2007-07-15_I Will Build My Church_Matthew 16.18-19_SL
I Will Build My Church
Matthew 16:18-19 | Shaun LePage | July 15, 2007
I. Opening (Quickly!!!)
A. Tommy Lasorda (LA Dodgers) young, skinny pitcher who was timid but powerful and accurate. Greatest ever? Needed to lose timidity—be more fierce and competitive. Gave nickname “Bulldog.” Constant reminder of what he ought to be. That young pitcher, Orel Hershiser, became one of the greatest pitchers ever and one of the most tenacious competitors.
B. John 1:35-42. Simon—unstable, impetuous, impulsive, overeager—Jesus called him “Rocky” and he became a disciple, then an apostle—one of the foundational leaders of the church.
C. Review: Mt 16:13-17: The Question! 1st—Who do people say…? 2nd—Who do you say I am? Peter spoke up: “Christ, Son of living God”; Jesus thrilled with answer—Divine revelation!
II. Body—Matthew 16:18-19 (fraught with interpretation difficulties! I’ll share the best ones)
A. (18) “I also say to you…”—God revealed the Person; now Jesus will reveal the Plan
1.“Peter…rock”—play on words, petros and petra (“rock” band started in 1970’s)
a) Various interpretations—no real consensus: Peter (RCC, first pope—1 in 4 people)? Jesus? Confession in v.16? Petros little rock and petra big rock? Good case, but not perfectly clear, but different word is good evidence that this petra is not Petros. Speculation about Aramaic (Cephas and cephas?)—nothing but speculation. NT Scripture was written in Greek by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20-21) as He desired.
b) Context doesn’t support Peter=petra. The other two are much better.
(1) Greater context of NT: Word of Jesus/God is the “rock” Mt 7:24-25 (petra!)
(2) Greater context of Mt 16. Jesus thrilled with Peter’s statement of faith. 20 seconds later (v.23), Jesus called Peter “Satan.”; all about Jesus, not Peter!
(3) Immediate Context of verse: Different word. Jesus could have been very clear by saying, “You are Petros, and on this petros I will build my church.” Play on words!
(4) Even RCC admits “petra” in Mt 16:18 is the “faith confessed by Peter”: “Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On the rock of this faith confessed by St Peter, Christ built his Church” (CCC, 424). Fact is: RCC doesn’t build its “pope” doctrine on this verse alone. We’ll come back—talk about “keys”
(5) Jesus will build His church on Jesus—the Jesus described in the statement of faith found in v.16: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Those who “believe” this truth will be the “living stones” of the church Jesus will build. But, can’t separate statement of faith about Christ from Christ—Jesus is “the rock” Mt. 21:42; 1 Co 10:4; 1 Pe 2:8 (Petros called Jesus the petra!).
(6) A. Rock? Jesus is the “rock”—the truth spoken by Peter.
c) Bottom line: doesn’t matter. Read again—if “petra” is Peter, does it prove Peter first Pope? No hint of universal / supreme headship; no hint of succession—those who followed “the Church’s supreme pastor” (CCC, 857). Reading into the text. Apostles and prophets—including Peter—the foundation: Eph 2:20; 3:5—Jesus chief cornerstone
2.“I will build My church”—the heart of this passage!
a) Jesus is Builder, the Master Architect who promised—with certainty—that He Himself would build His Church. He said “My” church—it is His possession. He called it “church”—ekklesia (1st time in NT). An assembly of people—people focused, 1 Pet 2:5; The “kingdom” was now on hold, but between now and then, He will build church.
b) Incredible promise—also unclear. “Gates” warfare—closed under attack? Church on the offensive? “Gates” prison—not hold captives? “Hades”=Sheol (grave). The “gates of Hades” probably means death. The whole picture is of two buildings: The church, built on the rock and Hades surrounded by gates and walls—one prevails, one fails. It will not be Christ’s church that fails! Jesus spoke mysteriously about His triumph over death—clearer in v.21 “raised up”. Church will be victorious over death because Christ is “first fruits” (1 Co 15) and guarantee of our resurrection. Death will not prevail!
c) B. Gates of Hades? Jesus will be victorious over death.
B. (19) “keys…bind…loose”
1.“Keys” signifies authority and access | Christ clearly gave authority/access to Peter (“you” singular). RCC says Peter (successors) “has supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church.” (Canon law, 331). Does this verse tell us we should be under the so-called successor to Peter; “bishop of Rome”; Pope?
2. Very difficult verse—RCC builds pope doctrine on it; interpretation rule: Let clear interpret
a) “Binding and loosing” not clear to us; new job in charge of “binding and loosing” Huh?
b) Original language? “shall have been bound…loosed” (NASB)—not that apostles could bend God’s will; God not compelled to conform to church’s decisions (tradition)
c) Elsewhere? 18:18-all apostles and church; Jn 20:23—all apostles; not Peter only
d) How did apostles understand—Peter supreme authority? Mt 18:1 disciples disputing which of them is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven! Again in 20:21 night before Christ’s death! Clearly neither Peter nor the rest understood Jesus to say here that Peter was to have supreme authority. | CCC repeatedly refers to Peter as the “head” of the church and the “supreme pastor”—Nothing in NT supports this; Jesus is the Head of the church—Eph 1:22; 5:23; Who did Peter call “supreme pastor”? 1 Pt 5:4
e) Idiom; cultural? Rabbis—forbidding/authorizing activities in light of God’s Word. | Ron Rhodes writes (read Reasoning From the Scriptures with Catholics, p.109-110). Peter was spokesman, prominent, a leader among leaders, but was he pope? Nope!
f) C. Binding and loosing? Jesus gave Christians authority to declare who would gain access to the kingdom of heaven. Binding—prohibiting entrance to Christ rejecters. Loosing—granting entry to believers.
III. Closing: There is a lot here (implications for RCs / ecclesiology / authority / right belief and practice; close with the certainty and—by implication—three questions.
A. The certainty: Jesus will build His church. Enormous promise—heart of these two verses. It began at Pentecost and spread rapidly throughout the world. Not on our shoulders—His project. Thank Him and pray for Acts-like revival and church-growth.
B. The questions (implied—basically related to our response):
1. Will you believe?—as Peter did—that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Jesus agreed with that statement and told Peter that God, the Father, Himself had revealed it to him. If you believe that, then the Father is speaking to you and revealing foundational truth to you. Will you believe and gain access to the kingdom?
2. Will you participate in Jesus’ building program? Eph 4 describes Jesus giving leaders, leaders equipping the saints (Christians), the saints doing ministry “to the building up of the body of Christ.” Jesus will build—will you participate?
3. Will you offer the kingdom? In other words, will you invite people to trust Christ, then warn those who reject Him (bind) and give assurance to those who believe (loose)? The “building” is not just spiritual growth—it does include growing numerically (see Acts).
4. The questions can be summarized: Will you be a rock? Will you—like Simon—believe and grow and learn and step out in faith and be transformed into a mature and stable rock—a living stone (1 Peter 2:5)—upon which Jesus can continue to build His church? Can we call you “rocky”?