I think we’ve had debate and discussion over Peter, being the rock, or the Rock, but I’d like to hear our non-Catholic Christians brothers take on the importance, if any of Simon’s name change. Please discuss, and again, I want to try to stay away from the little rock, or Big Rock debate, plenty of discussion on that already. Thanks!
You mean at the time it was first changed in John 1?
not necessarily when it was changed, but why, and any significance for the change and I guess how that relates to other figures in the bible that also had their names changed.
Edyson I believe the importance of Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter as we read in John 1 was due to the fact Jesus knew Simon would be the first to confess Jesus to be the Christ.
I’ve seen many here argue that Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter when Jesus made the statement regarding building HIS church. That in fact is not the case as we read in John 1, it happened as soon as Simon met Jesus. If the church would have been built on Simon/Peter the person then Matthew 16 would not be written in Greek the way it currently is. The Greek does not produce a revealing of Peter as being THE Rock. We get confirmation on this from Peter in his letter in which all Christians are considered to be living stones built into a spiritual household with Christ as the cornerstone.
Jesus was alluding prophetically to Peter making his confession in Matthew when he changed his name in John. He addresses him as Simon after this, but once the revelation has been given to Peter and he confesses Jesus as the Christ, Jesus reaffirms the use of Peter. Once again, in Matthew, Jesus speaks prophetically about the gift he has prepared for Peter at the time of the church’s founding.
So for me it isn’t Peter the person or Peter the confession, the two are inseparable. The fulfillment of Christ’s promise to Peter is that he will build the church, and he does so on the day of Pentecost by confessing Jesus as the Christ-Peter the man and confession together. Peter is also blessed by making this confession and preaching to the Gentiles and opening salvation to them.
Obviously this charism would be unique to Peter and limited in duration to the start of the church since once the foundation is laid, then you build on it. But the honour of having done so would rest with him throughout his life and be remembered every time someone called him Peter.
It seems that every time God changed somebody’s name, it came with a change in position.
Can you say this in english so that I may understand?
Seriously you went through some extreme contorsions.
Let’s try point form then.
Jesus speaks of changing Simon’s name to Peter in John 1
Jesus refers to him as Simon after this-why?
Jesus knew Simon would confess him and that Jesus would reward that confession, so the reference in John is prophetic-an “already, but not not yet” type of statement, like those about the Kingdom of God
in Matthew Simon confesses Jesus and Jesus promises that this act of confession will make Peter the Rock on which the church is built-another “already, but not yet” statement
in Acts 2 Peter confesses Jesus and thousands are added to the church, fullfilling Jesus’ promise to Peter
In Acts 10 Peter again confesses Jesus as Christ before the Gentiles, making salvation available to them, further fulfilling the promise
given the nature of the promise and fulfillment, it ended at this point, but the change in name was permanent and Peter had the honour for the rest of his life.
Does that help clarify what I’m saying?
Interesting-but was it a change in position, or in the person?
It would seem that Abraham’s change indicated the point where he had enough faith to believe God’s promises. Likewise Sarah.
Likewise, Jacob’s change to Israel would suggest his change in character after his angelic encounter.
Paul and Peter would appear to be similar cases, with changes occurring in their faith and character and being marked by a change in name.
Something I had never thought of before your post was the fact that in none of the OT examples was the “role” of the person whose name was changed thought to pass to another. Likewise we don’t see someone picking up Paul’s mantle as “Apostle to the Gentiles”
Other roles could pass-such as Isaac taking over the family from Abraham, but the special promises to the individual remained tied to that individual (i.e. Isaac was not called “father of nations” even though he helped to bring about the fulfillment of the promise)
Very interesting-thanks very much for the insight.
The incident in Matthew took place at Caesarea Philippi, so named by Herod Philip. However, it was originally Panion, the city of Pan…dedicated to the Greek god Pan. The mountain where Christ was transfigured was above the spot where there remains, to this day, a site honoring Pan, who was, at that time, considered by pagans to be the “great god” who ruled the world. Pan’s essence was sexual and leaned toward depravity, i.e., to Christians, it represents the power of evil. (Remember that with the exchange immediately following Christ’s proclamation!) The altar to Pan was just below the city that represented the evil, and was hidden in the cliffs.
Why this spot? Why, of all the places to which Jesus journeyed, would he choose (and don’t think it wasn’t chosen!) a place so antithetical to the Kingdom of God? Obviously, because Christ, through the Church He was then establishing, is the antithesis to everything which kept men from the Kingdom. And even the gates of hell (a site so named in a niche in the same mountain, which some claim to be the “abyss”) will not prevail over that Kingdom!
