On This Rock, who?
Some Christian churches teach that this “rock” was Peter. And, this still germinates and is tightly embraced tenet among well-intentioned and God-loving people. Is this true? A review of the genesis of this teaching has been written up(1).
But, our goal in this post is to use “contextual” analysis and common sense to understand what Jesus meant. Suffice it to say that inherent to spiritual understanding is “spiritual eyes and ears” that is only possible through the presence in man of the Holy Spirit.
To begin with, the basis for this teaching came from an interpretation of:
Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on/upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
What did Jesus really mean “on/upon this rock?
For analysis, one has to evaluate the context which necessitates quoting the predicate in:
Matthew 16:14-20 “And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
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.
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
Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”
From the preceding verses, one can come up with 3 questions,viz.,
1. Who is the Rock referred to?
2. What does it mean, “keys” of the kingdom of heaven?
3. What does ”I will give unto thee”, mean? Was it exclusive to Peter?
4. What does it mean, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven”?
Who is the Rock referred to?
Contextually, remember that Jesus was asking Peter who he was and that Peter testified, as revealed by the Father, that “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Then Jesus confirmed that “upon this rock (foundational Rock, chief cornerstone) I will build my church”.
The following verses specifically explained the context:
1 Corinthians 10:4 ”…and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ”
1 Corinthians 3:11 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”. Meaning that the “foundational rock” is Christ.
Ephesians 2:19-20 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone”
The rock, the foundation and chief cornerstone, upon which the church was built was not Peter, nor any other man, but Peter’s confession identifying the only man-Jesus as the Christ. The “foundation of the apostles and prophets” was Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone”. Man-Jesus is the foundation of the church, not any other man. This man was the “trailblazer/captain-author” of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).
What does it mean ”the keys” of the kingdom of heaven?
Commentaries on this subject have been written but may still be wanting(2). The etymology of the English word translated “keys”, was from the Greek word “kleis” meaning “with the power to open and to shut”. Metaphorically, in the New Testament, “to denote power and authority of various kinds”.
What really is the “klies” to the kingdom of heaven? What power helps us open the door? Going through the fundamentals of going to the kingdom, from incarnation (3) on, there is nothing that defines this route but the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit “opens our mind” to be “renewed” (Romans 12:2) by the Potter (Jeremiah 18:4-6). The Holy Spirit is the “Helper” (John 14:26) that assists to open the door towards salvation. Without the “in-dwelling” of the Holy Spirit, our eyes and ears will still be blind/deaf spiritually.
What does ”I will give unto thee”, mean? Was it exclusive to Peter? (4)
This clearly suggests a future giving, as in ”will”. It was never given before to in-dwell in humans, except into man-Jesus, until Pentecost(Acts 2:1-13). The “keys” of the kingdom of heaven were given to many, not exclusively to Peter, at that time and still being given today, to those predestined to be called at their individual dispensation as “time and chance happen to all”
What does it mean, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven”?
Matthew 16:14-20 should be correlated with: (5)
Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
“These two passages are referring to the same general power. In both cases, something done by the disciples on earth is confirmed in heaven by God.”
The “Rock” is Christ, the cornerstone and foundation of the coming “church” or body of Christ that is still being built, an “ongoing creation”(7). There is no other man as trailblazer, captain, pioneer, source of our salvation. The keys to the kingdom of heaven refer to the Holy Spirit, the Helper, whose in-dwelling in humans empowers them to be “one” with the Father and Son. As guided by the Holy Spirit in them, whatsoever the apostles and those after them will “loose or bind on earth will be bound in heaven”.
God bless 🙏😇
1. Is Peter the Rock? Retrieved 1/19/19 from https://carm.org/is-peter-the-rock
2. Whatsoever thou shat lose on earth. Retrieved 1/19/19 from https://www.churchofgodeveninglight.com/whatsoever-thou-shalt-loose-on-earth-3/
3. Incarnation. Retrieved 1/19/19 from http://fact-s.net/2019/01/04/incarnation-are-we-missing-the-ultimate-purpose-for-i
4. Whatsoever thou shat lose on earth. Retrieved 1/19/19 from https://www.churchofgodeveninglight.com/whatsoever-thou-shalt-loose-on-earth-3/
5. Whatsoever is loosed on earthRetrieved 1/29/19 from http://www.learnthebible.org/whatsoever-is-loosed-on-earth.html
6. What does this verse mean …? Retrieved 1/29/19 from https://bibleask.org/what-does-this-verse-mean-whatsoever-ye-shall-bind-on-earth-shall-be-bound-in-heaven/
7. Ongoing Creation. Retrieved 1/31/19 from http://fact-s.net/2018/06/30/ongoing-creation/
Original Post/Hyperlink: 1/31/2019
Hyperlink reposted 8/24/2020
Critique is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.