On the second day after John baptized Jesus, He saw Jesus coming toward him and witnessed to two of his disciples that were with him and told them that Jesus was the Christ. Those two then followed Jesus Who turned and asked them what they were seeking. They asked Him where He was staying and Jesus told them to follow Him. One of them was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. After that,
Joh 1:41 (NKJV) He [Andrew] first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).
Joh 1:42 (NKJV) And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).
Simon son of Jonah:
Greek: Σίμων ο υἱος Ἰωαννου (“Simon son of Jonah”)
Hebrew: שמעון בר־יונה (“Simeon son of Jonah” / literally “Simeon bar-Yonah”)
שמעון (Simeon or Shimeon), hearing (Strong’s H8095)
יונה (Jonah), dove (Strong’s H3124)
Thus Simon son of Jonah could be translated “Hearing son of the dove.” And since the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, we could also state it thus: “hearing from the Holy Spirit.”
We can apply this understanding to another passage:
Mat 16:13 (NKJV) When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?“
Mat 16:14 (NKJV) So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Mat 16:15 (NKJV) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?“
Mat 16:16 (NKJV) Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of he living God.”
Mat 16:17 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.“
Since God revealed this to “Simon Bar-Jonah,” he revealed it to “Hearing, son of the Dove,” or symbolically, “you heard this from God the Holy Spirit.”
There is another thing we can learn from these passages in Matthew. Remember that Jesus and his disciples were staying at Caesarea Philippi (Mat 16:13).
In the next verse, Jesus said:
Mat 16:18 (NKJV) 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. (KVJ, DRB, and others: “gates of hell”).
Caesarea Philippi is at the base of Mt. Hermon where Tel Dan is located. Very near the town is a cave where the Greek God, Pan, was worshipped. There are waters flowing out of that cave, which are headwaters of the Jordan River. The word Jordan, jor-dan, literally means “down from Dan.”
The Greeks called the town Paneas, because their god, Pan, was worshipped there. Pan was a satyr, with the torso and head of a man and the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat. He was a fertility god and a nature god who and was worshipped in caves and grottos instead of in temples.
The cave at the base of Mt. Hermon was a shrine to Pan where his worship took place. In the minds of pagans, their gods took refuge in the underworld, where fertility gods wintered. They returned to earth in the spring and they entered and exited the underworld through caves.
The cave at Caesarea Philippi was known as Pan’s grotto and since it was considered to be an entrance to the underworld, it is also known as the Gates of Hades or Gates of Hell.
At Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus said that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His church, they were very near the grotto known as “The Gates of Hell.” The church would figuratively storm the gates of Hell, but a place known as the Gates of Hell was physically present at Caesarea Philippi, perhaps right in their sights. What an object lesson this is. Jesus not only used language to get His point across, but also used the actual Gates of Hell as a visual aid.
Truly nothing, including the Gates of Hell can ever prevail against believers in Christ:
Rom 8:38-39 NKJV For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, (39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).
Mark Oaks, February 20, 2020