Matthew 15 -- 17
Caesarea Philippi is located near the northern border of the Promised Land. It is just 50 miles southwest of Damascus on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon. Its waters are one of the four sources of the River Jordan and it was also a major site of many pagan shrines.
Here, in the midst of large numbers of idol worshipers, Jesus said: I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). The word church means "called out ones," a fellowship of those who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior and submit to Him as Lord of their lives.
Later, following Peter's preaching on the day of Pentecost, we read concerning a new community founded in Jerusalem upon Christ that they that gladly received His Word (and) were baptized. . . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:41,47). In the New Testament, a church exists as soon as a company of believers associates themselves together to worship Christ, received instruction in the Word of God, prays, and participates in the Lords Supper. The New Testament never implies the possibility of a believer living his Christian life apart from a local church.
Paul encouraged Timothy to give attention to the public reading of the Old Testament Scriptures, as well as his own letters, at public worship (Colossians 4:16; I Timothy 4:11-13; Philemon 1:2).
While the primary function of the Church is to worship the One True God -- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:10; I Peter 2:9), the church also provides fellowship for its members. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers . . . continuing daily with one accord in the Temple . . . Praising God (Acts 2:42,46-47).
In the Book of Acts, this Christian church fellowship was very significant and also provided a channel for service (4:32-35). Later, the Apostle Paul organized a large-scale offering among the various churches which he had founded to meet the needs of the poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-26; I Corinthians 16:1; II Corinthians 8:1-2). The sense of mutual obligation was recognized and fulfilled as Christians in different local churches were reminded of their essential unity in Christ with believers in other areas.
The Apostle Peter describes believers as living stones, which are built up into a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5). Using this illustration emphasizes the special relationship that believers have to the Lord, as well as to one another (Galatians 6:10). It stresses also that we are holy because we are born into the family of God.
The marriage relationship between husband and wife is used in Scripture as an illustration of the relationship between Christ as the Head and believers as His Body in the Church: Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord . . . Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:19-21).
For Matthew 15:4: See Ex. 20:12; 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 5:16. Matt. 15:8-9: See Isa. 29:13. Matt. 16:27: See Psa. 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10.
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