I have always had a question in my mind about Matthew 16:18. “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.” Perhaps some of my misunderstanding comes from my Catholic background which always said Peter was the pope, but that is not the part I had questions about. I have long ago discarded the Catholic teaching as the truth of this passage. This scripture is about so much more.
In the context of when Jesus says this, He has just asked the disciples who men said He was. Then He asked, Who do you say I am? He was asking this question of a group of men who had been with Him for some time. They were witnesses to all of the supernatural events that followed Him. I have spoken of these elsewhere. In response, Peter blurted out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16.
That was the right answer! Jesus commended him for it, saying that Peter was blessed because he had not learned that from a man, but from the Father in Heaven. He then goes on to state in the above passage, that on this rock, which was revelation from Heaven, He would build His church. It is the revealing from Heaven of the truth that is the “rock” in this passage. When a person receives this type of revelation about anything from God’s Kingdom, it convinces them. When God reveals something to you, you are not easily shaken from it. You know down in your “knower,” your heart, that this is TRUTH. We need this certainty in our lives. This is what Peter encountered in this incident. The Spirit of God revealed to him personally in his heart, that Jesus was the Christ, the One sent from God. He was convinced and Jesus commended him for that.
The Passion Translation of this scriptures gets more specific about this particular revelation from Heaven being the rock, saying “I give you the name Peter, a stone. And this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church–my legislative assembly, and the power of death will not be able to overpower it!”
So this “rock” of revelation from Heaven or “the truth of who I am” is what the gates of hell shall not prevail against. This truth is unmovable. It has always bugged me, though, because the word prevail, in my mind, seems to be an offensive term. It speaks to me of moving forward and attempting to do battle with something. It is true that hell does oppose the teaching and the receiving of the Word of God. Jesus talked about how when the word is taught, opposition comes to steal it from those who hear it. This opposition challenges us with, “has God really said?” Can this be really true?
But gates are a stationary item; they don’t assault anyone. They, in and of themselves don’t move. They hold things in. They guard and protect territory. Recently I heard a teacher say that…then the skies parted and the heavens opened…and I saw it.
Gates are stationary; they keep things in. But Jesus said the gates guarding territory held by dark forces cannot prevail, remain standing, or win, or prove superior against a church that is ADVANCING, moving, pushing forward with truth to take that territory (meaning persuading people) in the culture. In other words, those gates will not stand when the church says, no, we will not concede defeat to the devil’s works of darkness in our culture. We will not concede to ungodly teaching in our schools. We will not concede to ungodly laws and rules and edicts put on us. We will not concede to lawlessness. We will oppose it.
The CHURCH is supposed to assault the gates of hell through prayer, speaking out, and doing the actual works of Jesus, and these gates which are guarding the darkness will fold and crumble because they cannot prevail, they cannot stand against the onslaught of righteousness and truth. This is what I believe Matthew 16:18 is speaking of. This is what was revealed from Heaven to me. It makes all the sense in the world now.