Matthew 16:18-19

"Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 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. And I also say to you, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ."

The Geographical Context: Caesarea Philippi

The scene takes place at Caesarea Philippi in the northern end of Israel 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee in the Jordan River highlands near the foot of Mount Hermon (not to be confused with Caesarea which was on the southwest coast). Mount Hermon is about ten miles from Caesarea Philippi. The Transfiguration may have taken place on Mount Hermon since that event took place immediately after the Caesarea Philippi event in question (see Matthew 17:1ff.).

One of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River flows out of a massive rock face at this location. This rock mass is similar to the rock mass found at Petra in Jordan. The Greek word for "rock" is petra and this is the word Jesus used when he said, "upon this petra I will build my church." It is believed that this may be the specific place where the account at Matthew 16:13-20 takes place.


Figure 1


The Conceptual Context: Who do you say that I am?

When one reads a Catholic commentary on Matthew 16:18-19, it becomes abundantly clear that for them the primary intent of this passage is to illustrate that Jesus is establishing the papacy and Peter is being identified as the first Pope. Hence, it is supposed that Jesus was giving Simon bar-Jonah the authority to rule over the church concerning "faith and morals," that is, theological doctrine, ecclesiastical order and disciplinary measures. Even further, Catholics tend claim that Jesus is teaching that the forces of evil will not overwhelm the church’s divine authority, and infallible power, to articulate theologically correct doctrine. The reason for this concept is rooted in a notion that the members of the church ultimately base their Christian faith in theological doctrines and creeds.

However, the primary intent of this passage is rather obvious to even the most casual reader. Jesus begins by asking his disciples how other people are identifying him. And they provide Jesus with the answer, “some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah, but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”. Then Jesus asks his disciples how they themselves identify him. And Simon bar-Jonah answers that he identifies Jesus as "the Christ the Son of the Living God." And this entire scene ends with Jesus instructing his disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Christ. The very fact that the entire scene begins and ends with the theme of identifying Jesus as the Christ cannot be overlooked since it is the primary subject matter of the passage.

The Significance of Simon's Nickname.

1. The Actual Name Jesus gave to Simon.

Simon was the son of Jonah and his birth name was therefore the patronymic name "Simon bar-Jonah" where "bar-Jonah" means "son of Jonah." The name Jonah is particular interesting since it means "dove" and we recall that the Spirit came down on Jesus as a dove and Jesus goes on to tell us in this passage that he had divine revelation from the Father. Simon's surname is then "son of the dove." Simon is known in English language Bibles by three different names, "Simon," "Peter," and "Cephas." Jesus and his disciples were Jews who spoke Aramaic to each other. At John 1:42 we are told that the actual nickname Jesus gave to Simon bar-Jonah is Kepha which is Hellenized into Greek as the transliterated Kephas and which we write in English as "Cephas." Kepha is the Aramaic equivalent of the English word "rock." John also tells us the way one translates the Hellenized Aramaic word Kephas into Greek is with the word Petros.

Much of the confusion, and the opportunity for spreading disinformation regarding the anglicized name "Peter," stems in a complete unawareness of the way a name is transferred from one language to another. This transfer happens in two distinct ways: translation and transliteration. Translations attempt to transfer the concept, or meaning, behind a name, from one language to a word in another language that bears a similar concept. On the other hand, transliterations only attempt to transfer the alphabetic appearance and/or syllabic sound of the orignal name and make no attempt to translate the conceptual meaning behind that word from it's original language. This is how we got the English versions of Simon's nickname, "Cephas," and "Peter," The English word "Cephas" is simply the anglicized transliteration of the Aramaic name Kephas. "Peter" is simply the anglicized transliteration of the Latin name Petrus which is a transliteration of the Greek name Petros which was first translated from Aramaic. The words "cephas" and "petros" are not English words and therefore have no understood meaning in the English language. However, John tells us plainly that the Greek word Petros translates the Aramaic Kephas" into Greek. In other words, Kephas and Petros are two words in different languages which mean exactly the same thing. The Aramaic word "kepha" is the Aramaic word for "rock" and Kephas is a transliteration of that word for the Greek language. We are therefore to understand that the Greek name Petros also means "rock" because John tells us plainly that the way you translate the Aramaic word for "rock" into Greek, is with the word Petros."