But the Kingdom is to be established in the “now” of time, in order for man to live a life of genuine holiness through which he may enter into the eternal Kingdom. Hence, a kingdom needs a King – the King of Kings. However, when the King, established by God through David, is absent from the physical kingdom, it cannot be left unattended. Hence, the keeper of the keys, the “prime minister” or “vicar”, is charged with the full authority of the king over all his lands, peoples, and possessions. He can make law or repeal it. He can make any decisions the King would make. And he is responsible to the King for every action he takes.
The “short” form of my position on Matthew 16:
The “petros/petra” issue would not have occurred, since Jesus was not speaking Greek, but Aramaic, wherein there is ONE word form: Kepha.
A change in name in Scripture ALWAYS came with a significant change in stature and responsibility. It wasn’t a “whim” of Christ’s to change Simon’s name to Peter. And we know that change was real, as it’s referred to throughout the NT. What is the significance of the name change, if not to designate Peter as the primate over all the followers of Christ? Note that whenever a name change was made in the OT, there was an explanation for it – Abram becomes Abraham because God will make of him a great nation. Jacob becomes Israel because he contended and had power with God and with men and prevailed. Likewise, Simon becomes Peter because upon his strength in faith the sacred community of the faithful, the Church, would be founded.
The keeper of the keys is not simply noted in Isaiah. 1Chron 9 details the specifics of the keys. The person who was designated as the keeper of the keys was the “right hand man” of the king. He literally sat at the right hand of the king’s throne.
The throne of David was considered by Jews to be the throne of God. (Ref. 1Chron 29:23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father; and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.
The keeper of the keys is, therefore, the Lord’s vicar, who occupies the earthly throne until Christ returns.
To start, I don’t have a problem with Peter being the first Pope…yet. To help me with this one, maybe someone can answer this question:
I know about how the “rock” section in Matthew is used to justify Peter’s place. I got that. And I know that people point out that the two words for the “rock” in Greek are two completely different words with different meanings. I have also been told that Aramaic that there is NO difference between the two words. All that is clear to me. So…
Why did those that compiled the canon allow a translation that could lead to problems? Why not translate it and write it so there would be no problems? I just don’t understand why they would leave any room for error when dealing with such a major issue.
Because at the time when it was written, their was no difference in the Greek.
That, and a lack of sola scriptura…
Love is Patient
Those that compiled the canon had nothing to do with translating the text of Matthew. They simply determine with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that Matthew was inspired by God and therefore fit to be part of the canon. Changing the original text of scripture is also a big no-no (see Rev 22:18-19).
The use of petros/petras is really only a problem for people who fail to understand that these words were synonyms in the Koine Greek dialect used to write Matthew during Jesus’ time. Petras is also the feminine form of the word which could not be used for a man’s name.
There was n difference? So why use two different words?
There were two different words, in Greek, for rock. One was considered masculine and one was feminine. Similar to the Spanish use of “la” or “el” depending on the sex being referred too, el gato=male cat, la gata=female cat. Because of the culture and time that Matthew wrote the Gospel, it would have been unacceptable to have referred to Simon in a feminine sense. I made the point previously, that even though Matthew wrote the Gospel in Greek, the point almost becomes moot, as our Lord spoke in Aramaic and renamed Simon, Kepha, which is the only word for rock in Aramaic.
I hope that helps some.
Michel no doubt that is true and I firmly believe Peter had a unique position. But I don’t believe the position Peter carried was as it is defined today for the current Pope. The early church showed no signs of being gathered under one man, human that is. The church was spread too far geographically to even think one man could have that kind of reach. Many early Christians that were outside of a major city gathered in someone’s home for worship and communion. The didache plainly states that the churches should appoint for themselves elders. Not that elders and bishops/overseers will be appointed through the means of apostolic succession.
If we look at Abrams name change to Abraham it didn’t carry any authoritative consequences. Abraham was to become the father of many nations because of his faith in GOD. Jacob’s name change to Israel was to demonstrate that the covenant would be carried through Jacob and not Ishmael. But Jacob had no authoritative oversight for the nation of Israel. The survival of the nation of Israel was triggered more from Joseph’s alliance with Pharaoh. Moses had no name change yet he was tasked with leading the nation of Israel out of Egypt. Mary gave birth to Jesus and had no name change. One would expect that given the arguments made for Mary’s role in our salvation by the RCC would certainly carry a name change if in fact that event was so significant.
I believe Peter’s firm responsibility was to spread the Gospel as we see in Acts. Peter was all over the place preaching while James held more of an authoritative position over the church in Jerusalem and also presided over the Jerusalem council.
That’s an awesome post!!!
Before Christ’s ascension, who did He ask, 3 times, to feed His sheep?
