Matthew 16:5

After an encounter with certain Pharisees and Sadducees at Magadan, Jesus warned his disciples against their teaching. This is not written for their sakes alone, but also for our admonition. From Luke's account we may infer that Jesus likewise warned the people (see Luke 12:1). Every age has its Pharisees and Sadducees, and it becomes us to note -


1. Those which distinguish the Pharisee.

(1) He plumes himself upon his orthodoxy and superior sanctity. The ancient Pharisee was scrupulous in observing the ritual of the elders, and refused to eat with sinners. Hence his name, from the Hebrew word פדש, "to separate." But the reputation of orthodoxy is no security against error. The apostate Greek Church is called "orthodox;" and her Romish sister claims infallibility. These and their kindred are the Pharisees of our times.

(2) He is zealous for Church traditions. The ancient Pharisee pretended that his traditions came to Moses on Mount Sinai together with the Law, immediately from God, and concluded that they were of equal authority. Several of these traditions are mentioned in the Gospels; but a vast number more may be seen in the Talmud. Corresponding to these are the "apostolical traditions" and papal "decretals" of the Romanists.

(3) Such authority is worthless, to say the least. For any simple story passing through half a dozen hands will be found to receive so many new complexions and additions, and to suffer so many distortions and omissions, that the original narrator could scarcely recognize it. Church traditions are in this respect no better than others. Perversion and distortion could only be prevented by plenary inspiration continued throughout all the links of transmission.

(4) But it is worse than worthless. The ancient Pharisee set his tradition above the Law of God by making it the interpreter of the Law, and thus by it the Law was made void (cf. Matthew 15:1-9; Luke 11:39-42). The vicious effects of the traditions of our modern Pharisee upon the Gospel corresponds. What single truth of God is there that has not been distorted by this process?

2. Those which distinguish the Sadducee.

(1) The Sadducee of old derived from Sadoc, a disciple of Antigonus Sochaeus, who lived about three hundred years B.C. Antigonus, in his lectures, taught the duty of serving God from filial love and fear rather than in a servile manner, whence Sadoc concluded that there are no rewards after this life. His followers proceeded to deny the existence of a spiritual world, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and the providence of God (see Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8). They differed little from the ancient Epicureans.

(2) Sadduceeism is not limited to ancient times. We have it still under the names atheism, deism, agnosticism, positivism, rationalism, erastianism. They are, in many respects, the opposite of Phariseeism. The one is the reaction of the other. Hence they are associated evermore.

(3) As the Pharisee boasts superior piety, so does the Sadducee affect superior intelligence. Sadduceeism is fashionable through the concessions of ignorance to this affectation. Herod was the head of the Sadducees in Galilee. The "leaven of the Sadducees" is otherwise described as the "leaven of Herod" (cf. Mark 8:15). Herod's courtiers, of course, were Sadducees. The conceited amongst the vulgar would sympathize with boasted intelligence, that they might, in turn, be credited with an intelligence which they did not possess.

3. Those common to both.

(1) Failure to discern the signs of the times. The prophecies of Scripture were lost upon them. The events of providence were to them without significance. Their intelligence went no further than discerning the face of the sky. With all their boasted piety and affectation of sagacity, Pharisees and Sadducees were alike in this condemnation. Note: The neglect of the study of prophecy is neither creditable nor innocent.

(2) Opposition to the truth of God. As Pilate and Herod became friends in their hostility to Christ, so did the Pharisees and Sadducees sink their differences to oppose him. However fiercely errors may wrangle together, they will evermore combine against the truth of God.

(3) Herein the Sadducee is open to the same impeachment of hypocrisy as the Pharisee. Pretence in devotion is the hypocrisy of the Pharisee; yet he opposes Christ, who is the impersonation of goodness. Pretence of a free and impartial search after truth is the hypocrisy of the Sadducee; yet he also opposes Christ, who is the impersonation of truth.


1. Error is like leaven, subtle in its influence.

(1) As the "kingdom of heaven," in the parable, "is like unto leaven," so is the kingdom of hell. Many interpret the parable to describe the subtle working of error in the lump of the Church, rather than the secret working of the truth in the lump of the world (cf. Matthew 13:33; 1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).

