In these days of angst and confusion, we must hold fast to our faith that Yeshua has overcome the world, and we are to do the same. It may look like Satan and his minions are gaining the upper hand, but they will not prevail.
Matthew 16:13-18 – “When Yeshua and his disciples arrived at Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But who do you say that I am?’ he asked. Simon Peter replied, ‘You are Ha’Mashiach, the Son of the Living God.’ And Yeshua said to Peter, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the Gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’”
Many prophecies have a dual or multiple fulfillment. This statement of Yeshua’s, or prophecy if you will, is one of them. Let’s examine the possibilities and see if we can determine exactly who or what are the rocks Yeshua mentions:
The Three Common Expositions:
- Simon Peter Is The Rock (According to the Roman Catholic Church)
According to their doctrines, Simon Peter as the rock is the position upon which the Catholic Church has established its authority. This is stated by several sources:
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, #552: “Because of the faith he confessed, Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church.”
— Pope Leo I: “Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles.”
— Council of Ephesus: “Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See in Rome, said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter . . . both lives and judges in his successors.’”
This is the position upon which the Catholic Church has established its authority, but this position is not supported by the Greek text.
Simon is called Peter: Petros in the Greek. The masculine word Petros [G4074] means: a piece of rock; a pebble, a grain of sand, a detached stone or boulder, a stone that might be thrown or easily moved. And an easily moved pebble is exactly what we see with Peter who doubted when he walked on water (Matthew 14:27-31), who denied Yeshua (Matthew 16:23, Mark 8:33 and Luke 4:8, Luke 22:55-60), and who Paul rebuked when Peter acted hypocritically by eating differently when Jews from Jerusalem were present (Galatians 2:11-14).
- The Confession Is The Rock (According to many)
Luke 8:13 – “But the ones on the rock [petra] are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy.”
This position may have warrant. The feminine word Petra [G4073] means: a mass of rock, a boulder, literally a living rock, a bedrock! A feminine petra occurs several other times in the Newer Covenant scriptures:
— the petra of soil upon which belief grows or withers (Romans 8:5-8);
— the petra of rock upon which a house is built (Matthew 7:24-25, Luke 6:46-49).
In essence, Yeshua may have been saying, Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, also called Rocky, (easily swayed pebble that you are) [Petros], for the confession you have made is the bedrock, [Petra] upon which I will build my church.
- Yeshua Himself Is The Rock (According to the Scriptures)
1 Corinthians 3:11 – “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Yeshua Ha’Mashiach.”
Another common position taken by many is that Yeshua himself is the rock, and this has warrant and can be easily supported. There are several scriptures that call Yeshua the spiritual petra, the petra that is Yeshua and a petra of offense:
— 1 Corinthians10:4 – “They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Yeshua.”
— Romans 9:33 – “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense…”
— 1 Peter 2:6-8 – “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone… a rock of offense.”
Yeshua referred to himself as the stone [Lithos G3037] “upon which many would fall and be broken” (Matthew 21:44, Luke 20:18). Isaiah 28:16 calls Yeshua a stone [‘eben H68]: “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.” Daniel 2:35 also calls Yeshua the stone [‘eben H68] “that smote the image, became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” However, lithos and ‘eben are not the same Greek or Hebrew words as Petra, although the metaphors are appropriate.
A Fourth Exposition
- The Ground At Caesarea Is The Rock (According to Yeshua)
Matthew 16:18 – “On this rock I will build my church, and the Gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
The Gates of Hades is the term describing the entrance to the underworld. According to Jewish tradition, the underworld is a gloomy desolate place situated in the center of the earth, the place where the dead reside. Ray Vanderlaan and Rob Skiba both believe, as do I, that this is the rock upon which Yeshua will build his church. Do you agree?
Caesarea Philippi, which stood at the base of Mount Hermon, was perhaps one of the most evil cities of the day. Historically it is the place where Jeroboam built the golden calf. By the time of Yeshua, it had become the religious center for worship of the Greek god, Pan, and was known to the Greeks as the city Panias. The cliff walls above the city, called by scripture the “high place,” had been carved out and dotted with many shrines and temples to Pan, and the cave entrance formed what many considered the gate to the underworld where Pan and the fertility gods lived during the winter. At that time, water flowed out of the cave to form one of the main tributaries to the Jordan River.
For Yeshua to bring his disciples into this arena must have been appalling to their minds. But a lesson was in play – when Yeshua asks them who people said he was, Peter must have been taking in the sights of dozens of statues of Pan, who was thought to be the “god of the shepherds, the son of the living god” and the altar to Pan that stood in front of the cave. Off to the right of this cave was the Fortress of Nimrod. Just to the left was the location called The Gates of Hades!
Peter, perhaps for the first time in history, gets it! He boldly declares, “You, Yeshua, are the Son of the Living God!” To which Yeshua replies, “I will build my church on this petra, and the Gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Yeshua’s church would be built on the petra of Caesarea Philippi, facing the gates of Hades! At that time, gates were the main defensive structure for a city. The gates were meant to keep attackers out. So, when Yeshua tells his disciples he is going to build his church right in front of the literal Gate of Hades, he is declaring that they are to attack evil, to build his church as an offensive agency against the moral and evil corruption of the world – to keep it penned in and on the defense.
Many prophecies have a dual or multiple fulfillment. Yeshua’s prophecy of the rocks is one of them.
— Peter is not that rock, but Yeshua is the rock indeed, the foundation upon which all else stands.
— Abraham is not that rock, though Yeshua is indeed his promised seed.
— The confession is not that rock, though the confession that Yeshua is the rock is made by many.
— The rock soil of Caesarea, in front of the Gates of Hades, is that foundation upon which Yeshua would build his church that would prevail against any attack that Satan could bring against it. Hades will not prevent the righteous dead from rising when Yeshua calls them to resurrect. What do you say?
Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all… for I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Today Yeshua asks you and I the same question he posed to the disciples, Are you willing to confront the evils and corruption of your time? If so, stop hiding in homes, stop hiding in fancy mansions that you call churches, stop hiding in plain sight. Stop being politically correct, stop cringing at truth. For crying out loud, STOP acting as if you are on the defense – it is hell and Hades that are on the defense – you and I are on the offense!
We are on the assault, on the offense, and hell’s gates will not stand before us. Not the other way around, as many suppose. Hell’s defenses are unable to withstand the power of Yeshua’s blood, Yeshua’s name, Yeshua’s word of testimony.