In Matthew 16:13-20, Simon Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah they’ve long waited for. As a result of his bold faith, Jesus changed his name to Peter (which means “rock”). Jesus then declared He would build His church upon Himself. This radical exchange reveals several things about the church triumphant.
First, we learn that it relies on personal conviction from Jesus, Himself. Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 13:15) We must personally believe in Jesus Christ; not by our mind or intellect, but by divine revelation.
After conviction from God comes confession: Simon Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(v. 16)
A powerful conversion follows: “That thou art Peter…” (v. 18)
And as a result, the church is sovereignly constructed. Jesus said, “…upon this rock I will build my church…” (v. 18) Jesus is the architect, the builder, and the very foundation of the church. He is the one that builds it out of us, living stones (1 Peter 2:5), a group of people redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Notice the singular commission of the church. In verse 19, Jesus said, “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 whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Understand what this actually means: Jesus is saying that Heaven’s will will be done on earth when you use the keys of the kingdom, which is the truth of the Gospel.
Our unchanging responsibility as the church triumphant is to win souls to Jesus Christ.
“…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (v. 18) Remember: Hell is not on the offense and the church on the defense. What Jesus is saying is the very gates of hell, the very domain of the dead, cannot stop the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Adrian Rogers says, “If you say that you’re saved, you will love the church and attend the church. If you say you love Jesus Christ, you will defend, commend, and extend the church.”
Apply it to your life
The profound insight from Matthew 16 can be simplified into two practical instructions for us today: be saved, and be an active member of your church.