The word kepha is the Aramaic word for "rock," kephas is its transliterated Greek form. This is not a translation but a transliterated Hellenization, which is why John tells us how we translate the word by the Greek word petros. Petra is the usual Koine Greek word for "rock," not petros. However, the Greek word petra is feminine in gender and would not be an appropriate name for the masculine person Simon bar-Jonah. The masculine form of petra that is etymologically suitable for Simon's nickname is the word petros. We do not have gender in English and so the word "rock" is the same whether it is a man’s name or whether we are referring to a rock. However, this is not true in Greek which is why Simon's name is a different gender form than the Greek word for "rock." For example, the name John and Joanna are English forms of the Greek names "Ioannes" and "Ioanna" and both these words mean exactly the same thing even though they have different spelling. They are simply masculine and feminine forms of the same word bearing and conveying identical concepts. The same is true with petra and petros.. They are not different words, but different forms of the same word, just as "go," "gone," and "went" are different forms of the same English word "to go." In other words, Simon was given the masculine form of the Greek word for rock, petra, and this form is petros, which we translate into English as "rock" and which we transliterate into English as "Peter."

Put simply, Jesus likely said, "you are kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church." And even if he was actually speaking Greek here, which is extremely unlikely, he could not possibly have named Simon Petra because it is a feminine name. Furthermore, if Jesus spoke Aramaic, and Matthew was translating what he said and writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he would not have written "you are petra and upon this petra" even if Jesus had said, "kepha and upon this kepha" for the very same reason - petra is a feminine name and would not be appropriate in the Greek language convention as a nickname for Simon.

Jesus and his disciples were Jews who spoke Aramaic to each other. We can see this in many places in Scripture where the NT writers will quote Jesus' actual Aramaic words and then translate these words for us, just as John did for us in John 1:42 to give us the equivalent Greek word for the Aramaic word Kephas. Thus, there really is no "word-play" in the Greek intended here although it may come out sounding that way when English readers discover that two different Greek words are being used as far as their spelling is concerned. The truth is that they are not really two different words but two different forms of the same word, a masculine form and a feminine form. Hence, if we translated either the Aramaic word Kephas or the Greek word petros into English instead of transliterating either of these words, we would have the word “Rock” appearing in our English Bibles instead of the transliterated word “Peter.”

And I also say to you, “You are kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church”

“And I also say to you, “You are petros (masc.) and upon this petra (fem.) I will build my church”

“And I also say to you, “You are [a] rock and upon this rock I will build my church”

"Tu es Petrus (masc.) et super hanc petram (fem.) aedificabo ecclesiam meam" (Latin).

"Tu es Pierre et sur cette pierre j'édifierai mon Église." (French).

It is also interesting, in light of the gender of petra that the church is a "she," the bride of Christ. In fact, the word "it," in the phrase "the gates of Hades will not prevail against it is feminine in gender and properly translated as "will not prevail against her." The body of Christ in heaven is the husband while the body of Christ on earth is the bride, the church. We shall see later that Jesus refers to binding and loosing in heaven and on earth after he gives the keys to Peter. Thus, we begin to see already, that Jesus appears to have a heaven and earth partnership in view, the marriage between the bridegroom and bride, and the unity of the two, one in heaven, the other on earth.

