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Jesus on the right-hand side of God - artist unknown

When  Jesus arrived in the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked, “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied,

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“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by 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 overcome it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Then Jesus ordered his disciples to not tell other people that he was the Messiah.

What the story means to us today

Satan targets the church, but Jesus reveals the Devil will never defeat Christianity

Peter is the first to recognize Jesus as the messiah, the son of God chosen to reveal God’s true plan for mankind. In response, Jesus reveals that Peter will become the foundation of the future church and notes that Satan will never defeat Christianity. As we will see, Satan immediately targets Peter, promoting fear and doubt in the one Jesus says is the basis for the Christian church.

However, as Jesus predicted, Peter ultimately becomes the first to see the resurrected Christ and with the disciples and other early Christian leaders, goes on to lay the foundation for the Christian church. This is accomplished despite Satan’s futile attempt to destroy Jesus’ work.

Satan continues to work today against the Christian church. It’s not uncommon to see congregations invaded by his destructive presence. Remember though, as Jesus foretold, evil will never win over good. Satan will never defeat the church.

Additional thoughts and considerations

John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets

The disciples tell Jesus that people think he is John the Baptist (who has already been executed), Elijah, or Jeremiah. We know Herod Antipas thought Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead and Jesus was similar to Jeremiah who was strongly opposed by religious leaders of his day. Of particular interest, however, is Elijah, whose ministry most closely mirrored Jesus’.

Building the church on the rock of Simon Peter

Jesus says to Peter, “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.”

The name Peter (Petros) is derived from the Greek word for stone (petra) and the Aramaic word “Cephas” which means rock. Jesus knew Simon’s role from the beginning. He gave Simon his name, Simon Peter, when they first met.

Jesus’ statement that Peter is the rock on which he will build his church is profound. As we will see in later verses, it is Peter that denies knowing Jesus three times before his arrest. And it is Peter who is the first to see the risen Christ. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, it is Peter (and James and John) who is considered the pillar of the early church. Thus, as we see in these verses, Peter become the foundation of the church, the first stone laid around the cornerstone of Jesus.

The gates of Hell will not overcome the Church

Jesus tells us that Satan cannot defeat the church. This is important to remember. No matter how bad times may seem or how many small “wins” Satan realizes, evil will never defeat the “church” that Jesus built.

Peter and the keys to the kingdom of heaven

Jesus tells Peter,

“What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Peter is given the power to guide the early Church. All false narratives he reveals on earth will be everlasting and the truths he discovers will become a permanent part of the Christian church.

After Jesus’ death, the disciples (including Peter) will help the early Church gain a foothold. Despite their small numbers, their work births the Christian movement, which will impact human lives from their time on earth to eternity in heaven. Jesus foresees this, the importance of the disciples, and the importance of Peter’s role after Jesus’ death.

The secret of Jesus the Messiah

Jesus refuses to claim the title of “Messiah”. His work with Gentiles has just begun and he has much more to accomplish during his remaining time on earth. He likely does not want to win converts who fear or are mesmerized by a messiah figure. Instead, he wants to win converts just as he does today – via faith. Ultimately, his “title” is revealed to all, not during his miraculous life on earth but rather, after his death and resurrection.

Peter, the first Pope

Jesus tells Simon Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This single line of scripture lays the foundation for the Catholic church who believe this verse names Peter as the first pope. The Catholic church believes that from Peter, successive popes inherit the gift Jesus gave Peter.

The science and history behind the story

Caesarea Philippi

Jesus was in the region of Caesarea Philippi when he asked the disciples who they thought he was. Much archaeological evidence has been recovered from the area. Caesarea Philippi was a predominately Gentile city located 25 miles north of Galilee, near the source of the Jordan River. It was built on a terrace at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon by Herod Philip, Antipas’ brother. Caesarea Philippi was located adjacent to a spring and a group of shrines related to the Greek god Pan. In various ancient literature, the area was associated with a gateway to the underworld.

Notes on Biblical translation

“Messiah”

The many names for Jesus in the Bible may confuse some readers. Messiah is the original Hebrew and Aramaic word for “one who has been anointed”. In Greek, this translates to “Christ”. Thus, Jesus is known as “the one who has been anointed by God”.

Bible Text

NIV

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, e and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The NET Bible

16:13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 16:14 They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 16:17 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! 16:18 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. 16:19 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.” 16:20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

New King James Version

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 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.

18 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. 19 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.”

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

The Message

13 When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17–18 Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

19 “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

20 He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

13 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? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 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. 19 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. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database
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