Matthew 16, Acts 2 & 3
Introduction: Last week we looked at Peter's "early years" in
the ministry. His failure to understand the self-sacrificing
nature of the gospel work ahead of him was replaced with an
understanding of his true mission and the future glory which
awaited him in heaven. What can we learn from a mature Peter?
How does a mature Christian live? Or, is Peter not an example
for us because he was given special authority not available to
us? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!
Many organizations hire a "clipping service" to collect all of
the newspaper reports that mention them. They want to know how
they are portrayed in the press. Is Jesus asking for a similar
service from His disciples? What is Jesus' motive for asking?
(Jesus may have been curious about the public's perception of
Him, but what He was really looking for was how His disciples
Last week we discussed Peter's failure to take advice with the
result that he had a wrong view of Jesus' role on earth. (See
Does Peter's answer fit with his (then wrong) view? (Peter
thought Jesus would establish a kingdom on earth and what Peter
says here is compatible with that view.)
Has Peter taken advice here? (
Matthew 16:17 says God revealed this to Peter. He was
taking advice - at least at that moment.)
Who or what is this rock? (Peter's name in Greek means rock or a
stone. Jesus is saying "You are a rock (or a stone) and on this
rock I will build my church.")
It seems that Jesus is literally referring to building
His church on Peter. Is that what you think Jesus means?
(Strong's says the Greek for Peter means "a piece of rock" while
the Greek for the word rock in this verse means "a mass of
1 Corinthians 10:3-4.
Who is the rock here?
Who or what is the rock here?
1 Peter 2:7-8.
Who or what is the rock here?
Protestants argue that the rock of
Matthew 16:18 is
not Peter. Last week we studied some of Peter's very "un-rock"
like failures. However, since the text says that Jesus will
build His church on this rock, would that not include Peter? (I
think we are missing an important lesson when we totally dismiss
Catholic claims that Peter is the rock and the "First Pope."
teaches us that the apostles and prophets were a "foundation"
and Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. This suggests that Jesus is
the Rock, and the apostles (including Peter) are rocks in the
foundation of the church. Peter's confession of Jesus as God is
also a rock - for this is the theological foundation of the
Do you have a gate at your home? Have you ever been
attacked by a gate? What does Jesus mean in Matthew 16:18 that
Hell's gates will not overcome the church? (I like this word
picture. Gates don't attack, they defend. This is a picture of
the church taking on evil. Evil is on the defensive against
What do you get for having "rock" status? What kind of a "key"
are you given? (You get the keys to heaven.)
What does that mean? (I'm far from sure what all it
means. However, when I'm given the keys to a car or to a house I
am in charge. I am able to enter them and use them. I can let
others in or keep others out. I think that at a minimum, those
who acknowledge the divinity of Jesus are given access to
heaven. Those who were apostles then, and who are church leaders
now, are given special privileges and responsibilities to invite
others into the Kingdom of Heaven.)
When Jesus says that the apostles (and current church
leaders?) get to "bind" and "loose," things, what does He mean?
Here Peter says that the Gentile converts should not have to
follow the law of Moses. If you continue by scanning Acts
15:12-21 you will see that James delivered the judgment that
only the matters specified in Acts 15:20 would still be binding
from the ceremonial law. Peter and the church are here "loosing"
commands given to Moses by God.)
We see in this event that James, not Peter, seems to hand
down the final word. Read Matthew 18:15-18. This is Jesus
speaking to His disciples (and perhaps a listening crowd). What
does this context suggest about binding and loosing? (It
suggests this addresses disputes within the church.)
Acts 2:1-4 and
This describes the first day of Pentecost following Jesus'
resurrection. What significance does Pentecost have to the early
church? (This is where Jews from (
Acts 2:5) "every nation under heaven" got to see the
power of the Holy Spirit and hear that Jesus was the Messiah!)
Who is the leader in this event? (Peter!)
Acts 10:9-13 and
What is the meaning of Peter's vision? (If you do not know this
story, read all of Acts 10. The meaning of the story is that
Peter should not call Gentiles "unclean" and refuse to share the
gospel with them. The specific application was to Cornelius and
What does this event add to Peter's resume? (Peter was
first in preaching to the Jews world-wide at Pentecost. If Acts
is written in chronological order, Peter is now the leader in
sharing the gospel with the Gentiles. In
Acts 15:7 Peter
confirms this idea by saying the Gentiles heard the gospel "from
What new activity do we find among the apostles? (They performed
"many wonders and miraculous signs.")
Why was this power found just among the apostles, and not
the members? Is this part of the "binding and loosing"
Acts 3:1-5. If
you were this beggar, what would you expect?
Acts 3:6-8. What
do we add to Peter's resume now? (
Acts 2:43 tells us that many miracles were performed
by the apostles, but Peter performs the first recorded miracle.)
Look again at
Acts 3:6. Does
Peter perform this miracle in the authority given to him? (No,
he performs it in the name and power of Jesus.)
What, exactly, does Peter have (verse 6 "but what I have
I give to you") which he gives to this crippled beggar?
Is Peter sharing his "binding and loosing" power? (Read
Mark 16:15-18. It
would be easy to say that Peter (and the other apostles) had
special power not available to the rest of the believers. But,
Jesus' words in
show that the power is available to all who believe. Peter is
sharing with the beggar his faith and his access to the power of
Acts 5:15. Did
this work? Read
Did this work? (The first text does not say that this worked,
but the second text tells us it did work. My guess is that if
touching Paul's handkerchief got you healed, Peter's shadow
should be enough.)
As you consider all of these attributes about Peter, is
it fair to call him a "rock"? What about the "First Pope?"
How is Peter involved in the organization of the work of the
early church? (They divided the work among the various people.)
Why did Peter change his practices?
How could a man who had the vision of the unclean animals
do this? Why would he do it?
How are eating relationships part of the "truth of the gospel?"
(The truth of the gospel is that the gospel is for all people. I
believe Peter acted as he did to try to avoid controversy with
the Jewish Christians who were sent by James.)
What does this teach us about Peter the Rock? (Even
church leaders can be wrong. Even those blessed by God to open
new frontiers for the gospel can make mistakes.)
Friend, have you made mistakes during your Christian
life? Do you find, that even after you are a mature Christian,
you still make them? Peter's story is an encouragement to all
sinners who want to follow their Lord. Peter's miraculous work
is an example to all who want to do great things for God.
Next week: Women of Mission.