How many interpretations of Matt 16: 18-19, and who is right?


#1

The following verses have to be among the most disputed in 2000 years of Christian history, of which competing interpretations have contributed to the innumerable fractures within Christianity we see today.

[size=4]Matt 16: 18-19

**[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. **
[19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

The question I have for Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox alike, is how can one know for absolute certain in the presence or absence of a teaching Magisterium the meaning Christ intended in this passage?

I await your thought provoking responses…

****[/size]


#2

Well, This is what I was told and how I read the thing. In the preceeding verses you know,of course, the Jesus asked and who do ya’ll think I am and Peter say you are the Christ.
Now, then Jesus goes on to tell Peter “Blessed art thou Peter son of bar-jona for flesh has not revealed this to you but the holy Spirit.”(Paraphreaseing I don’t think that is the exact words but, pretty darn close all the same) and then he goes into the text you just mentioned.
Now either Jesus ,if indeed meaning the profession of faith, intentionally went out of his way to put as much about peter as conceivable inbtween and totally jack with the readers mind as to confuse him/her into totally disbelief ,which I doubt conseidering all the times Jesus clearified things in the past that were complex, or Jesus was infact talking about the same person he was talking about for the past two or so verses, Peter.
This is just my observasions and I am putting them on the table. So lets see if it’s a Royal Flush or Royal Bust.


#3

[With Magisterium]

**552 **Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Christ, the “living Stone”, thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.

**553 **Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

[Without Magisterium]

You are Peter [kepha], and on this rock [kepha] I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
–Sounds like Peter is the rock to me–and also gave a promise that His Church would never be overcome by the gates of Hades–

“I* will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven*.”
–Sounds like Christ gave authority to Peter–


#4

Much is made over the slight difference in the word rock (petra) and the name Peter (petros). However, it is immediately obvious that both are derived of the same greek word, the latter being the masculine, which would be appropriate for the name of a male such as Peter.

Some argue that “petros” means a smaller stone, whereas “petra” refers to a large solid rock mass. I just noticed, however, that Matthew makes reference to smaller stones in his gospel as well, but not once, ever, uses the word “petros” for it. Instead he uses the word “lithos”. If Matthew was trying to relate Jesus’ declaration that Peter was really just a small stone, as opposed to the massive rock that is the confession of faith, why would he have used this particular word in such a way that he never, ever used it before? Why would he not simply use the word he commonly uses for this purpose? Just to confuse catholics? I think not.

Petros and petra are the same word, rendered in a different gender. Lithos means “small stone”. Jesus renamed him “petros”, and in the exact same sentence declares that His Church would be built on “this petra”. Same word.

Peter = the rock.


#5

[quote=mainusch]Much is made over the slight difference in the word rock (petra) and the name Peter (petros). However, it is immediately obvious that both are derived of the same greek word, the latter being the masculine, which would be appropriate for the name of a male such as Peter.

Some argue that “petros” means a smaller stone, whereas “petra” refers to a large solid rock mass. I just noticed, however, that Matthew makes reference to smaller stones in his gospel as well, but not once, ever, uses the word “petros” for it. Instead he uses the word “lithos”. If Matthew was trying to relate Jesus’ declaration that Peter was really just a small stone, as opposed to the massive rock that is the confession of faith, why would he have used this particular word in such a way that he never, ever used it before? Why would he not simply use the word he commonly uses for this purpose? Just to confuse catholics? I think not.

Petros and petra are the same word, rendered in a different gender. Lithos means “small stone”. Jesus renamed him “petros”, and in the exact same sentence declares that His Church would be built on “this petra”. Same word.

Peter = the rock.
[/quote]

Also, Jesus spoke Aramaic. Kepha has no masculine or feminie distinctions, just “kepha.” Like “rock” in English. :wink:

I started a similar thread here if anyone is interested:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=70145


#6

Petros? Petra? Why does it matter. Jesus called Simon, Kepha (or Kephas).

Another interesting note: When Jesus asks the apostles, “Who do you say that I AM?”, he is renewing Yahweh’s message to Moses. Recall Yahweh told Moses, “I AM who I AM… Tell them, I AM sent you”. Now, back to the New Testament. This revelation by Peter occurred on the Jewish “Day of Atonement”, which is the only day of the year where the High Priest of Israel could say the Lord’s name, “Yahweh”.

Jesus is reconstituting the New Israel, and Peter, the New High Priest, is declaring that Jesus, I AM, is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

This blew me away the first time I heard of it!!!

Notworthy


#7

Wow, my oh my…

Judging by the responses so far, it looks like the Catholic Church has a quite solid biblical basis for its papacy in this passage. Any Protestants or Orthodox have any counterpoints to interject?

For me personally, the most compelling interpretation to this point is the Catholic one. However I would be more than willing to give a fair hearing to those of other Christians.

And thank you all for your contributions to this thread.

