Gates of Hell Cannot Prevail Against the Church

Because of the hypocrisy of many who claimed to be the church throughout history and today, there have been many doubters who have claimed that the gates of hell actually did prevail against the church. But hypocrites have never been a part of the true spiritual body of Christ, which is the true church. The church stands on a firm foundation: Jesus Christ. And he knows who his true people are. And only true and faithful believers will he allow upon his foundation.

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:19

The Catholic Church has claimed that Jesus gave Peter the authority to be the foundation of the church. Using Matthew the 16th chapter, they take advantage of people who don’t understand the full context of scripture, nor the original language of this particular passage in scripture.

[13] “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? [14] And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? [16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ~ Matthew 16:13-16

Note: The rest of this scripture is a conversation about this truth that Peter just claimed about Jesus: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

[17] “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And 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.” ~ Matthew 16:17-19

In verse 17, Jesus first addresses Peter by the name that was given him by his parents: Simon Barjona. Jesus next (in verse 18) uses the name Peter (which Jesus gave to him) to draw an analogy for him, and for everyone to understand that: “salvation by Jesus Christ”, is the sure foundation of the church. Everyone else in the church, including Peter, make up the spiritual “stones” of the church building.

Peter in the original Greek is “petros” which means a stone; a small movable rock. And the testimony of Peter was certainly a movable stone, as he had to be corrected by both Jesus, and later by the Apostle Paul.

“This rock” (speaking of the rock foundation: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”) in the original, is “petra” meaning, a huge unmovable rock that you can build on. And that rock that the church is built upon is Christ Jesus!

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” ~ Matthew 7:24-25

Even the record we have of Peter in the Bible reflects an individual who was not a firm foundation, but rather a movable stone. Peter was moved a number of times in the wrong direction. But it was by the mercy of our Lord that he was corrected each time.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” ~ Isaiah 28:16

So Jesus Christ is both the foundation of the church, and the chief cornerstone of the church.

Note: In relation to architecture, a cornerstone is traditionally the first stone laid for a structure. And all other stones are laid in reference to the cornerstone. And a cornerstone marks the geographical location, by orienting a building in a specific direction.

Even Peter himself acknowledged that every Christian is a stone in the spiritual building, the church. In his own epistle, he wrote about how Christ is the one whom we all align up with.

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-9

The Apostle Paul left us no doubt about who the foundation of the church is. And that any material placed on top of this foundation, is going to be tried: to find out if it is worthy to be part of the spiritual building, the church.

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, 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. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:9-17

Furthermore, back in verse 18 of Matthew chapter 16, Jesus also said: “and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

To understand this term “the gates of hell” we must understand the context of the time in history that it was written, and what place in the world that it was written.

“Gates of Hell” – (the Geneva Bible study notes explains it this way):

“The enemies of the Church are compared to a strong kingdom, and therefore by “gates” are meant cities which are made strong with wise preparation and fortifications, and this is the meaning: whatever Satan can do by cunning or strength. So does Paul, calling them strongholds; (2 Corinthians 10:4).”

Furthermore, in Bible times, the gate of a city was the place where judgment would take place. Wise men would be chosen for every gated city, to sit at the gate entryway to the city. If there was an issue between people to be judged, it would happen at the gate of the city. Additionally, these wise men were set at the gate, to determine who was allowed to enter into the city, and sometimes, who was allowed to leave.

“Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.” ~ Deuteronomy 16:18

So what Jesus was saying, when he said: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church”; he was saying: the judgments or accusations of hell, shall not be allowed to take down the spiritual standing of his true people. And throughout history, many times hypocritical leadership within a church hierarchy, would judge against true Christians, to condemn them to prison, torture, and death. But those true Christians who would suffer at the hands of the hypocrites, would receive an eternal reward in heaven with Jesus Christ. The gates of hell did not prevail against true Christians. But they did prevail against the hypocrite judges, because the hypocrites were cast into hell.

  • “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 54:17
  • “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” ~ Matthew 12:35-37

As the apostle Paul plainly stated, every individual Christian will be built on top of Jesus Christ, the sure foundation. And they will be tried by fire, to prove whether they are true Christians. The fire comes in two ways: by the trials that a Christian goes through, and by the word of God preached under the anointing of the Holy ghost.

The true church is not overcome by the gates of hell, because Jesus keeps his church clean by his word.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” ~ Ephesians 5:25-27

And so back in verse 19, of Matthew the 16th chapter, Jesus plainly states:

“And 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.” ~ Matthew 16:19

The Word of God preached under the direction of the Holy Spirit: together are the keys to the kingdom of heaven. They are the ones that open the door of heaven to those on Earth.

The abuse of the knowledge of scripture, was harshly condemned by Jesus Christ himself when dealing with the religious hypocrites of his day. The hypocrites would take away the key of the scriptures, hindering other souls from entering into the kingdom of heaven.

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” ~ Luke 11:52

Keys can be used to open or close a door. Or to lock up, or release something for someone. Jesus plainly stated that the keys belong to him.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” ~ Revelation 3:7

And Jesus also plainly stated, that the same keys, also are the keys to hell and death. Because those who reject the gospel, by the same key of the Gospel, shall become condemned.

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” ~ Revelation 1:18

It is the word of God that establishes what is right, and what is wrong. Therefore we can only use the word of God as the keys that give a soul liberty, or that binds up a bad spirit, by exposing the sin in a person’s life. This includes that we must follow the order that the Bible gives us, as we’re dealing with problems in the church.

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” ~ Matthew 18:15-18

The word of God directed by the Holy Spirit, are the keys that have been sent to us from heaven through Jesus Christ. That is why they are called “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

“And 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.” ~ Matthew 16:19

Again, it is not just the word of God. But it is the word of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The ministry cannot take the word of God into their own hands, and properly administer it, without the direction of the Holy Spirit in their life.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ~ Ephesians 6:17

And so I state once more: the gates of hell have never prevailed against the church! Because Jesus Christ is the only foundation for the church. And he is the Chief Cornerstone that everyone in the church aligns up with. And he has provided to his true Ministry the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to administer the true gospel to the true people of God.