Throughout church history, there has been discussion and debate on exactly what Jesus meant when he said, ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt. 16:28). The cliff face in Caesarea Philippi that was used for centuries in idol worship provides yet another metaphor for the ‘rock’ Jesus mentioned. In this setting, the ‘rock’ can mean the ‘rock’ of pagan values and dead idolatry that was so prominent in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus, then, was saying that his church would replace those values.

Two other viewpoints within the traditional understanding of the meaning of the ‘rock’ are:

1) The ‘rock’ is the confession of Peter that is Christ (i.e., Christ, the Son of the living God, is the foundation of the church. See Acts 4:10-11 and 1 Cor. 3:10-15).2) The ‘rock’ is Peter, whose confession on behalf of the other disciples encouraged the truth that Jesus is Messiah.


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