Is the antecedent of “it” “church” or “rock” in Matthew 16:19?


A little help, please.  Where Matthew records; "....and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."  What is the "it" referring to?  I have heard some say it was the "church."  Others, that it was the "rock," Christ.

According to your studies of the Greek definition, what is the "it"?


In Greek, a pronoun must match its antecedent in number and gender. The case might not match because of how the pronoun is being used in a sentence.

"When autos functions as a pronoun, its case is determined by function, its number and gender by antecedent." [William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek, p. 104].

Because Greek doesn't use punctuation as we do in English, you typically find the antecedent of a pronoun by going backward to find the first noun with the same number and gender. "It" is autes in Greek and is singular feminine. "Hades" is singular masculine. "Gates" is plural feminine. It isn't until you reach "church" or "assembly," which is ekklesian in the Greek, that you find the next singular feminine noun. So the antecedent of "it" is "church."

It is true that "rock" (petra in Greek) is also singular feminine, but it is further back in the text and is not the antecedent of "it."

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