(2) Its subtlety lies in its hypocrisy. "Think not that false doctrine will meet you face to face, saying, 'I am false doctrine, and I want to come into your heart.' Satan does not go to work in that way. He dresses up false doctrine like Jezebel. He paints her face, and tires her head, and tries to make her like truth" (Anon.).

(3) Christians are not proof against this subtlety. They are often such as have no great forecast for this world. Here the disciples "forgot to take bread." Mark says they had only one loaf in the ship (Mark 8:14). In nothing is the veracity of the sacred writers more plainly seen than in the unsparing fidelity with which they record the proofs of their own infirmity. Their very simplicity would expose them to the subtlety of error. It was therefore needful to warn them.

(4) In the false concern of the disciples concerning the bread, we see already a Pharisaic care for externals, and a Sadducean forgetfulness of the supernatural. "It is because we took no bread." Men blame themselves most for carelessness in externals, which is just that in which God blames them least. We may blame ourselves for a forgetfulness for which God does not blame us, while he blames us for a forgetfulness for which we blame not ourselves. They did not remember the miracle of the loaves. If through thoughtlessness we come into straits, even then we may trust Christ to bring us out of them. The experience of the disciple is an aggravation to the sin of his distrust.

(5) For lack of faith it is easy to fall into errors of doctrine. "Why reason ye among yourselves? We waste much precious time in profitless reasonings. Reasonings are profitless when they are apart from Christ. "O ye of little faith." There are degrees of faith. Little faith may be the germ of great faith. Want of faith is accompanied by want of quick spiritual discernment.

2. The influence of error is demoralizing.

(1) It makes the Pharisee a hypocrite. The ancient Pharisee, with all his affectation of sanctity, was but self-righteous; he was proud, unjust, selfish, and worldly. The semblance of piety was the mark of wickedness. The modern Pharisee is like him.

(2) As superstition demoralizes the Pharisee, so does scepticism demoralize his complement. When the restraints of belief are removed, the rein is thrown over the neck of appetite and passion and every propensity of the evil heart. Extremes meet.

(3) Creed has greater influence upon temper and conduct than men are commonly aware of. Doctrines act in the soul like leaven; they assimilate the whole spirit to their own nature. False doctrine is like evil leaven souring the temper, and swelling and inflating with pride. Unsound faith will never beget sound practice. Zeal for purity of doctrine is essential to godliness.

(4) Error tends to blasphemy. "It is because we have brought no bread." The disciples here judged unworthily of Christ, viewing him through their own low medium of unbelief. Men are prone to make themselves their standard for Christ rather than making him their standard. As we can view Christ only in our thoughts, the spiritual alone can think justly of him.

3. The issues of error are disastrous.

(1) Christ cannot abide with perversity. After suitably replying to the Pharisees and Sadducees at Magadan, "he left them, and departed" (ver. 4). A sinner abandoned by the only Saviour is in a melancholy case. Thereupon he warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, viz. lest it should land them in a similar state of abandonment.

(2) Christ separated himself from them by crossing the sea. Was not this action parabolic? Did it not suggest that "great gulf fixed" by which the righteous are forever separated from the wicked (see Luke 16:26)?

(3) The caution to "take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" suggests that their doctrine is especially pernicious, like poisoned leaven. The disciples should beware of any doctrine coming through such hands. "Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and. that ye receive not of her plagues" (see Revelation 18:4). - J.AM.

For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father.
1. The judgment of the world has been committed to the Son as Mediator, as an appropriate honour to One who had humbled Himself for the redemption of the world.

2. Christ is qualified to be Judge, as the Son of God, of the same essence as the Father; the perfections of the Godhead will appear glorious in Him.

3. The saints in judgment will be manifested as the doers of the will of God upon earth.

4. The work of the Judge will be, not to justify, or to make righteous, but to prove the saints by their works, that they are righteous already.

5. Men will be judged by their works, to show that God in the work of man's salvation supports the cause of infinite holiness.

6. Judgment will not be according to the works visible to men, but to all done in secret.

7. Judgment according to works will condemn the ungodly, and make them dumb before God.

(D. Charles.)

I. THE SON OF MAN AS THE PROMISED, manifested, ascended One.

II. His REAPPEARANCE ON EARTH Predicted, possible, necessary.

III. HIS SUPERHUMAN GLORY. His herald, person, retinue is glorious.

IV. His IMPORTANT WORK. TO raise the dead, change the living, judge all, reward each, resign the reins of government into His Father's hand.

