Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 16:18-27

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The Promise of the Church – Matthew 16:18-19

Simon Peter has already been shown to be the leader of the disciples (Matt. 10:2-4) and will take this role in the early church as well (Acts 1:15; 2:13; 3:1-6, 12; 15:7). Jesus gave Simon a new name, Peter, which means "rock," because like Abraham in the OT (whose name was also changed, cf. Gen. 17:5), Peter will play a special role in God's work in the world. Jesus is the cornerstone and Peter and the other apostles form a rock foundation. Jesus also promised that the church that he was forming will be strong and prevail over death and Satan, even as Jesus himself will (Matt. 4:1-11; 28:1-10).

Gates of Hades – Matthew 16:18

Gates of Hades. The "gates of Hades" represents death and the power of Satan. See WCF 25.5; BC 27; HC 54, 123.

The keys of the kingdom – Matthew 16:19

Keys of the kingdombindloose. Keys refer to Peter's appointed role as a leader in Jesus' church to administrate, provide for, and oversee the ministry of the gospel of the kingdom. Similarly, in Isa. 22:22 God appointed a special steward to have "the key of the house of David," enabling him to open and shut doors, that is, to have authoritative responsibility. The same language of Matt. 16:19 is used again in 18:18 to refer to the whole church's responsibility to determine who is a part of the faithful church and who is not. This shows that that this authority does not reside only in Peter himself but with Peter as a representative leader within the church. See WCF 23.3, 30.2; WLC 108; HC 83, 84.

The suffering servant – Matthew 16:21

He mustsuffer many things … be killed … be raised. This is the first of three times that Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to suffer, be killed, and then rise from the grave (Matt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). This verse also indicates a turning point in the story, with Jesus intentionally heading toward Jerusalem for the final stage of his ministry. Jesus' suffering and death fulfill what God said in Isaiah about the coming Suffering Servant who would take humanity's sins upon himself and bring about God's renewed reign upon the earth (Isa. 52:13–53:12).

Get behind me, Satan! - Matthew 16:23

Get behind me, Satan! Peter and the other disciples have come to believe fully in Jesus as the Messiah and God's Son (Matt. 16:16). However, they did not yet understand that to complete God's work Jesus the Messiah and Son must endure suffering, death, and then resurrection (Matt. 16:21). Peter represents this imperfect understanding of the Messiah's role in the world and gets reproved by Jesus, seeing behind Peter's words the temptation of Satan (4:1-11) for Jesus to take glory upon himself without first obediently suffering.

His cross – Matthew 16:24

Take up his cross. This looks ahead to how Jesus will die, crucified on a Roman cross. This becomes an important Christian image for following Jesus faithfully in the midst all different kinds of suffering.

Rewards according to deeds – Matthew 16:27

Reward every person according to what he has done. Jesus' teaching here is part of a repeated theme of reward and recompense in Matthew (5:12, 46; 6:1-21; 10:41-42; 20:8). This theme is part of the same message of discipleship that Jesus has been teaching, that Christians are the ones who do God's will (Matt. 12:50) and thus will be honored according to their faithfulness. See also the teachings about faithful and wise servants (Matt. 24:45-51) and the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30).

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