A question about Peter being the rock


i’m having a discussion about Peter being the rock that the church was built on with someone. he says that if i read a Greek-interlinear translation book i would realize that Peter wasn’t the rock. I said that Matthew was written in koine greek and that the early church fathers all thought that Peter was the rock. also, i told him that since Jesus spoke aramic he named Peter, Kepha, which means rock. so, he replied today with:
Eph 2:20 “having been built [the church] on the foundation of the apostle[s] and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone[petra]”. If the church was built on just Peter [petros], why was the word apostle pluralized? This clearly tells us that God built His church on the foundation of [all] the prophets, not just Peter. If you look this up in a Greek-interlinear translation, you can verify it yourself.
The Book of Acts tells us about how the early church came into existence.
I have no doubt that The Bible is the inspired word of God. God communicates to me through His word, that’s how I know. It’s a love letter to all of God’s children. John 10:3-16 Jesus talks about how "His sheep hear His voice."
how should i respond? i know the CC is right but don’t know what to say.


Jesus preceeds Paul and the Acts.

“You are Rock (Kepha), and on this Rock I will build my Church.”

He didn’t change the name of any of the other apostles to Kepha, only Peter. Having said that, Eph 2:20 “having been built [the church] on the foundation of the apostle[s] and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone[petra]”. Just means the apostles are the Magisterium or teaching authority of the Church, under the leadership of Peter.

Peter was the Prime Minister, the other Apostles were his ‘Cabinet’ for the governance of the Church.


thanks, i’m sure this guy will respond by saying though that Jesus was the corner stone again. i’m trying to get this guy to say something new… thanks again for your post though.


A cornerstone is not, and never has been equated to the foundation of a building.
In fact, it’s usually saved to be inserted as the last building block. It usually has the date the building was completed & who it belongs to.
] A stone at the corner of a building uniting two intersecting walls; a quoin.
] Such a stone, often inscribed, laid at a ceremony marking the origin of a building.[/LIST]
] An indispensable and fundamental basis: the cornerstone of an argument.[/LIST]----------------------------------
If Peter is not the Rock in the Matt 16:18, then Jesus / Matthew didn’t really comprehend sentence structure, but your adversary does?
Also, look at Jn 21:15ff
15 When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: TEND my lambs. 16 He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: SHEPHERD (RULE) my lambs. 17 He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him:
my sheep.

This is another clear assignment of Christ’s authority to Peter to Rule His Sheep.
I assume your friend considers himself a sheep or lamb.
Well, how exactly, in a tangible way is Peter Ruling him today & every day?
It certainly isn’t by having written less than 15% of the NT.
Don’t forget to ask questions yourself. Whoever is asking the questions is controlling the argument.


catholic.com/library/Peter_the_Rock.asp Maybe this will help.


If you just look at the Biblical text itself it becomes quite evident what Jesus was saying. He had just asked them, His disciples, who they thought He was. Peter spoke for all of them and stated, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

In Matt. 16:18 Jesus doesn’t say to Peter, “upon YOU I will build My church,” but “and upon THIS rock (petra) I will build My church.” “THIS” (Gr. toute) directly corresponds to the divinely revealed truth that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Second Person of the Trinity, God incarnate.

Jesus is divinely revealed to every person who personally believes in Him (see Jn. 14:21-22; 16:13-15) through the preaching of the Apostolic message of “the cross.” And it is these divinely enlightened who make up Christ’s Church which He Himself has been building since Pentecost, beginning with the Apostles (its foundation).

It’s all quite simple, folks. The true Church is all about Christ, not Peter. Redemption is all about Christ, not Peter, not the Church. The gifts of salvation, justification and eternal life are in Christ, not Peter, not the Church. Those who make up the Church Christ is building are the recipients of divine grace, not the source.


the Church would agree with some of your statements. the Church is indeed about Christ. salvation is through Christ. not Peter.

who had it been divinely revealed to that the gospel was to be preached to the gentiles.
guess we needed Peter after all eh?


Funny how sola Scriptura can allow anyone to exegete Scripture in any way or fashion that they wish and come up with diametrically opposing views. :confused: Here is a list of Protestant theologians who know koine Greek, know how to look at it objectively and who have concluded that Peter IS the Rock.

Gerhard Maier
leading conservative evangelical Lutheran theologian

Nowadays a broad consensus has emerged which — in accordance with the words of the text — applies the promise to Peter as a person. On this point liberal (H. J. Holtzmann, E. Schweiger) and conservative (Cullmann, Flew) theologians agree, as well as representatives of Roman Catholic exegesis.