**Joh 21:17 He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep. **
Who stood up and called for a replacement to Judas Iscariot?
Acts 1:13 - 26
At the council of Jerusalem, Peter again rose up to speak.
Act 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
When the Apostles are listed in scriptures, why is it Peter’s name always comes first?
**Mat 10:1 And having called his twelve disciples together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities.
Mat 10:2 And the names of the twelve Apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother,
Mat 10:3 James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus,
Mat 10:4 Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Mar 3:16 And to Simon he gave the name Peter:
Mar 3:17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he named them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.
Mar 3:18 And Andrew and Philip, and Bartholomew and Matthew, and Thomas and James of Alpheus, and Thaddeus and Simon the Cananean:
Mar 3:19 And Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Luk 6:14 Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Luk 6:15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes,
Luk 6:16 And Jude the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor.
Act 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes and Jude the brother of James.**
There are times in scriptures that Peter is mentioned individually, but not those with him.
**Luk 9:32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. And waking, they saw his glory and the two men that stood with him.
Mar 16:7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee. There you shall see him, as he told you.**
Peter spoke for the Apostles.
**Mat 18:21 Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Mar 8:29 Then he saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Peter answering said to him: Thou art the Christ.
Luk 8:45 And Jesus said: Who is it that touched me? And all denying, Peter and they that were with him said: Master, the multitudes throng and press thee; and dost thou say, who touched me?
Luk 12:41 And Peter said to him: Lord, dost thou speak this parable to us, or likewise to all?
Joh 6:68 (6:69) And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.**
In fact, Peter was mentioned by name 195 times in the New Testament, more than all the other Apostles put together…
Prodigal sorry but this argument does not hold water. It’s only speculation that Christ spoke Aramaic and even if HE did Mathew still wrote in Greek using to different words. If Matthew had intended to tell us Peter the person was the actual rock the church would be built on then he would have written the Greek differently. He would have said something along the lines of “you are Petros and on you Petros I will build my church”. Instead the grammar of the Greek is written differently.
- A change in name in Scripture ALWAYS came with a significant change in stature and responsibility. It wasn’t a “whim” of Christ’s to change Simon’s name to Peter. And we know that change was real, as it’s referred to throughout the NT. What is the significance of the name change, if not to designate Peter as the primate over all the followers of Christ? Note that whenever a name change was made in the OT, there was an explanation for it – Abram becomes Abraham because God will make of him a great nation. Jacob becomes Israel because he contended and had power with God and with men and prevailed. Likewise, Simon becomes Peter because upon his strength in faith the sacred community of the faithful, the Church, would be founded.
But name changes were never carried forward. Jacob was changed to Israel yet what stature did Jacob carry? It signified that the covenant GOD made with Abraham would be carried through Jacob and not Ishmael. But Jacob was not considered the new Abraham. Joseph had more power than Jacob because of his relationship with Pharaoh. Name changes don’t always coincide with an authoritative change in the person’s stature and never do we read in scripture that someone carried forward the significance or posture of the person whose name was changed.
- The keeper of the keys is not simply noted in Isaiah. 1Chron 9 details the specifics of the keys. The person who was designated as the keeper of the keys was the “right hand man” of the king. He literally sat at the right hand of the king’s throne.
The keys in Isaiah have nothing to do with the keys in Matthew. Jesus did not say I give you the keys to the house of David. Revelations confirms that Jesus alone is the holder of the keys to the house of David.
- The throne of David was considered by Jews to be the throne of God. (Ref. 1Chron 29:23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father; and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.
And now Christ alone sits on that throne with the keys. Peter never did.
- The keeper of the keys is, therefore, the Lord’s vicar, who occupies the earthly throne until Christ returns.
There is no earthly throne and no reference to such a thing is even hinted at in scripture.
Because Christ intended to reveal HIMSELF as the rock the church would founded upon. That rock was the confession Peter made of Jesus being the Christ. It was not Peter the person. The Greek grammar helps us to better understand what’s going on.
The first noun which is petros is without the definite article “the” in the Greek while the second petra is with it. The first noun is masculine gender and the second is feminine. The first noun implies a smaller rock than the second noun. The first noun is modified by a second person pronoun while the next noun is modified by a third person demonstrative pronoun. The change from the second person singular to the third person makes no sense if Matthew intends the readers to understand the foundation rock to be Peter. To make it simple, if Jesus had meant that Simon was the “petra,” he would have called him the “petra” or would have intimated that you are Petros and on you Petros I will build my church.
Throughout all scripture the only person that is ever called a rock when not referring to a physical rock is GOD. Jesus is GOD so HE alone can only be the rock upon which the church is built.