THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW
Explanation of Matt. 16:1-28 Continued:
C. Peter proclaims Jesus as Messiah.
1. (13) Jesus asks the disciples to tell Him who others say He is.
a. When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi: Jesus again withdrew from the mainly Jewish region of Galilee and came to a place more populated by Gentiles. This was likely a retreat from the pressing crowds.
1). Caesarea Philippi lies about twenty-five miles [46 kilometers] north-east of the Sea of Galilee…The population was mainly non-Jewish, and there Jesus would have peace to teach the Twelve.
b. Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? Jesus did not ask this question because He didn’t know who He was, or because He had an unfortunate dependence on the opinion of others. He asked this question as an introduction to a more important follow-up question.
2). Caesarea Philippi was an area associated with idols and rival deities. The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship. In Caesarea Philippi there was a great temple of white marble built to the godhead of Caesar…It is as if Jesus deliberately set himself against the background of the world’s religions in all their history and splendor, and demanded to be compared to them and to have the verdict given in his favor.
2. (14-16) A pointed question and a pointed answer.
a. Some thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance, like John the Baptist and some thought Jesus was a famous worker of miracles, like Elijah. Some thought Jesus was someone who spoke the words of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets.
b. Perhaps in seeing Jesus in these roles, people hoped for a political messiah who would overthrow the corrupt powers oppressing Israel.
c. The general tendency in all these answers was to underestimate Jesus; to give Him a measure of respect and honor, but to fall far short of honoring Him for who He really is.
d. Who do you say that I am? It was fine for the disciples to know what others thought about Jesus. But Jesus had to ask them, as individuals, what they believed about Him.
1). This is the question placed before all who hear of Jesus; and it is we, not He, who are judged by our answer. In fact, we answer this question every day by what we believe and do. If we really believe Jesus is who He says He is, it will affect the way that we live.
c. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God: Peter knew the opinion of the crowd – while it was complimentary towards Jesus – wasn’t accurate. Jesus was much more than John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet. He was more than a national reformer, more than a miracle worker, more than a prophet. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
1). We can surmise that this was an understanding that Peter and the other disciples came to over time. In the beginning, they were attracted to Jesus as a remarkable and unusual rabbi. They committed themselves to Him as His disciples or students, as was practiced in that day. Yet over time Peter – and presumably others of the disciples by this point – understood that Jesus was in fact not only the Messiah (the Christ), but also the Son of the living God.
2). Peter understood that Jesus was not only God’s Messiah, but also God Himself. The Jews properly thought that to receive the title the Son of the living God, in a unique sense, was to make a claim to deity itself.
3). The adjective living may perhaps have been included to contrast the one God with the local deities (Caesarea Philippi was a center of the worship of Pan).
D. (17-19) Jesus compliments Peter for His bold and correct declaration.
a. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven: Jesus reveals to Peter that he spoke by divine inspiration, even if he didn’t even know it at the time. In this, Peter was genuinely blessed – both by the insight itself and how it came to him.
1). We too often expect God to speak in strange and unnatural ways. Here God spoke through Peter so naturally that he didn’t even realize it was the Father who is in heaven that revealed it to him.
2). This also speaks to us of our need for a supernatural revelation of Jesus. If you know no more of Jesus than flesh and blood has revealed to you, it has brought you no more blessing than the conjectures of their age brought to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who remained an adulterous and unbelieving generation
b. I also say to you that you are Peter: This was not only recognition of Peter’s more Roman name; it was also a promise of God’s work in Peter. The name Peter means Rock. Though perhaps unlikely, Peter was a rock, and would become a rock. God was and would transform his naturally extreme character into something solid and reliable.
c. On this rock I will build My church: The words this rock have been the source of much controversy. It is best to see them as referring to either Jesus Himself (perhaps Jesus gesturing to Himself as He said this), or as referring to Peter’s confession of who Jesus is.
1). Peter, by His own testimony, did not see himself as the rock on which the church was founded. He wrote that we are living stones, but Jesus is the cornerstone. We could say that Peter was the first believer; that he was the first rock among many rocks. Many translate this as, “upon this rock of revelation I will build my church.”
