matthew 16:18

can someone explain why this verse shows how Jesus started the Catholic Church and Peter was meant to be called the first Pope?

i know this has been covered ad nauseam here but my aunt wants to know the answer in the simplest way possible so she could tell her bible study group

i told her i can get a good explanation from one of you ~ better than i could give her

thanks, i reall appreciate you help :slight_smile:

It’s a big problem with protestant ways of reading the bible…they pull one verse out.


However, I can work with this one verse (and the verse next to it).

13h When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14i They replied, “Some say John the Baptist,* others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16* j Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Specifically, lets start with her verse she gave u. Christ changes Peter’s name. He changes his name from Simon to Peter. Throughout the old testament…God always changes the name of people with a special commission…for instance Abram to Abraham (meaning father of many) . In Peter’s case…peter means “rock”…It’s significant that his named was changed because his personhood was changed (like Abraham). ALSO…it’s significant because he is called “rock” and Jesus mentions that it’s on this “rock” that his church will be built upon.

Now, above and below this one verse is very significant. Jesus is asking who do men say that I am… NONE OF THEM GOT IT! NO ONE KNEW! And these people have been walking with Jesus this entire time! So if these people literally knew Jesus face to face and walked with Him…and couldin’t answer the most basic of all teachings in Christianity… u think that ANY protestant is going to do better with a bible in their hand and a few Christianity books from boarders book store ?

Peter stands up and says: “You are the CHrist!” …it’s only after this moment that Christ calls him to be the “rock”. Peter is materializing what we Catholics call “Papal Infallibility”. Jesus immediately puts a special blessing on Peter. He’s recreated and given a commission.

After Jesus is crucified and mentions to Peter " Do you love me? … feed my lambs, tend my sheep , feed my lambs" . If Peter wasin’t to guard and guide Jesus’s people…what would this mean ?

It should come to no surprise that God uses a man. He did it thorugh all salvation history… Abraham, moses, noah, david , etc etc etc. He established the Jewish priesthood to sanctify his people through the priests.

Also…the idea of the keys. Back in ancient times (these jews would have understood this clearly)… when the king left, he put his kingdom in charge to the royal steward (in this case Peter). the symbol was the keys…the steward acted in the kings sted while he was away.

Papal authority is explained EXTREMELY well on this site:

It’s a former protestant minister that became catholic who grappled over this very thing. I URGE YOU TO PLEASE PLEASE have her listen to this! He primarily uses scripture.

Also…this is how I would approach them:

I would ask them…do you believe Jesus to be the Messiah and the son of the living God?

They would answer yes of course. My follow up would be…well…who declared this first in the Bible, among the Apostles? And ask them…do they believe that this is a universal belief of all Christians all over the world? yes of course would be the response…so who declared this truth among the Apostles?

Peter…here…in verse 16:

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Here you see the first infallible declaration of an Apostle…but why was this revealed only to Peter and not John, James or any other apostle?

(v17…17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.)

So here…hopefully, a seed has been planted for them to seek more…to think more…why the revelation to Peter about Jesus being the Messiah, the son of the living God.

