So here is my analysis based upon the information given to us by the Greek scholars.
The scene begins with Jesus asking the disciples who people say that the Son of Man is (Matthew 16:13). Notice that Jesus is asking all of his apostles this questions. Jesus has not singled out one person. In verse 14 we see that all of the apostles respond with the different answers people have given concerning who the Son of Man was. Verse 14 reveals to us the variety of points of view concerning who the Messiah was. In fact, we read from Jewish literature that many expected multiple Messiahs to arrive to be the fulfillment of the assorted messianic passages. The people of the nation think that Jesus one of the different deliverers. This controversy concerning who Jesus is leads to Jesus’ next question.
But who do you say that I am?
It is important to note that the word “you” is plural. In the South, we would translate this accurately as, “But who do you all say that I am?” It is a plural “you.” All of the disciples are being asked this question. The beginning of verse 15 shows this also. “He said to them….” For Peter to respond on behalf of the apostles should not be surprising in the slightest. In Matthew 15:13-14, Jesus told a parable to the disciples (apostles) (see verse 12). But the apostles do not understand the parable. So Peter speaks on behalf of the apostles, “Explain the parable to us” (vs. 15). Peter is often depicted as the mouthpiece of the apostles and often speaks on behalf of the apostles. In Matthew 17:4 Peter speaks on behalf of some of the apostles who are witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus, saying, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” In Matthew 19:27 Peter speaks on behalf of the apostles, saying, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” I could continue on and on about how this takes place throughout the gospels. It happens repeatedly in the book of Acts. Let me show just a few important places.
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said…. (Acts 1:15)
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. (Acts 2:14)
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38)
In these three instances, Peter is speaking on behalf of the apostles and represents the apostles. Before we even study the words that Jesus utters in Matthew 16:18 we ought to know that Peter frequently speaks on behalf of the apostles and represents the apostles. Friends, there is a reason that Peter’s name comes first in every listing with Peter’s name in it. The book of Acts shows us that Peter is a leader of the apostles. Why can we say that? We know this because we know nothing about the acts of the apostle Thomas, Andrew (Peter’s brother!), Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, or Simon the zealot. We know nothing about the acts of Matthias, who replaces Judas in Acts 1. Nearly half of the book of Acts centers around Peter and a little bit about James and John. That’s it! None of the apostles are discussed. Peter represents the apostles and he is the leader of the apostles. In Matthew 16 Peter is speaking on behalf of the apostles when Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I do not think it is tenable to suggest that only Peter believed this, but the other apostles did not. Peter is speaking on behalf of the apostles. All twelve of them believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter is not alone in this belief. The other apostles are not disagreeing with this. This is the confession of all of the apostles. But Peter says these words on behalf of them all.
More to come…