2. How big is this rock?

Because of the nuances between the English words "stone" and "rock," it is very fashionable for many Protestants to seize upon this opportunity to claim that the name “petros” does not mean “rock” but means something like "stone" or "small stone" or even "pebble" in contrast to “petra” which is a large rock mass or a large rock face such as cliff or bedrock outcropping. These Protestant claims are completely unwarranted attempts to avoid the potential implications of the passage and spread disinformation as a means of anti-Catholic propoganda in order to downplay the significance of Simon's nickname. In short, it is nothing less than hiding from the truth. In verse 17, Jesus praises Simon and in the verses which follow he is giving Simon the keys to the kingdom. Furthermore, word petros was not even a word used in common Greek but was fashioned by Jesus as a masculine form of "petra." Moreover, the Greek word lithos is the usual New Testament word for a "stone." If Jesus really had wanted to give Simon a name which distinguished him from a petra "rock," the word "lithos" would have been the best selection. Notice that when you want to speak of a smaller stone in New Testament Greek, the word to be used was "lithos."

Lithos

"from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham."
(Mt 3:9; cf. Lk 3:8).

"speak that these stones may become bread" (Mt 4:3).

"you will not strike your foot against a stone" (Mt 4:6; cf. Lk 4:11).

"son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?" (Mt 7:9; cf. Lk 11:11).

"shall not be left here one stone upon another" (Mt 24:2; cf. Mk 13:2; Lk 21:5-6).

"rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb"
(Mt 27:60; cf. 27:66; 28:2; Mk 15:46; 16:3-4; Lk 24:2; Jn 11:39,41; 20:1).

"wailing and cutting himself with stones" (Mk 5:5).

"stone of a mill be hung around his neck" (Mk 9:42; cf. Rev 21:11).

"the stones would immediately cry out" (Lk 19:40).

"he withdrew from them about a stone's throw" (Lk 22:41).

"the took up stones to throw at him" (Jn 8:59; cf. 10:31).

"gold, silver or stone" (Acts 17:29; cf. 1 Cor 3:12).

"ministry of death engraven on stone (2 Cor 3:7).

"adorned with gold and precious stones" (Rev 17:4; cf. 4:3; 18:12,16; 21:11, 19).

"the stone which the builders rejected" (Mt 21:42; cf. Mk 12:10; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4-8).

"whosoever shall fall on this stone (Mt 21:44; Lk 20:18).

"stumbled upon the stumbling stone" (Rom 9:32-33).

Petra

"a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Mt 7:24,25; cf. Lk 6:48).

"the earth shook and the rocks were split" (Mt 27:51).

"but other seeds fell upon the rock" (Lk 8:6; cf v. 13).

"they drank from a spiritual rock which followed them and that rock was Christ"
(1 Cor 10:4).

"and they said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us." (Rev 6:16).

Lithos and petros

And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock (petra), and he rolled a large stone (lithos) against the entrance of the tomb and went away." (Mt 27:60; cf. Mk 15:41).

"I lay in Sion a stumbling stone (lithos) and rock (petra) of offence" (Rom 9:33).

And coming to Him as to a living stone (lithos) which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones (lithos), are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a precious chosen corner stone, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.' To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, 'The very stone (lithos) which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,' and, "a stone (lithos) of stumbling and a rock (petra) of offense."
(1 Peter 2:4-8

Petros

Now it is apparent to this writer that there is a difference between the Greek words lithos and petra and the difference in these words seems to be very similar to the way we employ our English words "stone" and "rock." In English, we would tend to call a great big boulder or a bedrock outcropping a "rock" whereas a small rock or a hewn rock would be called a "stone." However, there seems to be an overlap in the Greek words just as there is in English. We sometimes refer to rocks as stones and stones as rocks. The reason we do this is because there is no established and definite dividing line defining the difference between a stone and a rock and it is a subjective judgment and choice of words. Hence, the real contrast, if any, between "big" and "small" is not between petros and petra but between lithos and petra. What Protestants are claiming here is really quite silly. They are essentially implying that the dissimilar words petros and lithos belong to the similar category of "small stones" but insisting that the similar words petros and petra belong in dissimilar categories.

