The Greek word used in that passage (Matthew 16:18) is ekklÃªsia, which means simply "congregation," a term Jews often applied to their own faith communities (e.g. the word appears in reference to Jewish congregations all throughout the Greek translation of Deuteronomy, for example). That statement from Jesus, however, does only make sense if indeed Jesus intended to found a new faith community of Jews. More likely the statement was invented after the fact and only attributed to Jesus to justify the church hierarchy then arising.
Jesus is reported to have said of Peter something like you are the rock upon whom I will build my church. How does 'church' make sense to 1st century Jews? If Jesus the Jew never intended to establish a new religion, why church and not temple?
The Atheist Perspective
What is your view on Sin?
Can you explain Naskh and izala within the Qur'an? What do these terms mean and do you accept their practice? Why or why not?
Do you believe that a human can voluntarily turn to god of her own will?
What does 'moral' mean? Why be moral?
If Jesus was a historical person, which religious sect do you think he most likely came from?
Atheist God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Christopher Hitchens Atheist The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Sam Harris Atheist Not the Impossible Faith Richard Carrier Atheist Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism Richard Carrier Atheist The God Delusion Richard Dawkins Atheist Atheism: A Philosophical Justification Michael Martin Atheist Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Richard Carrier Atheist Humanism: A Very Short Introduction Stephen Law