Shalom! My name is Adam Pastor

Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!

Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.

And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD


Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Son of God and The Gates of Hell by Keith Dyer

What follows is another wonderful article by Keith Dyer which contains a most excellent exegesis of the meaning of Matthew 16:18 -
upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Son of God and The Gates of Hell

Matthew 16:13-21 (ESV)
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 
Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

This passage of Scripture represents a turning point in the ministry of Jesus, as well as one of the most controversial, and debated of his sayings. The turning point comes in verse 21 when Jesus began to talk to his disciples about his death and subsequent resurrection. The controversy and debate arise from the question of what is meant by "on this rock I will build my church." But it seems to me also that even more controversial and debatable is the question, what did Peter mean when he said "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" , and what are "the gates of hell".

Peter's Confession

When asked by Jesus, "who do men say that I am?" the answers were varied, but generally considered him a prophet. But when he said "who do you say that I am?", Peter spoke up with confidence and conviction, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". The fact that “you” is plural in the text indicates that Jesus did not direct his question to Peter alone; however, true to his impetuous nature, Peter is the one who opened his mouth and blurted out the answer… inspired by God as it turns out! The traditional interpretation of this phrase attributes Peter as recognizing Jesus' full Divinity. In other words, Peter recognized Jesus as not merely the Christ, but "the Son of the Living God" hence, God the Son. But this interpretation dangerously reads into the text something that is not there - a preconceived notion based on the accepted doctrine of the Trinity. There is no ground whatsoever for inverting the title Son of God into God the Son … the Bible never does it!

These titles, Son of God and God the Son, are not the same and, in fact, have completely different meanings. In the first place, the title “Christ” is the equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah, meaning "king, anointed one, or chosen one". Christ is not descriptive of Deity, but representative of Deity! The Hebrew kings of old were messiahs; they were anointed of God, chosen to represent God to the people. Secondly, in Old Testament passages such as 2 Sam. 7:14; Psalm 2:7; and Psalm 89:4,26-28, the concept of “son” is also synonymous with Messiah, and this is surely what Peter meant when he called Jesus the Son of the Living God! As Christ, he is the anointed one of God; God’s representative, the coming one of promise. The title Son of God means essentially the same thing but more fully expresses his unique relationship to the Father as the only begotten of God. Neither of these designations though are descriptive of, or even suggestive of Deity.

Further, note how the parallel passages read. Luke 9:20 says, "You are the Christ of God", while Mark 8:29 says simply, "You are the Christ". To ascribe Deity to Jesus because of the addition of the term Son of God in this passage is a leap from the clear meaning of the text. Also, it should not be overlooked that Jesus blessed Peter for his bold confession saying "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven." Do we really want to argue with what God revealed to Peter? Peter's revelation was consistent with the Scriptures regarding the identity of Messiah, and nowhere does the Bible teach that Messiah would be God, 2nd Person of a Trinity, or otherwise. And so, the Father fully revealed to Peter the truth about His Son, and Jesus required no further explanation from him. The teaching of progressive revelation, that God revealed himself as triune in nature over time, does not serve truth, but only gives license to theologians to change the text and attribute their own twisted meaning to Scripture.

One last observation should be pointed out here. In verse 20 Jesus himself affirms his identity as “the Christ” and charges the disciples not to make it known. If in fact the phrase “Son of the living God” goes beyond the meaning of Christ and attributes Deity to Jesus, wouldn’t that have been the focus of Jesus charge of silence to his disciples? After all, how much more of a shock would it be to learn that they were in the presence of Almighty God in the flesh? Yes, I think Jesus would have told them not to tell anyone he was God, because they certainly were not ready for such a revelation yet. But that’s not what he did, he charged them not to tell anyone he was the Christ! Even Trinitarian scholars know that the disciples had no concept of a Triune God at this time. It is not sound reasoning to think that God the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was also God! Let’s wake up! Jesus, by his own admission, is the Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed One; all synonymous with “Son of God”! I think it is much better to agree with Jesus. 

Let God be God, and let Jesus be the Son of God!

Who/What is the Rock?

Jesus answered Peter's "You are the Christ" with "You are Peter". In Greek, Peter is "Petros", meaning rock, or stone. But when Jesus said "and on this rock" he used the word "petra" rather than "Petros". Petra is the word for a large rock, as found in Jesus parable about the man who built his house on the rock, rather than on sand. (Matt 7:24). The question here is 'to what or who was Jesus referring when he said "upon this rock I will build my church"? Was the rock Peter himself, or something else?'

