Thou art Peter - This was the same as if he had said, I acknowledge thee for one of my disciples - for this name was given him by our Lord when he first called him to the apostleship. See John 1:42.
Peter, πετρος, signifies a stone, or fragment of a rock; and our Lord, whose constant custom it was to rise to heavenly things through the medium of earthly, takes occasion from the name, the metaphorical meaning of which was strength and stability, to point out the solidity of the confession, and the stability of that cause which should be founded on The Christ, the Son of the Living God. See the notes at Luke 9:62.
Upon this very rock, επι ταυτη τη πετρα - this true confession of thine - that I am The Messiah, that am come to reveal and communicate The Living God, that the dead, lost world may be saved - upon this very rock, myself, thus confessed (alluding probably to Psalm 118:22, The Stone which the builders rejected is become the Head-Stone of the Corner: and to Isaiah 28:16, Behold I lay a Stone in Zion for a Foundation) - will I build my Church, μου την εκκλησιαν, my assembly, or congregation, i.e. of persons who are made partakers of this precious faith. That Peter is not designed in our Lord's words must be evident to all who are not blinded by prejudice. Peter was only one of the builders in this sacred edifice, Ephesians 2:20; who himself tells us, (with the rest of the believers), was built on this living foundation stone: 1 Peter 2:4, 1 Peter 2:5, therefore Jesus Christ did not say, on thee, Peter, will I build my Church, but changes immediately the expression, and says, upon that very rock, επι ταυτη τη πετρα, to show that he neither addressed Peter, nor any other of the apostles. So, the supremacy of Peter, and the infallibility of the Church of Rome, must be sought in some other scripture, for they certainly are not to be found in this. On the meaning of the word Church, see at the conclusion of this chapter.
The gates of hell, πυλαι Αδου i. e, the machinations and powers of the invisible world. In ancient times the gates of fortified cities were used to hold councils in, and were usually places of great strength. Our Lord's expression means, that neither the plots, stratagems, nor strength of Satan and his angels, should ever so far prevail as to destroy the sacred truths in the above confession. Sometimes the gates are taken for the troops which issue out from them: we may firmly believe, that though hell should open her gates, and vomit out her devil and all his angels, to fight against Christ and his saints, ruin and discomfiture must be the consequence on their part; as the arm of the Omnipotent must prevail.
Cesarea Philippi - There were two cities in Judea called Caesarea. One was situated on the borders of the Mediterranean (See the notes at Acts 8:40), and the other was the one mentioned here. This city was greatly enlarged and ornamented by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod, and called Caesarea in honor of the Roman emperor, Tiberius Caesar. To distinguish it from the other Caesarea the name of Philip was added to it, and it was called Caesarea Philippi, or Caesarea of Philippi. It was situated in the boundaries of the tribe of Naphtali, at the foot of Mount Hermon. It is now called Panias or Banias, and contains (circa 1880‘s) about 200 houses, and is inhabited chiefly by Turks. The word “coasts” here now usually applied to land in the vicinity of the sea - means “borders” or “regions.” He came into the part of the country which appertained to Cesarea Philippi. He was passing northward from the region of Bethsaida, on the coasts of Magdala Matthew 15:39, where the transactions recorded in the previous verses had occurred.
When Jesus came - The original is, “when Jesus was coming.” Mark says Mark 8:27 that this conversation took place when they were in the way, and this idea should have been retained in translating Matthew. While in the way, Jesus took occasion to call their attention “to the truth that he was the Messiah.” This truth it was of much consequence that they should fully believe and understand; and it was important, therefore, that he should often learn their views, to establish them if right, and correct them if wrong. He began, therefore, by inquiring what was the common report respecting him.
Whom do men say - This passage has been variously rendered. Some have translated it, “Whom do men say that I am? the Son of man?” Others, “Whom do men say that I am - I, who am the Son of man - i. e., the Messiah?” The meaning is nearly the same. He wished to obtain the sentiments of the people respecting himself.
And they said - See the notes at Matthew 11:14. They supposed that he might be John the Baptist, as Herod did, risen from the dead. See Matthew 14:2. He performed many miracles, and strongly resembled John in his manner of life, and in the doctrines which he taught.
And Simon Peter answered - Peter, expressing the views of the apostles, with characteristic forwardness answered the question proposed to them by Jesus: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The Christ - The Messiah, the “Anointed” of God. See the notes at Matthew 1:1.
Of the living God - The term “living” was given to the true God to distinguish him from idols, that are dead, or lifeless blocks and stones. He is also the Source of life, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. The word “living” is often given to him in the Old Testament, Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26, 1 Samuel 17:36; Jeremiah 10:9-10, etc. In this noble confession Peter expressed the full belief of himself and of his brethren that he was the long-expected Messiah. Other people had very different opinions of him, but they were satisfied, and were not ashamed to confess it.
And Jesus answered, Blessed art thou - Simon Bar-jona is the same as Simon son of Jona. Bar is a Syriac word signifying son. The father of Peter, therefore, was Jona, or Jonas, John 1:42; John 21:16-17.
Blessed - That is, happy, honored, evincing a proper spirit, and entitled to the approbation of God.
For flesh and blood - This phrase usually signifies man (see Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 6:12), and it has been commonly supposed that Jesus meant to say that man had not revealed it, but he seems rather to have referred to himself. “This truth you have not learned from my lowly appearance, from my human nature, from my apparent rank and standing in the world. You, Jews, were expecting to know the Messiah by his external splendor; his pomp and power as a man; but you have not learned me in this manner. I have shown no such indication of my Messiahship. Flesh and blood have not shown it. In spite of my appearance, my lowly state - my lack of resemblance to what you have expected, you have learned it as from God.” They had been taught this by Jesus‘ miracles, his instructions, and by the direct teachings of God upon their minds. To “reveal” is to make known, or communicate something that was unknown or secret.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter - The word “Peter,” in Greek, means “a rock.” It was given to Simon by Christ when he called him to be a disciple, John 1:42
Cephas is a Syriac word, meaning the same as Peter - a rock, or stone. The meaning of this phrase may be thus expressed: “Thou, in saying that I am the Son of God, hast called me by a name expressive of my true character. I, also, have given to thee a name expressive of your character. I have called you Peter, a rock, denoting firmness, solidity, stability, and your confession has shown that the name is appropriate. I see that you are worthy of the name, and will be a distinguished support of my religion.”
And upon this rock - This passage has given rise to many different interpretations. Some have supposed that the word “rock” refers to Peter‘s confession, and that Jesus meant to say, upon this rock, this truth that thou hast confessed, that I am the Messiah and upon confessions of this from all believers, I will build my church. Confessions like this shall be the test of piety, and in such confessions shall my church stand amid the flames of persecution, the fury of the gates of hell. Others have thought that Jesus referred to himself. Christ is called a rock, Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:8. And it has been thought that he turned from Peter to himself, and said, “Upon this rock, this truth that I am the Messiah - upon myself as the Messiah, I will build my church.” Both these interpretations, though plausible, seem forced upon the passage to avoid the main difficulty in it. Another interpretation is, that the word “rock” refers to Peter himself.
This is the obvious meaning of the passage; and had it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it, and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for. “Thou art a rock. Thou hast shown thyself firm, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon thee will I build it. Thou shalt be highly honored; thou shalt be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.” This was accomplished. See Galatians 2:9. But Christ did not mean, as the Roman Catholics say he did, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above all the other apostles, or to say that he was the only one upon whom he would rear his church. See Galatians 2:11, where Paul withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed - a thing which could not have happened if Christ (as the Roman Catholics say) meant that Peter was absolute and infallible. More than all, it is not said here, or anywhere else in the Bible, that Peter would have infallible successors who would be the vicegerents of Christ and the head of the church. The whole meaning of the passage is this: “I will make you the honored instrument of making known my gospel first to Jews and Gentiles, and I will make you a firm and distinguished preacher in building my church.”
