Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
- Matthew 16:16
The first one ever to use the word "church" was not the apostle Paul; it was Jesus himself.
In Matthew 16, we read that when Jesus arrived in Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (verse 13).
Caesarea Philippi was a place of paganism and false belief. In fact, Caesarea Philippi was named after the Greek god, Pan. So in a place of false worship, Jesus asked His disciples to make a stand.
The disciples told Jesus that some people thought he was John the Baptist, others thought He was Elijah, and still others thought He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
So Jesus asked, "But who do you say that I am?" (verse 15).
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (verse 16).
Jesus told him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (verses 17–18).
The word "church" has its origins in the Greek word ecclesia, which consists of two terms: "out from" and "called." Put them together, and the meaning of ecclesia, or church, is "called out from." Called out from what? Called out from this world, from this culture. Jesus was saying, "My followers should be separate from this culture."
Also, Jesus was not saying that He would build His church on Peter. Rather, He was saying the church would be built on what Peter said: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." The foundation of the church is Christ himself.