"The Church in the Gospel of Matthew: Hermeneutical Analysis of the Current Debate"
Biblical Interpretation and Church Text and Context
(Flemington Markets, NSW: Paternoster Press, 1984), page 58
JPK pages 16-17

Donald A. Carson III
Baptist and Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Seminary
(two quotations from different works)

Although it is true that petros and petra can mean “stone” and “rock” respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. **Moreover the underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and most probably kepha was used in both clauses (“you are kepha” and “on this kepha”), since the word was used both for a name and for a “rock”. **The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 8 (Matthew, Mark, Luke)
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), page 368
JPK pages 17-18

The word Peter petros, meaning “rock” (Gk 4377), is masculine, and in Jesus’ follow-up statement he uses the feminine word petra (Gk 4376). On the basis of this change, many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretations, it is doubtful whether many would have taken “rock” to be anything or anyone other than Peter.

Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary — New Testament, vol. 2
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), page 78
JPK page 18


Other Protestant theologians who agree Peter is the Rock…

John Peter Lange

German Protestant scholar

The Saviour, no doubt, used in both clauses the Aramaic word kepha (hence the Greek Kephas applied to Simon, John i.42; comp. 1 Cor. i.12; iii.22; ix.5; Gal. ii.9), which means rock and is used both as a proper and a common noun… The proper translation then would be: “Thou art Rock, and upon this rock”, etc.

Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: The Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 8

(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), page 293

JPK page 19

John A. Broadus

Baptist author

(two quotations from the same work)

Many insist on the distinction between the two Greek words, thou art Petros and on this petra, holding that if the rock had meant Peter, either petros or petra would have been used both times, and that petros signifies a separate stone or fragment broken off, while petra is the massive rock. But this distinction is almost entirely confined to poetry, the common prose word instead of petros being lithos; nor is the distinction uniformly observed.

But the main answer here is that our Lord undoubtedly spoke Aramaic, which has no known means of making such a distinction [between feminine *petra and masculine petros in Greek]. The Peshitta (Western Aramaic) renders, “Thou are kipho, and on this kipho”. The Eastern Aramaic, spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, must necessarily have said in like manner, “Thou are kepha, and on this kepha”… Beza called attention to the fact that it is so likewise in French: “Thou art Pierre, and on this pierre”; and Nicholson suggests that we could say, “Thou art Piers (old English for Peter), and on this pier.”

Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

(Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), pages 355-356

JPK page 20

J. Knox Chamblin

Presbyterian and New Testament Professor

Reformed Theological Seminary

By the words “this rock” Jesus means not himself, nor his teaching, nor God the Father, nor Peter’s confession, but Peter himself. The phrase is immediately preceded by a direct and emphatic reference to Peter. As Jesus identifies himself as the Builder, the rock on which he builds is most naturally understood as someone (or something) other than Jesus himself. The demonstrative this, whether denoting what is physically close to Jesus or what is literally close in Matthew, more naturally refers to Peter (v. 18) than to the more remote confession (v. 16). The link between the clauses of verse 18 is made yet stronger by the play on words, “You are Peter (Gk. Petros), and on this rock (Gk. petra) I will build my church”. As an apostle, Peter utters the confession of verse 16; as a confessor he receives the designation this rock from Jesus.


Evangelical Commentary on the Bible

(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1989), page 742

JPK page 30

Craig L. Blomberg

Baptist and Professor of New Testament

Denver Seminary

Acknowledging Jesus as The Christ illustrates the appropriateness of Simon’s nickname “Peter” (Petros = rock). This is not the first time Simon has been called Peter (cf. John 1:42), but it is certainly the most famous. Jesus’ declaration, “You are Peter”, parallels Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ”, as if to say, “Since you can tell me who I am, I will tell you who you are.” The expression “this rock” almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following “the Christ” in v. 16 applied to Jesus. The play on words in the Greek between Peter’s name (Petros) and the word “rock” (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification.

The New American Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22

(Nashville: Broadman, 1992), pages 251-252

JPK pages 31-32

Donald A. Hagner

Fuller Theological Seminary

The natural reading of the passage, despite the necessary shift from Petros to petra required by the word play in the Greek (but not the Aramaic, where the same word kepha occurs in both places), is that it is Peter who is the rock upon which the church is to be built… The frequent attempts that have been made, largely in the past, to deny this in favor of the view that the confession itself is the rock… seem to be largely motivated by Protestant prejudice against a passage that is used by the Roman Catholics to justify the papacy.

Matthew 14-28

Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b

(Dallas: Word Books, 1995), page 470

JPK pages 36-37


To you in Christ.

If I may. Does your church have a head paster to guide your church?
If you are a member of a denomination, doesn’t your denom have a denominational president to guide the denomination?

Doesn’t the Bible say that there should be leaders and elders?

If it is OK for protestants to have denominational leaders, why is it anti-biblical to say that Peter could have been the head of the congregation that consisted of the 12 Apostles, especially when there are instances in the bible where Peter WAS acting as the head?

Ultimatly, the question is ‘Why does the Church have a Pope?’

Why not… You consider catholics a denomination, so why cant we have a Head Pastor guiding our ‘Denomination’. Where is that wrong in the Bible…

In Christ


Peter is the rock(foundation) on which the church was built. Jesus is the cornerstone. Both phases refer to different things. I can supply some structural engineering drawings if your friend need visual proof of this fact.


