WHOM SAY YE THAT I AM
Matt 16:13-20 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father, which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 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. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. (Also see Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21)
Previously, Jesus was in the city of Bethsaida, where He healed the blind man (Mark 8:22-26). Following this Mark continues by saying that Jesus went with His disciples into the towns of Caesarea Philippi (Vs. 27). This agrees with the lesson text in which Matthew wrote that Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. Once named Dan, this city was rebuilt by Philip Herod and renamed Caesarea Philippi in honor of himself and the emperor of the Roman Empire, Tiberius Caesar. Another reason this city was so named was to distinguish it from the city of Caesarea located on the Mediterranean Sea northwest of Jerusalem.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi (that is, as Mark explains, they were traveling toward, and came near unto the city), Jesus asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? Well aware of the opinions of the priests, scribes, Pharisees, and other Jewish leaders, Jesus wanted to know who the "regular, average men" - the Jewish commoners, thought He was. It reads as if all the disciples answered in unison, but more than likely it was some of the disciples offering various opinions about who they thought He was. Some say that Thou art John the Baptist. This was the thought of Herod Antipas, and probably many others at that time (Matt. 14:1-2). Others said He was Elias (Elijah), as Malachi 4:5, taken literally, could lead some to believe. Even others say that He was Jeremias (Jeremiah), or one of the prophets. Secular history tells us that many Jews believed that when the Messiah came He would be accompanied by some, if not all, of God's inspired prophets. So the opinion of the average Jewish man and woman was varied, but it is evident that very few thought Jesus, of Nazareth, was the promised Messiah.
Jesus then asked of His disciples the same question. Here Jesus asked the question that essentially leads to the great confession - a confession that must be made by all men and women before they are scripturally baptized into the body of Christ for the remission of their sins - whom say ye that I am? Answering first, and expressing the view of the other apostles, as was often the case, Peter said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. This was not a statement of theory in Peter's mind, but that of fact. Throughout the inspired writings of the New Testament, there can be found no more precise and comprehensive confession of one's faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the promised Savior of the world. One of the first things we note in this confession is that God is alive - He is the living God, which establishes His superiority over all things, especially over the inanimate, man-made idols of wood and stone. Not only is He alive, but as our Creator, He is the giver of physical life as well as the hope of eternal life.
Another thing that is evident by the confession of the apostles is the deity of Jesus - He is the Son of God. As proof one has only to read the first few verses of the gospel account of an apostle present on that day (Read John 1:1-14). We can also read of the generational lineage of Jesus that establishes Him as the Son of man (Read Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). Since Simon Peter spoke for the other apostles, Jesus' answer was directed to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father, which is in heaven. "Barjona" means the son of Jona, or Jonas, as Simon Peter is revealed as the son of Jonas in John 1:42, and John 21:16-17.
No earthly human being, having flesh and blood, revealed the truthful fact to Peter that Jesus was the Son of God. Neither flesh and blood revealed this truth to others, then, now, and forever. Jesus' inspired teaching of the gospel of salvation and the compassionate miracles He performed, all came about through the power He received from God through His Holy Spirit. These numerous, irrefutable events that Jesus miraculously performed on earth that prove the deity of Jesus, all originated with His Father, which is in heaven. Therefore, it was God that revealed to Peter, the other apostles, and, at the same time, revealed to all mankind of all generations, that Jesus was, and remains today as the only Son of God.
Immediately following this spiritual truth, Jesus addressed Peter by telling him, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This is the first time that Christ's church is mentioned in the holy scriptures, and it is worth noting that Jesus said "I will build My church." At this point His church had not been established, but at the appropriate time in the future, it would be built.
In this statement of spiritual truth, Jesus also told all present on that day, as well as all that are privileged to read this Holy Spirit-inspired truth today, the very foundation on which He would build His church. Much confusion has been wrought by this statement, not in the process of finding its truth, but in order to justify the man-made doctrines of various "religious" organizations worldwide. Jesus acknowledges the fact that Peter spoke for himself and the other apostles that were present on that day when he confesses Christ to be the Son of the living God. Recognizing him to be the spokesman, Jesus calls him by name referring to him as "Peter." His birth name was Simon, the son of Jona, but when Jesus met him, He gave him a surname, saying that thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone (John 1:42). "Cephas" is the Aramaic name that, in the Greek language, is "petros," or Peter, which means a small single stone. Referring to Peter as a small stone, Jesus continues by saying that upon this rock I will build my church. The Greek translation of the word "rock" is "petra," which means a solid rock, bedrock, a large stone ledge, or a stone mass like a cliff. A small single stone is definitely not a large stone ledge or bedrock.
With these being the different translations of "Peter" and a "rock," it is evident that it is not possible to build the church of Christ on "petros." - a small stone. A firm foundation is necessary; one so strong that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Peter was only one of Jesus' apostles that support His church. Writing to the members of the church of Christ in Ephesus, Paul assured them that the body of Christ founded there, as well as all others, was built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone (Eph. 2:20). Then to what does Christ compare this "rock" when He refers to it as that on which He will build His church? He certainly did not tell Peter that "thou art a small stone, and upon thee will I build My church," as some claim. Indeed, the apostle Peter wrote that every member of Christ's church is a stone (1 Pet. 2:5); Peter was only one stone within many that make up the body of Christ. Instead of being the foundation on which Christ was to build His church, Peter was only a keeper of the keys to that kingdom (Vs. 19), which he and the other eleven apostles opened on the Day of Pentecost following the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Savior back into heaven (See Acts 2:14-36). No, not Peter, but Christ's church was to be built on the complete faith he professed: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.This is the solid foundation on which all Christianity is based. Without it we are not fit candidates for baptism for the remission of our sins; and without that remission, we cannot be reconciled to God, and without that reconciliation, we cannot be added to His church by God as occurred on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-47).
Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. His church would be built when the time ascribed by God was to come, and not before. On this day, Jesus taught His disciples of this explicit event that lay in store for them. Because it was not the time for it to occur, Jesus charged His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.