Will build my church - This refers to the custom of building in Judea upon a rock or other very firm foundation. See the notes at Matthew 7:24. The word “church” literally means “those called out,” and often means an assembly or congregation. See Acts 19:32, Greek; Acts 7:38. It is applied to Christians as being “called out” from the world. It means sometimes the whole body of believers, Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 10:32. This is its meaning in this place. It means, also, a particular society of believers worshipping in one place, Acts 8:1; Acts 9:31; 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.; sometimes, also, a society in a single house, as Romans 16:5. In common language it means the church visible - i. e., all who profess religion; or invisible, i. e., all who are real Christians, professors or not.
And the gates of hell - Ancient cities were surrounded by walls. In the gates by which they were entered were the principal places for holding courts, transacting business, and deliberating on public matters. See the notes at Matthew 7:13. Compare the notes at Job 29:7. See also Deuteronomy 22:4; 1 Samuel 4:18; Jeremiah 36:10; Genesis 19:1; Psalm 69:12; Psalm 9:14; Proverbs 1:21. The word “gates,” therefore, is used for counsels, designs, machinations, evil purposes.
“Hell” means, here, the place of departed spirits, particularly evil spirits; and the meaning of the passage is, that all the plots, stratagems, and machinations of the enemies of the church would not be able to overcome it a promise that has been remarkably fulfilled.
And I will give unto thee - A key is an instrument for opening a door.
He that is in possession of it has the power of access, and has a general care of a house. Hence, in the Bible, a key is used as a symbol of superintendence an emblem of power and authority. See the Isaiah 22:22 note; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 3:7 notes. The kingdom of heaven here means, doubtless, the church on earth. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. When the Saviour says, therefore, he will give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he means that he will make him the instrument of opening the door of faith to the world the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. This was done, Matthew 18:18. The only pre-eminence, then, that Peter had was the honor of first opening the doors of the gospel to the world.
Whatsoever thou shalt bind - The phrase “to bind” and “to loose” was often used by the Jews. It meant to prohibit and to permit. To bind a thing was to forbid it; to loose it, to allow it to be done. Thus, they said about gathering wood on the Sabbath day, “The school of Shammei binds it” - i. e., forbids it; “the school of Hillel looses it” - i. e., allows it. When Jesus gave this power to the apostles, he meant that whatsoever they forbade in the church should have divine authority; whatever they permitted, or commanded, should also have divine authority - that is, should be bound or loosed in heaven, or meet the approbation of God. They were to be guided infallibly in the organization of the church:
1.by the teaching of Christ, and,
2.by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
This does not refer to persons, but to things - “whatsoever,” not whosoever. It refers to rites and ceremonies in the church. Such of the Jewish customs as they should forbid were to be forbidden, and such as they thought proper to permit were to be allowed. Such rites as they should appoint in the church were to have the force of divine authority. Accordingly, they commanded the Gentile converts to “abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” Acts 15:20; and, in general, they organized the church, and directed what was to be observed and what was to be avoided. The rules laid down by them in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, in connection with the teachings of the Saviour as recorded in the evangelists, constitute the only law binding on Christians in regard to the order of the church, and the rites and ceremonies to be observed in it.
Then charged - That is, he commanded them.
Mark 8:30 and Luke Luke 9:21 say (in Greek) that he strictly or severely charged them. He laid emphasis on it, as a matter of much importance. The reason of this seems to be that his time had not fully come; that he was not willing to rouse the Jewish malice, and to endanger his life, by having it proclaimed that he was the Messiah. The word “Jesus” is wanting in many manuscripts, and should probably be omitted: “Then he charged them strictly to tell no man that he was the Christ or Messiah.”
