The Protection of God - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity

Issues Within Christianity

The Protection of God

Jesus once said, "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18b) For many years I found this verse rather puzzling. Oh, the basic meaning seemed plain enough: God will protect his people from the forces of hell; when the forces of evil -- or perhaps Satan himself -- attack, God will not permit them to destroy us. But I was always puzzled by the use of the word "gates". What are "gates" supposed to symbolize?

Perhaps the true meaning of this verse is obvious to you. I didn't see it until I read it in another translation. The meaning is clearly the same, but suddenly it makes sense. It read, "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not stand against it."

Do you see it now? Jesus was not saying that God will keep us safe so that the forces of hell cannot destroy us. Quite the contrary: He was saying that the Church shall attack the forces of evil, and we will batter down the very gates of hell, and they shall not be able to stand against us.

We are not supposed to be cowering in a bunker, begging God to protect us from evil. We are supposed to be out there confronting evil face to face, and forcing them to run to the bunkers and cower in fear before the onslaught of the army of God.

(Perhaps I should quickly add that this does not necessarily mean literal warfare and physical violence. Though I suspect that's included at times. But that's another subject.)

© 1997 by Jay Johansen


Steven Jun 26, 2011

I just started reading your website last night, and I'm not even halfway through yet, but I wanted to mention something to you about the article mentioned in the subject line.

We, as Christians, are not supposed to be cowering in bunker, but from what I know of the Greek Matthew 16:18 is talking about how the power of death (or Hades) will never overcome the Church. There are other verses which teach us to fight against evil forces ( in whatever form), I don't think this verse is meant as one to inspire offense, but rather inspire faith and knowledge that the Church is securely in God's care.

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