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On This Rock

Bible Reading: Matthew 16:13-20

Memory Verse: Jesus said, "On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18).

When Jesus and His disciples came to Caesarea Philippi (Cae-sa-re'-a) in northern Israel, Jesus asked His disciples: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

One answered, "Some say John the Baptist."

Another said, "People say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." Then Jesus asked them, "But what about you? Who do you say I am?"

Simon Peter answered: "You are the Christ" (the Messiah) "the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:15-16). Peter confessed Christ as his Lord. He spoke what he believed in his heart. Jesus said to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in Heaven."

"You are Peter (Petros, a stone), and on this rock (Petra, a great rock) I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

Jesus used two different Greek words. Peter's name would be "Petros," a stone. Christ's Church would be built on "Petra," a huge rock or Christ Himself. Jesus was, even then, building His Kingdom, the Christian Church. As He preached the gospel of the Kingdom, people heard the call of God on their lives and followed Jesus. He spoke of building a spiritual Kingdom. His Kingdom would not be built on weak and wavering Peter and Jesus did not give Peter any special authority.

We can imagine Jesus turning to the other disciples and saying, "On this confession of faith - on this rock of truth - I will build My Church. And Hell, itself, will not overcome the ones who confess Me as their Lord."

1. Paul said, Christ is the foundation of His Church and the Head of it (Eph 1:22; 4:15; 1 Cor 3:10-11). Every believer is a citizen of Christ’s Church.

2. Jesus said He would build His Church on this rock of truth - that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God - not on Peter. Christ was the "Rock" that went with Israel through the desert (1 Cor 10:4). Peter and the apostles would preach the gospel and build God’s Kingdom on the foundation, Christ. Without Christ as foundation and Head, there can be no Christian Church.

3. "The gates of Hell" speak of Satan's authority. Christ's authority is greater than Satan's (Col 2:15). Satan's authority was broken when Christ died on the cross (Heb 2:15).

4. Jesus told His disciples, "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven..." Jesus gave them - and us - the authority to preach the gospel to all nations (Matt 28:18-19). The keys of the gospel must be used by the power of the Holy Spirit. That was why Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem "until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49).

Only by preaching the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit can we use the keys to open heaven's door to others. Men facing the gates of hell need heaven. Jesus told the disciples, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Only the gospel can loose men from the power of sin.

So Jesus commands us to go out and preach the gospel (Matt 28:18; John 20:23).

5. James and Paul were leaders in the early Church, not Peter. At Antioch, Paul rebuked Peter for being partial. Peter did not understand the nature of the Christian Church, nor was he ready to receive it (Gal 2:1).

Paul named James first, not Peter, when he named the "three pillars" of the early Church (Gal 2:9). It was James who met with the delegates in Acts 15:1-29. And James wrote the reply that was sent to the churches.


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