The Vine: A Christian Church

What Jesus said about His Church

“Jesus Said”

What Jesus to His Followers

“About His Church”


Michael Wiley

Matthew 16:13-19


Each year, Outreach Magazine does an issue called “Outreach top 100” they list the 100 largest churches in America and the 100 fastest growing churches in America.

Topping for the fifth year in a role was Lakewood Church in Houston with 43,500 attendants, followed by Second Baptist Church in the same city with 23,659.

Of course we are close to Willow Creek which is number 4 at 22,500, (Outreach Magazine Sept 2008)

Even though the size of the American church says something of her strength, the influence and ministry of the church is more important than the size of the church.

The churches listed in Outreach’s 100 are “above average” the average church in America still hovers around 100.



We are on our tenth message in the series “Jesus Said.” We are focusing a few weeks here on what Jesus said to His followers, and particularly today what he said to His followers about His church.

Turn to Matthew 16:13-20 --- grab your point guides --- stories about the PGs.

We want to break this down:


Read 13-14

Who? – Not that Jesus was unaware. He knew full well what people were really saying.

I think he was encouraging the Disciples to work through the answers as they were telling him. You’ve got to dissect all the options.

You don’t buy a car (our shouldn’t) without looking at several. You’ve got to kick a few tires before you lay out the cash or sign the loan.


Jesus said in Luke 14, that we should “consider the cost” before following Him.

What were the people saying?

John had been beheaded by now and some of them thought he was John the Baptist Reincarnate. Others thought he was Elijah, still others thought he was the great prophet Jeremiah --- all of them note: ---- people who would prepare the way for the Messiah. But so many couldn’t get their brains around the truth that Jesus was the Messiah come to redeem the world.

Many people today, will call Jesus a great prophet, teacher, sage, but fall short of acknowledging Him as Lord.

Of course His initial question was a lead in question—right. Jesus really wanted to know what they thought about Him.

READ 15-16

Peter, as he did many times spoke for the rest, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!..” ---- Greek ---- Aramaic ---- doesn’t matter the language. He was acknowledging Jesus, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth as the “Son of God,” the Savior of the world.


The Apostles had been with Him for three years. They had vacillated between times of great faith and times of great doubt. Now at last the truth of Jesus’ divinity was firmly planted in their minds.




Jesus then lays out His plan for the church before them

READ 18-19

Jesus lays the foundation first.

Now we want to look at this passage closely

For over 1500 years the Roman Catholic Church has used this passage to teach that the church was built in the person of Peter, making him the first pope and bishop of Rome. So, each pope thereafter is in succession of Peter and is considered the supreme authoritative representative of Christ here on earth.


That is a gross misinterpretation of this passage and the rest of the New Testament that clearly says, Christ alone is the head of the church.

So what does this passage say?

The biggest question is, “What is the ‘rock’ Jesus is referring to?”

Jesus said, “You are Petros, and on this Petra, I will build my church.”

Petros (Peter) = Small rock or stone.

Petra = Large rock or Mt. Peak

What is the Petra? Could it be Peter? Two things tell us it is not. One, the rest of the NT. Two, Petra is a feminine word. Greek words a masculine, feminine and neuter.

So, Peter is a small stone, but the Mt on which Jesus will build His church and the antecedent of petra is “Peter’s confession.”


We could say that Peter was speaking for the 12 and Ephesians 2:20 says that the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets…”

And in the same breath pointing out that Jesus is the head of the church by referring to Him as the “chief cornerstone.”

BUT, Ephesians is referring to the message they carried, “THE GOSPEL” as the foundation.


The foundation is the gospel message of Christ.


After Jesus lays the foundation, he tells us who the builder is--- “I will build.”


Jesus is the builder of the church.

We are called to work. We are called to spread the gospel, but it is Christ who builds.


Then Jesus tells us who the owner is--- “I will build MY church.”


Jesus is the owner of the church.

Note too, that this is the first time we see the word church in the Bible. The word in the NT Greek is “ekklesia” which literally means, “the called out ones.” It could speak of any group of people that have been called out for public assembly.

