The Church Lesson 10: The Foundation of the Church

The ChurchThe phenomenon of the church in the world today, has come at an extremely high price, and should never be taken for granted. That high price was paid for you and me by Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

This single truth is the “rock” that Jesus was referring to when he told Peter after his confession of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:18):

…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Some have attributed this “rock” to be Peter, based on the wording of this one verse:

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

This interpretation ignores the greater context of the conversation that Jesus was having with Peter, where he established the basis or the nature of this “rock” he refers to, which is that Jesus is the Messiah.

Literally Jesus says you are Peter, the name that Jesus gave to Peter when he called him to be his disciple, meaning a rock or a stone. But then he says on this “rock” here meaning a ledge or a cliff; more than just a stone; figuratively meaning a foundation for a building to be erected on. Peter and the other apostles could not have taken the words of Jesus the way some have interpreted them today, because of the context of the conversation and the difference in meaning of the words that Jesus uses.

To attribute Peter to being that foundation doesn’t make sense in the context of the discussion. The foundation is the truth that the Father revealed to Peter: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

The truth that Jesus is the arm of salvation for the Lord is the foundation, the rock that Jesus will build his church on.

Peter verifies this for us in his own writings. 1 Peter 1:10-12:

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Notice that Peter ascribes salvation to the work of Christ, not the works of Peter; the prophets searched to determine when the sufferings of Christ would win the salvation that would bring glory; Peter points to Jesus, not to himself.

Jesus is the chief cornerstone, not Peter, not the apostles. The teaching of the apostles with Jesus as the chief cornerstone, complete the foundation for the building of the church. The teachings of the apostles though are the expounded teachings of Christ. He is the all-important cornerstone that binds the entire building together; and he paid a high and incomprehensible price to establish the church in the world.

The membership in the body of Christ that you and I enjoy has come at a great cost then, to Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.