I also recommend listening to (Catholic) Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s exposition on Peter as the Rock in “Life is Worth Living”:

americancatholictruthsociety.com/sheen/18PeterVicarofChrist.mp3 (about 27 min.)

He brings the two ideas of petra as the (large) rock and petros as the (small piece of) rock together, referring by this to the relationship between Christ and Peter. I think it sounds very convincing, especially as it explains and circumvents common Protestant objections (such as the petros-petra distinction).


Well said heisenburg. And it should be noted that a principled and serious Protestant can fervently maintain that Peter was the Rock without accepting the Papacy. For about a year, I denied the authority of the Papacy because I saw no evidence that it was an office, as opposed to a “perk” assigned to Peter who happened to be the first person to confess Christ and who Jesus wanted to serve as the “Senior Pastor.” I later saw the meaning of the keys and came to understand the evidence supporting the Papacy as an office. But long story short, I never denied that Peter was the Rock. That part seemed blindingly obvious. But believing that he was the Rock doesn’t mean you must accept the Papacy, in my opinion.


It’s worth noting that after Jesus changed Simon’s name to Kepha (Peter), the other Apostles accepted this by using his new name.


You’ve left out the part where Jesus names Simon the “rock”:16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

That’s an odd little interjection at this point if your explanation is correct.


I’m assuming you’re using the KJV, or some such.

Peter is an Anglicization of the Latin petris, meaning rock. The KJV was translated from Latin, if I’m not mistaken.

The Latin use of petris was a translation of the Greek petros, which itself was a translation of the Aramaic kepha – all of which mean “stone” or “rock”.

IOW, Christ literally changed Simon’s name to “Stone” or “Rock”, but we filtered that down through three other languages to get “Peter”.

Imagine how it would sound to hear Christ say “You are a rock, and on this rock I will build my Church.” Pretty nifty, eh?



Yet nowhere in the text does Jesus say to Peter, "upon you I will build My church, but “upon this rock,” the divine revelation concerning Himself, I will build My church (cf. Eph. 2:20).

So simple. :rolleyes:


Hello Xmy,

All the early church fathers did not believe that Peter himself was the rock (petra) Christ was talking about.

For example, no church father in the first 2 centuries can be cited to support the modern RC interpretation of this verse. Also, many fathers that do teach on the verse say that the rock (petra) refers to Christ or Peter’s confession of Christ, not Peter. The majority of those fathers that happen to interpret the rock spoken of to be Peter himself in no way transfer that claim onto any Roman bishops.

This is important, especially if we want to be more careful how we explain the actual historical record.

Even the great St. Augustine himself, about 400 years after Christ, advocated that the interpretation of Christ as the Rock (petra) is correct as opposed to the rock being Peter. He surely did not come to that conclusion by contradicting the consensus of all those who came before him or the consensus of the bishops of his time.

What all this means is that the early church as a whole did not view or teach that these verses in Matthew had any papal significance whatsoever.

One of the best ways to understand what Christ was referring to in these verses is to do a search for the word petra in the rest of His inspired NT.

What you will find are only two meanings: an actual large rock, or a specific metaphor for Jesus Christ Himself. We can find nowhere else where Peter is ever referred to as petra, even though it is used numerous times.

also, i told him that since Jesus spoke aramic he named Peter, Kepha, which means rock

No one knows this. This is only assumed, so it may not be wise to adopt others’ personal assumptions.

so, he replied today with:

Eph 2:20 “having been built [the church] on the foundation of the apostle[s] and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone[petra]”.

If the church was built on just Peter [petros], why was the word apostle pluralized? This clearly tells us that God built His church on the foundation of [all] the prophets, not just Peter. If you look this up in a Greek-interlinear translation, you can verify it yourself.
The Book of Acts tells us about how the early church came into existence.

Yes. Scripture is clear that the foundation of the church, what it is built upon, is all the Apostles and the Prophets with Christ as the Rock that holds it all in place.


Your opinion is correct. In order for Heisenburg’s point to be valid he must prove that those Protestant theologians also agree with the RC teaching of the supremacy of Peter and the unique Roman idea of divinely appointed “successors” to Peter. Otherwise it’s just simply information.


what constitutes “modern” to you? 4th, 5th, 6th century?
there are plenty of quotes that claim the opposite of what you say.
and they come from eastern patriarchs

here are a couple examples:

St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 387):

Peter himself the Head or Crown of the Apostles, the First in the Church, the Friend of Christ, who received a revelation, not from man, but from the Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, ‘Blessed art thou, &c.’ This very Peter and when I name Peter I name that unbroken Rock, that firm Foundation, the Great Apostle, First of the disciples, the First called, and the First who obeyed he was guilty …even denying the Lord." (Chrysostom, T. ii. Hom)

**St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 424): **

He suffers him no longer to be called Simon, exercising authority and rule over him already having become His own. By a title suitable to the thing, He changed his name into Peter, from the word ‘petra’ (rock); for on him He was afterwards to found His Church. (Cyril, T. iv. Comm. in Joan., p. 131)

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