What question did Jesus pose to the disciples when they had come into “the district of Caesarea Philippi”? What in particular had He been doing when He asked the question? See Luk 9:18. By what title had Jesus been referring to Himself (Mat 16:13), and why? Hint: recall that because of people’s misconceptions that the Messiah would be a political leader who would save them from the Romans and their inability to comprehend Jesus’ divine nature, He couldn’t just come out and announce that He was the Christ, the Son of God. What old testament prophet was referred to by the same title 93 times? See Eze 2:1,3,6,8, etc… What grand vision was given to this old testament son of man that typified the work of Christ whom he prefigured? See Eze 40-48 and cf. Mat 12:6, Mar 14:58, 1Co 3:16-17, Rev 3:12. What veiled Messianic connotations did the term also have? See Psa 80:14-17, Dan 7:13; cf. Mat 24:30, 26:64.
What was the disciples’ response to Jesus’ question to them in Mat 16:13? What does the fact that some thought of Him as John the Baptist indicate about when His popular ministry must have taken place relative to John’s in the understanding of the masses? Cf. Luk 3:15-16,19-20, Joh 3:28-30. In what way was the “sitz im leben” (setting in life) or circumstances of the Jewish people at the time of Jesus similar to that at the time of Elijah and Jeremiah so that the people understood His ministry and teaching as an echo of theirs? Cf. 1Ki 19:10, Jer 14:10 and observe that both prophesied at a time of great apostasy from the true faith. In what way is the circumstances of God’s people today similar to the circumstances of those times, and what might that indicate about the closeness of Christ’s return? See 2Th 2:3, Luk 21:34-36. Why in particular did people wonder about both Jesus and John the Baptist (see Joh 1:21) that they might be Elijah? See Mal 4:5 and cf. 2Ki 2:1,11, Mat 17:10-11. Who was the other prophet that God took up and did not die? See Gen 5:21-24, Heb 11:5. What insight does this give us about who the two witnesses in Rev 11:3-12 might be who “have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall”, etc…, and who will be killed by the beast but rise again and be taken up to heaven in a cloud? Cf. Heb 9:27. See Luke 9:19; what does the fact that the people thought of Jesus as John the Baptist or Jeremiah or one of the prophets indicate about their notions of the righteous dead rising again? Cf. Isa 26:19. In what way were their notions different than ours? Think: while we understand that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the end of the age, do we think of the dead being raised again to life even in this age? Were their notions necessarily wrong? See Mat 27:51-53, Rev 20:4-6. Although we understand that man’s life consists of much more than his physical being, what do such notions indicate about the importance of a physical body to the life of man? See 2Co 5:4 and cf. Psa 6:4-5, 88:10-12, Isa 38:9-20. What influence might such an understanding have upon one’s view of burial versus cremation after death?
What is significantly absent from the list of possibilities the disciples named for who the people thought Jesus was? Besides not fulfilling their expectations of a political leader who would deliver them from Roman rule, for what other reason did people in general not consider Jesus a viable candidate for the Messiah? See Joh 7:27,40-42,52. What do their misconceptions and prejudices teach us about how easy it is to for our partial understanding of things to lead us astray? What is our only defense against being led astray in such a way? See Pro 3:5-6, 11:2, 29:23.
What second question did Jesus pose to His disciples in Mat 16:15? Who answered for the disciples? What did he answer? What is the difference between the terms “Christ” and “Messiah”? See NASB text note and observe that “Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah; both mean “the anointed one” in reference to the expected king who would reign on David’s throne. Why in light of the popular opinion and current circumstances was Peter’s confession of who Jesus was particularly significant? See Joh 6:66-69 and consider too how they had been traveling around purposely avoiding the Jewish leaders who were rejecting Him, as if cowering away, retreating from those whom He should rule—hardly the actions of the kingly Messiah they were expecting. What does Peter’s confession indicate about his faithfulness even in the midst of opposing popular and political opinion? How is that an example of the sort of people Jesus will have as His servants to represent Him to the world? Are there opposing popular and political opinions about Jesus today? Are we as faithful to cling to Jesus as our only hope in the midst of the opposing opinions of our own day and to faithfully represent who He is to the world?
Did Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah—the anointed king—mean that he necessarily understood at this time the nature of His kingship and kingdom? See Mat 16:21-23. What does this teach us about the necessity of having a correct understanding and theology of Christ in order to be used by Him? Which is most important: to have every “t” crossed and “i” dotted in regard to our theological understanding of the nature of Jesus, or to have an unfailing faith and hope and trust that clings to Him in complete faithfulness?
Whereas Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man, by what additional title besides the Messiah does Peter call Him, and what is its significance? See Luk 1:35, Joh 3:18, 10:30-36, 19:7. What sort of nature does the title “Son of Man” indicate Jesus had? What sort of nature does the title “Son of God” indicate He also had? See Luk 3:38; in what way was the nature or essence of Jesus as the Son of God different from that of Adam, the first man, who is also termed the son of God? Cf. the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”