When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. ~ Matthew 16:13-18
The conversation begins with Jesus asking His disciples "Who do you say that I am?". Peter correctly answers "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replies "...on this rock I will build my church".
The division of interpretation on this text is primarily first over who is the rock. Is it Jesus or is it Peter?
Throughout the Bible God is often referred to as the Rock.
The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation! ~ 2 Samuel 22:47
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ~ Psalm 18:2
Could Peter be referred to as a rock? The Bible says...
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
‘ I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one. ~ Isaiah 44:6, 8
There are a ton of verses pointing to God as the rock, but none pointing to man as the rock. Also it is worth noting that the word Peter, for rock is a different Greek word than the word rock in that sentence. So Jesus was not saying the church will be founded on Peter, a man, but on Himself. Speaking of Jesus it is written...
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. ~ Colossians 1:15-18
Notice Jesus is the head of the body, the church, not any man.
Matthew 16:18-19 is often quoted as saying that Jesus gave Peter all authority. And that Peter has the right to change times and laws. Matthew 16:19 says
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. ~ Matthew 16:19
By a casual reading it will appear that Jesus is giving Peter the right to change things. However if you keep reading a few verses later it is written...
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him (Jesus), saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” ~ Matthew 16:22-23
So here we can certainly understand that Christ did not say that whatever Peter said overruled the Scriptures. No man has the right to change the word of God or his laws...
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:18-19
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