What does Luke 9:20 mean?
ESV: Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
NIV: But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'God's Messiah.'
NASB: And He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Peter answered and said, 'The Christ of God.'
CSB: "But you," he asked them, "who do you say that I am? "Peter answered, "God's Messiah."
NLT: Then he asked them, 'But who do you say I am?' Peter replied, 'You are the Messiah sent from God!'
KJV: He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
Verse Commentary:
Ancient accounts such as the Gospels were not necessarily chronological. That is, stories and incidents were not always recorded in a strict timeline. If Luke's account is chronological, Peter's words carry more weight than they might otherwise appear. Peter is not just responding to Jesus feeding thousands of men, women, and children (Luke 9:10–17). Nor is he primarily thinking of how Jesus walked on the waves of the Sea of Galilee—and how He had to save Peter when he almost drowned (Matthew 14:22–33). Rather, it would mean Peter responding to Jesus' difficult teaching: that He is the Son of Man mentioned by Daniel (Daniel 7:13–14), the Son of God (John 6:27), the bread that brings eternal life (John 6:35), and He who will raise the faithful from the dead (John 6:40).

When Jesus fed the crowds, their idea of Him switched from "prophet of old" to potential king (John 6:14–15). With this teaching, however, they remember He is the "son of Joseph" whom they know (John 6:42). Many who had followed Jesus abandoned Him (John 6:66). Jesus questions His disciples: "Do you want to go away as well?" to which Peter replies, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:67–68).

But even though Peter declares that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, he does not yet know that Jesus is God and the Son of God. And none of the disciples have any idea as to what it is the Messiah has come to do. Like the crowds, they think He is there to drive the Romans out of Jewish territory and give the Jews national independence and peace. As Jesus will soon say, "…You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man" (Matthew 16:23b). Even moments before Jesus returns to heaven, they still await the promise of a restored kingdom (Acts 1:6–11). Jesus doesn't dissuade them of hope—in fact, He tells them to look for it (Luke 21:29–36; Mark 13:32–37)—but it does not happen in their lifetime, and it has not happened yet in ours.

Jesus is not preparing the disciples for the fulfillment of God's kingdom. Instead, He readies them for the expression of His rule through the church, which He will found in Peter's testimony (Matthew 16:18).
Verse Context:
Luke 9:18–20 records Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah. It is the first of several passages in this portion of Luke that show the disciples being challenged to deeper faith. Herod Antipas wonders if Jesus is John the Baptist, back to haunt him for his murder (Mark 6:16). The people Jesus had just fed think He's their coming earthly king (John 6:15). Jesus asks the disciples what they think. Peter answers, "The Christ of God" (Luke 9:20). Mark 8:27–30 also records Peter's confession. Matthew 16:13–20 adds that Jesus will build His church on the "rock" of Peter's words.
Chapter Summary:
Luke 9 completes Jesus' Galilean ministry and begins describing His journey towards Jerusalem. Jesus gives His disciples miraculous power and commissions them to preach. The empowerment thrills the disciples but confuses Herod Antipas. A hungry crowd of thousands and hard teachings about following Jesus, however, shows the disciples' faith is short-lived. The transfiguration and the demonized boy precede stories of the disciples' continued confusion. They still struggle to accurately represent Jesus. Luke 9:51–62 begins the "travelogue" (Luke 9:51—19:27) with examples of the patience and sacrifice needed to represent Jesus as His followers.
Chapter Context:
Luke 9 straddles the two major sections biblical scholars call "Jesus' Galilean Ministry" (Luke 4:14—9:50) and "The Travelogue to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51—19:27). The Galilean ministry alternates calls to discipleship with stories on Jesus' authority and teachings. The travelogue records what Jesus did and taught to prepare the disciples for His crucifixion. After a final group of stories on how to respond to Jesus (Luke 9:51—11:13) and several examples of how the Jewish religious leaders reject Jesus (Luke 11:14–54), Luke presents Jesus' teaching on the kingdom of God (Luke 12:1—19:27).
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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