Now, as we have said before, if Jesus really wanted to give Peter a name which distinguished him, Simon, from the petra "rock" of Matthew 16:18, the word lithos would have served as a better nickname for Simon. But Jesus obviously chose the word petros because he didn't want to distinguish or contrast the rock upon which he was building his church from Simon, but to associate the rock upon which he was building with Simon. This fact is made obvious by the fact that Jesus asks the disciples how he is being identified and Simon said to Jesus, "You are..." to identify his role as Christ and then Jesus reponds to Simon in like manner, "You are..." to identify his role. This is also rather obvious by the very way the sentence is structured, "you are petros and upon this petra" I will build my church. And again it seems strongly implied by words which follow, "and I give you (sing.) the keys of the kingdom" indicating Jesus has Simon's new nickname in view when he says "upon this petra I will build my church."

We can see from all the evidence that it is rather plain to thinking minds that the Greek word petros is a form of the Greek word for "rock" and Jesus used this word in this saying to associate Simon Peter with the rock upon which he was going to build his church. The question now remains, "what did Jesus mean by that exactly?"

The Gates of Hades

Hades is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Sheol used in the Old Testament. The "gates of Hades" would be immediately understood by the first century Jewish mind to describe the control of death. The words in question are intended to be a phrase which refers to a power that is able to keep human beings in the bondage of death. Paul speaks of sin and death as "lords" who have power over human beings and keep them in the controlling tyranny of bondage (see Rom 6:3-8:4). We human beings are by ourselves quite dead under the authority of death which passed to all humanity since the fall of Adam. We humans are mortal bodies of flesh by definition and the only reason we have any life at all is because God graciously gives us life by giving us a spirit for a temporal time so that we can be living souls of flesh. The Bible tells us that God is the Father of all spirits and when that spirit leaves us and returns to God we become just what we are – dead flesh which will decay into dust. Inanimate dust we are and to inanimate dust we shall return.

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (RSV).

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting?" (Hosea 13:14).

Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:54-55; some manuscripts have, "O Hades where is thy sting?").

"We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement" (Isaiah 28:15; see v. 18).

"I said, "In the middle of my life I am to enter the gates of Sheol; I have numbered the rest of my years." I said, "I will not see the Lord, The Lord in the land of the living; I will look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world. "Like a shepherd's tent my dwelling is pulled up and removed from me; As a weaver I rolled up my life. He cuts me off from the loom; From day until night You make an end of me.... For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You" (Isaiah 38:10-12).

"Have the gates of death been revealed to you, Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? (Job 38:17).

Be gracious to me, O Lord; See my affliction from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, That I may tell of all Your praises, That in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation. (Psalm 9:13-14).

"Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction." (Psalm 107:18).

"For it is you, O Lord, that has power of life and death, and leads down to the gates of death, and brings back again" (Wisdom 16:13; cf. 1 Sam 2:6).

"Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope? Will it go down to the bars of Sheol? Shall we descend together into the dust?" (Job 17:16).

The word translated as "prevail" is literally "have strength against," or "have might against." It is formed from the Greek words ischuo (to be strong, mighty) and kata (against). It does not mean "to overwhelm" as many suggest by comparing Luke 23:23. In that passage, we are not to understand that the voices of the crowd are "overwhelming" Pilate's objections but that the voices of the crowd "had strength/might against" Pilate's objections. The idea is not that their voices overpowered Pilate's voice, but that their view on the matter was strong and unmoved by Pilates' words and in this manner their steadfast convictions "prevailed." The same word is found at Luke 21:36 where it implies the ideas of having steadfast streangth against the tribulations which will come upon the world. The idea in Matthew 16:18 is that the gates of Hades will not have any strength against the power of the church. Gates are either barriers for defenders to keep people out, or a means to keep people in bondage from escaping outward. Gates prevent people from moving into or out of a city. The gates represent the strength of Hades to keep people in its grasp. The gates of Hades represent the control of death over all humanity who have fallen into the power of sin and death.