The rock upon which the church is built is the truth revealed by God, and confessed by Peter that, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The Church is founded on the confession that Jesus is God's Son, the Christ, and that he was sent to show us the Father and ultimately become the sacrifice for our sin. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. It is confessing with the mouth that he is Lord, and believing with the heart that God raised him from the dead that affects our salvation. When I first became a Christian I was told that my sin offended God and that Jesus died to satisfy that offence. Jesus, as God's Son, was sacrificed on my behalf so that I might have a relationship with God through him. The doctrine of the Trinity was taught later. At no time was I ever told I must believe that Jesus is God in order to be saved! And I submit that it is the same for multitudes. It is after entrance into the the Church by confession of Jesus as the Son of God that the language of Scripture is changed so that Jesus becomes "God the Son", 2nd Person of the Trinity, equal to God the Father in every way yet not a second God but somehow, mystically, three persons in One God
But in spite of the fact that teaching about the person of Jesus and his relationship to God has been distorted by Greek philosophy introduced into the Church in the early years, the Church continues to grow on the basis of Peter's confession.

The Gates of Hell

This church, which Jesus identifies as "my church", will not be stopped or hindered by the "gates of hell". This is good news no matter how you interpret, but to what exactly was Jesus referring?
I was reading an introduction to a study on the book of Acts prior to writing this article in which the author referred to Matthew 16:18. His sense of the meaning was that the devil and his armies would have no power to hinder the advancement of the Church. In other words, that author, like the majority of the protestant christian church, understands “gates of hell” as referring to the powers, or forces, of the devil. The fact that Jesus assures us that they will not prevail is a strong affirmation of his power, and our ultimate victory. This is a wonderful truth! However, though I am well aware that we Christians are engaged in warfare against the forces of evil (Eph 6), and we have power over them in the name of Jesus, I don’t believe this passage has that intended meaning. Yet, in my nearly 40 years of being a Christian, I can’t recall a single sermon or teaching to the contrary!

I began writing this on a Sunday evening and just that morning our associate pastor made reference to Matthew 16:18 in his sermon. His take on it was a little different. To him, the gates are not representative of power, they are not weapons. Therefore, in Christ, we have the power to break down and overcome every obstacle that would stand in our way of advancing the Church. We have been assured of victory as we storm the gates of hell. I agree that gates are not weapons, but once again, the central idea in his interpretation is the supposition that the forces of evil are in hell! But where does that idea come from? The Bible I read reveals that the devil is the “god of this world”; “the prince and power of the air”, and that his demons are the evil angels, the “principalities and powers that dwell in the heavenlies.” (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 6:12;).

The answer to our question, what is meant by “gates of hell”, is obvious, I think, if we take the time to define some terms and examine it closer. There are three words in the New Testament that are translated (by some versions, most notably the KJV) as hell. The word “gehenna” is used by Jesus to refer to a place of fiery destruction (Matt 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15), and translated as hell in the NASB, KJV; tartarus is found only once in the New Testament at 2 Pet 2:4, and refers to a prison where evil spirits are being held in chains for judgment. Then in our text and several other places, the word hades is used (Matt 11:23; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; Rev 6:8, 20:13,14). Hades is the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. Over time, his name came to designate the underworld itself, the abode of the dead. As such, Hades is the only Greek word providing a near equivalent to the Hebrew word sheol. Like Hades, sheol is the dwelling place of the dead in Hebrew thought. ... Hades is not the same as Gehenna, nor is [Hades] the lake of fire or the prison where evil spirits are confined; Hades is the realm of the dead. And in fact, according to Rev 20:14 hades will be thrown into the lake of fire! The Bible nowhere teaches that the devil and his angels dwell in hades!

Second, the Hebrew Scriptures say that “hell is never satisfied” or “never gets full” (Prov 27:20; Isa 5:14) This is a use of sheol conveying the idea that death continues to claim lives, and so long as people die, they will end up in sheol, the place of the dead. There is no return. Gates are meant either to restrict or prevent what is outside from getting in, or to restrict or prevent what is inside from getting out! Since hades/sheol continues to grow it is reasonable to assume that the gates are in place, figuratively, to keep the dead inside. There is only one way to enter hades, and that is by death. 
In the Old Testament and subsequent Jewish tradition the “gates of Hades” are expressed as the gates of death (Job 38:17; Psalm 9:13). In other words, once one is dead he has no power to leave, the gates are closed - and one would assume - locked. However, according to Jesus, the gates of hades cannot prevail against his church!

The Good News

By now I hope you see where we are going with this. For all the righteous dead, and for those yet to fall asleep in Christ, there IS an exit!! The gates of hell, or we might say, the grave or power of death, has no authority over the true believer. We will rise!! In verse 21 it is recorded that Jesus began to tell the disciples about his coming suffering and death, but that after three days he would be raised. This is the turning point in Jesus ministry referred to earlier but it also gives context and credence to our interpretation of “gates of hell” as the power of death. 

The good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that death does not have the final say in the lives of those who submit themselves to God, through Jesus. There is coming a day, a day when Jesus will return to set up the kingdom of God on earth. And in that day the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be changed, in a moment, a twinkling of an eye, and so shall we all be with the Lord. 

Death will be swallowed up by life - the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church! This is good news indeed. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).

The above article was taken from "The Son of God and The Gates of Hell"