Jesus and His disciples had now come into one of the towns about Caesarea Philippi. They were beyond the limits of Galilee, in a region where idolatry prevailed. Here the disciples were withdrawn from the controlling influence of Judaism, and brought into closer contact with the heathen worship. Around them were represented forms of superstition that existed in all parts of the world. Jesus desired that a view of these things might lead them to feel their responsibility to the heathen. During His stay in this region, He endeavored to withdraw from teaching the people, and to devote Himself more fully to His disciples. DA 411.1
He was about to tell them of the suffering that awaited Him. But first He went away alone, and prayed that their hearts might be prepared to receive His words. Upon joining them, He did not at once communicate that which He desired to impart. Before doing this, He gave them an opportunity of confessing their faith in Him that they might be strengthened for the coming trial. He asked, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” DA 411.2
Sadly the disciples were forced to acknowledge that Israel had failed to recognize their Messiah. Some indeed, when they saw His miracles, had declared Him to be the Son of David. The multitudes that had been fed at Bethsaida had desired to proclaim Him king of Israel. Many were ready to accept Him as a prophet; but they did not believe Him to be the Messiah. DA 411.3
Jesus now put a second question, relating to the disciples themselves: “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” DA 411.4
From the first, Peter had believed Jesus to be the Messiah. Many others who had been convicted by the preaching of John the Baptist, and had accepted Christ, began to doubt as to John's mission when he was imprisoned and put to death; and they now doubted that Jesus was the Messiah, for whom they had looked so long. Many of the disciples who had ardently expected Jesus to take His place on David's throne left Him when they perceived that He had no such intention. But Peter and his companions turned not from their allegiance. The vacillating course of those who praised yesterday and condemned today did not destroy the faith of the true follower of the Saviour. Peter declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He waited not for kingly honors to crown his Lord, but accepted Him in His humiliation. DA 411.5Read in context »
Christ's divinity is to be steadfastly maintained. When the Saviour asked His disciples the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). Said Christ, “Upon this rock,” not on Peter, but on the Son of God, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Verse 18). UL 58.6Read in context »
“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49:8-16. AA 11.1
The church is God's fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son. From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people. AA 11.2
Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition. AA 11.3Read in context »
Peter's address brought the assembly to a point where they could listen with patience to Paul and Barnabas, who related their experience in working for the Gentiles. “All the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” AA 194.1
James also bore his testimony with decision, declaring that it was God's purpose to bestow upon the Gentiles the same privileges and blessings that had been granted to the Jews. AA 194.2
The Holy Spirit saw good not to impose the ceremonial law on the Gentile converts, and the mind of the apostles regarding this matter was as the mind of the Spirit of God. James presided at the council, and his final decision was, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.” AA 194.3
This ended the discussion. In this instance we have a refutation of the doctrine held by the Roman Catholic Church that Peter was the head of the church. Those who, as popes, have claimed to be his successors, have no Scriptural foundation for their pretensions. Nothing in the life of Peter gives sanction to the claim that he was elevated above his brethren as the vicegerent of the Most High. If those who are declared to be the successors of Peter had followed his example, they would always have been content to remain on an equality with their brethren. AA 194.4Read in context »
Peter saw the error into which he had fallen, and immediately set about repairing the evil that had been wrought, so far as was in his power. God, who knows the end from the beginning, permitted Peter to reveal this weakness of character in order that the tried apostle might see that there was nothing in himself whereof he might boast. Even the best of men, if left to themselves, will err in judgment. God also saw that in time to come some would be so deluded as to claim for Peter and his pretended successors the exalted prerogatives that belong to God alone. And this record of the apostle's weakness was to remain as a proof of his fallibility and of the fact that he stood in no way above the level of the other apostles. AA 198.1Read in context »
In the quarry of the Jewish and the Gentile world the apostles labored, bringing out stones to lay upon the foundation. In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul said, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22. AA 596.1
And to the Corinthians he wrote: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-13. AA 596.2
