I Will Build My Church: What Does Matthew 16:18 Mean?


Matthew 16:18, “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.” King James Version (KJV)

TranslationMatthew 16:18
ESVAnd I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
NASB“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
NIVAnd 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.
NLTNow I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

I Will Build My Church: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

16:13-20 Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they were assured of our Lord’s being the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more than man.

Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching of God made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christ added that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stability or firmness in professing the truth.

The word translated rock, is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning. Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other!

Peter’s confession is this rock as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord next declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. He spoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them as well as to him.

They had no certain knowledge of the characters of men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their own conduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way of acceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer’s character and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers and hypocrites.

In such matters their decision was right, and it was confirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either to absolve or retain men’s sins, are blasphemous and absurd.

None can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful.

Matthew 16:18 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

18. And I say also unto thee—that is, “As thou hast borne such testimony to Me, even so in return do I to thee.”

That thou art Peter—At his first calling, this new name was announced to him as an honor afterwards to be conferred on him (Joh 1:43). Now he gets it, with an explanation of what it was meant to convey.

and upon this rock—As “Peter” and “Rock” are one word in the dialect familiarly spoken by our Lord—the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic, which was the mother tongue of the country—this exalted play upon the word can be fully seen only in languages which have one word for both.

Even in the Greek it is imperfectly represented. In French, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, it is perfect, Pierre—pierre.

I will build my Church—not on the man Simon Bar-jona; but on him as the heavenly-taught confessor of a faith. “My Church,” says our Lord, calling the Church His Own; a magnificent expression regarding Himself, remarks Bengel—nowhere else occurring in the Gospels.

and the gates of hell—”of Hades,” or, the unseen world; meaning, the gates of Death: in other words, “It shall never perish.” Some explain it of “the assaults of the powers of darkness”; but though that expresses a glorious truth, probably the former is the sense here.

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