Matthew 16:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 16:23, NIV: "Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'"

Matthew 16:23, ESV: "But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”"

Matthew 16:23, KJV: "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

Matthew 16:23, NASB: "But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind onGod’s purposes, but men’s.'"

Matthew 16:23, NLT: "Jesus turned to Peter and said, 'Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's.'"

Matthew 16:23, CSB: "Jesus turned and told Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you're not thinking about God's concerns but human concerns.""

What does Matthew 16:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Peter's approach to Jesus (Matthew 16:22) would have been inappropriate for any student-teacher relationship in that culture. Disciples simply did not talk to their masters in such a way, directly contradicting them. It should also be shocking that Peter felt comfortable correcting the one he had described as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). That Peter would go so far as to scold Jesus—the Greek term epitimaō implies rebuke and reprimand—speaks to how strongly he was reacting to Jesus' recent claims (Matthew 16:21).

It was utterly foreign to Peter and the other disciples to think Messiah would willingly allow Himself to be killed by the Jewish religious leaders. In their minds, this simply couldn't happen. Peter's knowledge of who Jesus was did not overcome his assumptions about what He would do. Even today, many people become discouraged or disillusioned with Christ when they discover He's not going to do things exactly as they'd prefer (John 6:65–66).

Jesus' response to Peter may be even more shocking. Matthew has just reported on the moment in which Jesus praised Peter enthusiastically and declared that Peter now possessed the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:17–19). Now Jesus turns to Peter and says, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Interpreters of this passage sometimes disagree about whether Jesus is literally speaking to Peter, calling him "Satan," or speaking directly to Satan for his role in confusing Peter. Either is possible since a theme of Satan's earlier temptations (Matthew 4:1–11) was to interfere with Jesus' mission as a sacrificial Messiah. One way or the other, this is a devastating response.

Jesus goes further, saying to Peter he is a hindrance and obstacle to Jesus. More than just not helping, Peter is actively getting in the way. Jesus is clear: This is happening because Peter's mind is on human things and not the things of God.

What are those human things Peter is focused on? Perhaps he is focused on himself and his ability to protect Jesus from harm. As Peter shows in his claim during the Last Supper (John 13:37), and his actions when Jesus is arrested (John 18:10–11), he seems overly confident in his own power. Certainly, Peter and all the others are focused on Jesus' ability to overthrow the Romans and return Israel to power and prominence. They are also thinking about, on some level, what parts each of them will play when the Messiah establishes His powerful kingdom on earth (Matthew 18:1). They do not yet understand how essential it is for Jesus to suffer and die and be resurrected to complete His mission.