The apostles built upon a sure foundation, even the Rock of Ages. To this foundation they brought the stones that they quarried from the world. Not without hindrance did the builders labor. Their work was made exceedingly difficult by the opposition of the enemies of Christ. They had to contend against the bigotry, prejudice, and hatred of those who were building upon a false foundation. Many who wrought as builders of the church could be likened to the builders of the wall in Nehemiah's day, of whom it is written: “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, everyone with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” Nehemiah 4:17. AA 596.3Read in context »
From the secret place of prayer came the power that shook the world in the Great Reformation. There, with holy calmness, the servants of the Lord set their feet upon the rock of His promises. During the struggle at Augsburg, Luther “did not pass a day without devoting three hours at least to prayer, and they were hours selected from those the most favorable to study.” In the privacy of his chamber he was heard to pour out his soul before God in words “full of adoration, fear, and hope, as when one speaks to a friend.” “I know that Thou art our Father and our God,” he said, “and that Thou wilt scatter the persecutors of Thy children; for Thou art Thyself endangered with us. All this matter is Thine, and it is only by Thy constraint that we have put our hands to it. Defend us, then, O Father!”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 6. GC 210.1
To Melanchthon, who was crushed under the burden of anxiety and fear, he wrote: “Grace and peace in Christ—in Christ, I say, and not in the world. Amen. I hate with exceeding hatred those extreme cares which consume you. If the cause is unjust, abandon it; if the cause is just, why should we belie the promises of Him who commands us to sleep without fear? ... Christ will not be wanting to the work of justice and truth. He lives, He reigns; what fear, then, can we have?”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 6. GC 210.2
God did listen to the cries of His servants. He gave to princes and ministers grace and courage to maintain the truth against the rulers of the darkness of this world. Saith the Lord: “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.” 1 Peter 2:6. The Protestant Reformers had built on Christ, and the gates of hell could not prevail against them. GC 210.3Read in context »
To His church, Christ has given ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depository, in which the wealth of His mercy, His love, His grace, is to appear in full and final display. The declaration in His intercessory prayer, that the Father's love is as great toward us as toward Himself, the only-begotten Son, and that we shall be with Him where He is, forever one with Christ and the Father, is a marvel to the heavenly host, and it is their great joy. The gift of His Holy Spirit, rich, full, and abundant, is to be to His church as an encompassing wall of fire, which the powers of hell shall not prevail against. In their untainted purity and spotless perfection, Christ looks upon His people as the reward of all His suffering, His humiliation, and His love, and the supplement of His glory—Christ, the great center from which radiates all glory. HP 282.4Read in context »
The way of the world is to begin with pomp and boasting. God's way is to make the day of small things the beginning of the glorious triumph of truth and righteousness. Sometimes He trains His workers by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is His purpose that they shall learn to master difficulties. PK 595.1
Often men are tempted to falter before the perplexities and obstacles that confront them. But if they will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, God will make the way clear. Success will come to them as they struggle against difficulties. Before the intrepid spirit and unwavering faith of a Zerubbabel, great mountains of difficulty will become a plain; and he whose hands have laid the foundation, even “his hands shall also finish it.” “He shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” Zechariah 4:9, 7. PK 595.2
Human power and human might did not establish the church of God, and neither can they destroy it. Not on the rock of human strength, but on Christ Jesus, the Rock of Ages, was the church founded, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18. The presence of God gives stability to His cause. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man,” is the word that comes to us. Psalm 146:3. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15. God's glorious work, founded on the eternal principles of right, will never come to nought. It will go on from strength to strength, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. PK 595.3Read in context »
There is in some of the members of the church, pride, self-sufficiency, stubborn unbelief, and a refusing to yield their ideas, although evidence may be piled upon evidence which makes the message to the Laodicean church applicable. But that will not blot out the church that it will not exist. Let both tares and wheat grow together until the harvest. Then it is the angels that do the work of separation. 2SM 69.1
I warn the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be careful how you receive every new notion and those who claim to have great light. The character of their work seems to be to accuse and to tear down. 2SM 69.2