(A. Macfarlane.)

I. That the Lord Jesus Christ shall return to this earth as a man in the glory of God with His angels.

II. That all Christ's believing people shall appear with Him.

III. The Lord at His coming in His glory shall reward every man according to his works.

(H. McNeile.)

Compared with the doom which will be inflicted upon the ungodly at the coming of Christ, the death of nature is nothing.


1. We can make but little comparison between the two in the point of time. Physical dying is but the work of a moment; the doom of the wicked when Christ comes will never die.

2. In point of loss there is no comparison.

3. Neither does death hear any comparison with the last judgment in point of terror.

4. The pains of death are not comparable to the pains of the judgment at the second advent.

II. IN THE STATE OF SEPARATE SPIRITS THEY HAVE NOT FULLY TASTED OF DEATH, NOR WILL THEY DO SO UNTIL CHRIST COMES. Till after the second advent their bodies do not suffer; they know that this present state will end, after judgment no end; they have not been put to the shame of a public sentence.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Ready for work.
I saw a picture the other day in a shop window, with which I was greatly pleased; it represented a room in which was a window looking out upon the sea; a lady with a grave, anxious face sat by the window, and two little children were playing on the carpet. On the table lay a letter, which seemed just to have been opened, and against the wall was hanging the portrait of a gentleman. There was very little writing underneath the picture, and very little was wanted; for I could understand the story which the picture was intended to tell, as plainly as if the painter had told me himself. The father of these little children was evidently absent from them beyond the sea. There was his portrait, but he was far away. But he had sent them s letter containing the joyful news that he was coming home again! And so there was the mother sitting at that window, day after day, and looking across the wide waters, in the hope of at last seeing the white sails of the ship which should bring the long-expected one home. Now this picture, I think, may remind us of what the Lord Jesus used to tell His disciples about His "coming again."

(Ready for work.)

Elias, Elijah, Jeremiah, Jeremias, Jesus, John, Jonah, Jonas, Peter, Simon
Caesarea Philippi, Jerusalem, Magadan
Arrived, Bread, Bring, Disciples, Forgot, Forgotten, Lake, Loaves, Reached
1. The Pharisees require a sign.
5. Jesus warns his disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
13. The people's opinion of Jesus,
16. and Peter's confession of him.
21. Jesus foretells his death;
23. reproves Peter for dissuading him from it;
24. and admonishes those who will follow him, to bear the cross.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 16:1-12

     7552   Pharisees, attitudes to Christ

Matthew 16:5-8

     2045   Christ, knowledge of

Matthew 16:5-12

     4554   yeast
     5345   influence

October 14. "Get Thee, Behind Me, Satan" (Matt. xvi. 23).
"Get thee, behind me, Satan" (Matt. xvi. 23). When your old self comes back, if you listen to it, fear it, believe it, it will have the same influence upon you as if it were not dead; it will control you and destroy you. But if you will ignore it and say: "You are not I, but Satan trying to make me believe that the old self is not dead; I refuse you, I treat you as a demon power outside of me, I detach myself from you"; if you treat it as a wife would her divorced husband, saying: "You are nothing
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Christ Foreseeing the Cross
'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.'--MATT. xvi. 21. The 'time' referred to in the text was probably a little more than six months before the Crucifixion, when Jesus was just on the point of finally leaving Galilee, and travelling towards Jerusalem. It was an epoch in His ministry. The hostility of the priestly party in
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Divine Christ Confessed, the Suffering Christ Denied
'When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Phllippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? 14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Unity of the Church.
"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."--Matt. xvi. 18. Too many persons at this day,--in spite of what they see before them, in spite of what they read in history,--too many persons forget, or deny, or do not know, that Christ has set up a kingdom in the world. In spite of the prophecies, in spite of the Gospels and Epistles, in spite of their eyes and their ears,--whether it be their sin or
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

The Human Jesus.
God's meaning of "Human": man's fellow--two meanings of word human--original meaning--natural limitations. The Hurt of sin: sin's added limitations. Our Fellow: Jesus truly human--up to first standard--His insistence--perfect in His humanness--fellowship in sin's limitations--hungry, Matthew 16:5. John 4:6-8.--tired, John 4:6. Mark 4:38.--poverty, Matthew 13:55. Mark 6:3.--hard toil, John 19:25-27.--homeless, Luke 4:16-30. Matthew 8:20. Luke 9:58.--discipline of waiting. There's More of God
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus

Words with a Freshly Honed Razor-Edge.
Now please group these six sweeping statements in your mind and hold them together there. Then notice carefully this fact. These words are not spoken to the crowds. They are spoken to the small inner group of twelve disciples. Jesus talks one way to the multitude. He oftentimes talks differently to these men who have separated themselves from the crowd and come into the inner circle. And notice further that before Jesus spoke these words to this group of men He had said something else first. Something
S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon—Quiet Talks on Prayer

The Threefold Cord of Jesus' Life.
Think for a moment into Jesus' human life down here. His marvellous activities for those few years over which the world has never ceased to wonder. Then His underneath hidden-away prayer-life of which only occasional glimpses are gotten. Then grouping around about that sentence of His--"I do always the things that are pleasing to Him"--in John's gospel, pick out the emphatic negatives on Jesus' lips, the "not's": not My will, not My works, not My words. Jesus came to do somebody's else will. The
S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon—Quiet Talks on Prayer

The Important Question
"What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Matthew 16:26 1. There is a celebrated remark to this effect, (I think in the works of Mr. Pascal,) that if a man of low estate would speak of high things, as of what relates to kings or kingdoms, it is not easy for him to find suitable expressions, as he is so little acquainted with things of this nature; but if one of royal parentage speaks of royal things, of what concerns his own or his father's kingdom, his language
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The Signs of the Times
"Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" Matthew 16:3. 1. The entire passage runs thus: "The Pharisees also, with the Sadducees, came, and tempting, desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Twelfth Day. Fidelity in Rebuke.
"The Lord turned and looked upon Peter."--Luke, xxii. 61. Jesus never spake one unnecessarily harsh or severe word. He had a Divine sympathy for the frailties and infirmities of a tried, and suffering, and tempted nature in others. He was forbearing to the ignorant, encouraging to the weak, tender to the penitent, loving to all,--yet how faithful was He as "the Reprover of sin!" Silent under His own wrongs, with what burning invectives did He lay bare the Pharisees' masked corruption and hypocrisy!
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

"Take My Yoke Upon You, and Learn of Me," &C.
Matt. xi. 20.--"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me," &c. Self love is generally esteemed infamous and contemptible among men. It is of a bad report every where, and indeed as it is taken commonly, there is good reason for it, that it should be hissed out of all societies, if reproaching and speaking evil of it would do it. But to speak the truth, the name is not so fit to express the thing, for that which men call self love, may rather be called self hatred. Nothing is more pernicious to a man's
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Edwards -- Spiritual Light
Jonathan Edwards, the New England divine and metaphysician, was born at East Windsor, Connecticut, in 1703. He was graduated early from Yale College, where he had given much attention to philosophy, became tutor of his college, and at nineteen began to preach. His voice and manner did not lend themselves readily to pulpit oratory, but his clear, logical, and intense presentation of the truth produced a profound and permanent effect upon his hearers. He wrote what were considered the most important
Grenville Kleiser—The world's great sermons, Volume 3

Of Sufferings
Of Sufferings Be patient under all the sufferings which God is pleased to send you: if your love to Him be pure, you will not seek Him less on Calvary, than on Tabor; and, surely, He should be as much loved on that as on this, since it was on Calvary He made the greater display of His Love for you. Be not like those, who give themselves to Him at one season, and withdraw from Him at another: they give themselves only to be caressed; and wrest themselves back again, when they come to be crucified,
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

Of Suffering which must be Accepted as from God --Its Fruits.
Be content with all the suffering that God may lay upon you. If you will love Him purely, you will be as willing to follow Him to Calvary as to Tabor. He must be loved as much on Calvary as on Tabor, since it is there that He makes the greatest manifestation of His love. Do not act, then, like those people who give themselves at one time, and take themselves back at another. They give themselves to be caressed, and take themselves back when they are crucified; or else they seek for consolation in
Jeanne Marie Bouvières—A Short Method Of Prayer And Spiritual Torrents

Of the Royal Way of the Holy Cross
That seemeth a hard saying to many, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me.(1) But it will be much harder to hear that last sentence, Depart from me, ye wicked, into eternal fire.(2) For they who now willingly hear the word of the Cross and follow it, shall not then fear the hearing of eternal damnation. This sign of the Cross shall be in heaven when the Lord cometh to Judgment. Then all servants of the Cross, who in life have conformed themselves
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

