14. Concerning Those Who Said, Who is the Greatest? and Concerning the Child that Was Called by Jesus.
“In that day came the disciples unto Jesus saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 5916 In order that we might be taught what it was that the disciples came to Jesus and asked to learn of Him, and how He answered to their inquiry, Matthew, though he might have given an account of this very thing only, has added, according to some manuscripts, “In that hour the disciples came unto Jesus,” but, according to others, “In that day;” and it is necessary that we should not leave the meaning of the evangelist without examination. Wherefore giving attention to the words preceding “in that day,” or “hour,” let us see if it is possible from them to find a way to understand, as being necessary, the addition, “in that day,” or “hour.” Jesus then had come to Capernaum along with His disciples, where “they that received the half-shekel came to Peter,” and asked and said, “Doth not your Master pay the half-shekel?” Then, when Peter answered and said to them, Yea, Jesus giving further a defence with reference to the giving of the half-shekel, sends Peter to drag up the fish into the net, in the mouth of which He said that p. 483 a stater would be found which was to be given for Himself and Peter. It seems to me, then, that thinking that this was a very great honour which had been bestowed on Peter by Jesus, who judged that he was greater than the rest of His friends, they wished to learn accurately the truth of their suspicion, by making inquiry of Jesus and hearing from Him, whether, as they supposed, He had judged that Peter was greater than they; and at the same time also they hoped to learn the ground on which Peter had been preferred to the rest of the disciples. Matthew then, I think, wishing to make this plain, has subjoined to the words “that take”—the stater, to-wit—“and give unto them for thee and me,” the words, “In that day came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 5917 And, perhaps, they were also in doubt because of the preference which had been given to the three at the transfiguration, and they were in doubt about this—which of the three was judged by the Lord to be greatest. For John reclined on His breast through love, and we may conclude that before the Supper they had seen many tokens of special honour given by Jesus to John; but Peter on his confession was called blessed in their hearing, because of his saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;” 5918 but again because of the saying, “Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art a stumbling-block unto Me, for thou mindest not the things of God but the things of men,” 5919 they were distracted in mind as to whether it was not he but one of the sons of Zebedee, that was the greatest. So much for the words “in that day” or “hour,” on which took place the matters relating to the stater.
Matt. xviii. 1.483:5917
Matt. 17:27, Matt. 18:1.483:5918
Matt. 16:16, 17.483:5919
Matt. xvi. 23.