My brother, I would say to you, Be careful. Go not one step farther in the path you have entered upon. Walk in the light “while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you” (John 12:35). 2SM 69.3
You complain of being treated coldly in Battle Creek. Did you go with a humble spirit to those who are spiritual and say, “Will you examine the Scriptures with me? Shall we pray over this matter? I have not the light, I want it; for error will never sanctify the soul.” Can you be surprised that they would not give you all that confidence you might think they should, after the experience they have passed through? Should not the words of Christ have any weight? “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). “Lo here and lo there is Christ” will be multiplied. Let the believers heed the voice of the angel who has said to the church, “Press together.” In unity is your strength. Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. God hath a church, and Christ hath declared, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The messengers the Lord sends bear the divine credentials. I have tender feelings toward you, but come to the light, I beseech of you.—Letter 16, 1893. 2SM 69.4Read in context »
18. The True Foundation—[Matthew 16:18 quoted.] The word “Peter” signifies a loose stone. Christ did not refer to Peter as being the rock upon which He would found His church. His expression “this rock,” applied to Himself as the foundation of the Christian church (The Signs of the Times, October 28, 1913). 5BC 1095.2
22, 23 (Luke 22:31, 32). Satan Between Peter and Christ—See what the Lord said to Peter.... He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” What was Satan doing? He came right up face to face with Peter and between the Lord and Peter, so that Peter even took it upon him to reprove the Lord. But the Lord came close to Peter and Satan was put behind Christ. The Lord told Peter that Satan had desired him, that he might sift him as wheat, but He says, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” If Peter had learned the lessons he ought to have learned, if he had stood right with God at the time of his trial, he would have stood then. If he had not been indifferent to the lessons Christ taught, he would have never denied his Lord (Manuscript 14, 1894). 5BC 1095.4
Satan Spoke Through Peter—When Christ revealed to Peter the time of trial and suffering that was just before Him, and Peter replied, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee,” the Saviour commanded, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Satan was speaking through Peter, making him act the part of the tempter. Satan's presence was unsuspected by Peter, but Christ could detect the presence of the deceiver, and in His rebuke to Peter He addressed the real foe (Letter 244, 1907). 5BC 1095.5
Satan's work was to discourage Jesus as He strove to save the depraved race, and Peter's words were just what he wished to hear. They were opposed to the divine plan; and whatever bore this stamp of character was an offense to God. They were spoken at the instigation of Satan; for they opposed the only arrangement God could make to preserve His law and control His subjects, and yet save fallen man. Satan hoped they would discourage and dishearten Christ; but Christ addressed the author of the thought, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (The Review and Herald, April 6, 1897). 5BC 1095.6
24 (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; see EGW on Matthew 11:28-30). Travel Christ's Road—Those who are saved must travel the same road over which Christ journeyed. He says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The character is to be formed according to the Christlikeness (Manuscript 105, 1901). 5BC 1095.7
The Cross Lifts—We are to lift the cross, and follow the steps of Christ. Those who lift the cross will find that as they do this, the cross lifts them, giving them fortitude and courage, and pointing them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world (The Review and Herald, July 13, 1905). 5BC 1095.8
(Job 19:25.) Up From the Lowlands—The cross lifts you up from the lowlands of earth, and brings you into sweetest communion with God. Through bearing the cross your experience may be such that you can say, “‘I know that my Redeemer liveth,’ and because He lives, I shall live also.” What an assurance is this (Manuscript 85, 1901)! 5BC 1095.9
(Ch. 7:13, 14.) At the Dividing of the Way—The cross stands where two roads diverge. One is the path of obedience leading to heaven. The other leads into the broad road, where man can easily go with his burden of sin and corruption, but it leads to perdition (Manuscript 50, 1898). 5BC 1095.10Read in context »
The first lesson to be taught ... is the lesson of dependence upon God.... As a flower of the field has its root in the soil; as it must receive air, dew, showers, and sunshine, so must we receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul.27Testimonies For The Church 7:194. SD 77.2
