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Pan Revealed in Matthew 16

Jul 04, 2009

In Matthew 16 Jesus took the disciples to the Grotto of Pan in Caesarea Philippi. The Grotto was called "The Gates of Hades," because it was a cave at the bottom of a huge rock. Jesus used the occasion to say in verse 18:

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it."

Peter was being commended for his confession in verse 16, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus probably was pointing to the big rock over the Grotto when He said, "Upon this rock I will build My Church." This was the BIG rock, whereas Peter's name means a stone, or "Little Rock." You might say Peter was "a piece of the rock."

So far, these verses reveal the positive side of the rock and even the name "Pan." The Greek wordpan means "all," since it is a form of pas. Note that panta means "all."

A few verses after Jesus' commendation, He tells them in verse 21 of his soon-coming death on the cross. Peter responds, "God forbid it Lord! This shall never happen to You!"

Jesus then rebukes Peter, saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan! . . . If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

The contrast between Jesus' commendation and His rebuke of Peter is a commentary on the double meaning of the rock and the Grotto of Pan. It shows the positive and negative side of this--that is, the true and the counterfeit. The confession that Jesus is the Christ is the positive confession upon which the Church must be built. Also, Jesus says in Rev. 1:18, "I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." The counterfeit is Pan in "the gates of hades," who is claims to hold the keys of death and hades. He denies the necessity of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.

The first is true revelation; the second is a counterfeit. Those who follow the true revelation are the true believers; those who deny the cross are following a counterfeit that portrays the gospel of Pan.

I have run across many in recent years who claim to be Kingdom believers, but who deny the cross. They preach Jesus the Great Teacher but deny that He is the Lamb of God who died for the sin of the world. In fact, they deny the existence of sin altogether by redefining sin as mere "ignorance." I know of one so-called Kingdom teacher who claims that the Old Testament sacrificial system was just a ploy by the Levites to make money.

By denying the validity of Old Testament sacrifice (in those days), they undermine the necessity for Jesus Christ to fulfill the prophecy of that sacrificial system in His death on the cross. These are among those whom Paul calls "the enemies of the cross" (Phil. 3:18).

Jesus made it clear to Peter in Matt. 16:22 that his denial of the cross turned him into a "satan," that is, an adversary of the truth. Such a denial identified Peter with the gospel of Pan, rather than with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a spirit coming from the Grotto of Pan, not a revelation from God.

And so Matt. 16 is an interesting contrast of gospels. It is most significant in that Pan/Azazel is the counterfeit "goat" into whose hands Jesus was given to be tempted for 40 days in the wilderness. This wilderness experience pitted the true Goat against the counterfeit to see who was really the one who could lead us into the experience of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Restoration of All Things.

Jesus overcame Azazel, and by His death on the cross, He secured the right to be the true Goat. He also paved the way for all of us to attain the immortality of the Feast of Tabernacles, not by avoiding the cross, but by taking up our cross and following Him.

Azazel represents the attempt to attain immortality apart from the cross. It holds out the promise of Tabernacles without first securing it through the Feast of Passover. But the biblical law of the two doves and the two goats shows that the second work of Christ cannot be done apart from the first work. The first dove must be killed, and the second dove must be dipped in the blood of the first. Likewise, the first goat must be killed, and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat before the second can be sent into the wilderness.

For those of you who are interested in the mathematics of Scripture, take note that Matthew 16:18 indicates the phi ratio (1.618), and that these words were spoken at Caesarea PHI-lippi. We have a parallel situation in Acts 16:18 (1.618), when the Apostle Paul was in another city named PHI-lippi (vs. 12). Paul gets annoyed with the woman who is confirming them to be the servants of the Most High God. Paul finally "turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And it came out at that very moment."

In this case the woman was speaking truth, but with a wrong spirit. In other words, it was a counterfeit spirit attempting to deceive people into following the wrong path by speaking some truth. This too reminds me of some so-called Kingdom teachers, who use a lot of truth in order to deny the cross and deceive people into following Azazel.

I do not have to name names here. It is your responsibility to listen to what teachers teach and to read what they write. Just be alert and ask questions. Usually, the counterfeits will teach in ways that hide the truth and muddy the waters in order to keep from admitting what they truly believe. They use biblical terms but have non-biblical definitions which they do not reveal until later when it is safe. Charles Fillmore did this a century ago in his book, The Revealing Word, A Dictionary of Metaphysical Terms. This was one of the original textbooks for the modern Prosperity Gospel and some so-called Kingdom teaching. I have a copy in my library.

As for myself, I find his method particularly distasteful, because I try very hard to write and speak as clearly as possible. I don't mind if people disagree with me, as long as they do not misunderstand me. My style is the polar opposite of Fillmore's. I try hard to paint a clear picture; Fillmore writes to deceive with biblical words and to draw people slowly into his non-biblical concepts. And those of that same spirit of Azazel generally adopt his method.

The problem with counterfeiting is that the false looks a lot like the real. It takes some diligence to see the difference and to discern what is of Jesus Christ and what is of Pan/Azazel. I hope that this short writing will help you in your discernment of the truth.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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