Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)
21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
v21 απο τοτε "from that time" - Temporal construction; possibly serving as the turning point in the gospel, of Jesus' move from the crowds to the disciple to the cross.
ο Ιησους "Jesus" - Some manuscripts have "Jesus Christ."
ηρξατο (αρχω) aor. "began" - implying Peter's confession prompted an ongoing teaching ministry by Jesus on the subject of his death and its implications.
δεικνυμειν (δεικνυω) pres. inf. "to explain" the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began". The
τοις μαθηταις (ης ου) dat. "to the disciples" - Dative of indirect object.
δει "must" - The main verb of the sentence. It was necessary for Jesus to go up to Jerusalem and the cross, not an act of bravery or determinism.
απελθειν (απερχομαι) aor. inf. "go" infinitive, along with παθειν, "to suffer", αποκτανθηναι, "to be put to death", and εγερθηναι "to be raised up", serve as the subject of the verb "must."
εγερθηναι (εγειρω) is a theological passive indicating the action is not performed by Jesus, but “The Father”.
τη τριτη ημερα dat. "on the third day" - temporal use reflects typical Jewish counting where (not 24 hours) but of an event having occurred at any time during that day, hence Friday, Saturday and Sunday = three days.
v22 προσλαβομενος (προσλαμβανομαι) aor. mid. part. "took [him] aside" - the participle is adverbial, the sense is probably of Peter taking Jesus to one side to correct him privately.
επιτιμαν (επιτιμαω) pres. inf. "to rebuke" - the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "began".
ιλεως σοι "never, Lord!" –literally God have mercy on you – an idiom meaning "perish the thought!" or "ridiculous!".
ου μη + fut. "never [happen to you]" a subjunctive of emphatic negation, but with the future rather than subjunctive tense. Peter is expressing an outright refusal to accept that Jesus could be rejected.
v23 στραφεις (στρεφω) aor. pas. part. "[Jesus] turned" attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said".
οπισω + gen. "[get] behind [me]" usually this takes the sense of "go", so a forceful, "get out of my sight", but better " behind me" in the sense of "become my follower again".
Σατανα "Satan!" – a strong address. Peter takes the role of Satan by accusing or tempting Jesus.
σκανδαλον (ον) "stumbling block" - cause of offence, trap - "an occasion for sin." Peter is setting a dangerous trap similar to the one Jesus faced in the wilderness. So idiomatically, "You’re doing your best to trip me up".
του θεου "[the things] of God”. genitive is adjectival, limiting God.
v24 ελθειν (ερχομαι) aor. inf. "to come [after me]" - infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to will."
απαρνησασθω (απαρνεομαι) aor. mid. imp. "deny [himself]" - aorist points to a single act of renouncing self-interest. Commentators will often treat "deny" in terms of discipleship, yet, this is a word for anyone, not just disciples. The word is used of Peter's denial. The positive sense of "surrender" best illustrates the sense here. What we have here is a call for commitment to Christ, against a commitment to one’s own self-interest.
αρατω (αιρω) aor. imp. "take up [his cross]" - an aorist, a singular action of picking up rather than carrying, expressing a deliberate act. Note how v27, although bearing some similarities, is quite different to Mark's record of Jesus' words. Mark has Jesus warning his listeners that on his return he will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him and his words, while Matthew has Jesus warn that on his return he will "repay everyone for what has been done." Surrender to the divine-will in Christ is the counter to being ashamed of him, not cross-bearing discipleship. The deed that diverts judgment is similarly surrender to Christ, not cross-bearing discipleship. So, the image of taking up the cross describes deliberate surrender rather than deliberate service, a surrender to the divine call to believe in Jesus, the crucified messiah.
ακολουθειτω (ακαλουθεω) pres. imp. "follow" - present tense indicates ongoing action, continual reliance on Christ, faith and trust for today and tomorrow.
v25 ος ... εαν + subj. "whoever" - a conditional clause 3rd. class.
θελη (θελω) subj. "wants" an action of the will is indicated.
σωσαι (σωζω) aor. inf. "to save" - infinitive is treated complementary, completing the sense of the verb " wants."
ψυχην (η) "[his] life" Those who lean toward a "discipleship" interpretation of this passage understand "save his life" in terms of "those who try selfishly to guard their existence (and so) will not know the full commitment of discipleship and tragically end up losing the very thing they try to protect. If the passage is approached literally in terms of martyrdom, then the person who wills to lose his life has to be widened to include the person who is prepared to lose his life for one’s beliefs.
απολεση/ (απολλυμι) aor. subj. "lose" - considers one’s own life unimportant in order to become a disciple.
ενεκεν + gen. "for [me]" - on my account - a causal phrase.
ευρησει (ευρισκω) fut. "will discover [it]".
v26 τι "what" - interrogative pronoun introducing the apodosis of the conditional clause.
ωφεληθησεται (ωφελεω) fut. pas. "good will it be".
εαν + subj. "if" - a conditional clause 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true.
κερδηση (κερδαινω) aor. subj. "gains" - in the sense of possess all that the world has to offer.
ζημιωθη/ (ζημιοω) aor. pas. subj. "forfeits" - loses, to have confiscated.
ψυχης (η) "soul" - are numerous renderings of "soul" here, but it seems best to see it as a parallel meaning to "life" in v25. Literally this word means ‘all that which is essential in making us human’.
ανταλλαγμα (α) "in exchange" - something given in exchange possibly "compensation"
της ψυχης (η) gen. "for [their] soul" - genitive is taken as verbal, objective.
v27 μελλει (μελλω) pres. "is going" – when used of divine decrees means "destined".
ερχεσθαι (ερχομαι) pres. inf. "to come" – a complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "is about."
μετα + gen. "with [his angels]" - In the great separation of the just from the unjust, the angels are the instruments of the Son of Man's judgment of humanity.
αποδωσει (αποδιδωμι) fut. "reward" - payment of what is exactly due, used of wages.
πραξιν (ις εως) sing. "what [they] have done". In this context it means commitment to Christ..
v28 αμην λεγω υμιν "I tell you the truth" - underlines the importance of what is about to be said.
των .... εστωτων (ιστημι) gen. perf. part. "who [are] standing" participle is adjectival, the genitive being partitive; "some of those who are standing here."
ου μη + subj. "[will] not [taste death]" – a double negative with the subjunctive = a subjunctive of emphatic negation; "will definitely not die."
θανατου (ος) gen. "death" genitive is partitive. Commentators seem happy to accept Jesus uses "death" metaphorically in John's gospel (6:50), but not in the Synoptics. It is quite reasonable, particularly in this context, to read "death" here as eternal annihilation rather than physical decay.
εως αν + subj. "before [they see]" - this construction forms an indefinite temporal clause referring to some future time. Time signatures like this are always confusing in the Greek, even more so in the English as we are ;’time bound’ in our reckoning. But theologically the eschaton is outside of time so time as we know it is not a factor. Through our identification with Christ however we can “glimpse” this as an event in history. But being time-bound it is difficult to embrace a God both at the beginning and at end of time at the same time.
ερχομενον (ερχομαι) pres. part. "coming" - serves to introduce a dependent statement expressing what "they see." As noted this "coming" is fraught with difficulty. There are many “comings”, the eschaton, the incarnation, the many divine comings associated with judgment. This "coming" is often identified with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, which was seen by the early church as a "coming" of the Lord to render justice.