The presence of God is guaranteed to the Christian. This Rock of faith is the living presence of God. The weakest may depend upon it. Those who think themselves the strongest may become the weakest unless they depend on Christ as their efficiency, their worthiness. This is the Rock upon which we may build successfully. God is near in Christ's atoning sacrifice, in His intercession, His loving, tender ruling power over the church. Seated by the eternal throne, He watches them with intense interest. As long as the members of the church shall through faith draw sap and nourishment from Jesus Christ, and not from man's opinions and devisings and methods; if having a conviction of the nearness of God in Christ, they put their entire trust in Him, they will have a vital connection with Christ as the branch has connection with the parent stock. The church is established not on theories of men, on long-drawn-out plans and forms. It depends upon Christ their righteousness. It is built on faith in Christ, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ... SD 77.3
The strength of every soul is in God and not in man. Quietness and confidence is to be the strength of all who give their hearts to God. Christ has not a casual interest in us but an interest stronger than a mother for her child.... Our Saviour has purchased us by human suffering and sorrow, by insult, reproach, abuse, mockery, rejection, and death. He is watching over you, trembling child of God. He will make you secure under His protection.... Our weakness in human nature will not bar our access to the heavenly Father, for He [Christ] died to make intercession for us.28Ellen G. White Manuscript 15, 1897. SD 77.4Read in context »
At the time of the organization of the General Conference in 1863, a General Conference Committee of three men was chosen. The major interests of the church consisted of the several state conferences and a publishing house located at Battle Creek, Michigan. In the evangelistic field, increasing success came to Seventh-day Adventist ministers. Their work consisted mainly in preaching the distinctive truths of the gospel message, including the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the second advent, and the sanctuary. Many of the men were drawn into discussions and debates involving the law of God and other vital Bible truths. Imperceptibly, not a few of those who engaged in such discussions became self-reliant, and there developed in their hearts a spirit of sureness, self-dependence, and argumentativeness. In time this bore unwholesome fruit. TM xviii.1
Institutional development followed quickly on the heels of the organization of the General Cnference. In the vision given to Ellen White in December, 1865, a medical institution was called for, and in response the leaders opened a small health institute in Battle Creek in September, 1866. Less than a decade later, in the messages which came from the pen of Ellen White, a school was called for. In 1874, Battle Creek College was built. Thus three major institutional developments forged ahead in Battle Creek, drawing an ever-enlarging number of Seventh-day Adventists into a rapidly growing denominational center. Men of business experience were called in to care for the business interests of the institutions. As the business interests expanded and developed and prospered, some of these men came to trust more in their business acumen than in God's messages of guidance. To them, business was business. TM xviii.2Read in context »
The enemy is actively at work, as you will see as you travel on his territory, opening the Word of God to the people. As the last message of mercy is proclaimed by human lips, Satan will try to storm his way to the front. But he cannot prevail against Christ. As we present the truth that shows the people the evil of his delusions, his anger will be aroused, and he will do all in his power to hinder our efforts. But continue to present a “Thus saith the Lord, “remembering that God is your helper. Do not give the enemy the right of way.... TDG 309.3Read in context »
Let those who have been trained for service now take their places quickly in the Lord's work. House-to-house laborers are needed. The Lord calls for decided efforts to be put forth in places where the people know nothing of the truth. Singing and prayer and Bible readings are needed in the homes of the people. Now, just now, is the time to obey the commission, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Those who do this work must have a ready knowledge of the Scriptures. “It is written” is to be their weapon of defense. UL 58.2
God has given us light on His Word that we may give it to our fellow men. The truth spoken by Christ will reach hearts. A “Thus saith the Lord” will fall upon the ear with power, and fruit will appear wherever honest service is done. UL 58.3
The Lord calls for action.... Should we neglect to take advantage of this time, we should miss a great opportunity for letting light from God's Word shine forth. The trumpet is to give a certain sound. UL 58.4
Say to the people: “Know for yourselves of the doctrine.” Let not your lips utter a sentence of doubt. Do not come before the people with an uncertain sound. Know what is truth and proclaim truth. Christ's teaching was always positive in its nature. Never, never utter sentiments of doubt. Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ. UL 58.5
Christ's divinity is to be steadfastly maintained. When the Saviour asked His disciples the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). Said Christ, “Upon this rock,” not on Peter, but on the Son of God, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Verse 18). UL 58.6