God Bless
Catholic29


#8

[quote=Catholic29]Matthew 16:18-19****
[/quote]

It’s an interesting exercise for us to speculate as to what exactly Jesus meant by those words, but I think it would be more insiteful to try to see what the Apostles themselves thought about Peter and the Church. What did Paul think of Peter’s possession of authority?
[6]As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. [7]On the contrary, they saw that I that been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.…[11]When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.…[14]When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Galatians 2
Paul sees that authority rests with “the truth of the gospel”. “The truth of the gospel” is the measuring stick Paul uses to judge the actions of Peter. Today “the truth of the gospel” is the measuring stick that should be used to judge papal decrees.
My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: On of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas [Peter]”; still another “I follow Christ”.
Is Christ divided? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1 Corinthians 1:11-13
From this passage, it does not appear to me that the Church existed as something centered around the authority of Peter.


#9

[quote=Angainor]From this passage, it does not appear to me that the Church existed as something centered around the authority of Peter.
[/quote]

Brilliant! And Catholics for the last 2000 years have made that exact same claim. Our Church is centered on the teaching of the Good News of Christ!!!

But since Christ knew that disputes would arise in His Church (what with men being men and all that), he needed to leave behind a final arbiter to settle these disputes; one who is guided by the Holy Spirit. What happens if there is no final earthly authority? You get a whole bunch of little churches run by a whole bunch of people, each claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Well, either the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood interpreter in the history of the world, or people might be confusing the words of Jesus when he passed the keys of the kingdom to Peter.

Regarding Paul chastising Peter (OK, guys, how many times have we had to say this?) NO ONE SAID PETER (Or the Pope) IS INFALLIBLE!!! Only when he teaches faith and morals are his statements infallible. So when Peter teaches one thing (note that what he taught was correct) and practices another (note that we’ve already said he’s NOT infallible, and never did claim he was), then Paul (just as Catholics do today when our clergy err) has the right and the duty to chastise Peter.

NotWorthy


#10

[quote=Catholic29]Wow, my oh my…

Judging by the responses so far, it looks like the Catholic Church has a quite solid biblical basis for its papacy in this passage. Any Protestants or Orthodox have any counterpoints to interject?

For me personally, the most compelling interpretation to this point is the Catholic one. However I would be more than willing to give a fair hearing to those of other Christians.

And thank you all for your contributions to this thread.

God Bless
Catholic29
[/quote]

I would side with Augustines interpretation.

"In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built’…But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as **built upon Him whom Peter confessed ** saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so **Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church ** which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. **But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable **(The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The Retractations Chapter 20.1).

Augustine says Christ is the Rock and the keys are the confession that Jesus is the Christ. The keys represents the confession for no one can enter without confessing that Jesus is the Christ! Peter is given the keys, the confession of Faith which “unlocks” the entrance to Heaven!

Augustine also lets the reader decide what this foundational verse means? :eek: Apparently the early church did not recognize this verse as instituting a papacy.


#11

[quote=Catholic29]The following verses have to be among the most disputed in 2000 years of Christian history, of which competing interpretations have contributed to the innumerable fractures within Christianity we see today.

The question I have for Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox alike, is how can one know for absolute certain in the presence or absence of a teaching Magisterium the meaning Christ intended in this passage?

I await your thought provoking responses…

I’m Catholic and to “know for absolute certain” in its absolute sense is impossible beyond a direct revelation from God. However, it is the MOST rational and probable because it gives conclusiveness to what Scripture actually means. Otherwise we can debate until the cows come home on the meaning of Mt 16.

And remember Peter, being the Rock upon which the Church is built, is the “primary” meaning of Mt 16:15-19 that the Magisterium has infallibly defined. This does not exclused secondary meanings i.e. that the Church is built on Peters faith or even tertiary meanings, only that there is one primary meaning.
[/quote]


#12

[quote=kaycee]I would side with Augustines interpretation.

"In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built’…But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as **built upon Him whom Peter confessed **saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so **Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church **which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. **But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable **(The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The Retractations Chapter 20.1).

Augustine says Christ is the Rock and the keys are the confession that Jesus is the Christ. The keys represents the confession for no one can enter without confessing that Jesus is the Christ! Peter is given the keys, the confession of Faith which “unlocks” the entrance to Heaven!

Augustine also lets the reader decide what this foundational verse means? :eek: Apparently the early church did not recognize this verse as instituting a papacy.
[/quote]

Yes, but let’s quote all of what St. Augustine said:

Augustine

“There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church. The consent of the people and nations keeps me, her authority keeps me, inaugurated by miracles, nourished in hope, enlarged by love, and established by age. The succession of priests keep me, from the very seat of the apostle Peter (to whom the Lord after his resurrection gave charge to feed his sheep) down to the present episcopate [of Pope Siricius]” (*Against the Letter of Mani Called “The Foundation” *5 [A.D. 397]).

“[On this matter of the Pelagians] two councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [the bishop of Rome], and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might be at an end!” (*Sermons *131:10 [A.D. 411]).

RC


#13

[quote=Catholic29]The following verses have to be among the most disputed in 2000 years of Christian history, of which competing interpretations have contributed to the innumerable fractures within Christianity we see today.

The question I have for Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox alike, is how can one know for absolute certain in the presence or absence of a teaching Magisterium the meaning Christ intended in this passage?

