Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

On this Rock
Pastor Tom Gnacke
Matthew 16:13-20
Half-way into His earthly ministry Jesus took a break several miles to the north of Galilee to prepare for the second and final phase of His ministry. Among His closest disciples, in a highly pagan region, Jesus posed two crucial questions which would reverberate throughout human history: (1) Who do others say that I am, (2) Who do you say that I am? Rather than capitalizing on His messianic identity, however, Jesus immediately began to talk about building His church (Gk. Ekklesia – called out assembly… usually to vote or hear documents read). To first century Jews, the concept of ekklesia would not have been foreign, but the messianic application would have. They were not looking for a “church,” they were looking for a nationalistic messiah. They struggled with Jesus fitting into a common Jewish agenda. Just before His ascension (Acts 1) the apostles were still confused about this. They were really waiting for a restored kingdom of David. By Pentecost, however, it became clear that this expectation would be fulfilled more at the second coming than the first. In between those two comings… is the church! The church is Jesus’ presence, and the church continues Jesus’ mission until His return. The two opposing forces are this: is the church for me (as in the disciples messianic hopes), or is the church for Him (God’s redemptive hopes for the whole world)? In short, the church is God’s people (laos) gathered around the Word (logos) in the fellowship of the Spirit (koinonia) in submission to the bishop (episkopos) which functions as the body of Christ (His presence) to do the work of Christ (His mission).
• The rock was a very familiar Jewish illustration (not confusing to the disciples). Deuteronomy 32:4 – He is the Rock, His works are perfect, Psalm 18:2 – “The Lord is my Rock and my fortress.”
• There is a play on words here. Petros (Peter, Pierre) means “little stone,” Petra means “large rock.” We are little stones compared to the church.

A. The Rock is Peter’s confession…
1. Unlike previous assertions… Jesus did not have to perform for this answer.
2. The church would be built on people who hear God’s voice (Matthew 11:25)
3. It was not a poll of the people – it was a confession that Jesus was the promised deliverer.
4. Peter’s answer expanded to include Jesus’ humanity (Christ) and divinity (Son of God)
5. Peter himself saw the confession as part of being “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5)

B. The Rock is Peter
1. Because Christ is corporately present, our individual submission goes to the bishop.
2. “We serve God by serving man”… the rock is people… other people…
3. Pentecost – Peter participated led in at least three major outpourings of the Spirit.

C. The Rock is Christ
1. Christ continues to be with us today in the church (Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 12)
2. Christ continues to minister to us in the church (Psalm 73)
3. The mystery of Christ’s body – it both saved the church and is the church
4. We are called to a church that focuses on Christ, not us.
A. The mission
1. Gates of Hades (the greatest and most powerful enemy no longer threatens)
2. Keys to the kingdom (the way of salvation/citizenship is entrusted to the church)
3. Binding and loosing (the church is to continue to destroy the work of the devil)

B. The creed (one holy catholic apostolic church) (John 17)
1. One (our unity comes from above not below)
2. Holy (our holiness comes from above not below)
3. Catholic (our diversity is according to the whole)
4. Apostolic (our call comes from above to the whole)

C. The credo: The church is the people of God (laos) gathered around the Word (logos) in the fellowship of the Spirit (koinonia) in submission to the bishop (episkopos) which functions as the body of Christ (His presence) to do the work of Christ (His mission).

In what ways has the church been Jesus to you? How do you see the church of Jesus Christ world-wide as “one” church? What would be your personal credo of the church?


Return to Sermon Notes