Great is the mystery of godliness. There are mysteries in the life of Christ that are to be believed, even though they cannot be explained.—Letter 65, February 13, 1905, to A. T. Jones, a prominent minister. UL 58.7Read in context »
The Lord declares that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church. Every sincere member of the church may include himself in these promises and say, “I am the Lord's. In His strength I am invincible.” Then do not put on a doleful attitude and misrepresent my Lord, and act as though He had insulted you by giving you promises that He does not fulfill, as though you are having a hard time and are left alone to battle against the powers of darkness. UL 312.5Read in context »
Centuries before the Saviour's advent Moses had pointed to the Rock of Israel's salvation. The psalmist had sung of “the Rock of my strength.” Isaiah had written, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.” Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 62:7; Isaiah 28:16. Peter himself, writing by inspiration, applies this prophecy to Jesus. He says, “If ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house.” 1 Peter 2:3-5, R. V. DA 413.1
“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11. “Upon this rock,” said Jesus, “I will build My church.” In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself,—His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail. DA 413.2
How feeble the church appeared when Christ spoke these words! There was only a handful of believers, against whom all the power of demons and evil men would be directed; yet the followers of Christ were not to fear. Built upon the Rock of their strength, they could not be overthrown. DA 413.3
For six thousand years, faith has builded upon Christ. For six thousand years the floods and tempests of satanic wrath have beaten upon the Rock of our salvation; but it stands unmoved. DA 413.4
Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the church's faith, and Jesus now honored him as the representative of the whole body of believers. He said, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” DA 413.5
“The keys of the kingdom of heaven” are the words of Christ. All the words of Holy Scripture are His, and are here included. These words have power to open and to shut heaven. They declare the conditions upon which men are received or rejected. Thus the work of those who preach God's word is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Theirs is a mission weighted with eternal results. DA 413.6Read in context »
21, 22. A Foretaste of Pentecost—The act of Christ in breathing upon His disciples the Holy Ghost, and in imparting His peace to them, was as a few drops before the plentiful shower to be given on the day of Pentecost. Jesus impressed this fact upon His disciples, that as they should proceed in the work intrusted to them, they would the more fully comprehend the nature of that work, and the manner in which the kingdom of Christ was to be set up on earth. They were appointed to be witnesses for the Saviour; they were to testify what they had seen and heard of His resurrection; they were to repeat the gracious words which proceeded from His lips. They were acquainted with His holy character; He was as an angel standing in the sun, yet casting no shadow. It was the sacred work of the apostles to present the spotless character of Christ to men, as the standard for their lives. The disciples had been so intimately associated with this Pattern of holiness that they were in some degree assimilated to Him in character, and were specially fitted to make known to the world His precepts and example (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:243, 244). 5BC 1151.1
23 (Matthew 16:18, 19; 18:18). Man Cannot Remove One Stain of Sin—Christ gave no ecclesiastical right to forgive sin, nor to sell indulgences, that men may sin without incurring the displeasure of God, nor did He give His servants liberty to accept a gift or bribe for cloaking sin, that it may escape merited censure. Jesus charged His disciples to preach the remission of sin in His name among all nations; but they themselves were not empowered to remove one stain of sin from the children of Adam.... Whoever would attract the people to himself as one in whom is invested power to forgive sins, incurs the wrath of God, for he turns souls away from the heavenly Pardoner to a weak and erring mortal (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:245, 246). 5BC 1151.2
24-29. Tenderness Won Thomas—Jesus, in His treatment of Thomas, gave His followers a lesson regarding the manner in which they should treat those who have doubts upon religious truth, and who make those doubts prominent. He did not overwhelm Thomas with words of reproach, nor did He enter into a controversy with him; but, with marked condescension and tenderness, He revealed Himself unto the doubting one. Thomas had taken a most unreasonable position, in dictating the only conditions of his faith; but Jesus, by His generous love and consideration, broke down all the barriers he had raised. Persistent controversy will seldom weaken unbelief, but rather put it upon self-defense, where it will find new support and excuse. Jesus, revealed in His love and mercy as the crucified Saviour, will bring from many once unwilling lips the acknowledgment of Thomas, “My Lord, and my God” (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:222). 5BC 1151.3Read in context »