“And I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
This well known scripture is a proof text for an optimistic view of history. Although well known, few seem to understand its significance. Jesus says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against that Church. Many Christians automatically reverse that passage to read “Hell will not prevail against the gates of the Church.” That’s not what it says, folks! The Church is not to withdraw within its walls and take pride in the fact that she can withstand the continuing siege of the forces of darkness. No! Christians should be taking their principles to the marketplace and making inroads for the kingdom of Jesus Christ. He has promised that the gates of Hell are no match for His loyal troops.
“The gates of hell” means the powers, council, or authority of hell. It is interesting to note that the city council in ancient times convened publicly before the gates of the city. This connotes clearly the action against the powers of hell by the Church, and defensive action by hell. It is wrong to assume that the action of the Church is defensive; it is dangerous and creates a mood receptive to the enthronement of Satan for the Church to assume that its position is defensive. The Church, however small, and however much a Gideon’s band, is the aggressor against the powers of darkness, who, in constant frenzy, try to barricade themselves, in their towers of Babel, against the sovereign and omnipotent God. This verse gives us special confidence for the future progress of the Church. Even the strongest fortress of the enemy will be laid waste before it. Surely the Church is triumphant with a vengeance!