So it is very important to understand that “the church” is Christ’s people and has nothing to do with buildings

Then Jesus says something that when misinterpreted leaves us very vulnerable when under Satan’s attack.


He says, “The gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Now, you’ve heard many a pastor scream this passage from the pulpit and dangle it in Satan’s face, but we need to make sure we understand what Jesus was saying.

We have to go back to the KJV who translated the word Hades, “Hell” and in so doing screwed up our theology on the subject. Jesus used the word “Hades” which s Greek for the grave, not hell. The NKJV corrected the error and most contemporary translations translate it correctly.

Gates are not an offensive weapon to bring an attack on the church. Gates keep things in.

Jesus is saying here that the gates of the grave will not hold the church, “Christians.”

In 1 Cor 15, Paul mocks death when he quotes from Hosea,

"Where, O death, is your victory?
      Where, O death, is your sting?"

1 Thess 4:16

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

You see, when wrongly interpreted we might get the pompous idea that the church as an institution will never fall.

Jesus isn’t saying that. Fact is the NT tells us that Satan is after the church from the outside in and from the inside out. He is out to destroy us.

And many a church lay on the burial grounds of Satan over the years.

American church history is riddled with stories of the mega churches of the 20s and 30s, who are very small today or don’t even exist any longer.

Lakewood church is still the largest church in America, but is down 5,000 people from last year. Willow Creek Community Church is down 1,000. Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is down by almost 3,000.

One of my favorite mega churches, Granger, in South bend IN, laid off eight staff members recently due to financial struggle. Some of them had been on staff more than 10 years. (http://www.christianpost.com/church/Polls_reports/2008/09/outreach-100-largest-and-fastest-growing-churches-in-america-27/index.html)

You have our situation in spelled out in your bulletin today.


Listen, I said all this to say, don’t think for a minute that you’re church or any church for that matter is immune from health issues even fatal ones.


So, Jesus isn’t saying, “the church as you know it will never fall.”

According to a recent AP report published by ABC News citing multiple studies, "nearly half of American adults [are] leaving the faith tradition of their upbringing to either switch allegiances or abandon religious affiliation altogether," [o]ne in four adults ages 18 to 29 claim no affiliation with a religious institution.”


He’s saying you the church, have no need to fear.

You will overcome! The gates of Hell have no power over you.


Church – you have the keys to the Kingdom – the gospel message. ---- too blank slide

The loosening and binding here were contemporary phrases in Jesus’ day to speak about law and grace. We have the word of God which has the power to exclude or permit entrance in to Heaven


I wrote this in our discussion group this week:


There are thousands of churches in America of all sizes shapes and
Many are still very traditional in their worship and approach to
discipleship, many have moved into the contemporary realm.
My father and late mother attended two churches in 50 years.
The first church was where my father was baptized after he married my
mother. They were there a good twenty years until a grave issue hit
the church (I was too young to understand), and almost half the church
left (including the preacher).
From there they went to a new church work, and have been there for
over 25 years.
In that time the church has seen four preachers and several youth
They have seen many families come and go. They grew to 300 and back to
60, then (currently) about 350.
They have moved church buildings two times--- once when the state
bought their land for Interstate 65 and once when the city bought up
all the houses around them and surrounded them with Industrial
buildings. If you take a close look at the church you can count the
number of families there since the launch on one hand. And among
them---- my dad.
I assumed I could tell you why my dad spent so long at a church but
before I put words in his mouth, I called him.

"Dad, you've been at only two churches in 50 years. Families come and
go for all kinds of reasons. You are there Sunday after Sunday, Year
after year, Why?"


"I'm committed, not only to Christ but to His church, not only in the
good times but the bad."


I like that word!

Jesus established His church over 2000 years ago now. He turned it
over to 11 men who knew that word. They enlisted one more to replace
the betrayer and together turned the world upside down.

Here's to the Committed!  -- Here’s to Jesus who said, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it!”

Read More