“At the Copenhagen Denmark Area Conference held August 3–5,1976, President [Spencer W.] Kimball went to see Thorvaldsen’s beautiful sculpture[s].…After a few spiritual moments admiring The Christus, President Kimball bore his testimony to the caretaker who stood nearby. As he turned to the statue of Peter and pointed to the large set of keys in Peter’s right hand, he proclaimed: ‘The keys of priesthood authority which Peter held as President of the Church I now hold as President of the Church in this dispensation. ’Then he stated to the caretaker, ‘You work every day with Apostles in stone, but today you are in the presence of living Apostles.’He then introduced President N. Eldon Tanner, Elder Thomas S.Monson, and Elder Boyd K. Packer. He presented the caretaker with a Book of Mormon in Danish, and bore his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The caretaker was moved to tears in acknowledgment of the Spirit he felt in the presence of a prophet and Apostles. He acknowledged to me as we left the church, ‘Today I have been in the presence of servants of God.’” (Elder Robert D Hales in Conference Report, Oct. 1981).
Matthew 16:13¶When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
“Many profess to be Christians and yet do not believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, indeed, the eldest son of God the Father. Men are willing to follow some of his teachings but do not recognize the divine, eternal purpose and the significance of his life to all mankind. ‘What think ye of Christ?’ and ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ These were questions asked by Jesus to make men think, so that he might teach them who he was, that they might use their own free agency, come to their own conclusions and commitments, follow him, and gain a testimony that he is the Son of God, our Redeemer.
“Using the sacred scriptures we can know Jesus Christ. He is more than a great teacher; he is the Messiah. He was willing to lay down his life for us; he is the only one who could, as these scriptures testify.” (Robert D Hales, Ensign,May 1979, 77)
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
Who do people say that Jesus is? From the list of names they suggest it is clear that they recognise that Jesus is someone special but did you notice one notable exception? Something missing from that list? – THE MESSIAH!
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
“Jesus did not want erroneous or careless thinking done by his trusted Twelve. For instance, He did not want them following Him because they thought He was Elias! It reflects the precision that the Lord wants from us intellectually and spiritually-right reasons as well as right answers and right conduct!” (Neal A Maxwell, We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ, 163)
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“What think ye of Christ?” (Matt. 22:42.) However the world ignores or responds to it, this is the reverberating and the great question! (See Alma 34:5–6.) Can we answer with both our lives and our tongues, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? (Matt. 16:16.) Until we can, whatever else we say and do will, in the end, make little difference. (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1988)
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
How does Peter know? Because he had received personal revelation! Just as we all can.
“This great gift of personal revelation is unmistakable; it is direct. It is a more sure communication than the audible spoken word, for that which we hear through mortal ears is sometimes distorted, so often misunderstood. This precious gift of spirit speaking to spirit is infallible and direct and, in the case just cited, came from a loving Heavenly Father to his faithful disciple Peter.” (Robert L Simpson, Conference Report, October 1965, Afternoon Meeting 77.)
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
“Some have held that revelation alone was the ‘Rock’ referred to. This could not be, because without Christ, revelation would not avail. Some have held it was ‘Christ alone’ that was meant as the ‘Rock’; but this could not be, because without revelation, not even Simon Bar-jona could know that Jesus was ‘The Christ, the Son of the Living God,’ for flesh and blood’ not only did not, but absolutely cannot reveal Christ unto man. The revelation must come from God. Therefore, it may be summed up, that ‘The Christ,’ and ‘Revelation from God’ constitute the ‘Rock’ on which Christ built and will build His Church. . . . I know that both Christ and revelation are essential to the salvation of man, and indispensible to the building up of the Church. Both go together; they are inseparable, and one without the other would not avail.” (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, compiled by Hyrum M. Smith III and Scott G. Kenney, 87-88.)
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
They already have the Priesthood, now He promises them the keys. This is preparation for what happens at the beginning of chapter 17