ESV - 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
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The debate rages over whether "the rock" on which Christ will build His church is Peter, or Peter's confession that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matthew 16:16). In all honesty,...
The person of Simon, or Peter for that matter, is not the rock being spoken of here. The Church whose head is Jesus the Christ can't be founded on a vulnerable human being whose priorities keep changing every minute. But then, what did Jesus mean when He said; "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"? (Matthew 16:18). Was it to mean the person of Peter or the content of his confession? When you read Matthew 16:17 it says; "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'". Meaning Peter as he was/is known could have never by himself been in position to understand this. Additionally, this could have never been with the intent to glorify the person of Peter. We all know how God made the donkey talk the language of humans (Numbers 22:28). The donkey did not speak by itself though, but by the command of God. Peter spoke by the revelation and command of the Father and the glory was equally given back to the Father by the Son. To put it more clearly, in the very chapter of Matthew 16:23, Jesus rebuked Peter for trying to deny the fore narration of His (Jesus') Crucifixion to the disciples. Jesus called Peter Satan. Was it to mean Peter was Satan? No, not at all. But it tells how the same Peter could go either way. If he had made the prior statement of Jesus being the Son of God with intent, he wouldn't then have gone on to make the mistake of ignorantly denying Jesus' fore narration of His Crucifixion. To further demonstrate Peter's vulnerabilities as a person, he, despite having been with and shared with Jesus so much, he went on to deny Him three times (Luke 22:54-62). Peter had gone back fishing after the Crucifixion of Jesus (John 21:3). What then did Jesus mean by referring to Peter as the rock upon which He would build the Church that would never be shaken by the gates of hell? Just like we have seen above, this could have never been to mean the person of Peter. But the question though is; what else could it have been? When Jesus asked what the disciples understood of Him, Peter answered; "...Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). The revelation Peter received from God, and made confession of it is indeed the foundation of the Church. Nobody will choose to embrace Jesus of the seed of David without believing He (Jesus) is the Christ and the Son of God. For before anything else, before coming to die for the remission of the human sin, Jesus had been the Son of God. For it is on this fact that everything He did made meaning. That is the reason everybody else failed, yet Jesus alone overcame all. The foundation upon which the Church is built is on the fact and the doctrine that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. Peter was commended for having had this revelation. But to claim it is upon the person of Peter the Church is built is to credit Peter for more than he can afford or handle. The Roman Catholic Church though desperately looked for a scripture in the Bible which seems to them to support their ideology. For the papacy is not planted in the scriptures. Is this to weigh down the person of Peter? No, not at all. But neither should we weigh him more than he is. Neither does he claim what is said of him by the Roman Catholic Church. We all realize that Peter's character and teachings do not at all rhyme with the practices and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet Peter was a great man of God who made immeasurable contributions to the body of Christ. Whoever confesses Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God, makes the foundation of the Church. For it is about what we say, believe and practice; not what people say of us.
In my opinion, the foundation of the Church is everyone who believes and follows God, not just Peter, and this is what I think the verse is saying - we are all part of the Church's foundations as we are here to help others in their own faith.
I believe that, as Jesus said to Peter. God has revealed this to you. In other words it was not something that Peter could have come up with on his own. Nor could he have comprehended it on his own. The only way he could have seen it in his mind is for God to place it there. This is the only way anyone can see the truth of Gods word. The Holy Spirit must live in us in order for God to reveal this truth to us. This is why The truth of God is foolishness to the unsaved man. An unsaved man can read the Bible for 100 years and still have no understanding of God's Word. Therefore, the rock that Jesus is talking about Is revelation knowledge. That is the one thing that Satan can not prevail against. This is what separates the church from religion.
In Matthew, Jesus asked His disciples whom men thought He was. They replied, "Some folk think You're John the Baptist, some Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet back from the grave." Then Jesus asked Peter, "Whom do you think I am?" Without hesitation Peter replied, "You're the Christ, the Son of the living God". Jesus said, "Bless you, Simon son of Jona: for man hasn't REVEALED this to you, but My Father in heaven has REVEALED this to you, as He's shown Me who you are: you're Peter(the little stone), and upon this rock of Spiritual Revelation, I'll build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against (Revelation of the Word), (or faith). And I'll give unto you the keys (plural) of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven". It's faith or revelation of God's Word that unlocks the kingdom. On the day of Pentecost when the Church was inaugurated, Peter had the keys that unlock the kingdom of heaven, which is the new birth or baptism with the Holy Spirit because he was able to receive the revelation of the Word by God. Faith is God's will for us. "As many as received Jesus, to them He gave authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God (John 1:12-13).
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