Peter as Pope and Matthew 16:18,19



Has the interpretation of Matthew 16:18 been infallibly determined? In other words, must I believe that in this verse Christ is making Peter the rock on which he is building his church? Is it acceptable to interpret this verse as Christ making his (Peter’s) statement of faith the rock?

I’m not doubting that Peter is Pope, I’m just wanting to know if the verse MUST be interpreted with Peter being the Rock.



I think many of the Church Fathers also taught that it was BOTH Peter (as the Rock) and Peter’s Confession (as the Rock). I think Augustine is one of the ECF’s that taught both teachings.

Remember, Catholics don’t try and determine doctrine on single verses, they often use the context of the whole Bible to help determine doctrines. Our teachings are Scripturally based, but not necessarily Scripturally Versed. Too many times, a single verse (“By Faith are you saved” for example) is too narrow to convey the context that surrounds the verse. This can lead to false teachings (“By Faith ALONE are you saved” for example).

Combine Matthew 16, with Isaiah 22, throw in John 21, and wrap it all up with Peter’s actions in Acts (2, 10, 15, etc.), and you’ve got the roots for the Church doctrine of the Papacy.


The “four senses of Scripture” are important enough that they have their own section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 115–119), which provides a brief overview of them. It begins by noting:

“According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses” (CCC 115).

This is a rather confusing statement. It says that the four senses actually boil down to just two. It uses unfamiliar terms (what is anagogical supposed to mean?). And it uses terms different than other accounts of the four senses use (for example, some treatments refer to the spiritual sense as the “typical” sense).

The basic distinction, as the Catechism makes clear, is between the literal and spiritual senses of the text. The literal refers to what the human author directly intended the text to mean, while the spiritual refers to what additional meanings God invested in the text that the human author may not have been aware of.

The literal sense is Peter is the Rock which is the primary interpretation and a dogmatic one. The spiritual sense is Peters faith which is another “sense” of the text. Both are true, however, Matthew literally meant Peter WAS the Rock upon which the church is built. Hope that helps.


The Roman Catholic Church has infallibly defined the interpretation of Matthew 16.

**The Council of Ephesus, 431 AD **
No one doubts, in fact, it is obvious to all ages that the holy and most Blessed Peter, head and Prince of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race.

**First Vatican Council, 1870, The First Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ, Chapter 2 **
Therefore if anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ the Lord as the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord only a primacy of honor and not a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction: anathema sit.


I’d add Lk 22, 26-32 & Matthew 10,2


Most Protestant scholars concede this point…no one will be too upset if you believe it, too.


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