(Scott Butler et al., (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing), 1996).
Member of the Reformed Christian Church, Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary
The meaning is, “You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter I will build my church.” Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, “And I say to you, you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.” Jesus, then, is promising Peter that he is going to build his church on him! I accept this view. (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 647.)
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), 58.)
Donald A. Carson III
Baptist and Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Seminary
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), 368.)
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), 78.)
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), 293.)
John A. Broadus
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), 355-356.)