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  #1  
Old Mar 19, '05, 6:43 pm
martino martino is offline
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Default Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

I would like to deal with a very specific verse in Scripture that seems to be the basis behind a major dispute between Catholics and non Catholics. Almost every Protestant whom I have ever discussed the meaning of Matthew 16:18 has given me basically the same interpretation; that Peter's confession of faith is the rock that Jesus builds his church on, not Peter himself. I have also seen many Catholics on this forum seeking the answer to this erroneous interpretation of Matt 16:18. I am not interested in debating the Papacy, authority or anything else except for a grammatical evaluation of the passage that actually begins with verse 15. Here is the entire passage:

Matt 16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 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.

I would like for any non Catholic who believes that Peter's confession of faith is "the rock" to answer this specific line of reasoning:

Peter's confession of faith is in verse 16, Jesus' reference to "this rock" is in verse 18.

In verse 18 Jesus says, "and I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church". Peter is the object of that sentence; so when Jesus says in the second part of the sentence, "...and on this rock I will build my church" he is simply referring back to the object which is Peter. "This rock" must relate back to the closest noun, not to a noun two sentences back. That my friends is elementary grammar!

Here is an example sentence: "I have a car and a truck, and it is blue." Which is blue? The truck, because that is the noun closest to the pronoun "it." You simply cannot skip over a noun and attach it to some earlier mentioned noun, especially one that is not even in the same sentence.

A 2nd grader would get an F if they tried using this kind of faulty grammar; how is it that educated adults cannot see the obvious. I want to hear from anyone that claims Peter's profession of faith is the "rock" in verse 18.
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  #2  
Old Mar 19, '05, 7:10 pm
challenger challenger is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Dr. Joe Mizzi feels it is the confession of faith. http://catholicchallenger.blogspot.c...nes-peter.html
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  #3  
Old Mar 19, '05, 7:27 pm
martino martino is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by challenger
Dr. Joe Mizzi feels it is the confession of faith. http://catholicchallenger.blogspot.c...nes-peter.html
I only glanced at the article but it seemed to me that he was arguing a completely different point that deals with the use of the words petra and Petros. I am not interested right now with that debate.
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  #4  
Old Mar 19, '05, 8:21 pm
challenger challenger is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

The basis of the confession of faith argument is the difference between petros and petra.
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  #5  
Old Mar 19, '05, 8:26 pm
martino martino is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by challenger
The basis of the confession of faith argument is the difference between petros and petra.
His article did not address any of the points that I made. The basis of the confession of faith argument is that the confession of faith is the rock that Jesus builds His church upon. It has nothing to do with the differences between Kepha, Petros, or Peter!
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  #6  
Old Mar 19, '05, 9:50 pm
Theodora Theodora is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by martino
I would like to deal with a very specific verse in Scripture that seems to be the basis behind a major dispute between Catholics and non Catholics. Almost every Protestant whom I have ever discussed the meaning of Matthew 16:18 has given me basically the same interpretation; that Peter's confession of faith is the rock that Jesus builds his church on, not Peter himself. I have also seen many Catholics on this forum seeking the answer to this erroneous interpretation of Matt 16:18. I am not interested in debating the Papacy, authority or anything else except for a grammatical evaluation of the passage that actually begins with verse 15. Here is the entire passage:

Matt 16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 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.

I would like for any non Catholic who believes that Peter's confession of faith is "the rock" to answer this specific line of reasoning:

Peter's confession of faith is in verse 16, Jesus' reference to "this rock" is in verse 18.

In verse 18 Jesus says, "and I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church". Peter is the object of that sentence; so when Jesus says in the second part of the sentence, "...and on this rock I will build my church" he is simply referring back to the object which is Peter. "This rock" must relate back to the closest noun, not to a noun two sentences back. That my friends is elementary grammar!

Here is an example sentence: "I have a car and a truck, and it is blue." Which is blue? The truck, because that is the noun closest to the pronoun "it." You simply cannot skip over a noun and attach it to some earlier mentioned noun, especially one that is not even in the same sentence.

A 2nd grader would get an F if they tried using this kind of faulty grammar; how is it that educated adults cannot see the obvious. I want to hear from anyone that claims Peter's profession of faith is the "rock" in verse 18.

I am not a non-Catholic. I just had to respond. I was trying to figure out how a non-Catholic can come to the conclusion that this rock is synonymous with Peter's confession of faith. If I personally would follow this line of reasoning, my thoughts were "Then you could replace the wording "this rock" with "confession of faith, and Mat.16:18 can be read as follows: You are Peter and on this confession of faith I will build my Church."

Then the following questions pop up in my mind:
"How does that work? Christ's Church is built on the confession of faith of one Apostle who uttered the right words that Jesus is the Son of the living God?
- That's it?
- What does that imply?
- What does that mean I will built my Church on your confession of faith?
- Where do the words "confession of faith" come from?
- From what other verses can be extracted the meaning that
rock = confession of faith?"

Confusing - does not make sense at all.


The words spoken in Mat. 16:18 were directed by Christ to Simon. Jesus spoke these words in Aramaic and changed Simon's name to Kepha. Jesus' words can be said as thus: You are Kepha and on this kepha I will built my Church.

Now, to me, this makes sense. Kepha = kepha.
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  #7  
Old Mar 19, '05, 10:03 pm
jimmy jimmy is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

I think it is very compelling that Jesus changed Simon's name. Think about it; he changes his name to a name that means rock, and then he makes reference to "this rock". That is very interesting. Why would he rename Simon as Petros, if he was not speaking of Peter when he made reference to "this rock"?

It makes zero sense.
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  #8  
Old Mar 19, '05, 10:15 pm
LSK LSK is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

I don't understand what the difference between petra or petros would make - if one tries to exclude the man Peter from the sentence it makes not sense. If all Christ wanted to do was build a church on the faith of one man then why would he have such a public ministry?


No, anyone with a knowledge of basic grammar and of the life of Christ is trying to ignore the obvious by pretending the words mean anything other than what they mean - You, Peter, are the rock upon which my Church shall be built. You, Peter, are the leader of my Church, my representative on this earth.

Thank the Lord, He picked a holy and flawed man to begin the leadership - a man that struggled with his own responsibilities and destiny but always ended up bowing to the Will of the Master.
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  #9  
Old Mar 20, '05, 11:03 am
stumbler stumbler is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

The grammar point is well taken, but it won't stop an anti-Catholic. There tends to be an almost knee-jerk reaction to anything the CC teaches. In essense: "If its Catholic it must be wrong." They don't know how. They don't know why. And they don't care.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theodora
I was trying to figure out how a non-Catholic can come to the conclusion that this rock is synonymous with Peter's confession of faith.
Non-Catholics have to believe this point out of necessity. Otherwise they can't be non-Catholics.

I would like to point out that, in addition to Peter being the Rock (CCC 552 and CCC 881), the CC also accepts Peter's confession of faith as the rock upon which "Christ built his church." (CCC 424). This is referenced to a sermon by Leo the Great (and I seem to recall Leo was referencing something similar taught by Augustine). I don't know if there is an official way to reconcile these two senses, but I have reconciled them by noting that Peter's confession (which I like to call the Peter's first infallible proclamation ) was a necessary precursor to Christ's appointment of Peter. Yes, Peter is the Rock, but he is the Rock because of his confession of faith.
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  #10  
Old Mar 21, '05, 3:27 pm
Della Della is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

I would like to point out that, in addition to Peter being the Rock (CCC 552 and CCC 881), the CC also accepts Peter's confession of faith as the rock upon which "Christ built his church." (CCC 424). This is referenced to a sermon by Leo the Great (and I seem to recall Leo was referencing something similar taught by Augustine). I don't know if there is an official way to reconcile these two senses, but I have reconciled them by noting that Peter's confession (which I like to call the Peter's first infallible proclamation ) was a necessary precursor to Christ's appointment of Peter. Yes, Peter is the Rock, but he is the Rock because of his confession of faith.[/quote]

If by reconciling these two interpretations of Mt.16:18 you mean kick one out in favor of the other, there is no need to do that. This is simply because the Church does not teach that there can only be one interpretation of any verse of Scripture. It does teach, and this is quite important, that certain verses must mean a particular thing which cannot be negated or denied by anyone. This does not mean that other lesser interpretations are wrong, but they are not right if they contradict the primary interpretation approved by the Church. So, Peter being the rock upon which Christ founded the Church is the primary interpretation while his confession of faith is a secondary one, but since the secondary interpretation does not contradict the primary one (unless one tries to make an either/or case in favor of the secondary interpretation) it is perfectly all right to say that Jesus also meant that Peter's faith would be important to the Church, which is was.
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  #11  
Old Mar 21, '05, 10:55 pm
rom323 rom323 is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

It was not Peter who was the rock, for the Old Testament of which both he and Paul both agree on explains who the rock is. Ps.18:31: “For who is our God except the Lord and who is our rock except our God. who is the church built on? Throughout the Old Testament the rock was synonymous with God 2 Sam 22:32: “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? Deut 32:15: “Israel forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” Deut 32:18: “Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you.” Ps. 62:2: “He only is my rock and my salvation” Ps. 95:1: “calls God, “ the Rock of our salvation.” In 1 Cor.3:10 Paul claims to as a master builder saying there is no other foundation that can be laid, which is Jesus Christ. Christ is the one we build on and if built on any other, it will not endure the fire of testing for our work. “If anyone’s work which he has built on endures, he will receive a reward”(1 Cor.3:14). Paul's statement is No human being was ever referred to as a rock in the OT Hebrew Scriptures, neither are they found in the New Testament. The “Rock” (stone, cornerstone) is reserved only for Jesus Christ (Matt 21:42; Isa. 28:16; Cor. 3:11; 10:4; Eph 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8).
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  #12  
Old Mar 21, '05, 11:20 pm
Genesis315 Genesis315 is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

rom323,

You make a great point. The rock always refers to Jesus and God. That's why it is so significant that Jesus names Simon, "Rock." Peter (rock) will represent Jesus on earth--be His vicar so to speak.
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  #13  
Old Mar 21, '05, 11:35 pm
stumbler stumbler is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Della
If by reconciling these two interpretations of Mt.16:18 you mean kick one out in favor of the other. . .
Of course not. Obviously both are true. And my method of reconciling them does not negate or deny either interpretation.

I had hoped to make a few points in my earlier brief post:
1 - make sure all budding Catholic apologists understood that the Church holds both interpretations. It is easy to get caught up defending the plain grammatical sense of the verse. The pitfall to avoid is the easy assumption that the "confession of faith" interpretation must be false.
2 - the 2 interpretations cannot be contradictory. Unfortunately it is common for anti-Catholics to believe the 2 interpretations are contradictory and try to make hay from the notion that the Vatican is refuting itself.
3 - Offer an interpretation that can reconcile (Merriam-Webster: make compatible; bring into accord) the two. The Church is built upon Peter. And Peter stands on his confession. Thus the Church is built on Peter's confession.

And if you want to take it one step further, Peter's confession stands on God's revelation. So the Church that Christ is to build (future tense) is to be built directly upon Peter but ultimately upon God. Peter is just the chosen earthly steward when the King departs (Isaiah and all that -- but that's another thread ).

Last edited by stumbler; Mar 21, '05 at 11:49 pm.
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  #14  
Old Mar 22, '05, 4:19 am
Shibboleth Shibboleth is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by martino
I would like to deal with a very specific verse in Scripture that seems to be the basis behind a major dispute between Catholics and non Catholics. Almost every Protestant whom I have ever discussed the meaning of Matthew 16:18 has given me basically the same interpretation; that Peter's confession of faith is the rock that Jesus builds his church on, not Peter himself. I have also seen many Catholics on this forum seeking the answer to this erroneous interpretation of Matt 16:18. I am not interested in debating the Papacy, authority or anything else except for a grammatical evaluation of the passage that actually begins with verse 15. Here is the entire passage:

Matt 16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 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.

I would like for any non Catholic who believes that Peter's confession of faith is "the rock" to answer this specific line of reasoning:

Peter's confession of faith is in verse 16, Jesus' reference to "this rock" is in verse 18.

In verse 18 Jesus says, "and I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church". Peter is the object of that sentence; so when Jesus says in the second part of the sentence, "...and on this rock I will build my church" he is simply referring back to the object which is Peter. "This rock" must relate back to the closest noun, not to a noun two sentences back. That my friends is elementary grammar!

Here is an example sentence: "I have a car and a truck, and it is blue." Which is blue? The truck, because that is the noun closest to the pronoun "it." You simply cannot skip over a noun and attach it to some earlier mentioned noun, especially one that is not even in the same sentence.

A 2nd grader would get an F if they tried using this kind of faulty grammar; how is it that educated adults cannot see the obvious. I want to hear from anyone that claims Peter's profession of faith is the "rock" in verse 18.
Not exactly - well not at all really. It is true that we must be careful not to use misplaced modifiers the modifier is not always directed at the closest noun. For instance I could say,

“The New Testament, in which all Christians abide, is written in Greek.”

This sentence is acceptable and the modifier is not directed at the closest noun. When a prepositional phase separates the agent from the modifier, even though the object of the preposition is closer to the modifier it is not directed at the closest noun.

To keep with your original car analogy a person could say,
“The seats in the truck are red.”

The second point that needs to be considered is that Jesus is speaking this statement not writing it…

Spoken language is quite a bit different than written language, for instance it is entirely acceptable for Jerry Sienfeld to say to Frank Costanza-
“Great joke Costanza, I will build my monologue off of it.”
Now even though Costanza is closer to the modifier it is not the object - thee joke is the object of the modifier.

All that aside this verse was not written in 20th century English
Considering St. John Chrysostom (347-407) says this: "Upon this rock," not upon Peter. For He built His Church not upon man, but upon the faith of Peter. But what was his faith? "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living
God."

Funny considering his fist language was Ancient Greek.
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  #15  
Old Mar 22, '05, 4:36 am
mtr01 mtr01 is offline
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Default Re: Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shibboleth

All that aside this verse was not written in 20th century English
Considering St. John Chrysostom (347-407) says this: "Upon this rock," not upon Peter. For He built His Church not upon man, but upon the faith of Peter. But what was his faith? "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living
God."

Funny considering his fist language was Ancient Greek.
Please don't play the quote game. You've taken this quote from St. Chrysostom's 54th Homily way out of context. It was addressed to Arians and Manichaeans, so there was an emphasis on the deity of Christ (not the primacy of Rome) in the homily. But to understand from what authority he was arguing, you've got to take the rest of the homily into consideration:

"For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church incapable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father, speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as a brazen pillar, and as a wall;’ but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world

Funny that St. Chrysostom actually states that Peter is the rock, and that the whole world was entrusted to him in the same Homily you quote.

As a previous poster had pointed out, the "rock" being Peter's confession is accepted by the Catholic Church, but it is not in opposition to Peter (the person) being the rock. You can't separate Peter from his confession, and the Church Fathers agree.
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