I await your thought provoking responses…


[/quote]

Truly amazing. Let me be the first one to answer the actual question asked:
How can one know for certain what the verse means?

My answer is that you can not know unless you had the opportunity to speak directly to Christ and asked him, or unless he guided another into understanding and you have access to them - Catholics believe the latter entity to be the Magisterium.

Without such an entity, we are left guessing based on much imperfect knowledge (history, culture, context, language, etc). Such an approach, at best, gives us a hierarchy of probable interpretations. Some in the Christian community are left with no better criterion than to assume that the “most probable” or even most intellectually coherent guess is, in fact, the correct one. There are several problems with such an approach, but the fundamental problem is that the correct interpretation(actual meaning) and the current “most intellectually coherent” interpretation need not be one and the same.
From such a realization comes, necessarily, a considerable abandoning of all but the most basic elements of the faith. Several hundred pages of NT revelation and all the teachings of Christ, which were too numerous to be contained in all the books of the world, are reduced to a handful of absolutes.

Im grumpy because Im sick :frowning:

Phil


#14

cin.org/users/jgallegos/web_aug.htm

Augustine held all of the interpretations depending on what particular heresy he was combating. It’s simply deceptive to pretend he didn’t.

i.e.,

"Peter, who had confessed Him as the Son of God, and in that confession had been called the rock upon which the Church should be built."
In Psalms, 69:4[PL 36, 869] (A.D. 418), in Butler, 251

When he was combating the Manicheans, Donatists or Pelagians, can we really claim he would take the same route each time?

That link shows many quotes from Augustine, and is really quite enlightening.


#15

[quote=NotWorthy]But since Christ knew that disputes would arise in His Church (what with men being men and all that), he needed to leave behind a final arbiter to settle these disputes; one who is guided by the Holy Spirit. What happens if there is no final earthly authority? You get a whole bunch of little churches run by a whole bunch of people, each claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
[/quote]

What about Galatians 2:6-7?
As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—***those men added nothing to my message. ***On the contrary, they saw that I that been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
Paul went out preaching to the Gentiles. He needed no earthly authority, just the truth of the gospel. “Those men” added nothing to his message.


#16

But from those who were reputed to be important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)–those of repute made me add nothing. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised, for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles, and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Kephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

Well, no, of course they didn’t need to add anything to Paul’s message. Paul is guided by the Holy Spirit. I would certainly hope that man would not add anything to that which is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

That, my friend, is NOT what the Magisterium is needed for. No, they were needed to help deal with the Gnostics, the Donatists, the Docetists (?), Pelagians, Aryans, and the Reformists, as well as numerous others.

NotWorthy


#17

[quote=NotWorthy]Well, no, of course they didn’t need to add anything to Paul’s message. Paul is guided by the Holy Spirit. I would certainly hope that man would not add anything to that which is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
[/quote]

…They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we [Paul & Barnabas] should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2:9-10

I am trying to understand Paul’s role. From what you are saying it seems Paul possessed just as much authority as Peter. From Galatians 2, it seems Peter sought to impose no authority over Paul. It’s beginning to look like Paul was the Gentile Pope, but I know that is not what you are saying.

[quote=NotWorthy]That, my friend, is NOT what the Magisterium is needed for. No, they were needed to help deal with the Gnostics, the Donatists, the Docetists (?), Pelagians, Aryans, and the Reformists, as well as numerous others.
[/quote]

And just how does this Magisterium go about “dealing with” those movements? Is it a biblical model? I wonder. You don’t have to answer that. That is not what this thread is about.


#18

I am trying to understand Paul’s role. From what you are saying it seems Paul possessed just as much authority as Peter. From Galatians 2, it seems Peter sought to impose no authority over Paul. It’s beginning to look like Paul was the Gentile Pope, but I know that is not what you are saying.

You seem to have a grave misunderstanding of the Papacy. The Pope is not the micromanager of the Church, he is the final arbiter in disputes and doctrines. If there is no dispute, a bishop does not require a personal stamp of approval from the Pope before he opens his mouth. In fact, he needn’t even know who the Pope is, as happened with the Maronite community that was cut off from communication with Rome for some time.

Every Apostle/Bishop speaks on the authority of the Church, on the authority of God. The Pope is simply the dispute settler when Councils can’t easily put an issue to rest. So long as the bishop in question doesn’t delve into heresy, they rest on their own authority as a bishop to speak.

:blessyou:


#19

There are a number of interpretations, and the Catholic one is right. catholicismnow.blogspot.com/2005/05/responding-to-baptist-critique-of-cn.html


#20

[quote=Angainor]…They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we [Paul & Barnabas] should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2:9-10

I am trying to understand Paul’s role. From what you are saying it seems Paul possessed just as much authority as Peter. From Galatians 2, it seems Peter sought to impose no authority over Paul. It’s beginning to look like Paul was the Gentile Pope, but I know that is not what you are saying.And just how does this Magisterium go about “dealing with” those movements? Is it a biblical model? I wonder. You don’t have to answer that. That is not what this thread is about.
[/quote]

How did they handle the question of Circumcision among Gentiles?

NotWorthy


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