Yesterday at our Anglican Bible study (which was the final one for me), we talked about Matthew 16:13-20 (and the parallels in Mark and Luke). Discussion focussed on Matthews rendering, and particularly in the additional words contained therein, which aren't in Mark and Luke.
Interestingly, nobody really disputed that the Rock here was Peter, which somewhat astonished me. The minister read a section from William Barclay's commentary on that passage as food for thought, and I thought I'd ask you for comments on that section read, especially on the highlighted parts. Here it is:
The second point is that the very word Church (ekklesia...) in this passage conveys something of a wrong impression. We are apt to think of the Church as an institution and an organization with buildings and offices, and services and meetings, and organizations and all kinds of activities. The word that Jesus almost certainly used was qahal (...), which is the word the Old Testament uses for the congregation of Israel, the gathering of the people of the Lord. What Jesus said to Peter was:** "Peter, you are the beginning of the new Israel, the new people of the Lord, the new fellowship of those who believe in my name."** Peter was the first of the fellowship of believers in Christ. It was not a Church in the human sense, still less a Church in a denominational sense, that began with Peter. What began with Peter was the fellowship of all believers in Jesus Christ, not identified with any Church and not limited to any Church, but embracing all who love the Lord.
In short, he's saying that Peter was the first Christian, the foundation of Christendom. I don't agree with this interpretation at all, which I made clear that evening, but still thought I'd get some comments from CAF on how best to refute this limited understanding. I mean, surely there is a level in that text in which Peter is the beginning of the Christian people, but I would not argue it to be the prominent, let alone only, meaning.
What do you have to say? :)