And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will rebuild My assembly and the gates of Sheol will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18, PME)
As far too many Bible readers are aware, the claim of Matthew 16:18, as it appears in most English versions, says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (RSV). Roman Catholicism has traditionally interpreted this as meaning that with the Apostle Peter began an unending line of papal succession. Protestant dispensationalists view Matthew 16:18 as implying that the Messiah started a second group of elect, independent from Israel.
The verb translated as “will build” in most English Bibles, is the Greek future active indicative oikodomēsō, which appears in some key places in the Septuagint regarding the restoration of Israel (Jeremiah 31:4; 33:7), widely rendering the Hebrew verb banah.
Two notable definitions of the verb oikodomeō, provided by BDAG, include “to construct a building, build” and “to help improve ability to function in living responsibly and effectively, strengthen, build up, make more able” (p 696). AMG (NT) offers the definition “to rebuild or renew a building decayed or destroyed” (p 1030), which is something which surely fits the context of the restoration of God’s people in the eschaton.
With some of these passages in view—notably Jeremiah 31:4 and 33:7—it sits within the semantic range of definitions to render Matthew 16:18 as “upon this rock I will rebuild My assembly.” And, the assembly that Yeshua came to build/rebuild was hardly a new ekklēsia of chosen, but rather a restored Kingdom of Israel brought to fruition via the Messiah’s work, and certainly enlarged to incorporate the righteous from the nations.