2). Peter said as much in 1 Peter 2:4-5: Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
d. I will build My church: This is the first use of the word church in the New Testament, using the ancient Greek word ekklesia. Significantly, this was well before the beginnings of what we normally think of as the church on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
1). This shows that Jesus was anticipating or prophesying what would come from these disciples/apostles and those who would believe in their message that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
2). The ancient Greek word ekklesia was not primarily a religious word at all; it just meant, group or called-out group. In describing the later group of His followers and disciples, Jesus deliberately chose a word without a distinctly religious meaning.
More about the Ekklesia
Each time Jesus mentioned the church He referred to a governing body, not a place of worship. He referred to a group of people who were assigned to exercise authority to solve problems both in the spiritual and in the natural world. Every king and kingdom had an Ekklesia that governed its affairs. Jesus added a spiritual dimension to His kingdom when He said, “I will build my church (Matthew 16:18), because His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. He did not say He would build a worship center, synagogue, or even a cathedral. Jesus is the King and He has a kingdom so He needs an Ekklesia to govern the affairs of His kingdom. That is why He started the church.
The Ekklesia/Church is the governing body upon the earth.
4). Furthermore, this statement of Jesus was a clear claim of ownership (My church). The church belongs to Jesus. This was also a claim to deity: What is striking is the boldness of Jesus’ description of it as my community, rather than God’s.
5). Taken together, the promise is wonderful:
· He brings His people together in common: I will build.
· He builds on a firm foundation: On this rock I will build.
· He builds something that belongs to Him: My church.
· He builds it into a stronghold: the gates /governments of Hades shall not prevail against it.
e. And the gates/governments of Hades shall not prevail against it: Jesus also offered a promise – that the forces of death and darkness can’t prevail against or conquer the church. This is a valuable promise in dark or discouraging times for the church.
1). The Puritan commentator John Trapp explained the gates of Hades this way: All the power and policy of hell combined.
2). The gates of hell, i.e., the machinations and powers of the invisible world. In ancient times the gates of fortified cities were used to hold councils in and were usually places of great strength. Our Lord’s expression means, that neither the plots, stratagems, nor strength of satan and his angels, should ever so far prevail as to destroy the sacred truths in the above confession.
In reality the governments of Hades have no power, only assumed power. Remember, satan, a usurper, assuming powers he does not have.
f. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: This idea of Peter holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven has captured the imagination (and theology) of many Christians throughout the centuries. In artistic representation, Peter is almost always shown with keys.
1). Some people think that this means that Peter has the authority to admit people to heaven, or to keep people out of heaven. This is the basis for the popular image of Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, allowing people to enter or turning them away. No, Jesus/ Yeshua has the keys to hell, death and the grave.
satan was also defeated by Jesus at the cross. Jesus/Yeshua said the ruler of this world has been judged (John 16:11).
The grave had to release Jesus. As it discharged Him, He rose and made a public spectacle of it. He disarmed the powers and authorities that were agents of destruction and paraded them through the heavenly realm as a defeated, conquered, and powerless foes. He publicly shamed them, conquered and crushed them. Col. 2:15
Revelation 1:18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of [a]Hades and of Death.
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
2). Some people think that it also means that Peter was the first Pope, and that his supposed successors have the keys that were first given to Peter. Indeed, the Papal insignia of the Roman Catholic Church is made up of two prominent keys crossed together.
3). There is no doubt that Peter had a special place among all the disciples, and that he had some special privileges:
· He is always listed first in the listings of the disciples.
· He opened doors of the kingdom to the Jews in Acts 2:38-39.
· He opened doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles in Acts 10:34-44.
v. The idea that apostolic authority comes from Jesus, who gave it to Peter, who set his hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, who in turn set their hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, and so on and so on through the generations until today is nonsense. Authority is given to all believers.
Matt. 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
g. And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven: The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jewish rabbis of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the law. Jesus promises that Peter – and the other apostles – would be able to set the boundaries authoritatively for the New Covenant community. This was the authority given to the apostles and prophets to build a foundation (Ephesians 2:20). And then given to all believers.
1). We should understand this as Jesus giving both the permission and the authority to the first-generation apostles to make the rules for the early church – and indirectly, the inspired writings that would guide all generations of Christians. The authority that Peter carries is not an authority which he alone carries, as may be seen from the repetition of the latter part of the verse in Matthew 18:18 with reference to the disciple group as a whole.
