And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it


“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

How do we know that by “it” in the above verse, Jesus is referring to “My church” (or to both “My church” and “this rock”) and not only to “this rock”?


I believe this is one of the great Catholic “Both/Ands” and not an “Either/Or”.

God bless,


Grammatically, “it” refers to the last mentioned noun that could serve as the object of “prevail against.” This could only be “Church.” If Matthew intended anything else, he would have something like “the gates of Hades will not prevail against the former” or “against that (prior) thing.” The Greek is pretty straight forward. Any other interpretation just isn’t that plausible.


I heard an interesting interpretation of this verse. The gates of a city are the weakest points in its defense system. If the gates hold out, the city stands; but if the gates are taken, the city falls. So the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This means the Church is doing the attacking against evil, and that the Church will win. Pretty cool, huh? Sort of switches things up, doesn’t it?


Either way, we already know the score at the end.

Church, everything; hell, zip.

Recently I’ve had some discussions in the “Cafeteria Catholics Guild” thread in the Water Cooler with Catholics of various levels of intellectual assent.

Then a few minutes ago while I was driving it dawned on me why orthodox are so afraid of “progressives.”

In politics, liberalism is a threat to the entire system of worldly self-government. It turns into socialism at its outcome, which we don’t want.

In religion, if liberalism truly is satan’s invention against the Church, then we already know the answer. Church wins. That doesn’t mean to quit teaching the Truth. That just means that no matter what some protestant, jew, terrorist, or cafeteria Catholics say, our side wins. Period. End of story.

Now, for this particular chapter, we (I’m on orthodox side now) can relax, assured that there is no way we will cause the Church to lose by failing to teach another individual. That’s why it’s so hard to surrender to the notion that God will call these people to fuller understanding if He’s good and ready. We should witness to them, offer them correction if they want it, but never, never, let them get us all upset and stuff, because why should we be frustrated when we know that everything we do is a part of His plan for the Church to win. Even what look like temporary losses are setting the stage for a future victory.

All things work for Him who loves us. Why should we be fearful or frustrated about anything anybody else says? We who are fully assenting in the Church are protected. Therefore, we speak from a position of power, and we don’t need to get upset if a little pipsqueak untruth keeps slipping out of somebody’s mouth. That’s a test for us, to see if we can put up with annoying things without losing our own peace with Christ by becoming frustrated, upset, or as the situation escalates, desparate.

Where do the politics come in? In the U.S. system, for example, if liberalism is allowed to spread, we might actually elect leaders who represent our selfish view. In the Church, liberals can say whatever they want, but unless Benedict XVI agrees they are just venting their spleens. That’s not pleasant to watch, but they probably need it, since God’s will be done and they did it. They can’t hurt us, or defeat our cause. (Back to Alan now – I submit they cannot even hurt our cause but that’s another discussion.) We know we’re winning so we don’t even have to care whether we can control every interpersonal exchange.

Therefore, it’s OK not to be angry or frustrated with those Less Catholic Than Us, whether we’re ultra-orthodox, Lutheran anti-Catholic, or anywhere in between. We can’t lose. Think about that. Why have any anxiety?

Would you have anxiety during election campaigns if you already knew the outcome? What about close football games – if you knew the score before you watched it, does that not take out some of the mystery and anxiety about whether Your Team Will Win? Sure it’s still fun to watch, but who needs it? You can turn it off at any time. Once you know you can let go and the end is fixed, you no longer have to own the responsibility for winning, just for doing whatever You Have To Do as guided by the inevitable Spirit.

We don’t know what’s around the corner, but God does. He’s already watched the whole tape and He knows the final score. He also knows who’s going to play the role of the peacemaker and the role of the troublemaker in the play that is life.

Another thought. I think even when dissenters are insulting us right to our video screens, they are doing so under the guidance and permission of God, based on “His will be done on earth.” If you knew a particular “troll” poster, for example, was really just an actor sent by God to test your response to an enemy threat, would you respond differently than if you didn’t know that? This is one model I’ve found that helped me lose anxiety over idiots doing stupid things. I just assume that God has sent me this idiot to see if I can conjure up some way to love and respect the twit as if he were “actually” a child of God.

Hmmm. I just thought of another thing. What if God sends us a messenger as unlikely to human imagination as Jesus was? They were expecting an ostentatious king, and got a humble child. What if the messengers from God look to us mortals as adversaries? Remember the story about how the master kept sending his messengers and dudes kept hurting them? Hope he didn’t mean us! :bigyikes:

Don’t let anything I type bother you. God has everything under control. Lord knows, there may even be a reason for this rambling post to have made it to your eyes. If not, I guess something will interfere, such as you wouldn’t have clicked on this title, or the database would have messed up and eaten my post before anybody got it or something. I really do think God is in charge, so we might as well enjoy our mystery drama and not fear the outcome.



Thanx everyone, especially aridite, and yes that is pretty cool PhilNeri :smiley:


thanx everyone, especially aridite, and yes that is pretty cool PhilNeri :smiley:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit