Beginnings of the Church
Matt. 16: 13-20
I. Where Christ is seen, leaders step forward. (vv. 13-16)
(beginning in the last year of the 31/2 years of Jesus’ public ministry there are recorded 4 retreats into the Galilee area. This is the final retreat of the four.
Retreat area: 25 miles north of Sea of Galilee – We are not told that Jesus goes into the city; He is in the villages (Mk. 8:27) of the region. Luke says he is praying alone (Luke 9:18) when He asks His leaders a couple of questions.
“Who do people say I am?” - people
John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets
John the Baptist was the predicted forerunner (Matt. 3:1-3; 14:1, 2).
Elijah was to precede the “day of the Lord” (Mal 4:5, 6).
Jeremiah was expected by some to appear and restore the ark he had supposedly hidden (II Macc 2:1-8). 15, 16.
Must be supernatural, but missing the significance of what is going on.
It is debated and people are divided.
“But, who do you say I am?” -Leaders
Sometimes, it is easier being a person than being a leader. People could enjoy agnostic uncertainty a little longer. Jesus was leading His leaders to draw a conclusion that would change their lives and the course of history.
Courage of one’s convictions…
“A leader is one who lives true to commitments made at moments of high emotion.” It is clear. It is clear enough to risk your life on. We have been shown things not everyone has seen. Our eyes have been open to things that not everyone sees.
II. Where leaders step forward, the church will prevail. (vv. 17,18)
They’d seen the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000. Jesus had walked on water before them. He’d healed many people.
In the musical “Les Miserables”, Victor Hugo builds the musical to a very powerful scene where Jean Valjean who believes that his life is about to end makes his last confession. It is the culminating spiritual moment of His life.
There was no less weight in these words.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The Messiah – equal in essence with God
“This rock” (16:18)
Petros i.e. small stone (a good compliment – “a rock”)
- Petra (coming together of stones=builder)
Rock of division – protestant and Catholic
-Equates the name Peter (“Petros”) to the term rock (“petra”)
-Peter is the appointed authority of the church to be handed down to succeeding leaders known as popes.
-highlights the difference between a small stone (petros) and a large rock or boulder (petra)
-Three possible interpretations:
1.) the same confession
2.) followers who hold to the same confession
3.) Christ is the true rock and foundation of the church
Because Jesus is the Son of God, Satan can never prevail against those who are His own.
It is not without significance that every cult that has departed from historic orthodox Christianity begins by denying that Christ is God or that Jesus is the Messiah.
“Regardless of one’s perspective, all three Protestant views lead to the same conclusion. The confession itself, those making the confession, and the Christ of the confession Himself are all ingredients of a church that will be so powerful that the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.”- Randy Pope
I Peter 2: 4-8 The Stone
Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:
Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor.Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it. To you who trust him, he’s a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust him,The stone the workmen threw out is now the chief foundation stone.
For the untrusting it’s… a stone to trip over a boulder blocking the way. They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted. But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
“…I will build My Church…” (17,18a)
First mention of the church by Christ.
ekklesia – called out assembly
“…Gates of Hades…”
“to see” and “not” therefore, “the unseen” realm of the dead
1.) Before there were city halls there were city gates.
Proverbs 31:31 “Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
2.) Ancient cities were defensed most heavily at the gates
Archeology - Gates were inset so that there were walls leading back to the gates.
It is a metaphorical picture seeking to fan into flame the reality of the powerful credo that Peter has just confessed.
The metaphor is that the strategies of hell and the power of the armies of Satan in the unseen realm cannot hold off the church that builds on Christ.
III. Where the church prevails, the kingdom will reign. (vv. 19,20)
“Church” and “Kingdom” are not synonymous.
“This word refers not to a called-out body of believers, which is the church, but to God’s comprehensive rule over all of His creation.”
God’s kingdom is:
1.) visible and
2.) spiritual and
We will always be in error if we see ourselves as the complete “Body of Christ”
We are part of it.
Gave for the sake of other churches (Phil. 4: 14-19)
Give for the saints in Jerusalem.
Membership and Fellowship
Membership – doctrinal distinctives – make a difference
Fellowship – what we hold in common (Fundamentals of faith – Eph. 4)
“Any radical divorce of the church from the kingdom sunders it unbiblically from participation in the salvation program of divine history. -Robert Saucy, “The Church in God’s Program”
“Jesus foretold the Kingdom of God, but it was the church that came.”
