In Matthew 3:7, in Matthew 12:34, and in Matthew 23:33 Israel is called “ye generation of vipers.”
After the Lord Jesus warned Israel concerning the unpardonable sin, He told them of the great sign that would leave them without excuse.
Matthew 12:40 and 41
“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”
After the Son of man was raised from the dead He showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs. Note what Peter said in Acts 2:36:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”
Some Israelites repented. Others refused.
Romans 11:7 and 8.
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.)”
“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
An interesting question: “How long was all day long?” During the Old Testament times God sent many prophets to Israel. Christ tells in Matthew 21:35 and 36 what Israel did to those Divine messengers. Many miracles were performed by those prophets in the midst of Israel. But they were a disobedient and gainsaying people. But God said: “All day long I have stretched forth My hands.”
Matthew 21:37 to 39
“But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son. they said among themselves, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.”
John 12:37 to 40
“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their; heart, and be converted, and I should heal them”
But even after all of this God still stretched forth His hands to that disobedient and gainsaying people until Stephen said in:
Acts 7:51 and 52
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your father persecuted? and they have slain them which chewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.”
With the murder of Stephen Israel was committing the sin against which Christ warned them in:
Matthew 12:31 to 33
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.”
After the warning to Israel, Christ said:
“For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:50.
THE SEVEN KINGDOM PARABLES
1. THE SOWER. Matthew 13:1 to 23.
2. THE WHEAT AND THE TARES. Matthew 13:24 to 30 and 37 to 43.
3. THE MUSTARD TREE. Matthew 13:31 and 32.
4. THE LEAVEN HID IN THE MEAL. Matthew 13:33.
5. THE TREASURE HID IN THE FIELD. Matthew 13:44.
6. THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE. Matthew 13:45.
7. THE NET FILLED WITH GOOD AND BAD FISH. Matthew 13:47 to 49.
In the midst of His teaching of these parables, note the question of the disciples and the answer of the Lord Jesus
Matthew 13:10, 11, 13 and 35:
“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”
“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
It is rather unfortunate that there is not unanimity of opinion or understanding among God’s people today as to the interpretation and application of these parables.
We quote two of the parables:
Matthew 13:31 to 33.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Another parable spake he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
Some very godly Christians teach that the Mustard Seed and the Leaven speak of the Church with the Gospel, which began in a small way and will continue to spread and influence all the human race until the world is Christianized and the universal righteousness described in Hebrews 8:11 shall be realized.
“And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”
But with this interpretation we run into contradiction in two other parables in this same group. In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares note:
Matthew 13:24 and 25
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.”
Matthew 13:37 to 43
“He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Observe these two facts:
1. The wheat was not sown among the tares; but the tares among the wheat.
2. Note the condition here on earth at the end of the age. This condition does not agree with the universal righteousness of Hebrews 8:11.
In the Parable of the Drag Net, we have the same condition at the end of the age:
Matthew 13:47 to 51
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him. Yea, Lord.”
Other godly Christians believe that they have answered this seeming contradiction by teaching that the leaven represents evil corresponding to the tares sown among the wheat. They cite the Lord’s words, “beware of the leaven.” They say that a large mustard tree is abnormal. Therefore the large mustard tree of Matthew 13:31 speaks of what is known as Christendom, which takes in all the false as well as the true, which is called Christianity.
Surely the Parable of the Sower does not suggest a converted world.
Note the Parable of the Pearl:
Matthew 13:45 and 46
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
There is likewise a division as to the meaning of this Parable. Some say, selling all to obtain the Pearl, is to give up everything for Christ and salvation and this agrees with Christ’s words in Matthew 19:21; Matthew 16:24 to 26; Luke 13:24 and Luke 12:32 to 34.
The reply to this interpretation is, that this would be incompatible with the grace gospel for this age found in Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Titus and other Epistles.
Romans 4:4 and 5
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
II Timothy 1:9:
“Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
Ephesians 2:8 and 9
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”
Many godly Christians teach that the Pearl is the Church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28. But then the question, if this Pearl, or Church, is the same as the Body of Christ, did Paul tell the truth in Colossians 1:23 to 27 concerning the Church as the Mystery? Whatever our interpretation we should know that salvation is not for sale. It is the gift of God.
We should be positive regarding this Parable of the Treasure hid in the field. By referring to Exodus 19:5 and Psalms 135:4 we, learn that God calls Israel His treasure.
Matthew 13:44 and 38
“Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field . . . The field is the world.”
“The field is the world.” Israel is God’s treasure hid in the world. Surely Christ is going to take the world and Israel is going to be redeemed.
Note the words of Christ in:
Matthew 13:16 and 17
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”
John 16:12 and 13
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
“But rise; and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.”
