First of all, there is no fence around Hell, so there can be no Gate. In fact, Jesus is not talking about a physical gate at all. Rather, He is talking about the counsels, judgments, plans, purposes, schemes, tricks, and wiles of the kingdom of darkness. That is the actual meaning of the term – Gates of Hell.
In ancient times the gates of the city were the place where public concourse and matters of court would be considered and decided upon.
Also, it was customary for the elders of the city to sit in the gates, signifying that wisdom and understanding were available for all the people of the city. On some occasions, even kings would place their thrones in the Gates, signifying their rule over all who came in and out of the City.
Those listening to Jesus talk about the gates of hell would understand all this; after all, they didn’t have movies in those days.
When Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Community of the Called Out (i.e., His Church), He means that none of the attacks which the devil unleashes from his seat of authority will in any manner gain supremacy over the people of God. Even if the full arsenal of Satan’s dark empire was launched in a single, massive, all-out frontal assault against the Church, the cumulative effect would be like a fly smacking into the Rock of Gibraltar!
Uh, the Rock wins.
Friend, no scheme the devil devises will succeed, no counsel he offers will prosper, no plan he comes up with will work. “Greater is He who is in you, than he that is in the world” (1Jn_4:4). And, “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isa_54:17).
Of course, this doesn’t mean that he won’t try. In fact, it all but guarantees that the one thing the devil will do is attack the Church with relentless intensity. And why? Because the Church is the only thing on the planet that holds the unique distinction of being the Bride of Christ. And the devil so hates the Lord Jesus that he will try to trash whatever is dear to the Lord’s heart. And that’s us.
What else can you expect from a sulking bum sitting defeated in the crumbling gates of hell?
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD. Isa 54:17
and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment; that shall raise any calumny upon thee, or bring any charge against thee, or enter into a lawsuit with thee, litigate a point with thee in any court of judicature, or claim, in right and law, a power, authority, and dominion over thee, as the pope of Rome does over the consciences of men:
thou shalt condemn; disprove and roll off the calumny, refute the charge and accusation, put to silence the clamours and pretences of wicked men, carry the cause against them, and shake off the yoke of bondage they would bring them under; and, instead of being condemned by them, condemn them. By "weapon" may be meant all the attempts made by force to ruin the interest and church of Christ in the world, such as the bloody persecutions of the Roman emperors, who, though they made sad havoc of the professors of Christianity, and designed hereby to have rooted it out of the world, and thought they should have accomplished it, yet could not do it; so far from it, that the Christians yet more and more increased, insomuch that it became a common saying, that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church; also the wars of the Papists with the Albigenses and Waldenses, and all the cruel methods they have taken by fire and faggot, and the bloody inquisition, to hinder the growth of what they call heresy; yet all have been in vain, a reformation has taken place, and many nations have embraced the truth, and shook off the yoke of Popery; together with all their efforts since to crush the Protestant interest; and though the kings of the earth will be stirred up, and gather together to the battle of the Lord God Almighty, they will not succeed, but be overcome and slain, and the beast and false prophet at the head of them will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire: and by the "tongue" may be designed the edicts of the Pagan emperors, forbidding the exercise of the Christian religion, and threatening the preachers and professors of it with imprisonment, confiscation of goods, and death itself; and the anathemas, bulls, and interdicts of the popes of Rome, as well as the reproaches, scandals, and calumnies uttered by the emissaries of that church against all that depart from it; together with the errors and heresies of false teachers of all sorts in all ages of the world, which, though levelled against the faith and doctrine of the church of Christ, have not been able to subvert it, nor ever will:
this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; this, with all that is said in this chapter, is the part, portion, and privilege, that such shall enjoy who serve the Lord Christ, and not antichrist; they shall be treated rather as sons than as servants, and have an inheritance assigned them; not only protection from all enemies, and absolution from all charges, but they shall receive the reward of the inheritance in heaven, that which is incorruptible and undefiled, and reserved there, since they serve the Lord Christ:
and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord; the vindication of their righteousness, of their cause, and of their character; or the reward of their righteous works in a way of grace; even all that righteousness and true holiness that is in them, and that righteousness which is imputed to them, and by which they are justified, are from the Lord; by which they are secured from all the charges of law and justice, and, from all the accusations of men and devils, and which will answer for them in a time to come, and acquit them at the bar of God before men and angels; see Rom_8:33. (John Gill)