Binding and loosing
Peter was told he would possess the keys and be able to bind and loose people. These were decisions Peter was to implement as he received instruction from heaven, for the binding and loosing occurred there first. Peter simply carried out God’s directions. This privilege of binding and loosing was seen in Peter’s life as he had the privilege on the day of Pentecost to proclaim the gospel and announce to all those who responded in saving faith that their sins had been forgiven (Acts 2). He was able to do the same thing with the household of Cornelius (Acts 10-11; cf. Acts 15:19-20). The same privilege was given all the disciples (John 20:22-23).
“Binding” and “loosing” (also 18:18) were terms regularly used for rabbis’ legislative authority in interpreting Scripture (“prohibiting” and “permitting”), and thus could apply to judicial situations as well.
Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth. This part of the responsibility was later given to all the disciples (18:18), who were eventually empowered for the task (Jn 20:22, 23).
Jesus’ response to the disciples’ confession was pointed and striking. He confirmed their awareness that He is the Messiah and Son of God, and announced His intention of building on this reality a “church,” literally a “called-out assembly.” Moreover, this church is to be the lived-out expression of heaven on earth. In our relationship with Jesus we are to express the kingdom in our generation’s “here and now.” The destiny of the believer is to express the kingdom. We bind and loose; we affirm forgiveness of sin and its retention. We speak God’s Word, not on our authority, but on the authority Christ shares with us as He shared it with these disciples He once sent out two by two (cf. Matt. 10).
The portrait given here is an overwhelming one. To be the kingdom! To reflect Jesus in our world! To express Him, His grace and His judgments! This is who we are called to be—and become.
This is who we are.
“Keys of the kingdom of heaven” (16:19). This is another expansive metaphor. As keys were symbolic in O.T. times of a chief steward’s position, Jesus clearly is speaking of some significant role in the Church Age to come. That role is made more clear by how the keys are used, to “bind and loose.”
He declared that Peter would be given significant authority, the keys of the kingdom of heaven. A “key” was a sign of authority, for a trusted steward kept the keys to his master’s possessions and dispensed them accordingly (cf. “the keys of death and hades” [Rev. 1:18] and “the key of David” [Rev. 3:7], which Jesus possesses). Peter was told he would possess the keys and be able to bind and loose people. These were decisions Peter was to implement as he received instruction from heaven, for the binding and loosing occurred there first. Peter simply carried out God’s directions. This privilege of binding and loosing was seen in Peter’s life as he had the privilege on the day of Pentecost to proclaim the gospel and announce to all those who responded in saving faith that their sins had been forgiven (Acts 2). He was able to do the same thing with the household of Cornelius (Acts 10-11; cf. Acts 15:19-20). The same privilege was given all the disciples (John 20:22-23).
“Binding and loosing” (16:19). The Gk. syntax offers no clear indications of meanings. It is best to see the role Christ assigns in relation to His statement concerning foundations. Christ is the foundation. Peter has confessed Christ. Peter and the disciples were then commissioned to confess Christ before others. That confession, and how men respond to it, is truly the key to heaven. A response of faith opens the door to new life in Christ. A rejection closes the door on life and confirms ultimate judgment.
That confession, and how men respond to it, is truly the key to heaven. A response of faith opens the door to new life in Christ. A rejection closes the door on life and confirms ultimate judgment.
Conclusion: In western Montana, spotted knapweed, a weed imported from France, plagues some of our best agricultural areas and is moving swiftly into wilderness areas. Only sheep will eat it. Cattle, deer, and elk won’t touch it. A meadow of knapweed won’t support a cow. A hillside of it will not feed elk. An infestation of knapweed can destroy a hay or grain field.
Beekeepers imported the plant for its purple blossoms that produce copious nectar even during drought years. The weed is unbelievably hardy, thriving in the driest of weather. It competes unfairly with natural flora; it grows over three feet tall so it shades shorter grasses. Even if you clip it, knapweed will blossom at two inches off the ground. Its most pernicious characteristic, however, is that knapweed is allelopathic. Knapweed roots secrete a toxic substance that stunts and even kills the plants in its vicinity. Toxic weeds thrive in visions for ministry, too.
Peterson, E. H. 2003. The Message : The Bible in contemporary language . NavPress: Colorado Springs, Colo.
cf. confer, compare
Richards, L. 1991. The Bible reader's companion. Includes index. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.
Shelley, M. 1997. Vol. 2: Renewing your church through vision and planning : 30 strategies to transform your ministry. Library of leadership development. Bethany House: Minneapolis, Minn.