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Was Peter the first Pope? What did Jesus mean when He said to Peter, "upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:13-19)

Cesarea Philippi was a center of Greek philosophy, Roman logic, and Jewish traditional religion. Jesus set Himself against the back drop of the world's great religious and philosophical systems asking, "Who do men say that I am?" After they answered, "John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah," He asks, "Who do you say that I am?"

Jesus longed to deepen their faith. He desired to draw out a messianic confession. Peter instantly responds, "You are Christ, the Son of the living God." This thought could be inspired only by the Holy Spirit. Jesus affirms Peter's faith by declaring, "Thou art Petros (a moveable stone) but upon this rock (this immovable foundation-that I am the Christ) I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The church is built upon Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone rejected by the builders (1 Pet. 2:4-8). Peter clearly understood the rock was Jesus.

Paul clarifies the issue in 1 Cor. 10:4 by proclaiming "That rock was Christ." David declares, "Truly my soul waiteth upon God, from Him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and salvation (Ps. 62:1, 2). There is no other foundation (1 Cor. 3:11) except Jesus. The gates of hell will never triumph over His church. Peter denied His Lord three times. He attempted to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem.

The courageous disciple misunderstood Jesus' mission. Jesus said, "Get thee behind me Satan" (meaning Satan was influencing him). No, the church was not built upon Peter's weakness, but upon Jesus' strengths. Peter discovered the marvelous truth for himself. Jesus became the source of his strength, the center of his life and the foundation upon which he stood.

What are the "keys of the kingdom" which Jesus gave Peter and the rest of the disciples? (Matt. 6:19)

Keys open and shut doors. Jesus said, "I am the door. No man comes to the Father but by me" (Jn. 14:6). There is no other name under heaven whereby men may be saved (Acts 4:12). All the scriptures testify of Jesus (Jn. 5:39). The scribes and Pharisees took away the "key of knowledge" regarding the Messiah (Lk. 11:52). They shut up heaven.

The "keys" Jesus gave to Peter were His own words, His teachings, regarding how man and women could have forgiveness for sin, freedom from condemnation, and peace through His shed blood and death on Calvary's cross. A knowledge of Jesus the promised Messiah opens heaven (Isa. 22:22).

Is it possible for Satan to work miracles?

Yes, it is! In Rev. 13:14, John describes, "the spirits of demons working miracles." According to Rev. 16:14, and Rev. 19:20, thousands will receive the mark of the beast because they have accepted Satan's false miracles.

Paul warns us in 2 Thess. 2:9-11 that Satan will work with all power, signs, and lying wonders. The apostle gives us a clue why man will be deceived. He says, "They received not the love of the truth." The only safety against deception is knowing Jesus, the author of truth and knowing the truth He authored. Isa. 8:20 reveals this penetrating insight, "to the law and the testimony if they speak not according to His word, it is because there is no light in them." Matt. 7:21 describes many coming to Jesus at the end declaring to have worked miracles in His name.

Yet the Savior says, "I never knew you (even when in His name they were working miracles) depart from me, ye that work "iniquity." The word iniquity is the same word in 1 Jn. 3:4 when John says, "sin is the transgression of God's law or lawlessness." If miracles lead to a disregard of the laws of health which God has placed in every nerve and tissue in our bodies or if they lead to a disregard of His moral law, the Ten Commandments, the power behind them is not from God.

Facts About the Bible

The Bible contains 66 Books written by 44 authors.

It was written over a 1500-year period of time.

Evidence of the Bible's inspiration includes:

Prophecy - See the following: Babylon (Isa. 13: 19-22), Tyre (Ezek. 26:3-5), Sidon (Ezek. 28:21-23, Cyrus (Isa. 44:28, 45:1), Medo-Persia & Greece (Dan. 8:20, 21), and Jesus' Birthplace (Mic. 5:2).

Archaeology - Moabite Stone discovered in 1868 at Dibon, Jordan, confirming Moabite attacks on Israel as recorded in 2 Kings 1 & 3.

The Lachish Letters, discovered 1932-1938, 24miles north of Beersheba, describing the attack of Nebuchadnezzar on Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1948.They date back to 150-170 B.C. and contain all or parts of the Old Testament books except the book of Esther. They confirm the Bible's accuracy.

Cyrus' Cylinder records Cyrus' overthrow of Babylon and his subsequent deliverance of the Jewish captives.

The Rosetta Stone discovered in 1799, in Egypt, by Napoleon's scientists, was written in three languages-hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek. It unlocked the mystery of understanding hieroglyphics. Understanding hieroglyphics helps to confirm the authenticity of the Bible.

Cohesive unity - Evidence of the Bible's inspiration also includes its cohesive unity. In more than 3000places the Bible declares itself inspired (2 Pet.1:21). It does not contradict itself. It is either inspired by God or a fraud.

Accuracy - Certainly it is inconceivable that a Book so accurate through the centuries could be considered anything less than inspired by God.Christ revealed - The greatest evidence of the Bible’s inspiration is evidenced in the Christ it reveals and the changes in those who study it.