What Is Church Wk 1 notes

Here are my complete notes from week one of our weekly Bible study titled, What is Church?

  • Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.”
  • "And I also say to you that you are Peter…”
  • Why did Jesus say this to Peter?
    • Jesus started by using Peter’s given name, Simon. Then He goes on to call him Peter. Why?
      • Peter had just identified Jesus as the Messiah. Peter had revealed the true nature of Jesus. In reply Jesus reveals the true nature of Peter. 
      • It’s as if Jesus was saying, “Even as you have rightly said that I am Messiah, I also call you Peter.”
      • Jesus acknowledged that even as He is both Jesus and Messiah, Peter is Simon and Peter (the rock).
    • Peter (Petros) = smaller rock. Refers to a specific rock. Like the rocks that have broken loose from a cliff and now sit at the bottom. They are related to the cliff, but are not the cliff.
    • Rock (Petra) = a rocky cliff, bedrock, like the cliff that the smaller rock comes from. 
    • If Jesus had intended to say that the church was to be built on Peter, or even on people like him, then He could have said “…and on you I will build My church.” Instead He wanted to show that the church was built on something bigger, stronger, more permanent, than even the apostles. The truth is that the apostles all died. The churches that they started have long since died and others have taken their place. 
    • The form of the word, Petra (refer to slide, words) indicates that Peter (Petros) comes from the bigger rock (Petra).
    • Interesting to note that if Peter is a product of the larger rock, then that same foundation can produce others like him. This tells us a couple things
      • They can’t refer to the same thing because you couldn’t build from the smaller rock, but you can from the bigger.
        • Even as the larger rock produced Peter, so can it produce others like him. Who are the would be Peters around us, or among our numbers?
    • Some say that the Rock that Jesus says He will build His church on is Jesus, Himself. Others say that the rock is Peter’s confession of Christ.
    • Either way, I believe it is safe to say that Peter, or the apostles, were not the foundation upon which the church would be built. Peter and the others did lay the first blocks of what would be come the church, but that doesn’t make them the foundation. In order for them to lay those first blocks they had to have something on which to build. They had to have a foundation. 
    • “I will build my church
    • Having talked of the foundation on which the church will be built, Jesus then says “I will build my church.”
      • “I will” - We often think that it is our job to build the church. Certainly we have work to do, but as Paul wrote, “I plant and Apollos waters, but God provides the increase.” It is our job to listen intently to the instructions of the Holy Spirit and to be obedient. So, what is the work we have to do? That’s a study for later.
      • Some say that the foundation that Jesus says He will build his church on is Jesus, Himself. However, can He be both builder AND foundation? Perhaps, Perhaps not.
      • “build” = oikodomeo
      • This means what we think it means, with one exception. it comes from the base work “oikos”. Oikos refers to a dwelling intended for a family. So, oikodomeo means to build a dwelling intended for a family. 
        • Matthew 23:39 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharasees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous.”
        • Matthew 26:61 “This man said, ‘I can demolish God’s sanctuary and rebuild it in three days.”
        • Mark 14:58 “We have heard Him say, ‘I will demolish this sanctuary made by human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands."
        • Luke 11:47 “Woe to you! You build monuments to the prophets…"
        • Luke 11:48 “…and you build their monuments."
        • Luke 12:18 “I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones…"
        • Luke 14:28 "For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost…”
        • Luke 14:30 “…This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish."
        • Acts 7:49 “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me?"
        • Romans 15:20 “My aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation."
    • “My Church” - while it is good to feel as sense of ownership related to “our church” we must never forget that the church belongs to Jesus. When we think too much about it being “My church”, then the tendency is to make it all about us. If we can remember that it is Jesus’ church then we can more easily make it about Jesus and about people other than ourselves.
    • Church = The whole point of this study is to look at what this word means and what the Bible says it is or should be. But, let’s come back to that one. Lets look at the rest of this verse first.
    • “and the forces of Hades will not overpower it”
    • We spend so much time worrying about the world around us and the effect it might have on the church. In these words is a promise that the very forces of hell will not overpower the church. As we seek to define what CHURCH is, let’s keep this in mind. No matter what happens to us, the forces of hell do not have power over us.
      • Other translations = “The GATES of hell.”
      • Defensive: We often read this and take comfort in the fact that Hell can not get us. But, gates have two purposes. You put up a fence and gate to keep those that are inside from getting out and to keep people from getting in.
        • To say that the gates of hell will not prevail over the church implies an offensive posture, not a defensive one. If this was simply about DEFENSE, then it would say that the forces of hell could not prevail over the gates of the church. The gates mentioned in this verse are not intended to protect us from hell’s forces. Rather it speaks of gates intended to defend the forces of hell from the church. 
        • Think of a mighty fortress with large gates of iron and wood. 
        • Some say that this refers to the future, the end times, not now. Even with that there is comfort for the church today. Because we all move and work towards that day. Even if this only refers to the end of days, there is comfort in knowing that, in the end, we win. However, I believe that this refers to an ongoing war between the church and the gates of hell. 
        • Point of entry: Gates are not only defensive, designed to keep people out. They are also a portal of entry, designed to welcome people in. The “gates of hell” are both. 
        • Gates designed for defense are often large, imposing, intimidating. However, gates designed to welcome people in are generally attractive, welcoming.
        • The gates of hell are designed to be very attractive. 
        • Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life and few find it.”
          • Many will chose the easy gate that appears to be more attractive, but leads to destruction.

Questions:

  • If Peter (Petros) was a product of the bigger rock (Petra) which is the foundation, could not the same foundation produce others like Peter?
  • Who are the would be Peters around us?
  • Does God Want YOU to be a Peter?
  • If Jesus is going to build His church, what is our job?
  • If the church is truly Jesus’ and not mine, how should that effect the way I think, feel, behave? Are there things that most churches do that should be different because of this?
  • Do I live as if I BELIEVE that the forces of Hades will not overpower the church?
  • If the “gates of hell” are defensive, what should the church be doing to “attack” them? What should I be doing?

Questions for next week:

  • What is church?
  • What comes to mind when you are asked this question?