WHO IS THE ROCK?
The rock at Mt Horeb
"But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and
said to 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 that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you
loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matt 16:13-20
There are three main questions raised by this passage.
1. Who or what is the rock upon which Jesus is building His church?
2. Who gets the keys of the Kingdom, with the authority to bind and loose?
3. And what exactly is it, that is being bound and loosed?
1. So far as I know there are four interpretations as to who or what this rock is.
A. The most popular one by far in the Protestant Church is that the rock Jesus is referring to is Himself. Where this comes from is
obvious, there are many prophesies in the OT referring to Jesus as the stone of stumbling, rock of offence, the stone the builders
rejected. In the NT all these prophesies are fulfilled in Him, the chief cornerstone in the temple made without hands. Yes Jesus is
B. Second we have Peter’s confession “you are the Christ the Son of the living God.” This seems valid because the question was
“who do you say that I am,” and the scriptures teach that our answer is the foundation of our salvation. "The word is near you, in your
mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe
in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with
the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom 10:9,10. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess
before My Father who is in heaven.” Matt 10:32
C. And yet before there is a confession there must be that revelation given by God. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who
sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.'
Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” John 6:44-45.
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us…The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. Acts 16:14. Peter was
blessed because his confession was born out of the revelation that Jesus is LORD. But wait just a minute isn’t there one more possible
D. Oh yes, we almost forgot the one taught by the Roman Catholic Church, where this passage has become the foundation of their
authority. They hold that the rock is Peter, he is the one given the keys and the reigning authority of the Kingdom, Peter then came and
made the Patriarch of Rome his successor before he was martyred, so this passage makes Peter the first pope and is used to validate
Rome’s claim of Apostolic succession.
Is it possible that because of the exaggerated and self promoting teaching of the Roman Church, we have overreacted and thrown out
the baby with the bathwater, so to speak? If we are truly objective we have to admit that it is very interesting that Jesus first refers to
him as Simon son of Jonah and then makes a special point of emphasis; “I say to you, that you are Peter.” This has even more
emphasis when we remember that Peter is the name that Jesus gave to him; He called his disciples to Him and chose twelve of them,
whom He also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew… Luke 6:13-14.
Also there is an interesting play on words in the original Greek text;
Kagoó dé soi légoo hóti sú eí Pétros kaí epí taútee teé
And also unto thee, I say That thou art Peter and upon this
petra oikodomeésoo mou teén Ekkleesían Matthew 16:18
rock I will build my assembly
Strong’s #4073 petra; A projecting rock or cliff. Someone possessing firmness and stability, one like a rock, Always translated as
rock in the NT.
#4074 petros; The masc. of the fem. petra. A proper noun meaning a large rock or stone, always used as Peter in the NT.
Jesus names him “the Stone or Rock” and then He takes this opportunity to put emphasis on that by saying; “I say that you are the
stone and upon this rock I will build My church.” The scripture calls us; members of the household of God, having been built on the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined
together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Eph 2:19-22. Also the bride of the Lamb, the New Jerusalem of Revelations 21
has twelve foundations upon which are written the names of the twelve Apostles and the Lamb. Peter is the first one to confess Jesus
as LORD and because of that Jesus rewarded him with the keys of the Kingdom, he was used to open the open the doors of the
Kingdom with his sermon in Acts 2. Later he was the one to open the door to the Gentiles to be brought into the church in Acts 10.
But was he an infallible Pope, Peter? Five verses later in Matthew Jesus rebukes him; "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to
Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Matt 16:23.This same Peter denied Jesus three times on the
night he was arrested and later at Antioch, Paul had to rebuke him in front of the church for leading some into legalism Gal 2:11-21.
Peter wasn’t infallible but he was given a special place for the establishing of the church, and we are built upon the foundation of the
So now that we are totally confused, just who is the rock? Again as we noted earlier throughout scripture Jesus is the Rock, the Chief
Cornerstone however; if #A, alone is correct you must have Jesus pointing at Peter saying “you are Peter,” then saying “and upon this
rock,” where He stops and points to Himself. No for me it just doesn't fit, both B & C, are more plausible with C fitting better not just
because the revelation comes first, as a foundation comes before the wall, but also it was this revelation Jesus was speaking about
when He changed gears to emphasize Peter. Consider carefully now, what I am about to say, all of these answers are intertwined, yes;
it was Peter, that confessed this foundational truth from that revelation, and yes; if we are confessing Jesus then it is most assuredly
Jesus upon whom we are building. That is why it says that the church is being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets
with Jesus Christ being the chief Corner Stone, because it is upon this revelation of Christ that the church is established. And it is the
apostles and prophets that are the most gifted in these foundational prophetic gifts. Consider what Paul says;
"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles; if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of
God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery… which in other ages was not made
known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: ..To me, who am less than the
least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all
see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through
Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers
in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness
and access with confidence through faith in Him." Eph 3:1-12
2. We noted earlier that Peter was given the keys which speak to the authority to lock and unlock or to bind and loose. Was it just to
Peter or to others as well? Later Jesus is addressing all His disciples when He says; “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and
tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one
or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the
church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that
if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or
three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matt 18:15-20.
This binding and loosing that was given in a special way to Peter for the establishing of the church, is now given to all the disciples and
even to the church itself, for discipline in the church. Ok but how is it to be applied? Well consider how Paul applied it in the church at
Corinth. It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the
Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might
be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present)
him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the
power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of
the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old
leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. I Cor 5:1-8.
Remember Jesus’ words “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for
them by My Father in heaven.” You on earth bind one out of the church not some denomination but the Ekklesia, the house of the
living God and in the spiritual realms of heaven his spirit is bound from fellowship. You on earth loose someone unto Satan and his
spirit is no longer protected from the power of Satan. This whole area of spiritual authority is something that the church as a whole
understands very little about. But notice how well it worked in this mans life; This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is
sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed
up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the
test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I
have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his
devices. II Cor 2:6-11
There is also a broader understanding of what Jesus is telling us, and that is that here on earth, when we are gathered together
corporately with the power of His Spirit our prayers have a multiplied authority to be affective in the realms of the spirit. For when we
gather together it is not simply my faith plus your faith but it is much more because as our faith is encouraged one by the other, our
faith is thereby multiplied one by the other. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of
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