Summary: Jesus points to seven features & characteristics of the church that He builds. He speaks of its 1) Foundation, its 2) Certainty, its 3) Intimacy, its 4) Identity and Continuity, its 5) Invincibility, its 6) Authority, & its 7) Spirituality.
Two Anglican parishes and the Diocese of Niagara have been in court recently to try to sort out the messy business of who ultimately owns church property. The two Niagara churches, along with eight more across the country, have recently voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and put themselves under the authority of a conservative South American bishop. The dissident churches believe the Canadian Church is drifting too far toward liberalism and they are particularly upset over the issue of same-sex blessings. For the Anglican Church of Canada the issue has been the denomination relating to the culture. (Charles Lewis, National Post. Published: Friday, February 29, 2008)
When Jesus took His disciples to Gentile territory, in the region of Caesarea Philippi, they were about 120 miles from Jerusalem in the northern part of Palestine. The region was strongly identified with various religions: It had been a center for Baal worship; the Greek god Pan had shrines there; and Herod the Great had built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar. It was in the midst of this pagan superstition that Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God. And it was probably within sight of Caesar’s temple that Jesus announced a surprise: He would not yet establish His kingdom, but He would build His church. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ’BE’ series"--Jkt. (Mt 16:13). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
When you think of your role in the Kingdom of God, how do you think you fit? Do you see yourself as a part of something, or having a private spirituality? Do you think that you build a ministry, a participant or a spectator? The answers to these questions determine what you see as the role of Christ and your interaction with Him. They are fundamentally important in determining what you do, and what you expect.
In Matthew 16:18–20 Jesus points to seven features and characteristics of the church that He builds. He speaks of its 1) Foundation, its 2) Certainty, its 3) Intimacy, its 4) Identity and Continuity, its 5) Invincibility, its 6) Authority, and its 7) Spirituality.
The Church that Christ builds has a supernatural:
1) Foundation: Matthew 16:18a
Matthew 16:18a 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).
Although entire religions have been built around this verse, I am going to focus on the words that Jesus used. Peter is from petros, a masculine form of the Greek word for small stone, whereas rock is from petra, a different form of the same basic word, referring to a mountain.
• Perhaps the most popular interpretation is therefore that Jesus was comparing Peter, a small stone, to the great mountainous rock on which Jesus Himself would build His church.
Please turn to Eph. 2
These Jewish men, steeped in Old Testament Scripture, recognized the rock as a symbol of God. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect” (Deut. 32:4). “The Lord is my Rock, and my Fortress” (Ps. 18:2). “For who is God save the Lord? Or who is a rock save our God?” (Ps. 18:31) (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ’BE’ series"--Jkt. (Mt 16:13). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
In his letter to Ephesus Paul says that God’s household is
Ephesians 2:19-21 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (ESV)
How then does this relate to Peter? In all four gospel accounts Peter is dearly the leading apostle, and he remains so through Acts 10. He was most often the Twelve’s spokesman during Jesus’ earthly ministry (see, e.g., Matt. 15:15; 19:27; John 6:68), and he was the chief preacher, leader, and worker of miracles in the early years of the church (see, e.g., Acts 1:15–22; 2:14–40; 3:4–6, 12–26; 5:3–10, 15, 29). He was first (Mt. 10:2) among equals.
• It therefore seems that in the present passage Jesus addressed Peter as representative of the Twelve. In light of that interpretation, the use of the two different forms of the Greek for rock would be explained by the masculine petros being used of Peter as an individual man/ and petra being used of him as the representative of the larger group.
Please turn to Acts 2
It was not on the apostles themselves, much less on Peter as an individual, that Christ built His church/, but on the apostles as His uniquely appointed, endowed, and inspired teachers of the gospel. The early church did not give homage to the apostles as persons, or to their office or titles, but to their doctrine: