The Truth about The Rock of Matthew 16:13-18
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 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, “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.”
There has been much debate about who or what the rock is that Jesus promised to build his church on. Some say that it’s the apostle Peter, others say it is the faith of the disciple. Let me suggest what that truth is; it is the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God that comes through the work of the spirit in the believer’s heart that is the true rock (1 John 2;27, 5;10 KJV).
If the rock is Peter or the disciples faith it is based on something that is weak and flimsy. The rock that Jesus is talking about cannot be destroyed or stopped by the powers of hell. It cannot be overcome, overthrown or destroyed because it is the work of God through his Spirit and the everlasting gospel. It is the gospel of God that creates faith in the hearts of those who believe it. The apostle Paul says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 NIV.
This interpretation fits well with the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3 where he told Nicodemus that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God. The new birth is the work of God through the Spirit in the hearts of men and cannot be understood or overcome by the world (John 1:5 RSV, 1 John 5:4 RSV). “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God; children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13 NIV.