Possibly, the most divisive scripture in the entire Bible is Matthew 16:18. Let me note that it was not intended to be such a verse; on the contrary this verse carries a very simple message. Interpretation of this verse has shaped Western civilization and as a result has shaped our world. It matters not if one is a Catholic, a Protestant, a Muslim, a Jew or of some other faith, this verse has impacted your life. The divisions that “misinterpretation” of this verse has created in the world will never be reconciled. Matthew 16:18 (KJV) 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. This wording in the King James Version is probably the closest to how it has been read and understood over the centuries. Below is the major false interpretations of which I speak quoted from the Douay-Rheims Bible which is still often the Bible of choice of English-speaking Traditionalist Catholics according to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Please note the three highlighted phrases, because I will explain them in truth later. 18 "Thou art Peter"... As St. Peter, by divine revelation, here made a solemn profession of his faith of the divinity of Christ; so in recompense of this faith and profession, our Lord here declares to him the dignity to which he is pleased to raise him: viz., that he to whom he had already given the name of Peter, signifying a rock, St. John 1. 42, should be a rock indeed, of invincible strength, for the support of the building of the church; in which building he should be, next to Christ himself, the chief foundation stone, in quality of chief pastor, ruler, and governor; and should have accordingly all fulness of ecclesiastical power, signified by the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
18 "Upon this rock"... The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built: Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same. Where also note, that Christ, by building his house, that is, his church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder, St. Matt. 7. 24, 25.
18 "The gates of hell"... That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself, or his agents. For as the church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, that is, the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or church of Christ. By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the church of Christ
The Roman Church has used these interpretation for the establishment of the Papacy and its doctrines. The Pope, being the successors of the apostle Peter is infallible. The major doctrine is Apostolic Succession. I do not want to spend too much of my time decrying the falsehood of this cult, but I want you to understand how they have used that doctrine in centuries past to eradicate every so-called opposition to the “church.” What I have mentioned above came as a result of the campaigns of the Roman Church. Rome is the last of the four Gentile Powers, and is anti-God in every description. How could a religion bearing its name be pro-Christian? Catholicism is the religion of Rome, not Jerusalem. Jesus forewarned, “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”Matthew 24:5 (NIV) The devil does three things to the Word of God. He adds to it, he subtracts from it, and he alters it. That was exactly what he did in the garden of Eden. He also tried it on the second Adam, the Lord of glory, in the wilderness. He tried his tricks on Jesus three times, but the wise God has suffered His word to be written. Therefore Jesus was able to say all three times, “It is Written,” as to say it is written, you cannot add to it, it is written, you cannot subtract from it and finally, it is written, you cannot alter it.
Anyone who does this deliberately, is clearly a devil. Others are simply blinded by the prince of darkness. Do you ever wonder why are there so many so-called Christian religions or denominations? THOU ART PETER / UPON THIS ROCK
Now for the truth; PETER, the apostle whose name was changed from Simon to Peter was indeed a rock, but he was not THE ROCK. He was a part of the foundation but not the CHIEF CORNERSTONE. Scripture, in so many places teaches us about the Rock. “19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22 (KJV).Does this sound like the church to you?
Peter knew that he was not that STONE, as he tells us, “4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, 8and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” 1 Peter 2:4-8 (NIV)
Peter quoted these words from Isaiah 28:16 and Psalms 118:22. Why has so many failed to
see these scriptures, that it is still being debated today? JESUS CHRIST IS THE ROCK.
Jesus simple waited for the rock to be identified, then made His declaration. If Jesus was talking to Peter, he would have said, “upon you (Peter),” but he was pointing to Himself and the Scripture which testified of Him. Jesus did this right throughout his ministry, pointing them to the prophecies about Him. THE GATES OF HELL No part of this verse bothers me more than the interpretation of this phrase, “the gates of hell.” It simple tells me that many never even tried to find out what it means. It is one the most widely misinterpreted scriptures used by preachers today. We simply assumed that we know what it means. Well, it does not mean that at all. The word hell is the Greek word hades, which speaks of the grave or the abode of the dead. I found one Bible translation that says “the power of death” shall not prevail. This is the right meaning of the phrase. It is a figure of speech. It has nothing to do with Satan or the “forces of hell,” whatever that means. We do not wrestle with the forces of hell; our struggles are with "the powers of the air"- Ephesians 6:12. One again, Jesus points His subjects back to the Old Testament prophecies about Him. 15But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Psalm 49:15 (KJV) 10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:10 (KJV) This is exactly how Peterunderstood it and that was exactly what he preached on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. The church is not a man that he should die and be buried!
Jesus was simply telling His disciples that He (THE ROCK) would be rejected and put to death, but offered reassurance and revealed the purpose of the foundation stone spoken of in prophecy. As Isaiah states it; whosoever believes in Him would not be disappointed. The grave would not prevail, because He is the Resurrection and the Life, and would get up from the grave, and become the capstone of the church. THE CHURCH The church is not the subject of this discussion and neither is the confession of Peter, the foundation. I know that this will shake up many, even many of my very own persuasion. It is even interesting that the very word church was used here. Jesus’ message was a kingdom message, not a church message.The church would come as a result of the rejection of the kingdom message, and was born on the day of Pentecost.It was therefore a new revelation.The disciples did not even know what it was for a while. In the book of Acts, the church was referred to as “the way.” The word “church” comes from the Greek word, ekklesia, which means called out ones. The Lord’s first direct response to the church was in the book of Revelation.The apostle Paul received the revelation of the church and wrote about it in the book of Ephesians.
The church is also not the same as the congregation that was in the wilderness in the Old Testament.Otherwise, it would not have been a mystery as Paul described it. Finally, Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, (not Heaven). He used it to open the door to salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ, when he spoke at Pentecost. He later used it to open the door to salvation to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius and then he was done. Jesus declared, “32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 (KJV).3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:-Ephesians 3:6 (KJV
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38