Matthew 16 question

I think in the debate on Matthew 16 whether “this rock” is Peter or Christ, the important question is not asked nor answered.

Was Jesus in this passage establishing some type of ecclesiastical hierarchy for his church where Peter sits at the top of the organizational chart (underneath Christ of course)?

Why or why not?

I am quite aware that Catholics believe this is exactly what Christ was doing.

Infallibility is not the issue; the only issue is whether Christ intended His church to be centralized or not.

  1. He said YOU (Peter) are rock.not I am Rock.
  2. Later he re-confrmed this realiity of Peter as “shepherd” in place of THE Shepherd(Jesus). Last Chapter of John. “Feed my sheep”. A shepherd’s relationship to sheep is as supreme leader.
  3. History as recorded by the Acts of the Apostles has Peter taking a clear uncontested leadership role in the Church.

Franciscan is right.

When the apostles refer to Jesus later as being the rock of foundation for the church, they are referring to the spiritual rock, not the currently living leadership which was bestowed upon Peter because he was as a rock in his faith to Jesus.

They are 2 different rocks.

In the original Greek version, Peter is called Petros and Jesus is the Petra. Big difference.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Petros = movable stone), and upon this rock (petra - large massive rock) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1Cr 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (Petra) that followed them: and that Rock (Petra) was Christ

No such distinction is made in Greek for the word Petra. Since Petra is feminine, Petros was invented to apply it to a man, Peter.

This declaration is followed by the giving of the keys a symbol of authority. Christ intended to establish a Church that had a leader( I will establish my Church on you) and authority The Keys.

In the original Greek version, Peter is called Petros and Jesus is the Petra. Big difference.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Petros = movable stone), and upon this rock (petra - large massive rock) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1Cr 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (Petra) that followed them: and that Rock (Petra) was Christ

Many have been over this before. Petra is feminine and you would not call a man a feminine noun. You would use the masculine. And besides they were speaking Aramaic so it would be thou art Kepha (rock), and upon this Kepha (rock) I will build My Church with no distinction between the two because they are one in the same.

Sorry… But yes, a distinction is made. A very big one at that. Why didn’t the Holy Spirit use the same word for rock? He didn’t he used Petros for Peter and Petra for Jesus (or the confession of Jesus as the Son of God).

Oh really… then explain this verse. Petra is used to refer to the Christ. So much for your argument.

1Cr 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (Petra) that followed them: and that **Rock (Petra) was Christ

Believers, you missed the whole point. The Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, not Greek, but was later translated into Greek. You are straining out the gnat but choking on the camel! Some people spend so much of their time and energy mincing the individual words of scripture and miss the “Word”. You musn’t hang your hat on a word, or even a verse, pay attention to the “Word”. You showed what you are doing in your quote above. Jesus warned the Pharisees about that often, using less than favorable terms to describe them.


God preserved His word in Greek. If you’d like to go to Aramaic, that’s your choice. AND, my claim is that the rock is Jesus. You have yet to explain the verse below.

1Cr 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (Petra) that followed them: and that Rock (Petra) was Christ

Jesus spoke Aramaic. Jesus said, “You are Kepha and upon this Kepha I will built my Church.”

Jesus spoke Aramaic. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” is Aramaic.

The other Catholic Apologist also stated that Matthew is written in Aramaic.

1 Cor 10:4 speaks of another Rock. The the cornerstone which the builder rejected, who we know is Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Matthew does not contradict Paul’s writings in his letter to the Corinthians.

I also like to add in the Scripture, God called Abraham Rock.

“Consider the rock you were hewn from…Consider Abraham your father…For he was all alone when I called him, but I blessed and increased him.” (Isaiah 51:1-2).

Yet in the New Testament we find that twice Christ calls Peter “Cephas” [Aramaic for Rock] as a proper name:

John 1:42; and Matt. 16:18.

In the Scriptures we find that St. Paul also calls Peter “Cephas” as a proper name, five times:

1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal. 2:9

here is ample evidence in the New Testament that Peter was first in authority among the apostles. Whenever they were named, Peter headed the list (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13); sometimes the apostles were referred to as “Peter and those who were with him” (Luke 9:32). Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28). On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7). It is Peter’s faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and Peter is given Christ’s flock to shepherd (John 21:17). An angel was sent to announce the resurrection to Peter (Mark 16:7), and the risen Christ first appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and he received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11). It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48).

We all have heard Protestants say "Any honest Greek authority can tell you that Our Lord did NOT call Peter a ‘rock’ and tell him that on him the church was founded. What He said was: “Thou art Peter (a small stone) and on this rock (petra)-the rock of which thou art an isolated fragment (or rock of truth which thou hast confessed) I will build My church.”