We must remember that the power in the church is a reality because the church is the body of Christ and Christ is bodily raised in the power of the Spirit of God and free from the control of death and Hades. The power of the body of Christ, the church, is the Spirit of life and is greater than the controlling strength of the gates of Hades. Compared to the power of the Spirit in the church, the strength of death is weak. The idea in Matthew 16:18 is similar to the idea at Acts 2:24:

"God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, for it was not possible for him to be held by it" .

The church is the body of Christ. Jesus has the keys of death and Hades because he has risen bodily from the control of death. When we are baptized with Christ we first die with Christ and share his cross. Those who have died and risen with Christ form his body, the church, in which the power of the Spirit dwells.

"God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, for it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, 'I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see decay.'". (Acts 2:25-27).

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old humanity was crucified with him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, [why?] knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is cannot die again; death no longer lords over him. For the death that he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life that he lives, he lives to God. (Romans 6:3-10; cf. Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:17)

"The gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:3-4).

"For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God" (2 Corinthians 13:4).

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through the faith of God working, who raised him from the dead.... having stripped [unclothed] the rulers and authorities, he made a public spectacle out of them" . (Colossians 2:11-15).

Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18).

"Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might make him nothing who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives" (Heb 2:14).

The church is that body of Christ which has died with him and been raised up into the newness of his resurrection life. Jesus has the keys of death and Hades and makes this possible for us. He is the firstborn of the dead. The Gates of Hades cannot prevail because the church is "in Christ," that is, "in the body of Christ," who is free from the power of death and Hades. Jesus' resurrection life is the power of the Spirit of God. The church is the house of the living God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the power of life in the church.

I will build My church

Jesus is the builder. It is a bit ridiculous to suppose that Jesus was first pointing at Simon, "You are Peter" and then point at himself, "upon this rock [ME] I will build my church." The rock upon which he builds is something other than himself. Jesus said he “will” build his church. The Greek used here is future tense. Jesus indicates to his disciples that he will build his church in the future. How did Jesus build his church? We are told in Scripture that the Church of Christ is the house of the living God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ. Christ was raised "life-making" or "life-giving" Spirit which means he was bodily raised in the flesh and that body was consumed by the life-making power of the Holy Spirit of God. When Jesus had risen from the dead, he commanded his disciples to go to all nations and baptize them and teach them to observe/keep everything he instructed. He also taught them not to do anything until they had been given power from on high. On the day of Pentecost, Peter teaches that Jesus had received the Spirit from the Father and Jesus was therefore pouring out that Holy Spirit. Peter preached that his Jewish audience needed to be baptized in the name of Jesus and they would receive the Holy Spirit. And then we are told that this is how they were added to the church and these disciples devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. The church is that entity which is gathered together in Christ as one, an assembly of God, and the means by which they are one and in unity is the communion they each have in the one and same Holy Spirit, the power of God in which he was raised from the dead.

How will Jesus build his church? See Acts 2:38-41; 1 Peter 2:1-8.

The Keys of the Kingdom

Jesus said he “will” give the keys to Simon the rock (future tense). At some point in the future, Peter will receive the keys to the kingdom. We shall see shortly why this is extremely important. In Greek, the word “you” is singular and therefore Jesus is giving the keys only to Simon Peter in this account. We should also recognize something else here. Jesus will have the keys of death and Hades. However, Peter will have the keys of the kingdom of heaven. At this point, we will get a glimpse of the truth. Notice in verse 19 that Jesus refers to binding and loosing on earth and in heaven. Look back at verse 17 and notice that Simon is called blessed by Jesus because he received this truth from, "My father in heaven." This is the Father who raised Jesus his Son from the dead.

"In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut and he shall shut, and no one shall open." (Isaiah 22:20-22).

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: `I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name." (Revelation 3:7-8).

Jesus has authority over his fathers house.

