Summary: This is a very controversial passage, and is the basis for a debate that has raged between Catholics and Protestants for many years. Let's see what Jesus was talking about when He referred to the person and the event as "the rock."

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Passage: Matthew 16:13-21

Intro: We are looking at a passage today that has sparked huge controversy among believers.

1. and in fact, it is the interpretation of this passage that essentially separates Catholics from Protestants.

2. (by the way, protestant means “for the testament”, and not “protestors”)

3. so let’s apply that “pro- testamentism_) to this passage, and understand what Jesus said, not what we hope he said.

4. Jesus and disciples on a little debriefing trip up in Gentile territory.

5. but these two questions are huge, especially the 2nd. Because they are still being asked and answered today.

I. A Two Question Poll

Il) we might even stay on the line if the “pollster” said he only had two questions.

1. who do “men”, (very general) say that I am?

2. anonymous poll, “what are people saying?”

3. the answer was general, a list of options without percentages.

4. answers indicated a few things:

-OT promises were not the basis of their opinions.

-only “Elijah” had any proof

PP Malachi 4:5

5. but Jesus identified Elijah as John

PP Matthew 11:13-14

6. what binds these various opinions together is:


-false hopes for a military Messiah

-ignorance or rejection of OT promises

-unwillingness to examine the evidence and commit to a conclusion

7. so essentially they were conclusions of unbelief.

8. a 2nd question that really held feet to the fire.

Il) like the difference between a phone poll and being in the voting booth with a ballot

9. “You” is emphatic and plural

10. what is the commitment you are ready to make based on two years of observation and participation?

11. this should make your heart leap for joy! The first full confession of faith in the revealed Christ.

12. In the Jewish context of unbelief, it is miraculous

13. Messiah=Son of God?

PP Psalm 2:6-8

PP Isaiah 9:6

14. Peter connected the dots!

15. Jesus was very enthusiastic at this clear sign of God’s work!

16. keep in mind two things: the confession itself, and the person who made it. It is not either or!

II. The Foundation of the Church

1. now this is where the interpretive trouble begins.

2. and in my view, the problem comes from a predictable source: context… we cannot forget it

3. A very specific question got a very specific answer, and Jesus was enthusiastric about the confession and the confessor.

4. Blessed are you, Simon son of …

5. no question whom addressing

6. “for this (confession) is clearly a work of God in your life”

7. continues in v18, gives him a new name because of his confession, and ties that name to Peter and his confession

-separation very serious mistake

8. Peter focal point of leadership because he was the first to confess faith in Christ as the Promised One, the Son of God.

Il) we can hardly realize what a miracle that was in the Jewish culture.

Il) Jesus was crucified for making this claim.

PP Matthew 26:63-64

PP Matthew 26:65

9. but it was this confession by this person that is the foundation of the church

10. and that confession first made by Peter as a representative of the apostles remains the foundation of the church.

PP Ephesians 2:20

PP Revelation 21:14

11. we believe as the apostles believed and taught, and Jesus builds His church on that foundation

12. what Jesus recognized in Peter was the working of God, and so should we.

III. The Authority of the Church

1. now here is where it gets a little sticky.

2. because if you take the Catholic view that Peter alone is the rock, then you make his successors Popes and their word is law.

Il) ex cathedra, Papal bulls.

3. based on v19, “keys” = authority

4. grammarians argue strenuously here, sometimes based on their presuppositions.

5. but ultimately, the grammar means “whatever you loose will have been loosed in heaven…”

6. so the established confessing authority on earth verifies what has already been established.

7. examples of how this plays out:

Il) confession, penance, absolution of sin.

Il) communion forgives sins, as does baptism in some systems.

8. but God has established the way for sins to be forgiven, and the church practices and proclaims it.

9. and is the authority in people? Yes, under Christ.

PP 1 Peter 5:4

10. so the authority is granted based on confession, but always under Christ and subservient to Him.

11. beware of those who claim authority without confession, and who point to themselves other than Christ.

Conc. We are a confessional community, bound together by our shared faith.

1. and that shared faith breaks down all kinds of barriers

2. it is the rock first believed by Peter and the disciples, and still believed by people almost 2000 years later.

3. the gates of hell have mounted attack after attack, but the church continues to thrive as it continues to confess that Jesus in the Promised One, the very Son of God who came to rescue us.

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