This "Comment" could be dismissed with the indisputable declaration that  "Jesus Christ and His disciples spoke Aramaic"(Wold Book Encyclopedia 1999). The Semitic language that the Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge says was "akin to Hebrew, (and) became the common tongue about the year 300 b.c.e." (before the common era, the A.D. era). The Aramaic word for rock is "Cephas," without any change of gender, such as in the Greek; where thou art "Petros" is masculine, and "Petra" feminine, in the translation of Matt. 16:18-19 from Aramaic into Greek.

If you Prophetics will study St. John 1:42 in an unbiased manner, you will see that Simon was called "Cephas," the rock, by Christ in Ceasarea Philippi two years before He announced, as recorded in Matt. 16:18, that Peter was to be the head of the Church Christ built. Your stale Protestant endeavor to make Peter "an isolated fragment of stone," is a denial of St. Paul's concept, who called Peter "Cephas," the rock, on four occasions, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; and 15:5

Why would I believe the Catholic Apologist? Besides, you have no proof that Jesus did not speak Greek. Which language did Jesus use when he spoke to Pontius Pilot? Jesus must have spoken Greek too.

Anyway… if you want to believe that Peter is somehow the rock too, that’s your choice. I say no way. The Bible says that the rock was Christ and I believe it.

Yes…I have heard the word play theory concerning this Scripture. The problem is that I have to know Greek to get this subtle word play. Otherwise, I am relying on you; and I have no idea whether your knowledge of Greek is reliable.

From the English, it certainly appears that the most direct, common sense reading would be Peter here. That way, verse 19 logically follows from verse 18.

I tend to be very skeptical of arguments that claim the original languages say something different than what the English appears to say when I read it. Otherwise I could just as easily be a universalist.

It does sort of beg the question as to why would Jesus use a very subtle word play to communicate his point, since He (being omniscient) would know this word play would get lost in translation, His meaning misunderstood, and an entire false doctrine created and propogated because of translation problems. That does not make much sense does it (unless He expected us all to know Greek)?

Just because rock refers to Christ in some places in Scripture, it does not necessarily follow that rock must refer to Christ in all places in Scripture.

It still does not answer my question on whether Jesus was establishing some central ecclesiastical organization for His church (with Peter at the top) all under the Lordship of Christ (who is the true rock of the church).

The corollary question being is that if this is not what He is doing here, then would it not be logical to conclude protestant denominations (like the Southern Baptist) are likewise unscriptural because they also are centralized ecclesiastical organizations?

I didn’t say Jesus never spoke Greek. He could have speak the Greek language. Greek then is the universal language during his time. Galilean spoke Aramaic, Jesus spoke Aramaic.

When Jesus spoke to Pontius Pilate (It’s actually spelled Pilate not pilot), he spoke to him in Latin, the language of the Romans. Jesus is God. I believe he spoke Latin and Greek as easily as he can speak his own tongue.

If the Bible (which it does say in Gospel John Chapter 6) said that Jesus is the Bread of Life would you believe it? Note there is no symbolism in that. But that is another topic to discuss.

Scripture and history clearly show a centralized hierarchy very soon after the ascension of Jesus, first in Jerusalem and soon after in Rome. So a centralized ecclesial organization is not unscriptural, (see Acts 15:1-4).

You are incorrect. There is only one word Petra and it means only rock. Where are you getting that a different word was used? Where did you get the idea of different meanings. It can’t be that you speak Greek or you wouldn’t be making such an unsubstantiated claim.

You won’t find Petros in a Greek dictionary.

Some argue that in this passage there is a minor difference between the Greek term for Peter (Petros) and the term for rock (petra), yet they ignore the obvious explanation: petra, a feminine noun, has simply been modifed to have a masculine ending, since one would not refer to a man (Peter) as feminine. The change in the gender is purely for stylistic reasons.

These critics also neglect the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and, as John 1:42 tells us, in everyday life he actually referred to Peter as Kepha or Cephas (depending on how it is transliterated). It is that term which is then translated into Greek as petros. Thus, what Jesus actually said to Peter in Aramaic was: “You are Kepha and on this very kepha I will build my Church.”

The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages show.

For the rest of the article

Key versus on the connection between the Keys and Authority

1.ISAIAH 22: 20-22
“On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.”
note: this verse also supports apostolic succession since the authority was transferred

2.MATTHEW 16:17-19
“Jesus 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.
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.
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.”

"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write this: " 'The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open, says this…”
4.MATTHEW 18:15-18
"If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

5.2 PETER 3:16-17 – Without the Church to interpret Scripture properly we may distort it to “our own destruction” because certain parts are difficult to understand:

“speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. “

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”

“The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that i told you.”

“Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” said to him, "Feed my sheep.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit