Jesus foretells the fall of Peter - This is also recorded in Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:34-38.
Then saith Jesus unto them - The occasion of his saying this was Peter' s bold affirmation that he was ready to die with him, John 13:36
Jesus had told them that he was going away - that is, was about to die. Peter asked him whither he was going. Jesus replied that he could not follow him then, but should afterward. Peter, not satisfied with that, said that he was ready to lay down his life for him. Then Jesus distinctly informed them that all of them would forsake him that very night.
All ye shall be offended because of me - See the notes at Matthew 5:29. This language means, here, you will all stumble at my being taken, abused, and set at naught; you will be ashamed to own me as a teacher, and to acknowledge yourselves as my disciples; or, my being betrayed will Proverbs a snare to you all, so that you will be guilty of the sin of forsaking me, and, by your conduct, of denying me.
For it is written ... - See Zechariah 13:7. This is affirmed here to have reference to the Saviour, and to be fulfilled in him.
I will smite - This is the language of God the Father. I will smite means either that I will give him up to be smitten (compare Exodus 4:21 with Exodus 8:15, etc.), or that I will do it myself. Both of these things were done. God gave him up to the Jews and Romans, to be smitten for the sins of the world Romans 8:32; and he himself left him to deep and awful sorrows - to bear "the burden of the world' s atonement" alone. See Mark 15:34.
The Shepherd - The Lord Jesus - the Shepherd of his people, John 10:11, John 10:14. Compare the notes at Isaiah 40:11.
The sheep - This means here particularly "the apostles." It also refers sometimes to all the followers of Jesus, the friends of God, John 10:16; Psalms 100:3.
Shall be scattered abroad - This refers to their fleeing, and it was fulfilled in that. See Matthew 26:56.
But after I am risen ... - This promise was given them to encourage and support them, and also to give them an indication where he might be found.
He did not deny that he would first appear to a part of them before he met them all together (compare Luke 24:13-31, Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5), but that he would meet them all in Galilee. This was done. See Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:16.
Galilee - See the notes at Matthew 2:22.
Peter answered ... Though all men ... - The word "men" is improperly inserted here by the translators. Peter meant only to affirm this of "the disciples." This confidence of Peter was entirely characteristic. He was ardent, sincere, and really attached to his Master. Yet this declaration was made evidently:
1.From true love to Jesus;
2.From too much reliance upon his own strength;
3.From ignorance of himself, and of the trials which he was soon to pass through.
And it most impressively teaches us:
1.That no strength of attachment to Jesus can justify such confident promises of fidelity, made without dependence on him.
2.That all promises to adhere to him should be made relying on him for aid.
3.That we little know how feeble we are until we are tried.
4.That Christians may be left to great and disgraceful sins to show them their weakness.
Luke adds that Jesus said to Peter that Satan had desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat - that is, that he might thoroughly test him. But Jesus says that he had prayed for him that his faith should not fail, and charged him when he was "converted" - that is, when he was "turned" from this sin - to strengthen his brethren; to wit, by teaching them to take warning by his example. See the notes at Luke 22:31-33.
This night - This was in the "evening" when this was spoken, after the observance of the Passover, and, we may suppose, near nine o' clock p.m.
Before the cock crow - Mark and Luke add, before the cock crowed twice. The cock is accustomed to crow twice once at midnight, and once in the morning at break of day. The latter was commonly called cock-crowing. See Mark 13:35. This was the time familiarly known as "the cock-crowing," and of this Matthew and John speak, without referring to the other. Mark and Luke speak of the "second" crowing, and mean the same time, so that there is no contradiction between them.
Deny me thrice - That is, as Luke adds, deny that "thou knowest" me. See Matthew 26:74.
Will I not deny thee - Will not deny my connection with thee, or that I knew thee.
"All" the disciples said the same thing, and all fled at the approach of danger, "forsaking" their Master and Friend, and practically denying that they knew him, Matthew 26:56.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Matthew 26:31:
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