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What are the gates of Hades?

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

            Jesus asked this question at Caesarea Philippi, a northern region of Israel filled with pagan idols.  Out of a cave, visible today, is a bubbling spring outlet where many believed was the entrance into Hades, or the place of death and graves.  In that day, people constructed idols to worship the gods they believed lived there (like Pan).

            Jesus told them the church of God will attack places like this, where death has a stronghold and tear it all down.  Those idols in Caesarea Philippi today do not exist and nobody believes in them.  The church, though, is still thriving.