permissive.
  31. Matthew 16:24 sn To bear the cross means to accept the rejection of the world for turning to Jesus and following him. Discipleship involves a death that is like a crucifixion; see Gal 6:14.
  32. Matthew 16:25 tn Grk “soul” (throughout vv. 25-26). See the discussion of this Greek term in the note on “life” in Matt 10:39.
  33. Matthew 16:25 sn The Greek word translated life can refer to both earthly, physical life and inner, transcendent life (one’s “soul”). In the context, if a person is not willing to suffer the world’s rejection and persecution in order to follow Jesus but instead seeks to retain his physical life, then that person will lose both physical life and inner, transcendent life (at the judgment). On the other hand, the one who willingly gives up earthly, physical life to follow Jesus (“loses his life because of me”) will ultimately find one’s “soul” (note that the parallel in John’s Gospel speaks of “guarding one’s ‘soul’ for eternal life” (John 12:25).
  34. Matthew 16:25 tn Or “for my sake.” The traditional rendering “for my sake” can be understood in the sense of “for my benefit,” but the Greek term ἕνεκα (heneka) indicates the cause or reason for something (BDAG 334 s.v. 1).
  35. Matthew 16:26 tn Grk “a man,” but ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) is used in a generic sense here to refer to both men and women.
  36. Matthew 16:27 sn An allusion to Pss 28:4; 62:12; cf. Prov 24:12.
  37. Matthew 16:28 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
  38. Matthew 16:28 tn The Greek negative here (οὐ μή, ou mē) is the strongest possible.
  39. Matthew 16:28 tn Grk “will not taste.” Here the Greek verb does not mean “sample a small amount” (as a typical English reader might infer from the word “taste”), but “experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something” (cf. BDAG 195 s.v. γεύομαι 2).
  40. Matthew 16:28 sn Several suggestions have been made as to the referent for the phrase the Son of Man coming in his kingdom: (1) the transfiguration itself, which immediately follows in the narrative; (2) Jesus’ resurrection and ascension; (3) the coming of the Spirit; (4) Christ’s role in the Church; (5) the destruction of Jerusalem; (6) Jesus’ second coming and the establishment of the kingdom. The reference to six days later in 17:1 seems to indicate that Matthew had the transfiguration in mind insofar as it was a substantial prefiguring of the consummation of the kingdom (although this interpretation is not without its problems). As such, the transfiguration would be a tremendous confirmation to the disciples that even though Jesus had just finished speaking of his death (in vv. 21-23), he was nonetheless the promised Messiah and things were proceeding according to God’s plan.