The Lord Promising to Build His Church
"The" promise of all promises that God has made is the gift of everlasting life. "And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life" (1 John 2:25). All who respond by faith to this promise of life become part of the church Jesus promises to build. "I will build My church."
The Lord gave this promise after Peter's accurate confession of Jesus being the Messiah. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). As Jesus confirmed this confession, He let Peter know that he did not come up with that insight on his own. "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Then, Jesus contrasted the meaning of Peter's name with the kind of foundation He would lay for His church. "You are Peter [in Greek, "Petros," a stone], and on this rock [in Greek, "petra," a bedrock] I will build My church." Peter's name signified a stone, that which could be easily moved or held within one's hand. Jesus would not build His church on mere men, which at best are like movable stones. Rather, he would build upon a bedrock foundation that could not be moved. He would build upon the rock-solid truth contained in Peter's confession. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would be the actual foundation for the church. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).
This picture of Jesus Christ as the foundation of His church is a fulfillment of one of the great prophetic promises the Lord made long ago. "Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation'" (Isaiah 28:16). Also, this is in perfect harmony with the Old Testament revelation of God as our Rock. "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation" (Psalm 95:1). This rock-solid, anointed King (Jesus, the Messiah) would be fully effective in His mission. Even Satan and his demons, the authorities ("gates") of death and darkness ("Hades"), would be unable to prevent the fulfillment of His promise to build His church: "and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."