What does it mean the gates of Hades will not prevail?
Jesus said “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18b). This is said in response to Peters confession on whom Jesus actually is, that Jesus is the rock the church is built on and is the confession of all Christians; that Jesus is the Son of God - the eternal one.
Hades is the unseen world, (Hebrew) Sheol or (Greek) Hades (cf. Luke 16:25). This is the place (state) of souls: Sheol is the place of departed spirits the only way to get there is to die. (Job. 38:17: the gates of death, Ps. 9:13 the gates of death.) Those who died in the Old Testament times before the new covenant went to either Abraham's bosom (the faithful) or Gehenna (Mark 9:47 to be cast into hell fire—Gehenna.)
The gates are spoken of in the Old Testament-Jonah said, “The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.” He thought this is it, I died in disobedience and is in sheol. Jonah’s prayer incorporates many phrases and figures of speech from the Psalms (18:6; 42:7; 31:22)
Job 17:16 “Will they go down to the gates of Sheol? Shall we have rest together in the dust?”
The earth with its bars. Job.38:17; Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Isa 38:10 I said, "In the prime of my life I shall go to the gates of Sheol; I am deprived of the remainder of my years." Ps. 9:13 the gates of death.
Jesus said the gates of Hades Shall “Not prevail,” katischuo - to overpower: prevail (against).
In its primary sense it means that though one may die they will be resurrected again - all believers have the hope of being raised in the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection. So death does not have a victory, the gates of Hades does not have a victory on those who believe. Jesus said in John 14:19 Because I live, you will live also.”
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
John 5:25 "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”
John 6:51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
In a secondary sense the book of
Acts says God added to the church daily despite the persecution. In the
tribulation where the greatest number of Christians are martyred Jesus
Rev. 1:18 "I am He who lives,
and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys
of Hades and of Death."