The Great Confession - the Great Commission - the Great Instruction - the Great Temptation - the Great Decision.
If we are right in identifying the little bay - Dalmanutha - with the neighbourhood of Tarichæa, yet another link of strange coincidence connects the prophetic warning spoken there with its fulfilment. From Dalmanutha our Lord passed across the Lake to Cæsarea Philippi. From Cæsarea Philippi did Vespasian pass through Tiberias to Tarichæa, when the town and people were destroyed, and the blood of the fugitives reddened the Lake, and their bodies choked its waters. Even amidst
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Last Journey of Jesus to Jerusalem.
Jesus had for a long time been sensible of the dangers that surrounded him.[1] During a period of time which we may estimate at eighteen months, he avoided going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.[2] At the feast of Tabernacles of the year 32 (according to the hypothesis we have adopted), his relations, always malevolent and incredulous,[3] pressed him to go there. The evangelist John seems to insinuate that there was some hidden project to ruin him in this invitation. "Depart hence, and go into Judea,
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

The Preparatory Service; Sometimes Called the Confessional Service.
In our examination of the nature and meaning of the Lord's Supper, we have found that it is indeed a most important and holy Sacrament. It is in fact the most sacred of all the ordinances of the Church on earth. There is nothing beyond it--nothing so heavenly, on this side heaven, as this Feast. Nowhere else does the believer approach so near to heaven as when he stands or kneels, as a communicant at this altar, the Holy of Holies in the Church of Christ. What a solemn act! To approach this altar,
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church

A Divine Saviour.
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew xvi. 1; John vi. 69.) We meet with a certain class of Enquirers who do not believe in the Divinity of Christ. There are many passages that will give light on this subject. In 1 Corinthians xv. 47, we are told: "The first man is of the earth earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven." In 1 John v. 20: "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It

"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."--Matt. xvi. 24. Good works are not the saint's sanctification, any more than drops of water are the fountain; but they spring as crystal drops from the fountain of sanctification. They are good, not when the saint intends them to be good, but when they conform to the divine law and proceed from a true faith. Yet the intention is of great importance; the Church has always taught that a work could not be called
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Foundation of the Church among the Heathen
A.D. 38-45 [Sidenote: A.D. 38] During St. Peter's journey, the course of God's good Providence led him to the sea-port town of Joppa, on the borders of Samaria and Judaea, and there we read that "he tarried many days," a measure of time which is supposed to be equivalent to three years. At the expiration of this time an event occurred which had a deep and lasting influence on the life of the Church of Christ. [Sidenote: Further fulfilment of the promise to St. Peter.] Hitherto no Gentiles had been
John Henry Blunt—A Key to the Knowledge of Church History

Christ the Son of God.
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. xvi. 16). "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him and he in God" (I. John iv. 15). "And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I. John v. 5). In one sense all men are sons of God. In a much dearer sense all Christians are sons and daughters of the Almighty. But the relationship of Christ to the Father is infinitely above this. He is the Son of God. God is
Frank G. Allen—Autobiography of Frank G. Allen, Minister of the Gospel

Tries to Become a Politician. Fails. Last Act as a Politician. Tries to Join the Southern Army. Fails Again. His First Appointment. Feeling of Responsibility. His
Tries to Become a Politician. Fails. Last Act as a Politician. Tries to Join the Southern Army. Fails Again. His First Appointment. Feeling of Responsibility. His Plan. Text. Analysis of Sermon. Buys a Family Bible. Rules of Life. When I obeyed the Saviour, the brethren urged me to begin at once to preach the gospel. I had been accustomed to making political speeches, and public addresses of different kinds, and they thought I could just as easily preach a sermon as to make a speech on any other
Frank G. Allen—Autobiography of Frank G. Allen, Minister of the Gospel

Concerning the Sacrament of Penance
In this third part I shall speak of the sacrament of penance. By the tracts and disputations which I have published on this subject I have given offence to very many, and have amply expressed my own opinions. I must now briefly repeat these statements, in order to unveil the tyranny which attacks us on this point as unsparingly as in the sacrament of the bread. In these two sacraments gain and lucre find a place, and therefore the avarice of the shepherds has raged to an incredible extent against
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

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