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 18. Kago. And I say to thee, and tell thee why I before declared, (John i. 42.) that thou shouldst be called Peter, for thou art constituted the rock upon which, as a foundation, I will build my Church, and that so firmly, as not to suffer the gates (i.e. the powers) of hell to prevail against its foundation; because if they overturn its foundation, (i.e. thee and thy successors) they will overturn also the Church that rests upon it. Christ therefore here promises to Peter, that he and his successors should be to the end, as long as the Church should last, its supreme pastors and princes. (Tirinus) — In the Syriac tongue, which is that which Jesus Christ spoke, there is no difference of genders, as there is in Latin, between petra, a rock, and Petrus, Peter; hence, in the original language, the allusion was both more natural and more simple. (Bible de Vence) — Thou art Peter;[2] and upon this (i.e. upon thee, according to the literal and general exposition of the ancient Fathers) I will build my church. It is true St. Augustine, in one or two places, thus expounds these words, and upon this rock, (i.e. upon myself:) or upon this rock, which Peter hath confessed: yet he owns that he had also given the other interpretation, by which Peter himself was the rock. Some Fathers have also expounded it, upon the faith, which Peter confessed; but then they take not faith, as separated from the person of Peter, but on Peter, as holding the true faith. No one questions but that Christ himself is the great foundation-stone, the chief corner-stone, as St. Paul tells the Ephesians; (Chap. ii, ver. 20.) but it is also certain, that all the apostles may be called foundation-stones of the Church, as represented Apocalypse xxi. 14. In the mean time, St. Peter (called therefore Cephas, a rock) was the first and chief foundation-stone among the apostles, on whom Christ promised to build his Church. (Witham) — Thou art Peter, &c. As St. Peter, by divine revelation, here made a solemn profession of his faith of the divinity of Christ, so in recompense of this faith and profession, our Lord here declares to him the dignity to which he is pleased to raise him: viz. that he, to whom he had already given the name of Peter, signifying a rock, (John i. 42.) should be a rock indeed, of invincible strength, for the support of the building of the church; in which building he should be next to Christ himself, the chief foundation-stone, in quality of chief pastor, ruler, and governor; and should have accordingly all fulness of ecclesiastical power, signified by the keys of the kingdom of heaven. — Upon this rock, &c. The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews, which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built; Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same. Where also note, that Christ by building his house, that is, his Church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder. (Matthew vii. 24, 25.) — The gates of hell, &c. That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself or his agents. For as the Church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, i.e. the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or Church of Christ. By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the Church of Christ. (Challoner) — The gates, in the Oriental style, signify the powers; thus, to this day, we designate the Ottoman or Turkish empire by the Ottoman port. The princes were wont to hold their courts at the gates of the city. (Bible de Vence)

Is your Aunt talking to Catholics or non-Catholics? Just curious.

You are already receiving excellent answers and I do not wish to complicate matters for your but if I may suggest - the question should be broken into three parts…especially when talking to non-Catholics.
These are

  1. Did Jesus found a Church?
  2. Is that Church authoritative?
  3. Was Peter meant to head it?

The answer to question 1 is pretty obvious…Jesus Himself says that he will build His Church. So no one, Catholic or protestant, disputes this. So the issue becomes one of “form” and “governance” and authority etc.
Which brings us to question number 2. Is that Church authoritative?
Well - We find the term “Church” used only twice in the Gospels…both times in Mt and both times associated with the authority to bind and loose “whatever” (Mt 16:17-19 and Mt 18:15-18). Later in Acts 15 we find the Church elders coming together in council to act with authority - so much authority in fact that they set aside much of the OT law requirements. So it’s pretty safe to say that Scripture shows a Church exercising authority.
Now Protestants will tend to dispute the Catholic view of the visible and universal authority of the Church, but since they hold with Sola Scriptura, I simply invite them to lay out the Scriptural basis for their view of locally independent and doctrinally divergent communities…none have come up with anything to match Mt 18 or Act 15

So - then - question number 3…Was Peter intended to head the Church…
As others have pointed out there are the passages in Mt 16 and later there is the, “Do you love me? … feed my lambs, tend my sheep , feed my lambs”, passage after the resurrection.
But when it comes to talking to non-Catholics, and even many Catholics for that matter, it is important to try to convey what that means. What does Jesus say a leader is? Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom?
Jesus says that the greatest, is the one who serves the others. So the leadership of the Apostles - the leadership of the Church is not one of power - but one of service.
Authority - yes, but Responsibility even more so…
Peter was not given the “power” - he was given the “Responsibility”…

If one can break this down in this way when talking to others, one can overcome, at least to some degree, the resistance of others to the idea of a universally authoritative Church and a single person having the grave responsibility of leadership in that Church.

The above may not apply to what your aunt needs…but then again - it might help.


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