2). Binding and Loosing were administrative terms in daily Jewish life; whenever a Jew came up against the Law of Moses, that Jewish person was either bound or loosed in regard to that law. To loose was to permit; to bind was to prohibit. To loose was to free from the law, to bind was to put under the law. Their regular sense, which any Jew would recognize was to allow and to forbid. To bind something was to declare it forbidden; to loose was to declare it allowed. These were the regular phrases for taking decisions in regard to the law.
3). In daily Jewish life, this could be rather complicated. Here is one example from ancient rabbinical writings:
· If your dog dies in your house, is your house clean or unclean? Unclean.
· If your dog dies outside your house, is your house clean or unclean? Clean.
· If your dog dies on the doorstep, is your house clean or unclean? Ancient rabbinical writings took the issue on and decided that if the dog died with his nose pointing into the house, the house was unclean; if the dog died with his nose pointing away from the house, the house was clean.
This shows the absurdity of some Jewish laws. By the way, there were 613 of them.
More about binding and loosing:
TRUTH ABOUT BINDING AND LOOSING (Another View by Dr. Kelly Varner)
Matt. 16:18-19, KJV And I say also: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
BIND = Strong’s #1210 = DEO = a primary verb; to bind (in bind, to put under obligation, used of the law, duty; to be bound to one, a wife, a husband-this speaks of MARRIAGE and COVENANT, of that which has been BOUND together by the Lord.
LOOSE = Strong’s # primary verb 3089= luo = destroy, dissolve, break up or break down, to do away with, to deprive of authority, whether by precept or act to declare unlawful.
KEY PRINCIPLE: WHAT YOU BIND (DECLARE LEGALLY BINDING) IS WHAT YOU ARE! Either CHRIST is bound to us or ADAM is bound to us. Adam was killed at the Cross. Everything now depends on HOW we think-how we THINK determines how we ACT-do you have a RESURRECTION (victorious) mindset? Are you attacking hell or is hell attacking you?
In Matt. 16:18-the Church is AGGRESSIVE against the GATES (the access or entrance to any state) of HELL (HADES = the unseen realm). The strategies and schemes that originate in DEATH and HELL come into the earth through people who are GATES, just as the Mind of Christ that originates in the Heavens comes into the earth through people who are the WINDOWS (FLOODGATES) OF HEAVEN (Mal. 3:10)!
Matt. 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
The Church has been DIRECTIONALLY CHALLENGED! It is time for us to attack the GATES (the spirits behind certain situations and circumstances) and bring His glory into the earth. The BODY OF CHRIST must lead the way and release His Kingdom by manifesting the character of Christ. We must take the LIFE of the Most Holy Place Out into the earth. We have NO VEIL over our face-the GLORY raises UP and OUT of His nature in us!
We are BOUND to Christ and His FINISHED WORK! We must AGREE in the earth with what has ALREADY BEEN BOUND COVENANTALLY in the Heavens (Amos 3:3). We are NOT binding the enemy, but rather with our LIFE and LIP binding ourselves to His PERSON and WORK. To not AGREE with HIM is to tear us LOOSE from His loving EMBRACE!
WE MUST BIND OURSELVES TO ALL THAT WHICH IS BINDING IN CHRIST:
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3).
AGREE with God about YOURSELF.
AGREE with God about YOUR FAMILY.
AGREE with God about YOUR CHURCH and MINISTRY
AGREE with God about AMERICA and the NATIONS.
4). As their rabbi, Jesus did this binding and loosing for His own disciples. Without using the same words, this is what Jesus did when He allowed them to take the grains of wheat in the field (Matthew 12:1-8).
5). Significantly, when it came time to understand the dietary laws of the Old Covenant in light of the new work of Jesus, God spoke to Peter first. He and the other apostles, guided by the Spirit of God, would bind and loose regarding such parts of the Old Covenant.
6). Paul was an example of this in writing to the church of Galatia. Legalism vs Grace.
7). This power is with the Church today.
We will continue with Les.6 next week.
The blessings of the Lord are upon you whether by blood, adoption/sonship or assignment. The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Prov. 10:22
David & Mary Sue