Jesus and Peter are Rock


How is it that Jesus is the cornerstone and rock of the church but Peter is also the rock of the church? How do we differentiate the two rocks’ purposes and jobs, if you will?

Peter is the Rock: Matthew 16:18-19

Jesus is the Rock: Ephesians 2:20 (This verse is interesting because ALL the Apostles are Rock)

These two verses don’t seem to be contradicting as making different points, I just can’t seem to make out the difference in the points.

Any help is appreciated!

Richard Feynman


You have to understand that being “The rock” is a manner of speak to signify the importance of someone in the context of the sentence or point that person is trying to make.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the most important stone of any new construction. When the builders of old wanted to build a new construction they would take extreme care of the location and the type, shape and size of the corner stone. If it was placed properly then the whole building would have stability and stenght. Also of importance and something not to be overlooked is the foundation where the new construction was going to be built.
Sand for example does not make for a good foundation.

When Jesus speaks to Cephas son of Jonah HE called him “The Rock” upon which HE would build HIS Church.

Cephas is not the corner stone but the foundation upon which the corner stone would be placed.

Since we identify Jesus with HIS Church I hope that makes sense to you.


I have always found the Petrine “foundation-cornerstone” metaphor to be very strange.

Think about the imagery here. Why would the Lord God Himself just be a cornerstone? Sure, the cornerstone is important… but as our Lord Himself said, who cares what the building is made of if it’s built on sand? The foundation stone is much more important than the cornerstone of any building. God is clearly the rock and foundation of all things, so how can God be the (comparatively) less important cornerstone, placed on top of a much more important foundation-stone? It seems rather insulting to God not to make Him to be the Foundation Stone of the Church; even worse, making it to be a mere human being? That’s as absurd as saying that God was created by man.

It seems to me that the only way the foundation & cornerstone analogy works - in light of what we know about Christ’s Primacy as God Incarnate - is if Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone. That’s not very helpful for understanding Peter, though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Apples and oranges, perhaps…


You bring up good points with the wrong conclusion :smiley:

Jesus is the foundation. The bedrock the church is built on. The cornerstone goes on the bedrock and is the stone the entire foundation is laid in line with.

The cornerstone is worthless if it’s underlayment is weak (sandy). Also without a cornerstone a proper foundation cannot be built.

So Jesus is the firm earth, Peter the cornerstone and the bishops in line with him make up the rest of the foundation.


Rock in the bible indicates a lot of symbolism. Unwavering, unchanging, permanent, strong, unloveable, etc…

We can see such language relating to both Christ and the church. It is both and.



Jesus, Peter, and the Apostles are surely not just some stones in a building.
The analogies of cornerstone and foundation stone are symbols or metaphors. It is a mistake to “mix your metaphors” and try to compare or contrast one against the other.

The analogy of the cornerstone is that it gives support without which the others just fall to the ground.

The Old Testament gives many analogies as to how God is the Rock of our Salvation.
Jesus is the Rock. Because Jesus works through Peter, Jesus makes the weak man Simon son of Jonah, a Rock, or Peter. It is the Rockness of Jesus working through Peter that makes Peter a Rock. (Please excuse the redundancy. I am just trying to be clear.)

Consider the books

And On This Rock, pp. 128
by Fr. Stanley L. Jaki
Order from EWTN

The Keys of the Kingdom, A Tool’s Witness to Truth, pp. 226,
by Fr. Stanley L. Jaki
The footnotes in the back are great,
Published by The Franciscan Herald Press, Quincy Ill., call 1 _ 217 _228 _ 5670

Read more here




Rock and (corner) stone are completely different words in Greek. A πέτρα is a projecting rock, crag, rocky ground; and an ἀκρογωνιαῖος λίθος is a cornerstone. The first is a natural term, the second is a building-architectural term.


Surely that’s the keystone, not a cornerstone?

OK. But on a tangent note consider

Ephesians 2:20
Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone - RSVCE

Ephesians 2:20
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. †

  • NAB

The notes in the NAB state:
[LEFT]† Capstone: the Greek can also mean cornerstone or keystone.[/LEFT]
***The New American Bible : ***

ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητω̂ν, ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτου̂ Χριστου̂ Ἰησου̂, : The Greek New Testament. Eph 2:20

Regardless, I believe my explanation still applies,
IMO [WIHIH - which i hope is humble - because if I say IMHO, and i declare myself to humble, that really sounds arrogant to me, just me [IMG]



Abraham is also called the rock, I think there are some others as well.


Both are correct. In fact, God, Jesus, Peter, the Apostles…all are referred to as rock in scripture in various places. Context is everything.

What matters for the Catholic view of the papacy is the context of Matthew 16:18-19. In that passage, Jesus is the builder and He calls Peter the rock upon which the Church would be built.

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