Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about Upon This Rock.
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 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. 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 16:16-18 (emphasis added)
This passage generates a lot of comments, even disagreements. Part of the reason is because we humans have a way of zooming in on only one verse or may one or two words in that verse. For example, if you only look at verse 18 you might get the impression that Peter, which means stone, is the foundation or Rock of the church. Religious doctrine has been built on that erroneous belief.
The Bible teaches us to use all of Scripture to understand Scripture. Part of this is reading, studying, and applying verses in context. Now admittedly I could have actually added a few more verses and covered 16:13-19. The first few verses has Jesus asking the disciples who they thought He was, while verse 19 deals with the keys of heaven which He gave Peter and were used in the Book of Acts. But the passage beginning in verse 16 and ending with verse 18 gives us the necessary context to understand what is happening.
Jesus was doing a play on words. Peter had just expressed his, and the other disciples, belief that Jesus “art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then uses Peter’s name (Petros or stone, little rock) to underline the importance of what Peter had just confessed.
You could paraphrase Jesus’ words thus, Thou art a (Petros) little rock or pebble and upon this (Petra) huge rock I will build my church. In other words, Peter had the distinct honor to declare the gospel upon which the church would be built. No other man had up to that time made that declaration. His Messianic connection had been hinted at by Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and John the Baptist (John 1:29,36), but nothing about the church.
So why is that important?
Unfortunately a false doctrine rose up teaching that Peter is the foundation of the church. Aside from the fact that any man being the foundation makes for a rather weak foundation, it also is contrary to the teaching of Christ and the Apostles that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Foundation of the church.
Because it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, namely His death, burial, and resurrection that the believer’s eternal life rests upon. Jesus Christ shed His blood that we might have life! Later on in Scripture Christ is the Groom and the church is the Bride. It is an eternal connection. Moreover the gospel is the foundation of our salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6.
Notice He said “but by me.” We come to the Father by the blood of Jesus Christ and none other!
Nowhere are we told to worship mere man. Peter was a great man used of God, but he always was a man, while Jesus is the God/Man!
Is there anything else we can learn?
The last part of Jesus’ statement reads, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” We Christians all too often are defensive in our war with Satan. But Christ teaches that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church. That’s an offensive, not defensive, statement. The Church Triumphant will eventually win the war, but right now it is pounding on the gates of Hell. Every time the gospel is heard by an unsaved person Hell trembles. Why? Because if that person turns to Christ for salvation, Hell has gotten a little less crowded. When the church is assailing the gates of Hell with the gospel it is doing its job, which is to win souls to Christ!
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.