April 12, 2021
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ last name. Humanly speaking Jesus was the legal son of Joseph, so He would have been commonly known as ‘Jesus bar Joses’ (Jesus son of Joseph). The term ‘Christ’ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, or ‘the Anointed One’. It was a reference to the promise of God in providing a Savior or Deliverer to Israel. Immediately and emphatically Peter confessed that Jesus was that long awaited, long ago promised Savior of Israel; He was the One Israel had longed for and waited for throughout their history.
Because Simon Peter was the only one of the disciples to announce this, we can assume (which is not always the best thing to do) that since he was the de facto spokesman for the disciples, he was speaking for them here. Yet we know for a fact that Peter did not speak for Judas Iscariot who did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah (at least not the One he nor Israel was hoping for), nor did he believe Jesus to be the Son of God.
Note also that Peter’s declaration was profound in stating Jesus was ‘the Son of the living God’. Earlier Peter had said to Jesus (John 6:69), We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God. From the early days of His public ministry Jesus avoided the title ‘Messiah’ because of its political overtones and the complete misunderstanding of the term in the minds of the people. But now, privately, Jesus accepts the confession of Peter.
On the surface Peter’s confession is one we would expect from any ‘Christian’. But what the English text does not reveal is the emphatic resoluteness of Peter’s declaration. Translated from the Greek language Peter’s confession is this: You are the Christ, the Son of the God, the living One. Each article (the) is definite, meaning there is no other and there is no mistaking this one. In other words, Peter said, “You are the only Messiah, the only Son of the only God, the only living One. Peter declared Jesus to be the Christ of God (deity), the Son of God (deity), and the Son of the only living God, making Jesus one with God the Father. Truly a profound insight and confession.
Later on we will see that the disciples did not have a full and complete understanding of this confession, but it was their confession none-the-less based on their knowledge of and experiences with Jesus.
“Father, I recognize that it is only because of the work of Your Holy Spirit that anyone is able to understand the mysteries of the Godhead. I cannot know You except through Your Son, Jesus Christ. And I cannot know Jesus Christ except through Your Holy Spirit who has opened my eyes, ears, understanding, and will to the truth of His Gospel. Thank You for Your gift of spiritual knowledge and understanding. Thank You for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ Your Son. To His honor and glory I ask, Amen.”