“Thou Art the Christ”
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:13-20)
What is the meaning of our Lord’s statement —
“Upon this rock I will build my Church?” Without question, the
papists’ fabrication that Peter was to be the foundation of the church is
ludicrous. To speak of a fallen, sinful, depraved son of Adam as the foundation
upon which God’s holy temple is built is contrary to Scripture. Such an
exaltation of Peter above the rest of the Apostles would have been contrary
to the plainest teachings of our Lord (Matt. 20:1-28). The rock upon
What is the meaning
of our Lord’s promise — “I wilt give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of
heaven?” Again, the papal doctrine that Peter and his successors, the
popes, and priests of
What do the last
words of verse 19 mean? — “Whatsoever thou shalt
bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Our Lord did not give
Peter the power to forgive and absolve sins! And this promise of our Lord has
nothing to do with church discipline. What the text does teach is this: –
Peter and the Apostles were commissioned to teach the way of salvation with
inspired authority (Acts 15:9-11; ;
As the Apostles of
Christ they were inspired to lay down and establish
the rules and regulations by which the church and
It is important to
state that this authority and power to bind and loose things in the kingdom
of heaven was confined to the apostles. It began with them. And it ended with
them. It has never been given to anyone else. I am not an infallible teacher.
Neither is any other man. No pastor, no church, no denomination has any right
or power to lay down any laws, rules, or guiding principles for the
Remember, that which
Peter here confessed is the Rock of Foundation upon which the Church and
A Blessed Confession
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv. 13-16).
At first glance, the careless reader might pass over these words, thinking there is nothing extraordinary in them; but such thoughts arise from great ignorance. Peter’s confession here is truly remarkable. The more I study it, the more remarkable and blessed it appears. Consider it carefully.
This confession put Peter at odds with the rest of the world. Few were with Christ in those days. Many were against him. But Peter confessed him. When the rulers of his own nation and all the religious people he knew, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests, and the people, all opposed Christ, Peter confessed him. Many would gladly acknowledge him to be a prophet, even a great prophet, even a resurrected prophet. But Peter confessed him to be “The Christ, The Son of the living God.”
This confession of faith came from a man of tremendous faith, character, commitment, and zeal. Say what you will about Peter. He had his faults, I know. But do not underrate this man. His heart was under the rule of Christ. Grace is evident in him. Peter was a true-hearted, fervent, faithful servant of our God.
Now, look at the content of Peter’s confession. Looking in the face of the Son of man, Peter said to that man, “Thou art the Christ, The Son of the living God.” Peter confessed that the Man Christ Jesus is God, the eternal Son; that the despised Nazarene is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the One of whom all the prophets spoke. In a word, he confessed that the Man, Jesus, is God come to save his people from their sins (Matt. ). I do not know what all Peter knew or did not know. But he knew Christ and confessed him. Do you?
A Blessed Man
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (v. 17). — Peter was a truly blessed man. His blessedness was manifest, not in his lifestyle, or his freedom from trouble and sorrow, but in the grace of God he had experienced, as was evident in his confession. Like all who are born of God, he was blessed with spiritual understanding (John 6:44-45; 1 Cor. 2:11-16; 1 John 2:20). He was blessed by divine decree (Eph. 1:3-14). And he was distinctively blessed by distinguishing grace (1 Cor. 4:7).
Who can describe the blessedness of knowing him, whom to know aright is eternal life? As it was in Peter’s day, so it is today, and so it is in every age. The people of this world, religious and irreligious, have many and varied opinions about Christ. But only one opinion is right; and that is the opinion formed in the heart by divine teaching and illumination. If we know him, our Savior says, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.” That is to say, we did not come to know him on our own, and no mere man revealed him to you. We do not know Christ after the flesh, or by human learning (2 Cor. ). “But my Father which is in heaven.” God himself, by his Holy Spirit, has revealed him to us and in us by the preaching of the gospel (Matt. 11:25-27; John 6:45-46; Gal. 1:15-16; Eph. -18; ; 1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. -17).
A Blessed Foundation.
The Foundation upon which God’s church is built, the Foundation on which our souls are built, the Foundation on which our faith and hope is built is the Rock Christ Jesus. He is the Foundation laid by God’s Decree (Isa. 28:16), the sure Foundation, a precious Foundation, an indestructible Foundation (Matt. -27), and a tried Foundation.
Christ is the Rock
upon which we must be built. — “For other foundation can no man lay than
that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. ). He is the
precious Corner Stone the Lord God has laid in
Faith in Christ is compared to the building of a house of refuge (v. 24). Sooner or later your house will be tested by earthly trials, spiritual trials, rains of trouble, floods of sorrow, and winds of adversity (v. 25). If your house is built on Christ the Rock, it will endure the trial and stand the tests of time. If your house is built on the sand, anything other than Christ, sooner or later the rains and floods and winds will bring it crumbling down around you.
Everything built upon the sand will crumble. Only that which is built upon Christ, the Stone that God has laid, will stand. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Foundation, and God’s elect are the building reared upon that Foundation. He alone is the Rock of our salvation.
A Blessed Promise
“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (v. 18). — Perhaps no word in the Bible has been more misunderstood, more abused, and more confusing to men than the word “church.” Man’s misunderstanding of this word has led to bigotry, sectarianism, strife, isolationism, and even persecution.
What is this Church, which the Son of God calls, “my church”? The word “church” is used in three ways in the New Testament. Sometimes, the word “church” is used to describe local, visible assemblies of professed believers in a given place. In every local church there are both believers and unbelievers, wheat and tares, sheep and goats, true possessors of faith and false professors of faith. Every local church has in its membership both the true and the false; but still every local assembly of men and women, who profess faith in Christ and the gospel of God’s free grace in him, is set forth as a local church and is called, “the church of God” (Rom. 16:1-5).
Sometimes the word “church” is used to
describe all true churches at any given time in the world. Obviously I do not
suggest that the
The word church, as it is used here, does not refer to any local church, or any denomination, but to “the church which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23), the family of God, the redeemed and called ones of Christ, “of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:15). Here, as in many other places in the New Testament, the word “church” is used to describe all true believers of all ages, from the beginning of the world to its end, all the saints of the Old Testament and New Testament ages, all of God’s elect upon the earth and in heaven. This is what we call the universal church. It is the mystical body and spiritual bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is that spiritual body of which Jesus Christ is the Head (Eph. ; -25).
What does the Lord Jesus here promise his church? He promised to build it. “I will build my church.” It is his church. He chose it. He redeemed it. And he builds it, calling his elect to life and faith by his Spirit. And he promised to protect it. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Local churches do wither and die. How often we have seen the Lord remove the candlestick from different places! But not one member of Christ’s mystical body shall perish (John ).
A Blessed Gift
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (v. 19). — The Lord Jesus gave to Peter and the Apostles the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and he has given them to us by them in the Volume of Holy Scripture. Christ brought in everlasting righteousness by his obedience to God as our Representative. He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself as our sin-atoning Substitute. And the gospel declares that every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ “hath everlasting life”(1 John 5:1).
Now, look at verse 20. Here is a charge our Master has reversed. He told his disciples to “tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ,” because his hour was not yet come. But now he commands us to tell all men everywhere that he is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 28:18-20). It is the business of his church in this world (the only business of his church) to proclaim the gospel to all. And by this means the Lord God our Savior builds his church.