The Gates Of Hell

Matthew 16:18 - 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.


Gates (Plural)


A gate is not an offensive weapon, but a weapon of defense.  When the enemy came, the gates would be shut to keep the enemy out.  When friends came, the gate would be opened to allow the friends an entrance.  A gate is where governmental decisions are made, where a person runs to and through when the enemy is chasing them.  A gate is an entrance and exit point, not a weapon, but a means of defense. 


1.      Of cities, as of Jerusalem #Jer 37:13 Ne 1:3 2:3 3:3 of Sodom #Ge 19:1 of Gaza #Jud 16:3

2.      Of royal palaces #Ne 2:8

3.      Of the temple of Solomon #1Ki 6:34,35 2Ki 18:16

4.      Of the holy place #1Ki 6:31,32 Eze 41:23,24

5.      Of the outer courts of the temple, the beautiful gate #Ac 3:2

6.      Tombs #Mt 27:60

7.      Prisons.

a.       Acts 12:10 - Peter escaped from prison through the iron gate into the city.  It is very important to understand that Peter escaped from the prison to preach again, but James was killed by Herod. 

b.      Acts 16:27 – The jailer saw the prison doors opened and was going to kill himself, but Paul and Silas stopped him. 

8.      Caverns #1Ki 19:13

9.      Camps #Ex 32:26,27 Heb 13:12 The materials of which gates were made were,

a.       Iron and brass #Ps 107:16 Isa 45:2 Ac 12:10

b.      Stones and pearls #Isa 54:12 Re 21:21 c. Wood #Jud 16:3 probably.

10.  At the gates of cities courts of justice were frequently held, and hence "judges of the gate" are spoken of

a.       Ruth 4:1 – Boaz went to the gate, gathered the officials of the city together to discuss the kinsman redeemer with the “first” kinsman redeemer. 

b.      Deuteronomy 16:18 - Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 

c.       Deuteronomy 17:8 -  If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; (go on to verse 11)

d.      Deuteronomy 21:19 – (verse 18-21 – The stubborn son shall be stoned by the men of his city, according to the decree of the elders at the gate) 

e.       Deuteronomy 25:6,7 – The proper decree concerning the kinsman redeemer shall be determined at the gate of the city.   

11.  At the gates prophets also frequently delivered their messages

a.       Proverbs 1:21 – (Wisdom) She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 

b.      Proverbs 8:3 – (Wisdom) She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. 

c.       Isaiah 29:21 - That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. 

d.      Jeremiah 17:19,20 - Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20 And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: 

e.       Jeremiah 26:10 - When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house. 

12.  Criminals were punished without the gates

a.       I Kings 21:13

b.      Acts 7:59

By the "gates of righteousness" we are probably to understand those of the temple #Ps 118:19 "The gates of hell" (R.V., "gates of Hades") #Mt 16:18 are generally interpreted as meaning the power of Satan, but probably they may mean the power of death, denoting that the Church of Christ shall never die.


Prevail = 2729 katiscuw katischuo kat-is-khoo’-o

AV-prevail against 1, prevail 1; 2


1) to be strong to another’s detriment, to prevail against

2) to be superior in strength

3) to overcome

4) to prevail


Two ways of looking at this passage:

1.      Satan cannot stand against the church or stop the church as the church advances the kingdom of God,

2.      or the church will survive the onslaughts of Satan and his kingdom. 

Many will say these two thoughts are exactly the same, but they are not.  The first is positive, as the church preaches the gospel, baptizes the saved, and teaches all things in the Bible; Satan is powerless to stop these good spiritual advances.   The second is negative and teaches that the church is barely able to survive the onslaughts of Satan against her.  The second teaches that Satan is almost as strong as the local churches he is fighting against, while the first teaches that Satan can do absolutely nothing to stop anything the church does for the cause of Christ. 


If the true local churches will step out by faith, believing the promises of God, Satan is completely powerless to stop them.  The church can do anything God directs them to do, however impossible it may seem, as nothing will be impossible.  God is the power of the churches, not the people, not us, not our power, strength, honor, or glory. 


The idea most church members have is that hell is going to conquer us if we don’t cower behind the four walls of our church buildings, and that we are barely hanging on the way it is and we don’t need to stir hell up against us.  That is a false idea.  The truth is that we can stir up hell, and they can do nothing to stop us, if we rely on the promise of God to defeat hell. 


Luke 23:23 states, And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.   Satan may cry loudly, and think they have the advantage, even the victory, but they don’t know or understand what is really happening.  Defeats are turned into victory through the power of God. 


Jesus is telling the church that the defenses of hell will not withstand the onslaughts of the church.  The church will be able to go right into the habitations of hell with complete eternal victory.  The church will be able to have complete victory, not because we are strong, or stubborn, but because of the power of God, as we accept this promise of God.  It doesn’t make any difference how strong the defense of hell is, or what the defense is, the church, if the promise of God is used, will be able to overcome that defense. 


The Philistines put Goliath before the people of Israel, but God gave the victory over that giant.  God gave the victory, not because the people were strong, or stubborn, or even together.  God gave the victory because David believed the promise of God that no uncircumcised Philistine (or any other person) can defeat the promise of God. 


The church doesn’t need to be passive, waiting, with trembling, the onslaughts of hell.  We can be active in going into the very depths of hell to retrieve the souls that are there dying, but not quiet dead yet.  We may be trembling, but the reason we are trembling is because we do not trust nor rely on the promise of God and his eternal power. 


Acts 3:2 – Peter and John, by the power of God, healed the man laying at the gate of the temple.  This temple was the habitation of wickedness, and could not be penetrated because of the wicked “religious” inside.  But God penetrated it, exposing the wickedness within in the most unlikely means (to both Peter and John and the Pharisees) – a man who had been lame from his birth. 


Reading Revelation 2 and 3 – the letters to the seven churches of Asia teaches us that sometimes victory in Jesus is not what we think it should be. 

1.      Revelation 3:8-10 – The picture of what we think it should be.  The church at Philadelphia was faithful, and God gave them an open door, even declaring those of the synagogue of Satan would come and worship at their feet, and to know that God has loved them. 

2.      Revelation 2:9,10 – The picture of what we think it should not be.  The church at Smyrna was faithful, but some of them would die, but the second death would not hurt them.