Monthly Archives: November 2010

“I will build my church” (rethinking Matthew 16:18)

There are always at least two levels to think through in the gospel narratives: the mind of Jesus of Nazareth and the mind of the author.  Hopefully, you do not think their intents were too far apart, but it is worth thinking through.

  1. Jesus could have used any word, but he chose to say he was going to build his church.  Regardless of what you think of church-Israel distinction, at least in Matthew 16 Jesus was conceiving of something future (I will build my church).  So it is not that easy to just say the Church is the people of God from Genesis to Revelation.
  2. By the time Matthew wrote this, at least 30 years of church history has already occurred.  The events of Acts 2, 4, 13, and so forth have already happened.  Matthew’s readers would have a concept of “church” by the time they read what Jesus said.  When they think of “church”, they think of loving community made up of those who are committed to advancing the kingdom of Christ.  They already think of themselves as groups of people who are willing to die for the faith and are fighting to knock down the gates of hell.  And now they read that Jesus said from the beginning that he was planning to use “the church” as his vehicle for kingdom advancement.

If we go with our working definition, it is not too difficult to hear Jesus saying “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my people as seen in the local assembly.”

John 10

Before moving on to more thoughts on the local church vs. the universal church, here are some thoughts on John 10 (our recordings did not work, so the two sermons from John 10 will never be on the KBC website; lost forever in space and time):

John 10.1-21- Jesus wants believers to live the abundant Christian life (John 10.10).  Listen for his voice, and go through him and to him.  Not only is he the gate, he is also the shepherd.  “The thief” in verse 10 most directly applies to false teachers in context.  It is not wrong theologically to apply it to the devil, but wrong textually.

John 10.22-42- This text really explains the two titles of Jesus well: Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of God.  His reference to Psalm 82 is very difficult to interpret.  I think his logic is ‘you say I am wrong for calling myself the unique Son of God.  But God has called men ‘gods’ before.  All mankind are ‘gods’ in the Psalm 82 sense.  If you do not want to trust me, at least take a good look at my works, that testify that I am the unique Son of God.’

John 10 is glorious Christology:  Jesus is the gate, the good Shepherd, the Christ, the Son of God, Giver of eternal life, absolutely ONE with the Father.