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Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ

Matthew 16:13-19

13. When Jesus came into the region of Cesarea 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. And 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 did not reveal 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."


While Jesus knew that He was the Son of God and the Messiah, He referred to Himself as the 'Son of Man;' He silenced evil spirits who knew His true identity [1] and also the sick persons whom He healed. [2] There were two reasons for this reserve: the Jews had pinned their hopes on a kingly Messiah and were not prepared to consider a suffering Messiah; truth cannot be revealed through words alone - it takes the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit to touch men's hearts before they can 'see'.


On this day Jesus was alone with His disciples and wanted to start preparing them for His suffering and death on the cross. He first posed an easy, impersonal question in v.13, "Who do men say the Son of Man is?" That the people held Him in respect can be seen from the answers, which ranged from John the Baptist through the prophets. They thus saw Him as a forerunner to the Messiah. However, the many different opinions point to the fact that there is unity only in truth; those who don't hold to the truth usually differ from each other.

In v.15 Jesus got to His actual point and issued the personal challenge, "Who do you say I am?" This question everyone still has to answer for himself today, as the salvation of his soul depends on it. Jesus was not satisfied with the different opinions of the world, but expected a clearer knowledge from those who had been better taught and had had a more intimate acquaintance with Him. Furthermore, the disciples were trained to teach others and therefore it was necessary that they should understand the truth.

Peter rose to the occasion and answered that Jesus was the Christ, "the Son of the living God." In contrast to world opinion, Peter owned Him as the Messiah Himself; the Messiah who was promised as the hope of the world, the fulfillment of every promise, and the answer to every prayer.Furthermore, Peter acknowledges His divine nature in referring to Him as "the Son of the living God" who has life in Himself, and has given to His Son to have life in Himself, and to be "the life of the world." [3]

Peter spoke for the rest of the disciples, as his nature was bold and forthcoming. In this case he spoke well, on other occasions not so well, eg. when Jesus replied to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!" [4] Sometimes, one of the other disciples also acted as spokesman, eg. John [5] and also Thomas, Philip and Judas. [6] Therefore, the fact that Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, does not prove his superiority over the rest of the disciples as the Church of Rome advocates.

Jesus was well pleased with Peter's answer and pronounced him blessed or happy, but gave the glory to God who had revealed this knowledge to him. The Christian religion is a revealed religion, given by inspiration of God and every grace is a gift of God, so that the Christian has nothing in which to boast. [7]

Jesus then continued with "You are Peter {petros} and on this rock {petra} I will build my church"{v.18} Vine defines 'petra' as "a mass of rock, as distinct from 'petros', a detached stone or boulder ... that might be thrown or easily moved." [8] Therefore, although Jesus tells Peter that he is a fragment of the Rock, His church will be built upon the Rock Himself, because Jesus is the only Foundation of the church. [9]


Jesus refers to Peter as a stone or rock, and uses this as an analogy for Himself as the Rock or Foundation of the church. He could have pointed to Himself when He referred to "this rock." In the same way, at the first cleansing of the temple, He said, "Destroy this temple, and in 3 days I will raise it up." [10] Here the Jews thought He was referring to the actual temple and not to His body in the resurrection.

Jesus Himself is also the builder of the church; through the work of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of His Word souls are added to the church as "living stones" while Jesus is the "chief cornerstone." [11] In this sense, as preachers of the Word, the apostles are referred to as the "foundation" upon which the church is built. [12] The first stones of that building were laid in and by their ministry; hence their names are said to be "written in the foundations" of the New Jerusalem. [13] Because Jesus is both the builder and foundation of the church, the latter will be victorious against the "gates of Hades," i.e. the government or power of Satan.

In the Amplified Bible, the words "binding" and "loosing" (v.19) are explained as declaring "unlawful" and "lawful," and thus it is a spiritual power pertaining to the kingdom of heaven that will be given. Not only to Peter, but also to all disciples. [14] These "keys of the kingdom" may be explained as 1) the key of doctrine or knowledge to either prohibit or permit, and 2) the key of discipline which is the application of the former. Jesus did not say that He had given these keys, but that He would give them, i.e. after His resurrection "when He ascended on high" He "gave gifts" to the church. [15]

Even after this conversation, Jesus still required His disciples not to publish the fact of His being the Messiah, because 1) His resurrection would be the most convincing evidence for it, and 2) the disciples had to be prepared for their preaching of this truth through the outpouring of the Spirit. Thus, when Christ was glorified and the Spirit poured out, we find Peter proclaiming from the housetops "that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ." [16]


1. Mark 1:24
2. Matthew 8:4
3. John 6:51
4. Matthew 16:22-23
5. Mark 9:38
6. John 14:5,8,22
7. 1 Corinthians 4:7
8. Vine, p.984
9. Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 3:11
1O. John 2:19
11. 1 Peter 2:5
12. Ephesians 2:20
13. Revelation 21:14
14. Matthew 18:18
15. Ephesians 4:8
16. Acts 2:36


1. Henry, M. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the whole Bible, U.S.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

2. Lockyer, H. Everything Jesus taught, U.S.A.: Harper & Row Publishers, 1976.

3. Murray, A. Like Christ, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.: Whitaker House, 1981.

4. Murray, A. With Christ in the School of Prayer, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.: Whitaker House, 1981.

5. Nee, W. Worship God, New York, U.S.A.: Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1990.

6. Vine, W.E. Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, ?


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Posted in: Bible by on August 31, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

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