The Foundation of the Church
The Foundation of the Church
The Foundation of the Church
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 And Jesus answered 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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Lakeview Baptist Church
April 8, 2018
For the next eight weeks, we will be looking at the reason Jesus died on the cross. The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, declares:
After the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus journeys to the city of Caesarea Philippi, approximately 120 miles north east of Jerusalem. Dallas is about 120 miles from Temple, so you understand the distance that they have traveled on foot. The name was changed from Paneas to Caesarea Philippi by Philip the Tetrarch (one of Herod the Great’s sons) in honor of Augustus Caesar and himself. It is a city with Greek mythological influence (Pan), and a temple erected to honor Caesar worship. Why Jesus picks this town to unveil the idea of the church is not clear.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church [ekklesia] and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church [ekklesia] to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They are about as far north from Jerusalem, the mega-center of Judaism, and still be in the lands given to the Children of Israel.
Jesus questions His followers concerning who the multitudes were thinking about His identity. As we will see, the crowd's perception of him was all over the place.
The question is simple, direct. It does not require a response into the disciple’s relationship with Jesus. Who do “they” say the “Son of Man” is.
In the Gospels, Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man more times than any other name. The name indicates the true meaning of his identity and ministry:
the humble servant who has come to forgive common sinners (cf. Matt. 9:6);
the suffering servant whose atoning death and resurrection will redeem his people (16:13, 27–28); and
the glorious King and Judge who will return to establish God’s kingdom on earth (25:31; 26:64).
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
We don't know which of the disciple’s initiates the response to Jesus' question, however it is apparent that Jesus is highly thought of and His popularity is still very high. The disciples respond that they have heard the crowd wonder if Jesus is John the Baptist who was very popular with the people, or one of the great prophets: Elijah, Jeremiah or one of God's other prophets.
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Jesus pays no attention to their response for He is searching for the response of those that He has called to “follow” Him. Jesus gets right to the “heart of the matter.” He had been training these men for some time and now Jesus wants to know what conclusions they have arrived at.
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Of course, it would be Simon Peter who responds to his Rabbi’s question. Simon has given everything to follow Jesus and you can almost feel his eagerness to please his teacher. In his response, although simple, is the foundation of the truth of the Gospel and the foundation for the Bride of Christ. “You are the Messiah” and you are the Son of the Living God.”
You are the “anointed one”, the one spoken about in the Old Testament known as Messiah. He certainly understood his Old Testament prophecies enough to see that this Rabbi fulfills all the requirements to be the Messiah.
“the Son of the living God.” Simon went one step further. He proclaimed that Jesus is the “Son of the Living God.” In John’s gospel, Peter responds to Jesus question, “John 6:67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” with the very clear statement, “you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
“Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah” – blessed is used as a sense of praise coming from God. He then calls him by his Aramaic name, Simon son of Jonah (John).
18 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.
This maybe one of the most controversial and debated passages in all of the Bible, especially between the Roman Catholics and Protestants. I do not have the time to debate their finer points this morning. However, if we were to use the Greek words for the comparison, it becomes clear what Jesus meant by this statement.
“you are petros and on this petra I will build my church.” The difference between the two words is size. This is a comparison of a piece of rock to a massive rock. Peter is the smaller stone and the larger rock is what the church will be built upon.
As Baptists, we do not believe this verse is a confirmation of Simon Peter as the foundation on which the church will be built. We believe that the foundation stone of the church is Jesus Christ (Romans 9:33).
Peter may be meant by the rock, but he is not the exclusive foundation. For the twelvefold foundation of the apostles of the church, see Ephesians 2:20 and Revelation 21:14. This seems borne out by the fact that the same words are spoken to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18 as are spoken to Simon Peter in 16:19. Therefore, the rock or foundation of the church is the confession (ultimately, the doctrine) of the apostles, which became normative for the true church.
This is the first time that the word church appears in the Bible. The Greek word is ekklesia and it means “called out” mostly referring to a group of people in attendance to a religious meeting.
The Lexham Bible Dictionary defines the church as:
Followers of Christ who derived their identity and mission from Jesus and understood themselves to be the true eschatological community of God.
Of the 114 times ekklesia is used in the NT, 109 speak to community of God. It is only found in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 16:18; 18:17) however, it is used 23 times in the book of Acts. It is found 46 times in Paul’s writings. Christ used ekklesia twenty times, always referring to a particular assembly or congregation. The apocalyptic book of Revelation refers to the ekklesia 40 times.
Three general conclusions can be derived from its usage:
1. Ekklesia is primarily a local assembly of those that profess faith and allegiance to Christ.
2. Ekklesia signifies the universal church (Acts 8:3; 9:31;1 Corinthians 12:28; 15:9; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18)
3. Ekklesia is Christ’s congregation (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1)
“…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Hell is a common word used for various and different ideas of the location of the dead. In this case Jesus is using the term “hades” which is the abode of the dead (OT Sheol Isaiah 38:10). We would call this the grave today. Gates were very important to the citizens of the first century. They are the entry points of any city and are important for security.
Death will not subdue, defeat, or overwhelm the church. The church is not hampered or defeated by the physical death of its members.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” – Keys represent power and authority. Jesus is saying that Peter (and the rest of the disciples) have the power and authority to preach the Gospel to the world, which opens the Kingdom of Heaven to unbelievers.
The scribes and Pharisees shut the ability for others to enter the kingdom (Matthew 23:13)
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
Huge contrast between the followers of Christ having the ability to allow access to the Kingdom of Heaven and the scribes and Pharisees who “shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.”
“…and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – The rabbis would use words like binding and loosing, which refer to things that they allow or that which is not permitted. In this case, binding and releasing may refer to what the disciples, Peter and the church leaders, would prohibit (bind) or permit (release). A good example of this is the decision of the Church Council of Acts 15, where the early church leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss the restrictions that were being placed on gentile believers. The council decided that they did not have to be circumcised, but must abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)
Note: Peter was not the leader at this council, it was James.
The church is made up of blood bought believers of Christ. The church began with the proclamation that Jesus was “The Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
That is the “stumbling block” for many. They refuse to accept that Jesus is God and that God requires your acceptance of His position.
Do you know Him today? Do you acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God?
Do you acknowledge that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light and no one comes to God, but through this proclaimed truth?
 Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1836.
 King James Version Study Bible., electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), Mt 16:18.
 Joshua M. Greever, “Church,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).