Who is the Rock?
The following verse has puzzled many Christians for many years. Clearly Jesus has changed the name of Simon to Peter (which means a rock), but we also know that it is Jesus Himself who is the foundation rock of the Church, as mentioned many times in the Bible. So who is the rock? Peter or Lord Jesus?
And I say also unto you, That you are Peter (which means a rock), and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
Not Peter Nor Jesus, But the Knowledge of Christ!
I believe this puzzle can be resolved by looking at the context before Jesus made this statement. At that time, Jesus was asking a question to HIs disciples:
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in Heaven. Matthew 16:15-17
Peter answered this question correctly. This knowledge of the true identity of Jesus - is the foundation rock upon which we can gain access into the Kingdom of Heaven!
At that time, people have not yet fully grasped who Jesus was. As His disciples answered, some said Jesus was John the Baptist, some said Elijah, some said Jeremiah, or one of the prophets (Matthew 16:14). Peter was probably the first one among them who has received full revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
When Jesus heard this, He knew the Father has revealed this knowledge to Man on the Earth. This seed (of knowledge) has been planted in the hearts of men, and it cannot be taken away. With growing number of people receiving this revelation, the Church was then ready to be built.
Authority Comes from Knowing Jesus
Where does the authority of Jesus' followers come from? Doesn't it come from knowing who Jesus is? If we do not know the true identity of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, how can we use His name to cast out devils, heal the sick, and raise the dead?
Lord Jesus went on to say,
"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." Matthew 16:19
Since Peter has received this revelation, Lord Jesus can now give him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. As the body (church) of Christ, he can now exercise the authority that Jesus has - to bind, or to loose anyone on earth and in Heaven.
The same applies to us! When we have fully grasped who Jesus is, we can gain access into the Kingdom of Heaven, and we can exercise our authority as believers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.