The Berean Expositor
Volume 46 - Page 15 of 249
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Uppermost in the hearts and minds of the disciples both before and after Pentecost
was the restoration of the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1: 6; 3: 19-26), and this earthly
kingdom the gospel according to Matthew makes its central theme.
Matthew's gospel is divided into two main sections by the two "time notes" of 4: 17
and 16: 21:
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of
heaven is at hand."
"From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how He must go unto
Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be
killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him."
Two facts of great importance emerge here:
The pronouncement of the Lord concerning His church falls at the close of the
section devoted to the kingdom of heaven, and before He revealed that He
must suffer, die and be raised again.
Peter's attitude makes it clear that he had no conception of the crucifixion and
death of Christ as fundamental to the standing of the Church, consequently we
are compelled to acknowledge that the church of Matt. 16: 18 could have had
no reference to the church of the epistles, for there, the death and resurrection
of Christ is of fundamental importance.
Further, immediately following the statement concerning the Church in Matt. 16: 18,
the Lord tells Peter that He will give to him "the keys of the kingdom of heaven",
establishing the relationship of this church with the earthly kingdom purposes of God.
The Church in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, the church which is the Body of
Christ, was not made known during the earthly ministry of the Lord, and it would have
been confusing the issues before them to have introduced that which came into being
consequent upon Israel's failure to acknowledge the Messiahship of the Saviour at the
end of the Acts.
We are sure that with these facts before the mind, the very idea of "churches" in the
place of "church" in Matt. 16: 18 becomes impossible.