When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”Matthew 16:13 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi with His disciples. This passage of text is important for many, yet it is not without controversy. Like much of what we find in the Bible, there is far more that is unwritten than we might take care to discover.
Caesarea Phillippi was home to the Temple of Pan. It is called the Temple of Banias today, Arabic for the Temple of Panias. (In Arabic there is no letter P.) This temple is part of Mount Hermon, legendary as the place where angels came down seeking different flesh.
I know that might be unsettling to some, but there are additional resources to help understand. Genesis 6 is the first mention and like the text above… There is much context that the writer assumes is understood by the intended audience. Much of that context has been explained away over centuries of time. Suffice it to say, angels came down and took wives.
When men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair and took as wives any they chose. The LORD said, “My Spirit will not always strive with man, for he is flesh; yet his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.Genesis 6:1–4 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Likewise, the angels who did not keep to their first domain, but forsook their own dwelling, He has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the surrounding cities in like manner, gave themselves to immorality and went after different flesh, they serve as an example by suffering the punishment of eternal fire.Jude 6–7 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
It is for this reason, that Mount Hermon is the mountain of the gods (As a title, it ought to be capitalized, but I want to emphasize these are the little ‘g’ type gods.) It is the sides of the north (Isaiah 14:13.) It is the base of operation for the enemy. One that goes by many names and has many minions.
The Warning Shot
They said, “Some say that You are John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”Matthew 16:14 (MEV) — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
His disciples answered Him. Jesus wasn’t surprised at their answer. He then addressed them personally.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Matthew 16:15 (MEV) — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
That is the question. Metaphorically, it is a question we must all answer as eternity for each of us hangs on it. Who do you say that I am?
Peter steps up.
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”Matthew 16:16 (MEV) — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
There it is. That is the warning shot lobbed into enemy territory from inside enemy territory.
Peter states Jesus’ identity out loud.
Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”Matthew 16:17–19 (MEV) — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
This isn’t about Peter being given a mission. It’s not about Peter starting a church. This isn’t a Catholic thing. Peter wasn’t the only one given the keys to the kingdom. Neither was it the Roman Catholic church. It was to the body of Spirit-baptized believers.
This is Jesus saying in the midst of enemy territory… “I am here. Come and get a piece of Me!” Jesus is picking a fight, and proclaiming that He wins!
Jesus will build His church on the truth that He is indeed the Son of God. He is the Anointed One. He is the Seed of the woman prophesied in Genesis 3:15. This seemingly frail Human is vulnerable, yet the gates of Hell will not prevail in this fight.
The body of Christ is not on the defensive side here. The gates of Hell will not prevail. Gates are primarily a defensive fortification.
Then He commanded His disciples to tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.Matthew 16:20 (MEV) — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Instructions were given to not share this information. But it is from this moment that Jesus began to teach His disciples that He must suffer, be killed, and then raised up again.
The enemy took the best shot they had. Jesus did go to Jerusalem. Jesus suffered much, He died. He rose again. He told them they emphatically would not prevail, and they tried their best. And failed.
Do not ever forget, that in Jesus we all have the high ground. We Spirit-baptized believers are already victorious. The enemy and his minions have no rightful claim on any of His. They are terrified at the name of Jesus.
I will leave you with these words from Paul.
As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, and abounding with thanksgiving.Colossians 2:6–19 (MEV) — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Beware lest anyone captivate you through philosophy and vain deceit, in the tradition of men and the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him lives all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all authority and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which also you were raised with Him through the faith of the power of God, who has raised Him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has resurrected together with Him, having forgiven you all sins. He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and contrary to us, and He took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed authorities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore let no one judge you regarding food, or drink, or in respect of a holy day or new moon or sabbath days. These are shadows of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone cheat you of your reward by delighting in false humility and the worship of angels, dwelling on those things which he has not seen, vainly arrogant due to his unspiritual mind, and not supporting the head, from which the entire body, nourished and knit together by joints and sinews, grows as God gives the increase.