on Matthew 16 :28
There be some - which shall not taste of death - This verse seems to confirm the above explanation, as our Lord evidently speaks of the establishment of the Christian Church after the day of pentecost, and its final triumph after the destruction of the Jewish polity; as if he had said, "Some of you, my disciples, shall continue to live until these things take place." The destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish economy, which our Lord here predicts, took place about forty-three years after this: and some of the persons now with him doubtless survived that period, and witnessed the extension of the Messiah's kingdom; and our Lord told them these things before, that when they came to pass they might be confirmed in the faith, and expect an exact fulfillment of all the other promises and prophecies which concerned the extension and support of the kingdom of Christ.
To his kingdom, or in his kingdom. Instead of βασιλεια, kingdom, four MSS., later Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Saxon, and one copy of the Itala, with several of the primitive fathers, read δοξη, glory: and to this is added, του πατρος αυτου, of his Father, by three MSS. and the versions mentioned before. This makes the passage a little more conformable to the passage already quoted from Daniel; and it must appear, very clearly, that the whole passage speaks not of a future judgment, but of the destruction of the Jewish polity, and the glorious spread of Christianity in the earth, by the preaching of Christ crucified by the apostles and their immediate successors in the Christian Church.
1. The disciples, by being constantly with their Master, were not only guarded against error, but were taught the whole truth: we should neglect no opportunity of waiting upon God; while Jesus continues to teach, our ear and heart should be open to receive his instructions. That what we have already received may be effectual, we must continue to hear and pray on. Let us beware of the error of the Pharisees! They minded only external performances, and those things by which they might acquire esteem and reputation among men; thus, humility and love, the very soul of religion, were neglected by them: they had their reward - the approbation of those who were as destitute of vital religion as themselves. Let us beware also of the error of the Sadducees, who, believing no other felicity but what depended on the good things of this world, became the flatterers and slaves of those who could bestow them, and so, like the Pharisees, had their portion only in this life. All false religions and false principles conduct to the same end, however contrary they appear to each other. No two sects could be more opposed to each other than the Sadducees and Pharisees, yet their doctrines lead to the same end - they are both wedded to this world, and separated from God in the next.
2. From the circumstance mentioned in the conclusion of this chapter, we may easily see the nature of the kingdom and reign of Christ: it is truly spiritual and Divine; having for its object the present holiness and future happiness of mankind. Worldly pomp, as well as worldly maxims, were to be excluded from it. Christianity forbids all worldly expectations, and promises blessedness to those alone who bear the cross, leading a life of mortification and self-denial. Jesus Christ has left us an example that we should follow his steps. How did he live? - What views did he entertain? - In what light did he view worldly pomp and splendor? These are questions which the most superficial reader may, without difficulty, answer to his immediate conviction. And has not Christ said that the disciple is not Above the Master? If He humbled himself, how can he look upon those who, professing faith in his name, are conformed to the world and mind earthly things? These disciples affect to be above their Lord; and as they neither bear his cross, nor follow him in the regeneration, they must look for another heaven than that in which he sits at the right hand of God. This is an awful subject; but how few of those called Christians lay it to heart!
3. The term Church in Greek εκκλησια, occurs for the first time in Matthew 16:18. The word simply means an assembly or congregation, the nature of which is to be understood from connecting circumstances; for the word εκκλησια, as well as the terms congregation and assembly, may be applied to any concourse of people, good or bad; gathered together for lawful or unlawful purposes. Hence, it is used, Acts 19:32, for the mob, or confused rabble, gathered together against Paul, εκκλησια συγκεχυμενη, which the town-clerk distinguished, Acts 19:39, from a lawful assembly, εννομω εκκλεσια. The Greek word εκκλησια seems to be derived from εκκαλεω, to call out of, or from, i.e. an assembly gathered out of a multitude; and must have some other word joined to it, to determine its nature: viz. the Church of God; the congregation collected by God, and devoted to his service. The Church of Christ: the whole company of Christians wheresoever found; because, by the preaching of the Gospel, they are called out of the spirit and maxims of the world, to live according to the precepts of the Christian religion. This is sometimes called the Catholic or universal Church, because constituted of all the professors of Christianity in the world, to whatever sects or parties they may belong: and hence the absurdity of applying the term Catholic, which signifies universal, to that very small portion of it, the Church of Rome. In primitive times, before Christians had any stated buildings, they worshipped in private houses; the people that had been converted to God meeting together in some one dwelling-house of a fellow-convert, more convenient and capacious than the rest; hence the Church that was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, Romans 16:3, Romans 16:5, and 1 Corinthians 16:19, and the Church that was in the house of Nymphas, Colossians 4:15. Now, as these houses were dedicated to the worship of God, each was termed κυριου οικος kuriou oikos, the house of the Lord; which word, in process of time, became contracted into κυριοικ kurioik, and κυριακη, kuriake; and hence the kirk of our northern neighbors, and kirik of our Saxon ancestors, from which, by corruption, changing the hard Saxon c into ch, we have made the word church. This term, though it be generally used to signify the people worshipping in a particular place, yet by a metonymy, the container being put for the contained, we apply it, as it was originally, to the building which contains the worshipping people.
