"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." (Matthew 16:18)
In this verse, Jesus is speaking to Peter. There's more to his statement and we will get to that in another part of this series. Let us take note of some very important ideas in this verse:
First of all, what is "this rock" that Jesus is referring to? Peter's name means stone, so is he talking about Peter? No, the word for 'Peter' and the word for 'rock' that are used here are two different words even though they are from similar roots. Let's back up a few verses to find out what Jesus meant. Jesus had asked the apostles who people thought that Jesus was. They related what the various 'guesses' that people had. Then Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) This fact is the foundation upon which Christianity is based. Isn't a rock a good foundation?
Secondly from this verse we'll see who was going to build it. Jesus is speaking, so clearly he is the "I". Jesus built the church. This also shows ownership. He says "my church". If you build a house (or pay to build a house), it belongs to you. It is your house. So this is Christ's church or the church that belongs to Christ.
We can also see that the church will be stronger than Satan. "The gates of hell will not prevail against it." Just as Noah and his family were saved from the flood in the ark, so we can be saved from hell in the church.