Origens Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew by Origen
9. Concerning the Question of Jesus in Cæsarea, Who Do Men Say that I Am? Different Conceptions of Jesus.
|Now when Jesus came into the parts of Cæsarea Philippi, He asked His disciples.| Jesus inquires of the disciples, |Who do men say that I am,| that we may learn from the answer of the Apostles the different conceptions then held among the Jews in regard to our Saviour; and perhaps also that the disciples of Jesus might learn to be interested in knowing what is said by men about them; because that will be an advantage to them who do it, by cutting off in every way occasions of evil if anything evil is spoken of, and by increasing the incitements to good, if anything good is spoken of. Only, observe how, on account of the different movements of opinion among the Jews about Jesus, some, under the influence of unsound theories, said that He was John the Baptist, like Herod the tetrarch who said to his servants, |This is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead, and therefore do the powers work in him;| but others that He who was now called Jesus was Elijah, either having been born a second time, or living from that time in the flesh, and appearing at the present time. But those who said that Jesus was Jeremiah, and not that Jeremiah was a type of the Christ, were perhaps influenced by what is said in the beginning of Jeremiah about Christ, which was not fulfilled in the prophet at that time, but was beginning to be fulfilled in Jesus, whom |God set up over nations and kingdoms to root up, and to break down, and to destroy, and to build up, and to transplant,| having made Him to be a prophet to the Gentiles to whom He proclaimed the word. Moreover also those who said, |that he was a certain one of the prophets,| conceived this opinion concerning Him because of those things which had been said in the prophets as unto them, but which had not been fulfilled in their case. But also the Jews, as worthy of the veil which was upon their heart, held false opinions concerning Jesus; while Peter as not a disciple |of flesh and blood,| but as one fit to receive the revelation of the Father in heaven, confessed that He was the Christ. The saying of Peter to the Saviour, |Thou art the Christ,| when the Jews did not know that He was Christ, was indeed a great thing, but greater that he knew Him not only to be Christ, but also |the Son of the living God,| who had also said through the prophets, |I live,| and |They have forsaken Me the spring of living water;| -- and He is life also, as from the Father the spring of life, who said, |I am the Life;| and consider carefully, whether, as the spring of the river is not the same thing as the river, the spring of life is not the same as life. And these things we have added because to the saying, |Thou art the Christ, the Son of God,| was subjoined the word |living;| for it was necessary to set forth something noteworthy in regard to that which is said about God and the Father of all things as living, both in relation to His absolute life, and in relation to those things which participate in it. But since we said that they were under the influence of unsound opinions who declared that Jesus was John the Baptist, or any one of those named, in saying this let us prove that if they had fallen in with Jesus as He was going away to John for baptism, or with John when he was baptizing Jesus, or if they had heard it from any one, they would not have said that Jesus was John. But also if they had understood the opinions under the influence of which Jesus said, |If ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah which is to come,| and had heard what was said, as men having ears, some would not have said that He was Elijah. And if those who said that He was Jeremiah had perceived that the most of the prophets took upon themselves certain features that were symbolical of Him, they would not have said that He was Jeremiah; and in like manner the others would not have said that He was one of the prophets.