I am looking for a review on my position on Matthew 16:13-23. I am dealing with a guy who thinks that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. I think it is Peter's confession. (The guy claims not to be Catholic.) Please review this and point out any flaws in my arguments or logic or exegesis. Many thanks.
Matt 16:13-23 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 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. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
First look at the context of this conversation. In verse 13, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” That is the question put to the disciples. Then verse 15 says, “But whom say ye that I am?” Same conversation and the same context are in view, namely who is Jesus Christ. Peter answers, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Good answer. The correct answer. Jesus Himself confirms this. We're all good so far.
Verses 17-19 are where debate is. When Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build this church” what is He talking about? Does this mean that Peter is the rock as some insist? The context would seem to dictate that it the confession itself. Look at verse 20. Jesus is staying with His original topic, namely His identity. Then look at verse 23. Jesus said unto Peter, “ Get thee behind me, Satan”. So is Peter the rock or is he Satan. Neither. What changed in Peter? His confession changed. Christ builds His church on Peter's first confession, but when Peter is appalled by the cross and says, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”, Jesus rebukes it as coming from Satan.
So what about the keys and the church and the remittance of sins? In verse 17, Jesus said, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” So God the Father gave the first confession to Peter. We know that later in this very gospel, Jesus gives the great commission to the disciples and at Pentecost, Jesus delegates the power to accomplish the great commission to these disciples. That is the key to the kingdom of heaven. So what about binding and loosing? Verse says 19 says, “and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Notice the word 'whatsoever'. 'Whatsoever' is not 'whosoever' is it? No, we cannot forgive all sin against God and pronounce salvation. Only God can do that. John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.