Matthew 16:

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Why was Jeremiah mentioned here at all? Is there OT justification for connecting the Son of Man with Jeremiah?


2 Answers 2


As in the Moses' times (in Deuteronomy 18:15), we see in the law:

15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; (KJV)

That's why, Jeremiah meaning the one G'd will appoint, is believed to come, as a leader such as Moses.

The cabal proof is given in Baal Hatturim in Deut. xviii. 15. R. Abraham Seba; Tzeror Hammor, fol. 127. 4. & 143. 4, this commentary compares the way of Jeremiah and that of Moses:

R. Judah, the son of R. Simon, opened ( Deuteronomy 18:18 ) ( 34:10 ) thus: "as thee", this is Jeremiah, who was, as he, in reproofs; you will find all that is written of the one, is written of the other; one prophesied forty years, and the other prophesied forty years; the one prophesied concerning Judah and Israel, and the other prophesied concerning Judah and Israel; against the one those of his own tribe stood up, and against the other those of his own tribe stood up; the one was cast into a river, and the other into a dungeon; the one was delivered by means of an handmaid, and the other by the means of a servant; the one came with words of reproof, and the other came with words of reproof.

However, it's very clear that when Matthew wrote what he did, to me he uses mystical concepts (caballistic ones), because Jeremiah is dead, so how can he call him to come again? He is talking about archetypes, i.e., types that represent characteristics of hebrew language and in some way, there is naturally a connection with people in the Torah (pentateuch), this happens, because it's first, not a story of people, but of the spiritual levels described by hebrew grammar.

The same thing happens with John the Baptist, for wasn't he that was Jesus's cousin that came before him (Malachi 4:5), but he was actually Elias'(which means He (Adonai) is my G'd, the same as Eliahu,) archetype, (Luke 1:17).

  • I have to wonder if the NASB doesn't provide a more correct understanding: Matthew 16:14: "And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.'" If this is the case, Jeremiah is simply being used as one of the many prophets.
    – Xeno
    Nov 19, 2021 at 17:44

The idea of ancient prophets reappearing was, in part at least, based on two famous passages:

  • Deut 18:15, 18 - The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to him. ... I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.
  • Mal 4:5 - Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the LORD.

In the dialogue recorded in Matt 16:14, two prophets are mentioned:

  • Elijah - presumably a reference to Mal 4:5, who, as far as we know, did not contribute to the OT can of Scripture
  • Jeremiah - a prophet who did contribute to the OT canon of Scripture

However, in the parallel accounts of Mark 8:28 and Luke 9:19, Jeremiah is not mentioned, only, "one of the other prophets".

Ellicott has some useful background here in his comments on Matt 16:14:

The passage is of the greatest possible interest as one of the very few that indicate the impressions shaped into beliefs that were floating among the people as to our Lord’s character and mission. They were based, it will be seen in each case, upon a popular doctrine of transmigration, to which the Pharisees had given a place in their system of teaching. The great actors of the past were still in existence. They might, at any great national crisis, reappear to continue and complete their work. Each of the answers has a further special interest of its own.

(1.) The identification of our Lord with the Baptist has already met us as coming from the lips of the tetrarch Antipas, adopted, but not originated, by him as explaining our Lord’s mighty works (Matthew 14:2; Luke 9:7).

(2.) The belief that Elijah had reappeared was of the same nature. He was expected as the forerunner of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). The imagination of the people had at first seen in the Baptist the reappearance of the Tishbite, but he, though working in the spirit and power of Elijah, had disclaimed the character which was thus ascribed to him, and it was natural that the imagination of the people should now turn to One who appeared to them as simply continuing his work. The character of our Lord’s recent miracles, corresponding as it did to that which was recorded as wrought by Elijah for the widow of Sarepta (1 Kings 17:14), had probably strengthened that impression.

(3.) The name of Jeremiah introduces a new train of legendary thought. The impression made by that prophet on the minds of men had led to something like a mythical after-growth. It was said that the spirit of Jeremiah had passed into Zechariah (see Note on Matthew 27:9), and on that assumption another reappearance might well seem probable. He, it was believed, had hidden the ark, and the tabernacle, and the altar of incense in a cave in “the mountain where Moses climbed up and saw the heritage of God”—i.e., in Nebo, or Pisgah (2 Maccabees 2:1-7)—and was expected to come and guide the people in the time “when God should gather His people together” to the place of concealment. He had appeared to Judas Maccabeus in a vision as “a man with grey hairs, and exceeding glorious,” and as the guardian prophet of the people, praying for them and for the Holy City, had given him a golden sword as the gift of God (2 Maccabees 15:13-16). As the prophet who had foretold the new covenant and the coming of the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 31:31) he was identified, as thoroughly as Isaiah, with the Messianic expectations of the people. Something, we may add, there may have been in our Lord’s human aspect, as a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, which may have helped to suggest this identification with the prophet who was, above all others of the goodly company, a prophet of lamentations and tears and woe.

(4.) The last conjecture was more vague and undefined, and was probably the resource of those who were impressed with wonder at our Lord’s words and works, and yet could not bring themselves to acknowledge Him as what He claimed to be. All the four conjectures, it will be seen, fell far short of the recognition of the Christ.

Thus, it appears that the specific mention of Jeremiah was simply used as an exemplar or arch-type of one the many other ancient prophets.

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