He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 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. 18 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. Matthew 16:15-18 KJV
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus did not say that He would build His church on Peter, but that He would build it on this fact: That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
The English word “church” is derived from the word kuriakon which means “belonging to the Lord”. It does not mean a building and was never used in the New Testament to designate a building. In the English New Testament the word “church” is used to translate the Greek word ekklesia, which means “an assembly of people”. In some passages, it is simply translated as “assembly”. Ekklesia is derived from two Greek words, ekmeaning “out from,” and kaleo which means “to call.” The Greeks used the word when speaking of their legislature – the people designated and called out to represent their community in the legislature. We are “called out” of the world and gathered together to serve and represent the Living God here on earth and also in Heaven!
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus is putting the emphasis not on the word “Church”, but on the word “My”, as in “I will build MY Church…” The Church is unique, not merely because it is called a Church, but because it is the Body of Christ – an assembly of believers who belong to Jesus!
Jesus is the Head of the Church:
Ephesians 5:23 AMP – For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.
Colossians 1:18 NIV – And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV – But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
In the New Testament, the word “Church” is used to designate the Church in general – the whole Body of Christ – and also a specific local church or assembly of Christians. However, it is not referring to a particular group or denomination.
The local church, in a particular area, is vital to the growth, development and expansion of the Body of Christ in that area. It is important for each of us to be a part of a local body of believers, with people who love and accept us, and also who hold us accountable as we grow in our faith.
Hebrews 10:24-25 AMP says, “And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.”
The mission of the local church is:
- Preaching and teaching
- Making disciples
- Missions and evangelism
- Maturity of the believer
- Ministry in the home
- Ministry to material needs
And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]. He who believes [who adheres to and trusts in and relies on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] and is baptized will be saved [from the penalty of eternal death]; but he who does not believe [who does not adhere to and trust in and rely on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] will be condemned. And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well. Mark 16:15-18 AMP
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV
Mark emphasizes preaching and Matthew, teaching, but they are agreed on the overall role of the Church. The Church’s mission is to get people saved, delivered, healed, baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, and then to take care of them, disciple them, and send them out to continue to do the work of the Church.
The Body of Christ – an assembly of believers who belong to Jesus!