Why is Jeremiah quoted by the apostles when Jesus asks his disciples who do people say the Son of Man is? Mt 16:14:

And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

What rumors were going around about Jeremiah the prophet?

  • 1
    Please provide some Bible references so we can examine them. Do you mean Matt 16:14 or something else?
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 20 at 10:04
  • Sorry, yes this verse
    – Leandro
    Commented Mar 20 at 11:42
  • Since Jesus frequently referred to himself as “Son of Man”, like what Ezekiel is named in his prophetic book, it seems that the man who uttered the words in Matthew had a memory slip and carelessly pulled the name of a prophet out of the air as it where. And after having done so quickly safeguarded himself by adding “or one of the other prophets”, to the end of the sentence. Commented Mar 21 at 23:43

3 Answers 3


Main question first: What happened to Jeremiah? Although quite a lot was known about Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, very little is known about what happened to him - his death, that is. Here is a comment:

"[His] personal life and struggles are known to us in greater depth and detail than those of any other OT prophet... Jeremiah's prophetic ministry began in 626 B.C. and ended some time after 586... How and when Jeremiah died is not known. Jewish tradition, however, asserts that while living in Egypt he was put to death by being stoned (cf. Hebrews 11:37)." NIV Study Bible, p.1096, 1987 edition.

Second question next: Why is he quoted by the apostles - Matthew 16:14? The context to the apostles' mention of Jeremiah is crucial to answering the question. Jesus had just asked them, "Who do people say the Son of Man [himself] is?"

This means that the apostles are doing simple reportage - they answer with the various ideas 'the people' have about who they think Jesus is. It should not be assumed that they agree with all or any of those ideas of the people.

Confusion abounded among the people as to who Jesus really was. However, those who had been prepared to receive the Christ, being baptised by John the Baptist, realised he was the foretold Messiah and followed him - all the apostles, in other words. They had believed John's testimony about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, upon whom the Spirit came and who baptises with the Holy Spirit, and who is the Son of God, sent by God the Father (John 1:29-36).

Lots of rumours were going around about who Jesus was, the idea that he might be Jeremiah (resurrected) just one of many. If they had studied their Hebrew scriptures, they would have known. Jesus even had to rebuke the religious leaders for not grasping what their scriptures said of him, so what chance did 'the people' have of understanding?

Then Jesus asked the apostles who they thought he was. That was when Simon Peter had a revelation from God the Father, which enabled him to truthfully respond, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Although all the apostles knew what John the Baptist had said bout Jesus, Simon Peter (at that point) believed the revelation for himself, and came out with that statement as a declaration of faith, not just repeating something someone had told him.


First, as to what happened: Jeremiah 42-44 describes the final chapter in Jeremiah's ministry. He went to Egypt - against his will - with other Jewish exiles. He continued his prophetic ministry there. The palpable tension between him and the other exiles is the background of the report (not in the Bible) that he died there by stoning.

As to why the apostles mentioned Jeremiah in Mt 16:14: In attempting to understand Jesus' providential mission, people naturally compared him to other prophets. Of course, they knew that Jesus was not really John the Baptist or Elijah, but John had come in the "spirit of Elijah" (Luke 1:17) so they were one in mission as forerunners. After John died, many people apparently understood Jesus to have taken up John's "mantle," just as Elisha took up the mantle of Elijah (2 Kings 2:13) and inherited his mission. After all, Jesus had briefly appeared to be disciple of John, was baptized by him, and preached the same opening message: "repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Mt. 3:2)

The problem with the parallel to Jeremiah is that there was no clear prophecy of his return as in the case of Elijah. (Mal. 4:5) The identification of Jeremiah with Jesus, therefore, must have been along the lines of similarity of prophetic demeanor and message. Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet" because he mourned the fate of Jerusalem and its temple, whose doom he predicted.

Jer. 26:5-6

If you do not obey me, by walking according to the law I set before you and listening to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I kept sending you, even though you do not listen to them, I will treat this house like Shiloh [the abandoned sanctuary], and make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.

Jesus echoed this attitude in his own pronouncements:

Matthew 23:37-38

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house [the temple] will be abandoned, desolate.

Jesus even quoted Jeremiah in one of his most famous public acts, when he overturned the money changers tables:

Jeremiah 7:11

Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves? I have seen it for myself!

Mark 11:17

Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’? But you have made it a den of thieves.”

Another important similarity between Jesus and Jeremiah was the concept of the New Covenant. This was one of Jeremiah's major themes:

Jeremiah 31

31 See, days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah... 33 But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days—oracle of the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Although Jesus did not use the words "new covenant" until the Last Supper, (Luke 22:20) his emphasis on living according to the spirit of the Law rather than its letter was quite similar to Jeremiah's idea of the law being written on people's hearts rather in a book.

Conclusion: People associated Jesus with Jeremiah because of the similarity of their demeanor and message: mourning the fate of Jerusalem, prophesying the destruction of the Temple, denouncing its corruption, calling for repentance, and teaching the idea of a "new covenant" in which God's law would be known in one's heart. As a result, people apparently told the apostles: "He's a new Jeremiah."


What happened to Jeremiah?

Jeremiah 43:5–7 says:

But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces took all the remnant of Judah … men, women, children, the king’s daughters, … and Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. So they went to the land of Egypt, … .

One theory says that from there, Jeremiah moved on to Ireland, bringing with him the Ark of the Covenant, Jacob's pillow (aka Stone of Scone, Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, the British coronation stone), and the Davidic princesses.

… Later on the origin of the name Tara and the mystery of its mounds were lost sight of. Tradition said they contained the Ark, as well as the body of Tea … (p.274)

… "Tara", says Dr. Hanan, is almost pure Hebrew for Torah, which means "law", and the original tables of the law were in the ark which, curiously enough, Irish history says is buried with Tea. … (p. 275)

Journal of the British Archaeological Association - Google Books

For more details, see my answer to Jeremiah 36:30 - meaning of “sit”?.

A search for "Jeremiah Ireland" will find many articles about this.
(Need I mention that not all will be of top quality?).

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