This city was anciently known as Paneas or Panium (from the sylvan god Pan, whose worship seemed appropriate to the verdant situation, with groves of olives and Hermon’s lovely slopes near). The streams which flow from beneath a limestone rock unite in one stream near Caesarea Philippi. There was a deep cavity full of still water there. Identified with the BAAL GAD of the Old Testament, Herod erected a temple here of white marble to Augustus. Herod’s son Philip, tetrarch of Trachonitis, enlarged it and called it for himself, as well as Caesar, Caesarea-Philippi. Agrippa II called it Neronias, but the old name prevailed. It was the seat of a Greek and a Latin bishopric in succession. The great castle (Shubeibeh) built partly in the earliest ages remains the most striking fortress in Palestine.
The transfiguration probably took place on Mount Hermon which rears its majestic head 7,000 feet above Caesarea-Philippi. The allusion to “snow” agrees with this, as does the mention of Caesarea-Philippi in the context. (See Matthew 16:13 and Mark 8:27; 9:3.)
Where Jesus prepared His disciples
The remoteness and privacy of Caesarea-Philippi fitted it for being the place where Jesus retired to prepare His disciples for His approaching death of shame and His subsequent resurrection. It was there it was that Peter received the Lord’s praise, and afterward censure.
Outside of this city, Peter makes his great confession, and Jesus introduces the concept of the church and His promise to preserve it to His disciples.
Matthew 16:13–21—When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.