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." (Luke 1:32-33).

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house, whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (Hebrews 3:1-7).

Heaven and Earth

The keys are a symbol of authority. Jesus is Peter's Lord and Peter will be doing things "in Jesus name" such as baptizing others in his name for the forgiveness of sins. At Matthew 28:18 we see that Jesus says all authority in heaven and earth is given to him and so he then says, "Go therefore baptizing in the name of..." To baptize "in the name of" is to baptize "in the authority of." Jesus told his disciples, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any they are retained." The Greek word for "forgive" literally means "to let go" This is nearly identical to, "whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Jesus' Authority: The Holy Spirit

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased." Jesus, when he began his ministry.... the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 3:22-23; 4:18-19).

[Peter]: "You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ.... how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:36-38).

"Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." (John 3:2).

"The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me." (John 10:25).

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong (ischuo) man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12:28-32).

Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes. [Who can forgive sins but God alone?]" And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? "Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up, and walk'? "But so that you may know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" - then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men." (Matthew 9:1-8; [Mark 2:7]).

"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." (John 20:21-23).

And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.... John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit.... you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5,8).

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place....And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.... Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know... God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.... Peter said to [the onlookers], 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call....those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added [to the church] about three thousand souls. " (Acts 2:1-41).

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:18-19).

Bless Simon

Jesus tells Simon he is blessed because his Father in heaven revealed to him the he is the Christ. What is so signficant about this statement?

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven" (Mt 10:32).

He also promises to give Peter the keys at some point in the future. Mt 28:18

The Socio-Historical Context

In 20 B.C. a temple was constructed here by Herod the Great in honor of Augustus Caesar. Herod’s son Philippi renamed the place in honor of Tiberius Caesar and himself. By the time, Jesus and his disciples meet here this temple has been standing for fifty years.

Church Gates of Hades Catholics often refer to the gates of Hades as “the gates of Hell.” However, this is somewhat misleading since it puts a certain spin on the words since “hell” to the human mind suggests a place that is reserved for nothing but evil. However, the words in question are simply “gates of Hades” which is intended to be a phrase which refers to a power that is able to keep human beings in the bondage of death. We human beings are by ourselves quite dead under the power of death which passed to all humanity since the fall of Adam. We are mortal bodies of flesh and the only reason we have any life at all is because God graciously gives us life by giving us a spirit for a temporal time. God is the Father of all spirits and when that spirit leaves us and returns to God we become just what we are – dead entities. Inanimate dust we are and to inanimate dust we shall return. Catholics also often present this passage as if these particular gates would attempt to assail or overwhelm the church. However, this is not the case. Gates are not attacking offenders. They are either barriers for defenders to keep people out or a means to keep people in bondage from escaping outward. Gates prevent people from moving into or out of a city. The gates represent the strength of Hades to keep people in its grasp. The gates of Hades represent the power of death over all humanity who have fallen into the power of sin and death. The power of the body of Christ, the church, is greater than the power of Hades. Jesus has the keys of death and Hades because he has risen from the power of death. When we are baptized with Christ we first die with Christ and share his cross. I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see decay. (Acts 2:25-27). Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old humanity was crucified with him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, [why?…] knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer lords over him. For the death that he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (Romans 6:3-10; cf. Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:17; Col 2:11-12). Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18). Whatever you ask in my name I will do it compare Rev 3:7 shut and open vs. bind and loose. Authority – the Spirit (in my name) John 20:22-23 and Matthe 16:19 See Mt 9:8. John 20:23 = Isaiah passage --- forgive or not forgive…. Shut not shut.. open not open. Same as Revelation 3:7…. I also now send you (as the Father sent me). Stewards…. Not now under stewards. The blood of the Isaiah guy is that of the blood of david and so this is his source of royal authority. In Christianity it is the Spirit, not of the flesh. Feed my sheep not lord over my sheep. 1 Peter 2:4-6. living stones.


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