We quote also:
“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.”
“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words).”
UNTIL THE LAW
Now compare these Scriptures with
“For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
THE LAW WAS ADDED
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”
WHAT ISRAEL’S PROPHETS FORETOLD
I Peter 1:10 and 11
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
When we speak of progressive revelation we confine this progress to the limits of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Let us remember that, spiritually speaking, concerning any revelation of Divine truth, anything that is new is not true and anything that is true is not new. No new Divine truth has been given by inspiration of God since the Book of Revelation and Paul’s revelations were given. Divine truth may be stated in different words, but if it is Divine truth, it is already in the Bible.
But many things that the prophets did not know were revealed to the Twelve. Many things that the Twelve did not know while Christ was on earth they learned after the Holy Spirit came. But many things that the Twelve did not know, either before or after the resurrection of Christ, were revealed to Paul. Paul received his revelations on the installment plan, although he received an abundance at one time.
II Corinthians 12:1 to 12
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago. (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether In the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which It is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself 1 will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations. there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
CHRIST’S WORDS AND WORKS
In Matthew 13:54 we read:
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?”
14:32 and 33
“And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
By reading the contexts we shall learn more of the wonderful words and the wonderful works of the Lord Jesus Christ:
John 7:46 and John 7:31
“The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.”
“And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?”
Remember the words of the Lord Jesus in:
“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”
In Matthew 14 we read of the two great miracles:
1. Christ feeds 5000 men, besides women and children, with five loaves and two fishes.
2. Peter left the ship to walk on the sea to meet Jesus.
Matthew 14:30 to 32:
“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.”
THE HUMAN HEART
The Lord gives the picture of the human heart in:
Matthew 15:19 and 20
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
IN TYRE AND SIDON
INTO THE COASTS OF CESAREA PHILIPPI
“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.”
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?”
THE CHURCH—THE KEYS
We have already referred to the Lord’s dealings with the Greek woman of great faith and her words “the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Now we quote the words of Christ in Cesarea to His disciples:
Matthew 16:14 to 20
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
UPON THIS ROCK
There has been much controversy concerning some of these statements which Christ made to Peter.
First let us note who men said that Jesus was:
1. In John 3 we learn what Nicodemus said, “Master, Thou art a Teacher come from God.”
2. In another Scripture some thought Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead.
3. Now note Matthew 16:14: “Some say, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets.”
4. Some asked in their perplexity “Who is this Son of man?” John 12:34.
5. Then Peter’s confession: “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16.
Note Christ’s. response, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven.” Matthew 16:17.
This reminds us of the words in:
I Corinthians 12:3
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”
Then note one of the conditions of salvation in Romans 10:9: “ . . . if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Now note carefully:
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
“Thou art Peter” or the Greek word is “Petros.” Upon this rock “PETRA.” “Petra” is a larger rock. Now let us note the words of Peter and Paul:
I Peter 2:4 and 6
“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ”
Ephesians 2:20 to 22
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.”
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
In the light of these verses, and also in the light of all other Scriptures we must repudiate the foolish claim of Roman Catholicism, that the Christian Church is built up on the man Simon Peter; that the headship authority of the present Pope at Rome has come down to him by apostolic succession from Peter through other men to the present incumbent. The only case of apostolic succession is recorded in Acts 1:15 to 26, where Matthias took the place of Judas. In the case of the death of James (Acts 12:1 to 3) no one was selected to take his place. Paul had his own place and he was the apostle chosen by Christ to indoctrinate the Church at Rome. He taught them altogether contrary to the teaching which Catholics today receive from their priests. Others teach that “upon this rock” meant upon Peter’s confession. It is true, that any and every sinner who believes in the heart and confesses with the mouth the eternal Deity of Jesus Christ, immediately becomes a member of the Body of Christ.
But the Word of God declares in I Corinthians 3:11: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
“Simon” or “Simeon” means “heareth.” Faith cometh by hearing. Every sinner, who hears the gospel of Christ and believes, is a Simon; and in the light of I Peter 2:5 he becomes a Simon Peter
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priest-hood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
But what about:
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
When Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost he stood up with eleven other men. Acts 2:14. Note again that Peter had no authority over Paul.
“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.”
Note what Paul did to Peter:
Galatians 2:11 and 12
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood, him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”
In our study of Acts we shall learn that Peter is the principal human actor in that Book, in the first ten chapters. But Peter has no place in the Book of Acts, except as he has dealings with Paul, after the words of Acts 13:2:
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
II Timothy 2:2
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Note that in the great truths concerning the Church Timothy learned from Paul and not from Peter. Timothy was one of Paul’s successors, but not with the same apostolic authority. Neither did Paul learn these truths from Peter:
Galatians 1:16 and 17
“ . . Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; . . .”
