The apostle Peter is considered in some religious circles to be the founder of the Church and the rock upon which the Church was built. This accolade given to him is due to two instances found in the Word. The one being the scripture in Matthew 16 where Jesus is referring to the rock upon which He will build the Church, and the other being Peter’s powerful proclamation on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit supernaturally baptized and empowered the small band of disciples with His holy fire. The Bible records that around three thousand people miraculously came to the Lord on that day. That one day in history changed the world forever and is generally seen as the birth of the Church. Nothing would ever be the same in the world again. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an event that many thousands of righteous men longed for in the centuries prior to the Lord’s first coming. On that glorious day of Pentecost, the fulfillment of prophecy finally came.
What most people don’t realize, however, is the fact that Peter’s role in founding the Church was only a small part of a much bigger plan in which the House of Israel would ultimately become the very foundation upon which the Church would stand. Peter’s role was also very symbolic in depicting the Lord’s Plan for the Church. Peter and the other apostles were limited in their personal capacities as to what they could achieve by themselves. For the Church to ultimately spread the Gospel to the four corners of the world would take the resources of an entire nation to accomplish. Along with the Gospel, the Law of God also needed to bring order, stability and liberty to the nations of the world. Those first Apostles could only start to build on the foundations laid by the Lord Jesus. To ensure they would be building on a solid foundation, they had to first go find that solid rock on which to build the Church of Jesus. Jesus knew who would be the foundation of the Church, so during the three years that the Lord ministered on Earth, He instructed His disciples to only seek the lost sheep of the House of Israel. “Jesus sent out these twelve, commanding them, saying,
do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans. But rather go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim, saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 10: 5-7
The Lord Jesus later reaffirmed His instruction in Matthew 15, where He clearly stated that He was only sent to find the lost sheep of the House of Israel. This is a very profound statement, yet most scholars completely overlook this statement when attempting to state or define the purpose of the Lord’s first & second Coming. The Lord’s disciples might not have been completely aware of this at the time, but The House of Israel was to play the pivotal role in the founding of the Church. As it was later revealed in scripture, this has been the Lord’s Plan all along.
The Lord knew that, although His ministry started amongst the remnants of the House of Judah, they would ultimately reject Him to the point where they would crucify Him. That is why He focused His ministry towards the ‘lost’ sheep of the House of Israel, who were completely separated from the House of Judah and fortunately far away from the poisonous yeast of the Pharisees. Although the House of Israel had no idea who they really were anymore or from where they originated, they were fortunately not being influenced by the Pharisees’ teachings and manipulations. That enabled them to accept the Gospel without much reservation once they came into contact with it. The House of Judah was unfortunately so badly influenced by all the false teachings of the Pharisees that they couldn’t recognize the Lord Jesus as their long awaited Messiah and willingly partook in the Lord Jesus’ rejection and crucifixion. The Lord knew this beforehand and thus instructed His disciples in concentrating their evangelical efforts toward the House of Israel, who knew not that they were actually Israelites. What the disciples probably also didn’t realize at the time was the fact that Israel would become the very foundation of their work and through them the Church of the Lord Jesus would be built. History has proven this, because through the House of Israel the Word of God was taken to the four corners of the Earth. There would certainly not be a Church today if it was not for the House of Israel.
At the time, few people could even imagine that the eventual union and restoration of the Lord’s Bride, Israel, started with the establishment of the Church. With the creation of the Church, the Lord created the ultimate spiritual institution or body by which the world would come to know the Gospel that enabled all the nations of the world to attain Salvation through faith in Jesus. The Lord revealed His plan when He spoke these very profound words into Peter’s life,
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
What is interesting is that most modern day scholars can tell you that Peter means ‘rock’, but that’s not entirely true. To compound the error, they tend to also use the name ‘Peter’ and the word ‘rock’ interchangeably in this particular scripture in Matthew 16. This is problematic, because in Matthew 16: 18 the name Peter differs significantly from the word ‘rock’. When Jesus is speaking these words to Peter, He is in actual fact revealing to Peter the unique role he would play in helping to build the Church. The name ‘Peter’ in the original Greek is the word ‘Petros’ and ‘Petros’ means ‘a piece of rock’ or ‘little stone/pebble’. It can also be interpreted as a ‘little rock hewn from a big rock’ The ‘rock’ that Jesus is referring to in that same scripture is the Greek word ‘Petra’ which means ‘mass of rock’, ‘bedrock’ or ‘quarry’. Although ‘Petra’ is referring to a mass of rock and ‘Petros’ only to a small piece of a much larger rock, the word ‘Petros’ is masculine, whilst ‘Petra’ is feminine. When taking all of these facts into consideration we see an amazing picture unfold in which it’s clear that the Lord intends to lay the foundation of the Church on Israel – more specifically on the House of Israel.
In Matthew 16:18 the Lord is in essence telling Peter that he is a chip off the old block, where, according to Isaiah 51, Abraham & Sarah are the rock from which all Israelites are cut – including Peter. The Lord will thus be building His church on that bedrock which is Israel. It now becomes clear as to why the Lord has told His disciples to evangelize the House of Israel, because the House of Israel is the very rock upon which the Church would be established. History has also proven that the Church is in fact entirely built on the House of Israel. If there was no Israel, there would also be no Church. It’s as simple as that. It’s Israel that gives the Church its stability, so if Israel is becoming unstable, so the Church will become unstable too. All effort must thus be given to ensure Israel remains stable, because if not, the wonderful spiritual institution of the Church would become weak and powerless – as we see in many instances today. The Church and Israel cannot be separated since the Church is completely dependent on the House of Israel.
To add to the symbolism of the Lord’s plan for the Church and Israel’s restoration, one can read John 20 where Simon Peter was the first person to enter Jesus’ tomb. We know that Jesus’ grave was a tomb hewed from a rock (Matt 27:60 & Luke 23: 53), and that is no coincidence either, because if we allow ourselves to see the bedrock in which His tomb was hewed as being symbolic of the House of Israel, then Peter’s entry into the empty tomb was certainly symbolic of the reunification of the House of Judah with the House of Israel – the little rock fitting into the huge bedrock. It’s only through Jesus Christ that reunification between the House of Israel and the House of Judah can be brought about. Jesus literally laid the foundation of the Church inside the rock which is Israel, and the Apostle Peter, along with many others over the centuries, has helped built the Church on that very foundation Jesus laid. Let us not forget the significance and the glory of God’s Plan for the ages. As Israelites we have a tremendous responsibility to ensure the Church remains on firm ground to allow it to fulfill its calling on this Earth. At the same time, let us not forget from where we as Israelites came from and what our calling is. In this time of spiritual darkness and uncertainty, let us be encouraged by the words of Isaiah 51:
“Listen to me, pursuers of righteousness; seekers of Jehovah: Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.”