Lectionary Year A
August 25, 2002
Matthew 16:13-20

Initial Acquaintance/Rough Translation


16inquired of his disciplesasked his disciplesasked his disciples
men saypeople saypeople say
the Man is?the Son of Man is?the Son of Man is?
15"but who do you say that I am?""But who do you say that I am?""But what about you," he asked, "who do you say that I am?"
17"You are fortunate...""Blessed are you...""Blessed ar you..."
by human agencyby manflesh and blood
18and I in turn say to youand I tell you and I tell you
you are Rock you are Peteryou are Peter
build my communitybuild my churchbuild my church
the powers of death shall not overcome itthe gates of Hades will not overcome itthe gates of Hades will not prevail against it
19whatever you release on earth will be released in heavenwhatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heavenwhatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven
20then he gave strict ordersthen he warnedthen he sternly ordered
the Messiahthe Christthe Messiah


Verse 13 finds, different from the Gospel parallels, no inclusion of the pronoun "me" in Jesus' question. Many witnesses would add that pronoun but more exclude it. It seems unnecessary. The question seems clear without it. Metzger's TCGNT confirms that Matthew's original left it out. Others would re-order the words in the initial question and still others would omit the "ton huion tou anthropou."

In verse 14, the uncials D and W and the old Latin witnesses suggest we omit "hoi men." To retain it makes for a longer reading, but by very few letters or strokes of the quill.

Several witnesses would add Jesus' name in the subject phrase of verse 15. That addition would lengthen the text and it seems unnecessary, too.

In verse 16, some witnesses would add the indirect object "auto" referring to Jesus who asked the question. It is clear enough without the addition. Some small portion of the tradition (the uncial D) replaces the final word in that verse (16) "zontos", meaning "life" with the word meaning "Savior" or "Deliverer".

Several witnesses divide Simon's sir name in verse 17, into 2 words, "Bar Iona". Could be the original, but so minor a redaction it is hardly worth mentioning. Then at the end of that verse (17), we get some witnesses changing the final word, "ouravois" from a dative plural into a nominative singular. Makes sense to me, although both forms convey the same image.

Several redactors add the conjunction "kai" to begin verse 19. Others would add the postpositive "de", but the vast majority prefer to leave it as received. Some prefer to change the accusative plural word for keys, "kleidas" to an accusative singular. Same difference. Most, more reliable witnesses leave it as do I. Some of the tradition would replace "ho ean" with "osa an" making us translate it to read with more intensity. The message is clear enough without having to emphasize it any more. Then some would change "lelumenon" from singular to plural. How do collective participles get best read in that language? That's the determining factor, if it matters at all.

In the last (20) verse of this text, a few witnesses would add an adverb, "epitimesen", which means, "to enjoin strictly". More witnesses prefer to keep the received text. So do I. The received text clearly conveys the intensity the story warrants. The original verb, "diesteilato", carries enough force and authority with it. Then several would add a genitive pronoun to assure we know the disciples mentioned are, in fact, Jesus'. We need no such further description of Whose they are, in this context. The conversation has gone on extensively enough not to have to wonder whose disciples they are. Some would add Jesus' name in the Messianic title here. Most seem to think that addition is unnecessary. I agree. It is longer and a little cumbersome to add that name here. It's probably nearer to the original without the addition.


13 And when came Jesus into the region of Caeserea of the Philippians He asked the disciples of His saying, "Who do name the men to be the son of the man?" 14 They replied, "On the one hand, John the Baptizer, others Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. 15 Said He to them, "But, you, who do you say I am?" 16 So replied Simon Peter saying, "You are the messiah the son of the God the living One." 17 And replied Jesus saying to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood not have revealed [this matter] to you rather the Father of you who [is] the one in the heavens. 18 But I to you am saying that you are Peter, and upon this the rock I shall build of me the called-out-to-be-gathered and the gates of hell shall not overcome it. 19 I shall give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on the earth will be bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on the earth will be loosed in the heavens." 20 Thereupon he ordered the disciples that not in any way were they to say that he is the messiah.

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