And note also:
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.”
Now let us compare the statement of Matthew 16:19, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven” with:
Ephesians 3:1 to 3
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words.”
Galatians 2:7 to 9:
“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
DID PETER FORGIVE SINS?
Now how did Peter forgive sin, or bind on earth?
Note his words to Cornelius:
Acts 10:25 and 26
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”
Now note Peter’s message:
“To HIM give all the prophets witness, that through HIS name whosoever believeth in HIM shall receive remission of sins.”
Christ forgave sins. Note:
Mark 2:5 to 7
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?”
Surely, if Peter had even claimed that he could forgive sins it would have been blasphemy, but he never made such a claim. He was not the Very Right Reverend Simon Peter. He had no archbishops nor cardinals under him. He did not belong to an order of priests except as a believer-priest with apostolic authority.
Note his words in:
I Peter 5:1 to 5
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
The Romanists wholly ignore I Corinthians 3:10:
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master. builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”
Neither do they believe the words of Romans 4:4 and 5 written to the saints at Rome “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Note how Corinthian idolaters became saints and got into the Church:
I Corinthians 6:11
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Peter’s keys had no more to do with this than with the salvation of sinners today.
GOD’S WAY OF SALVATION
II Thessalonians 2:13
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
To be sure, the Twelve had apostolic authority, special power, and exclusive Divine prerogatives. But they had no authority over Paul. Let us remember that Paul was Christ’s special Apostle, to whom, and through whom, was revealed the deep truths concerning the Church which is the Body of Christ. The mysteries of the Church are revealed in connection with the name “Body.” So far as we have any Scriptural record, Peter never spoke of the Church as the “Body.”
Note what Peter said in:
II Peter 3:15 and 16
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
As to the meaning of the keys of the kingdom, we must not only remember that the Twelve were ministers in Acts principally to Israel but that they are to resume that ministry in the coming kingdom age. Matthew 19:28.
TELL NO MAN THAT HE WAS JESUS THE CHRIST
In Matthew 16:20 and 21, we note a radical change in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is marked by the words, “from. that time forth.” The same division is marked in Luke 12:52, “for from henceforth.” Note Luke 12:50: “But I have a baptism to be baptized with: and how am I straitened till it be accomplished.” Concerning the death baptism, Christ uses this language in Matthew 16:21:
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
This message is very much different from “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now the King is to be rejected and crucified. Presently He will be saying, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you.” Matthew 21:43.
The, King’s messengers were no longer to testify to Israel “Jesus is the Christ,” or Messiah. In John 20:31 we are told that the miracles and signs of the Lord Jesus were performed and recorded that they might believe that Jesus was the Christ. Therefore, we shall expect to find very few signs or miracles from Matthew 16 to Matthew 28, except the great sign, Christ’s body in the earth three days and three nights; the sign of Jonah.
Later on we read; in Acts 2:36, Acts 17:3 and Acts 18:5, that the apostles were testifying to Israel that Jesus was the Christ, the very thing Christ, in Matthew 16:20, told them not to do. This should convince any student of the Scriptures that when Christ on the cross prayed, “Father, forgive them,” the order of Matthew 16:20 was temporarily rescinded. So there were many signs and miracles again for Israel from Acts 2 to Acts 18. Remember also that John’s water baptism was that Christ might be manifest to Israel. John 1:31. So we find an absence of any record of water baptism between Matthew 16 and 28: It begins again with signs in Acts 2.
In Matthew 16:21, when Christ spoke of His rejection, He was saying in other words, that He was going to fulfill the fifty–third chapter of Isaiah. Every Christian should memorize that wonderful chapter. Christ was to be despised and rejected. He was to be led as a Lamb to the slaughter. He was to be the Lamb of God which beareth away the sin of the world. According to the literal translation of Isaiah 52:14, Christ was to be disfigured when put to death. According to Psalms 22:16 they would pierce His hands and His feet.
Now note this difference in Matthew and John. In Matthew we reach the third year of the public ministry of Christ before we have the plain statement concerning His rejection and death. But in John, in the very first chapter, we read, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. “Behold the Lamb of God which beareth away the sins of the world.” John 1:29. Then note John 2:19 and 21:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But he spake of the temple of his body.”
Here Christ spake of His death and resurrection.
In Matthew 17:1 to 13, we find the record of Christ’s transfiguration. Peter, James and John went with Christ into the mountain.
Matthew 17:2 and 3
“And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.”
Note what Peter said concerning the same, years later:
II Peter 1:15 to 18.
“Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For ye have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.”
We learned in Deuteronomy 34:4, that Moses did not get into the Holy Land. We learn in that same chapter that God buried Moses’ body, In the transfiguration scene Moses is in the Holy Land. In Jude 9 we learn that Satan contended for the body of Moses; but Michael withstood him. Moses’ body was never found by the Israelites. God took it. But now we see that Moses’ body was transfigured with Christ’s and Elijah’s.
Some have said, that as Christ in Matthew 5:17 declared He had come to fulfill the law and the prophets, God speaking the words of Matthew 17:5, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased hear ye Him,” was confirming this truth. Moses represented the law and Elijah the prophets. Others teach that as Moses died and rose again, and Elijah went to heaven without dying, the transfiguration speaks of:
I Thessalonians 4:16 and 17:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
In Romans 5:14, we are told that Adam was a figure of Christ. In Hebrews 11:17 to 19, we learn that Isaac on the altar delivered was the figure of the death and resurrection of Christ. The Old Testament tabernacle with its services-ceremonies and sacrifices was a figure of Christ and His work. Hebrews 9:8 to 12. Christ was not only prefigured by Adam and Isaac, but He was prefigured by many other characters, offerings and sacrifices.
I Peter 1:11
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
All the time Israel’s prophets were testifying of the sufferings and glory of Christ, Christ was in the form of God.
We read in Isaiah 52:14, (in the Hebrew) that Christ was to be disfigured. Then His glory, His transfiguration, was to follow. So the Bible is the story of the prefigured, the disfigured, and the transfigured Christ.
Let us remember, in this connection, that our glory too must follow our suffering: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:13. “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” I Peter 5:1.
Now let us note what Christ, Moses and Elijah were talking about, when they were on the Mount:
Luke 9:30 and 31
“And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.”
This makes us think of Luke 24:26 and 27, the words of Christ after His resurrection “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Thus we see that while Christ was being transfigured, he was talking about being disfigured.
Of course any sensible person, not deceived by Satan, will know from these and other Scriptures that Jesus Christ was God’s foreordained Sin-bearer and not a religious martyr who came to an untimely end. If Christ came as a way-shower, to tell men that they could be saved by His ethical teaching, by character and good reputation, He could have gone back to heaven from the mount of transfiguration. But He went down from that mount to go to Gethsemene and Calvary; for He knew the truth of I Peter 1:18 to 20 and Hebrews 9:22, “Without the shedding of blood no remission” “redeemed by the blood of the sinless Lamb of God.”
1. What was the sign of Jonas or Jonah?
2. According to Romans 10:21, how long did God stretch forth His hands unto Israel? What does He call them in that verse?
3. What did Stephen say to Israel in Acts 7:51 and 52? Whom did Stephen see in heaven? What did Israel do to Stephen?
4. Mention the seven parables? What happened to the seed of the sower? What is the field in the parable of the wheat and tares? What will be done to the tares? By whom and when? How would you explain the treasure hid in the field?
5. What is said in the Parable of the Pearl? In what sense can salvation be purchased? Who obtained eternal redemption for the believer according to Hebrews 9:12?
6. How would you explain progressive revelation in the Bible?
7. Tell the details of Christ’s feeding of the 5000 and mention statements made concerning Christ’s works and words in John 7:31 and 7:46.
8. In what coasts was Christ when He met the Syrophonecian Greek woman?
9. What did He say concerning this woman? What place did the woman take?
10. To what Rock do you believe Christ was referring in Matthew 16:18?
11. Explain the keys of the kingdom given to Peter in the light of Acts 2:14, Galatians 2:8, Acts 2:36 and Acts 15:7? How did Christ forgive sin?
12. Explain the difference between Peter’s keys and the dispensation to which Paul referred in Ephesians 3:1 to 3.
13. Why did the Eleven condemn Peter when he had preached to Cornelius, according to Acts 11:1 to 5? What does this prove concerning the ministry of the Twelve in the first nine chapters of Acts?
14. Read I Peter 5:1 to 5 and state if Peter there claimed to be anything like a pope or a Lord over God’s heritage? What did he say about subjection?
15. What did Peter say about Paul in II Peter 3:15 and 16? What do we note in Galatians 2:7?
16. Note Paul’s visit with Peter recorded in Galatians 1:13 to 20 and Peter’s visit with Paul in Galatians 2:11 to 16. Do you think that Paul recognized Peter as the head of the Church?
17. Now explain why Christ, in Matthew 16:20, instructed His apostles not to tell Israel that He was the Messiah? Did Peter disobey these instructions in Acts 2:36 on the day of Pentecost?
18. Why did Christ say to Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan” when Peter told Christ not to go to Jerusalem and die on the cross? (Matthew 16:21 to 24).
19. Tell the story of the transfiguration and something of its significance.
20. What were Christ, Moses and Elijah talking about at the time of the transfiguration?
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.