Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Gates of Hell

Matthew 16:17-18
(17)  And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
(18)  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

(17)  ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Μακάριος εἶ, Σίμων Βαριωνᾶ, ὅτι σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα οὐκ ἀπεκάλυψέν σοι ἀλλ' ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. 
(18)  κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς.

I am not a big fan of word studies as a general rule.  I think that the scholars who translated our English texts are very good at capturing the semantic meaning of various words that we have in Scripture.  However, there are times when the English construction of a passage may be accurate, but does not quite capture the sense of the Greek.  I think that this may be one of them given some of the confusion over this passage.

Here is the Thayer entry:

Thayer Definition:
1) to be strong to another’s detriment, to prevail against
2) to be superior in strength
3) to overcome
4) to prevail

You can see that the ESV translators chose this first definition.  But note that it has something of a passive sense.  This passage is sometimes mistakenly read as the church having to withstand the assault of hell.  However, gates are defensive rather than offensive.  Rather, this passage is saying that hell cannot stand the assault of the church.

How are you living your life?  If you are part of the church (I mean that with a little "c" as I am not Roman Catholic) what are you doing to storm the gates of hell?  We all have seasons of offense and defense with sin. In fact, there is always an element of defense involved.  But going beyond sin what are you doing?  Are you sharing the good news with people?  Are you serving God's people?  Are you serving those who do not know God?  Are you serving your spouse if you have one?  If you're living at home are you honoring your father and mother? 

As I consider these I am fairly convicted.  I'm not sure that the gates of hell have a lot to worry about with me sometimes.  How about you?

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