Theme: Our Foundation 
In this week’s lesson we reveal the Rock of the Church.
Matthew 16:17-20
“Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to
you by man, but by my Father in heaven. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” “Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.”


In Peter’s sermon to the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8-12), Peter does not suggest that he is the rock upon which the church is built but insists that the foundation stone is Jesus Christ. Peter proves his point by three Old Testament quotations, the first of which we have already examined.
2. Psalm 118:22. To those who believe, Jesus has become “precious” Yet that is not the only response to Jesus that is possible. It is also possible to reject him. This is the third of the ideas Peter introduced in verse 4 (“rejected by men”). He proves it by this second quotation.
Jesus had applied Psalm 118:22 to himself during his earthly ministry. So Peter had probably learned to interpret the verse this way from Jesus, Jesus had told a parable about farmers to whom the owner of a vineyard had leased a field. They were to care for it and give the owner his share of the profit when the time came. The owner sent servants to collect his profit, but the tenants beat, stoned and killed them. Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking they would respect him. They killed him instead. Jesus then asked the chief priests and scribes to whom He was telling the story, “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
They answered, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” This was the right answer, of course. But Jesus then applied it to himself by quoting these important verses from the psalm: “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone the builders rejected 
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes?” 
(Matt. 22:33-42)
There can be no question about how Jesus understood these verses. God was the owner of the vineyard. The leaders of Israel were the evil tenant farmers. The servants were the prophets, and the son who was killed was Jesus himself, the Son of God. Therefore, He is also the stone rejected by the builders who was to become the capstone of all true religion and Christianity. Peter also cites Psalm 118:22 in Acts 4:11.
3. Isaiah 8:14. In the last of his Old Testament quotations Peter returned to Isaiah again, using Isaiah 8:14 to add the thought of stumbling to the prior thought of rejecting Jesus. He meant that rejecting Him is no small matter. It has a very serious consequence, which is to fall down spiritually or be lost forever.
Clearly, Peter seems to have understood that the church was to be built on Jesus, and he nowhere claims or even suggests it could be otherwise. He would be the last of all people to suggest that he was the foundation.
What about “the gates of Hades” not being able to overcome Christ’s church? Not as much rides on the meaning of these words as on the meaning of “this rock,” but there are several different interpretations nonetheless. The most common view is that “the gates of Hades” refers to attacks on the church by Satan and his demonic forces and that this is a promise that Satan will not succeed but fail. The problem is with the word “gates,” which would be a strange way to refer to an attacking army. It suggests a defensive situation, and the natural way of understanding it would be that Hell will not be able to resist the forces of the church when the church is assaulting it. Unfortunately, although the Bible recognizes the reality of spiritual warfare, it does not speak of evangelism in those exact terms.
The other understanding of these words is that they merely refer to death since a common Jewish way of referring to death is to say that it means passing through Hell’s gates. If this is what Jesus means, the idea would be that not even death, whether in its natural one-by-one form or in times of great mass persecutions and slaughter of Christ’s people, would be able to destroy the church Christ is building.
In any case, the idea is that in spite of any attacks upon it from any quarter whatever, the church will be invincible. And the reason it will be invincible is that it is built upon Christ. I would suggest that this supports the view of “this rock” that I have taken. For we remember that when Satan requested permission to blow on Peter at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter was able to recover only because Jesus took care of him and prayed for him. Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32). It was because Peter was himself founded on the rock that he survived the temptation.


How did Peter learn to interpret Psalm 118:22?
What third Old Testament quotation does Peter use? To make what point? – Explain the various views of Jesus’ reference to the gates of Hades.
Why will the church prove to be invincible?


What assaults have you witnessed upon Christ’s church? What has been the result?


Pray for your church members and fellow believers that they will be strong during Satan’s assaults, and that their faith will not fail.

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