In the proper use of this word there can be no such thing as The church, exclusively; there may be A church, and the Churches, signifying a particular congregation, or the different assemblies of religious people: and hence, the Church of Rome, by applying it exclusively to itself, abuses the term, and acts as ridiculously as it does absurdly. Church is very properly defined in the 19th article of the Church of England, to be "a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered, according to Christ's ordinance."
on Matthew 16 :28
Verily I say unto you ... - To encourage them, he assured them that, though his kingdom was now obscure and despised - though he was cast out and little known - yet the time was near when he would be regarded in a different manner, and his kingdom be established with great power.
This cannot refer to the end of the world, and there is no need of referring it to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Taste of death - That is, die. Before they die they shall see this.
Son of man coming in his kingdom - Mark and Luke have explained this: Mark 9:1, "Until they have seen the kingdom of God come with power;" Luke 9:27, "Till they see the kingdom of God." The meaning evidently is, "till they shall see my kingdom," i. e., my church, now small, feeble, and despised, greatly enlarged, established, and spreading with great rapidity and extent. All this was accomplished. All these apostles, except Judas, lived to see the wonders of the day of Pentecost; some of them, John particularly, saw the Jewish nation scattered, the temple destroyed, the gospel established in Asia, Rome, Greece, and in a large part of the known world.
Remarks On Matthew 16
1. People will often judge far more correctly about natural than about spiritual things, Matthew 16:1-3. In respect to natural objects they are watchful. In them they feel a deep interest, and they watch for every sign that may affect their interest. They are too much concerned to judge falsely. But they feel no such interest in religious things. Hence, it happens that people who have good sense and much wisdom in regard to worldly concerns, are often exceedingly foolish in regard to religion. They believe reports respecting religion, revivals, and missions, which they would despise on any other subject. They read and believe newspapers and other publications, which they would hold in contempt on any other topic but religion. They give a degree of weight to arguments against the Bible, and against the doctrines of the gospel, to which they would attach little or no importance on any other subject. They sustain themselves in infidelity by arguments which they would regard as of no force if the same kind of reasoning was urged in defense of anything else.
2. It is of importance to watch the signs of the times, Matthew 16:3. In the days of Christ it was the duty of the people to look at the evidence that he was the Messiah. The proofs were clear that he was the Messiah. It is also important to look at the signs of the times in which we live. They are clear also. Much is doing; and the diffusion of the Bible, the labors among the pagan, the distribution of tracts, and perhaps, above all, the institution of Sunday schools, betoken an eventful age, and are an indication that brighter days are about to dawn on the world. We should watch these signs that we may rejoice; that we may pray with more fervor, and that we may do our part to advance the kingdom of God. Little children should grow up believing that they live in an important age; that they enjoy many special privileges, and that they may and must do much to spread the gospel through the earth. Even in childhood, they should pray, and they should give to benefit others; and, most of all, they should give themselves to Christ, that they may benefit others with a right spirit.
3. Sinners should be addressed with deep feeling and faithfulness, Mark 8:12. Jesus sighed deeply. So should we. We should not be harsh, or sour, or cold and unfeeling when we address our fellow-men about eternity. We should weep over them, and pray for them, and speak to them, not as if we were better than they, but with an earnest desire for their salvation. Compare Acts 20:31; Philippians 3:18.
4. People easily mistake plain instruction, Matthew 16:7. And especially is this the case where there is any chance of giving a worldly turn to the instruction. If people's thoughts - even those of Christians were more off from the world, and they thought less of the supply of their temporal wants, they would understand the truths of religion much better than they do. No man can understand the doctrines of religion aright whose principal concern is what he shall eat, and drink, and wear. Hence, even Christians are often strangely ignorant of the plainest truths of religion; and hence the importance of teaching those truths to children before their thoughts become engrossed by the world; and hence, too, the importance of Sunday schools.
5. We should not have undue anxiety about the supply of our wants. Christ supplied many thousands by a word, and he can easily supply us, Matthew 16:9-12.
6. We should learn, from his past goodness, to trust him for the future, Matthew 16:9-12.
7. We should be on our guard against error, Matthew 16:11. It is sly, artful, plausible, working secretly, but effectually. We should always be cautious of what we believe, and examine it by the word of God. False doctrines are often made as much like the truth as possible, for the very purpose of deceiving. "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," 2 Corinthians 11:14.
8. It is important to ascertain our views of Christ, Matthew 16:13-15. Our all depends on this. If we do not think and feel right respecting him we cannot be safe. We should often, then, ask ourselves - we should ask one another - what we think of Christ.
9. It is our duty to profess attachment to Christ. It should be done boldly, and always, Matthew 16:16. We should never be ashamed of him. And to do this, we should always, in our own hearts, believe that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
on Matthew 16 :28
16:28 And as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live to see tho Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom, with great power and glory, by the increase of his Church, and the destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews.