“I Will Build My Church”

Matthew 16:18

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it’” (Matthew 16:16-18).

One of the more significant statements in the revelation of God’s plan was Jesus’ promise to His apostles, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). Let us break down this statement and see what Jesus is teaching here.


Jesus is the one speaking here of what He intended to do. It is important that we understand who Jesus is. He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13), and various answers were given – John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets (Matthew 16:14). But the more important question Jesus asked was this: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). No matter what others say or think, we must believe the truth about Jesus.

So who is Jesus? Peter correctly answered that He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He is our Savior (2 Timothy 1:10) and King (John 18:36-37). He is one of the persons of the Godhead (John 1:1; Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:9). Others will have false ideas about Jesus – that He is just a prophet, merely a good man, a wise philosopher, or other concepts that fail to cover the whole truth – but we must believe the whole truth about Jesus. This is vital because Jesus’ identity would be the “rock” upon which His church would be built (Matthew 16:18).


This indicates a future time in which Jesus’ plan would be carried out. The church was not yet in existence, but would be in the near future (Matthew 16:19, 28). But how certain was this plan? Was there a chance that Jesus would fail? We have already noticed that Jesus was God in the flesh (Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:9). As God, it would be impossible for His to lie (Titus 1:2). He was also working along with the Father (John 5:17). Jesus’ plan was certain. He would build His church.

When would this church be established? It is important to understand that the terms church and kingdom were used by Jesus to refer to the same institution (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus said that His kingdom (the church) would come soon – within the lifetime of some of His disciples (Matthew 16:28) – and come “with power” (Mark 9:1). Power would come with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) who came at the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:1-4). It was here that Christ’s church was established (Acts 2:47).


Jesus was going to establish or found a church. He did not come to reform an existing church. He came to establish a new kingdom (Daniel 2:44).

What would this building look like? It would not be a physical building, but a spiritual one. Jesus plainly told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). We are part of a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5) with Jesus as the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6-8), and “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20), and we are the “living stones” that make up the building (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:21-22).


Jesus was going to build a church, but He was not going to transfer ownership to anyone. The church was “purchased” with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). He is “the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23; 1:22-23), and “will reign” over it “forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

Because the church belongs to Christ, He makes the rules and “the church is subject to Christ” (Ephesians 5:24). He has “all authority” (Matthew 28:18). Therefore, we must “observe all that [He] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). Everything we say and do must be done by the authority of Christ (Colossians 3:17). Also, since Christ is the head, we proclaim and promote Him, rather than ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:5).


Jesus came to build His church (Matthew 16:18). This point has been covered already in this brief article. But it is important to remember, not only what Jesus said He came to build, but what He did not come to build. Jesus did not come to earth and die on the cross in order to build a social club, college, charity, day care, or any number of things that we see people adding as extensions to a church. There is nothing inherently wrong with these things by themselves. But the church has a peculiar mission – to proclaim the gospel and build up the members of the body (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:16). We must be content with the work given to the church, carry it out in the way that is authorized, and leave all other works to individuals and secular organizations.

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  1. Wayne D. Teel says

    Excellent thoughts on this passage of scripture and when you break the statement down into single words and look at each one individually they send home the true message Jesus was talking about. Thank you, Andy.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Wayne!

  3. Larry DeVore says

    Since it belongs to Christ, He gets to make the rules of admission. Good article, Andy.

  4. Absolutely right, Larry. Thanks!


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