“When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:13-21 – NET)
Unfortunately there are some in the religious world who completely miss the point of the above exchange between Jesus, the Son of God, and his chosen apostle, Peter. They sadly believe that these verses teach that the church of Christ, both locally and universally, was built upon Peter instead of what Jesus actually said the church would be built upon. Peter, along with the other apostles and prophets of God, helped to establish the foundation of the church through his teachings (Ephesians 2:20), but Peter is not the rock of Matthew 16:18 that the church is built upon.
The rock of Matthew 16:18 that the church is built upon is the foundational principle of Jesus’ sonship, not Peter’s apostleship. Jesus is the rock of the church in every way. And keeping things in the context of the above quoted scriptures, how, outside of the Father’s verbal declaration (Matthew 17:4-5; 2 Peter 1:16-19) and the witness of the scriptures of God (Psalm 2; Hebrews 1:1-4), was Jesus proven to be the Son of God? It was by his resurrection from the dead!
“From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:1-4 - NET)
This is why Jesus said the gates of Hades would not prevail or overpower the church’s foundation. Because death itself would not prevent the church from being built! The keys to the entrance of the kingdom were given to Peter (along with the other apostles, prophets and teachers of God) to use to let people into the kingdom, the church – but only Jesus has the keys to let people escape death, and their benefit is enjoyed through a belief in Jesus, the Son of God, and his conquering of death (John 11:25-26; Acts 2:22-41; Romans 10:9-10; Revelation 1:12-18).
This is why the scriptures refer to the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:18-23; Colossians 1:12-18) as the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23) – because Jesus was, is and forever will be the firstborn from the dead, which is the foundational principle of the church’s existence.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness and his victory over the grave as the Christ, the Son of God, and the rest of the church rests upon that rock for that is the rock, the true word of God’s grace, that Peter, James, John, Paul and the rest of the apostles and prophets built the church’s faith upon (Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 1:3). And to attempt to build the church upon any other foundation is to miss the foundation, the true rock, which was revealed to Peter by the Father through Jesus his Son in Matthew 16:13-21.
“We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11 – NET)