Matthew 18:1

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
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Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
ily I say unto you, &c. Christ here explains what His Church Isaiah , and its power and authority; viz, that by the Church, Apostles and Prelates are meant, to whom He has given the power of binding and loosing both from sins and from excommunication, so that whomsoever they shall absolve from their sins on earth, God will absolve in Heaven: and whomsoever they, by excommunication shall eject from the company of the faithful, God will blot out his name from the Book of Life, and from the number of the blessed. Whatsoever ye shall bind: Origen, Theophylact and Anastasius of Nice (q74) think that these words likewise pertain to the precept about correction, and therefore apply to all Christians. They explain as follows:—To whatsoever penitents you, 0 ye faithful, remit any offence which they have committed against you, God will remit it to them in heaven: but to those to whom ye do not remit, neither will God remit it to them. But this is an explanation which cannot be upheld. This is p...

Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
At that time came, &c. There seems to be a discrepancy here with Mark 9:31, where it is said that the disciples disputed about this matter in the way, and that afterwards, when they were in the house, Christ prevented them, and asked them what they were doing in the way? S. Chrysostom answers that the Apostles had often disputed about this same matter, and at length Christ anticipated them with this question. When, therefore, they saw that their thoughts were known to Christ, they opened the matter to Him of their own accord, and asked him to resolve their question for them. Various things gave rise to these disputations, but the immediate cause was Christ having paid the didrachma for Peter only. Hence they envied him, as preferred to them, and then each began to be anxious that he might be promoted to the first rank. Hear S. Jerome, "Because they saw that the same piece of money had paid the tribute both for the Lord and Peter, from the equality of the payment, they thought Peter wa...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Who, thinkest thou? This altercation for superiority among the apostles, whilst they were upon their road to Judea, might have arisen from another cause besides the precedence given by Jesus Christ to Peter above, as St. Chrysostom (hom. lix. in Mat.) affirms. A report prevailed among the disciples, that Christ would soon die; and they wished to know who would be the first, when he was gone. (Jansenius) Or expecting that by his future resurrection he would enter into full possession of his temporal kingdom, they wished to learn which of them should be the greater in this new and glorious state. Calmet supposes that Peter was not with them, but that he had gone before with his Master to Capharnaum. (Calmet) ...


AD 420
We must seek for reasons for individual sayings and actions of the Lord. After the coin was found, after the tribute paid, what do the apostles’ sudden questions mean? Why precisely “at that time” did the disciples come to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Because they had seen that the same tax had been paid for both Peter and the Lord. From the equal price they inferred that Peter may have been set over all the other apostles, since Peter had been compared with the Lord in the paying of the tax. So they ask who is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus, seeing their thoughts and understanding the causes of their error, wants to heal their desire for glory with a struggle for humility. . ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
The disciples experienced some feeling of human weakness; wherefore the evangelist also adds this note, saying, In that hour; when He had preferred him to all. For of James too, and John, one was a firstborn son, but no such thing as this had He done for them. Then, being ashamed to avow their feeling, they say not indeed openly, Wherefore have you preferred Peter to us? or, Is he greater than we are? for they were ashamed; but indefinitely they ask, Who then is greater? For when they saw the three preferred, they felt nothing of the kind; but now that the honor had come round to one, they were vexed. And not for this only, but there were many other things which they put together to kindle that feeling. For to him He had said, I will give you the keys; Matthew 16:19 to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona; to him here, Give unto them for me and you; and seeing too in general how freely he was allowed to speak, it somewhat fretted them. And if Mark says, Mark 9:34 that they did not...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
The disciples experienced some human weakness; therefore the Evangelist also shows this, adding “in that hour,” when he honored Peter more than all others. For though Peter was a firstborn son along with James and John, he did nothing similar for them. Then being ashamed to admit what they felt, they did not openly say, “Why have you honored Peter above us?” or “Surely he is not greater than us?” When they became ashamed, they asked less definitely, “Who then is greater?” When they had seen the three honored above the rest, they had felt nothing of the kind. But when one took the highest honor, then they were hurt. Apparently it was not for this alone but piling up many feelings they became incensed. For Jesus had said to Peter, “I will give you the keys,” and “You are blessed, Simon BarJonah,” and to Peter here he instructed, “Give it to them for me and for yourself.” And seeing the great freedom allowed him elsewhere they were upset. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily ...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
When they saw that Peter had been honored by Christ (for he had been honored by being instructed to give the coin for Christ and for himself), they fell prey to a human weakness and were stung by jealousy. So they approached and asked the Lord craftily, "Who is the greatest?"

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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