When Jesus said he would build His church on a "rock" (Matthew 16:13-18), what was He referring to?
Matthew 16:13-18 has been the focus of a great deal of theological discussion, especially concerning Jesus' words to Peter, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church" (verse 18).
The question concerns who or what Jesus intended as the foundation of His church. That Jesus is referring to Himself as the "rock" has been widely held by evangelicals; see 1 Corinthians 3:11. Another interpretation is that Jesus is referring to the truth of Peter's confession in verse 16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Still another view suggests that He is referring to Peter who, along with the early apostles and prophets, was used to establish the church; see Ephesians 2:19-22. In this latter passage Christ is pictured as the cornerstone, which in an ancient building supported the main weight of the structure, while the apostles and prophets share in the foundation.
To see Peter as one of the foundation stones of the church would not, of course, require that he be viewed as an ecclesiastical authority with successors down through the ages. He would simply be the first confessor of who Christ is.
Perhaps Mr. Graham's words in his book "Peace with God" would be helpful. He writes: "The word church as applied to the Christian society was first used by Jesus Himself when He told Peter, 'Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' (Matthew 16:18, [KJV]). Thus Jesus Christ Himself founded the church. He is the great cornerstone upon which the church is built. He is the foundation of all Christian experience, and the church is founded upon Him."
What is your life founded on? The most important step you can take is to anchor your life solidly to Jesus Christ. In His very character and nature you will find the hope and peace you are looking for, by committing your life without reserve to Him. You need to acknowledge your sin, seek His forgiveness, and invite Him to be the Leader of your life.