Peter is not the rock?


ive heard many protestants say Peter was not the rock, that Jesus was… what do they mean by this ??? and what should i tell someone who says this ?



Sorry, but that’s my initial reaction when I come up against this from non-Catholics.

Go to the CA Library and start reading. Apologetics is addictive once you start learning how to “give a reason for the hope that is in you.”



Matthew 16:18

“And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”


If Peter is not the Rock then why name him Peter? Since the name derive from the Greek word “Petros”


Opps forgot Matthew 16:19

“And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”


Go check out the Interlinear Bible. Interestingly enough it says “Petro (rock)” in the sentence.

The French Bible on Bible Gateway says:

18Et moi, je te dis que tu es Pierre, et que sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon Église, et que les portes du séjour des morts ne prévaudront point contre elle.

Now I don’t speak French but I gotta admit, that’s pretty hard to miss in light of what I have heard of the way that the ancient Aramaic language translates that passage. Which would have been

You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my church.

I also checked a couple of baby naming sites. This is what they say about pierre:

The meaning of the name Pierre is Rock

The origin of the name Pierre is French

Info on this name: form of Peter

If Pierre is a form of Peter than it would also translate as:

You are Peter and on this peter I will build my church.

Also when you check something like the Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Concordance you will find that "Petro", “Petra” are connected to each other. In fact the info on Petra says " feminine of the same as 4074." Of course 4074 is Petros. Both words mean rock. Also* Kepha*, the word Jesus spoke in regard to Peter, means “The Rock”.

I have found when you get back to the Greek on this it seems to line itself out. Many will try and separate Petro and Petra from each other. However you really can’t. Petra is simple the feminine of petro. Since Peter is male than he obviously can not be a petra. He must be a petro. I would think that those who spoke other languages like Spanish would understand this very well, since you run into the exact same concepts in the Spanish language.

However, for those who are not that into the Greek you could also look at Isaiah 22

19 I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.
20 5 On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
21 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.
22 6 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. **23 I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family;
24 7 On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
25 On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken.

Jesus uses this same language when he spoke to Peter in Matt 16:18.

17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood 12 has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, 13 and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19 **I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 14 Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” **

I would say to do some studying on this and it will help you figure out what to say.


Tell them to read what Protestant Scholars have to say…


“You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)." (John 1:42)

“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:17-19)

W.F. Albright and C.S. Mann
“[Peter] is not a name, but an appellation and a play on words. There is no evidence of Peter or Kephas as a name before Christian times….Peter as Rock will be the foundation of the future community. Jesus, not quoting the Old Testament, here uses Aramaic, not Hebrew, and so uses the only Aramaic word that would serve his purpose. In view of the background of v. 19…one must dismiss as confessional interpretation any attempt to see this rock as meaning the faith, or the messianic confession, of Peter. To deny the pre-eminent position of Peter among the disciples or in the early Christian community is a denial of the evidence…The interest in Peter’s failures and vacillations does not detract from this pre-eminence; rather, it emphasizes it. Had Peter been a lesser figure his behavior would have been of far less consequence.” (The Anchor Bible; Matthew [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1971], 195)

Albert Barnes (Nineteenth-Century Presbyterian)
“The meaning of this phrase may be thus expressed: ‘Thou, in saying that I am the Son of God, hast called me by a name expressive of my true character. I, also, have given to thee a name expressive of your character. I have called you Peter, a rock. . . . I see that you are worthy of the name and will be a distinguished support of my religion” Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 170].

John Broadus (Nineteenth-Century Calvinistic Baptist)
“As Peter means rock, the natural interpretation is that ‘upon this rock’ means upon thee. . . . It is an even more far-fetched and harsh play upon words if we understand the rock to be Christ and a very feeble and almost unmeaning play upon words if the rock is Peter’s confession” Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 356].

Craig L. Blomberg (Baptist)
“The expression ‘this rock’ almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following ‘the Christ’ in verse 16 applied to Jesus. The play on words in the Greek between Peter’s name (Petros) and the word ‘rock’ (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the Rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification” New American Commentary: Matthew, 22:252].

Donald A. Carson (Baptist)
“On the basis of the distinction between ‘petros’ . . . and ‘petra’ . . . , many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Peter is a mere ‘stone,’ it is alleged; but Jesus himself is the ‘rock’ . . . Others adopt some other distinction . . . Yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretation, it is doubtful whether many would have taken ‘rock’ to be anything or anyone other than Peter . . . The Greek makes the distinction between ‘petros’ and ‘petra’ simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine ‘petra’ could not very well serve as a masculine name . . . Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been ‘lithos’ (‘stone’ of almost any size). Then there would have been no pun - and that is just the point! . . . In this passage Jesus is the builder of the church and it would be a strange mixture of metaphors that also sees him within the same clauses as its foundation . . .” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984], vol. 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Matthew: D.A. Carson), 368)



J. Knox Chamblin (Contemporary Presbyterian)
“By the words ‘this rock’ Jesus means not himself, nor his teaching, nor God the Father, nor Peter’s confession, but Peter himself. The phrase is immediately preceded by a direct and emphatic reference to Peter. As Jesus identifies himself as the builder, the rock on which he builds is most naturally understood as someone (or something) other than Jesus himself” “Matthew” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 742].

R.T. France (Anglican)
“Jesus now sums up Peter’s significance in a name, Peter . . . It describes not so much Peter’s character (he did not prove to be ‘rock-like’ in terms of stability or reliability), but his function, as the foundation-stone of Jesus’ church. The feminine word for ‘rock’, ‘petra’, is necessarily changed to the masculine ‘petros’ (stone) to give a man’s name, but the word-play is unmistakable (and in Aramaic would be even more so, as the same form ‘kepha’ would occur in both places). It is only Protestant overreaction to the Roman Catholic claim . . . that what is here said of Peter applies also to the later bishops of Rome, that has led some to claim that the ‘rock’ here is not Peter at all but the faith which he has just confessed. "The word-play, and the whole structure of the passage, demands that this verse is every bit as much Jesus’ declaration about Peter as verse 16 was Peter’s declaration about Jesus. Of course it is on the basis of Peter’s confession that Jesus declares his role as the Church’s foundation, but it is to Peter, not his confession, that the rock metaphor is applied…Peter is to be the foundation-stone of Jesus’ new community . . . which will last forever.” (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985], vol. 1: Matthew, 254, 256)

William Hendriksen (Reformed Christian Church, Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary)
The meaning is, “You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter I will build my church.” Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, “And I say to you, you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.” Jesus, then, is promising Peter that he is going to build his church on him! I accept this view.” (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973], page 647JPK page 14]

Donald Hagner (Contemporary Evangelical)
“The frequent attempts that have been made, largely in the past, to deny [that Peter is the rock] in favor of the view that the confession itself is the rock . . . seem to be largely motivated by Protestant prejudice against a passage that is used by the Roman Catholics to justify the papacy” (Word Biblical Commentary 33b:470).

David Hill (Presbyterian)
“It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church…Attempts to interpret the ‘rock’ as something other than Peter in person (e.g., his faith, the truth revealed to him) are due to Protestant bias, and introduce to the statement a degree of subtlety which is highly unlikely.” (The Gospel of Matthew, New Century Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972], 261)



Herman Ridderbos (Contemporary Dutch Reformed)
“It is well known that the Greek word petra translated ‘rock’ here is different from the proper name Peter. The slight difference between them has no special importance, however. The most likely explanation for the change from petros (‘Peter’) to petra is that petra was the normal word for ‘rock.’ . . . There is no good reason to think that Jesus switched from petros to petra to show that he was not speaking of the man Peter but of his confession as the foundation of the Church. The words ‘on this rock petra]’ indeed refer to Peter” Bible Student’s Commentary: Matthew, 303].


Of course, Jesus did not speak Greek but Aramaic. Therefore, the words that Jesus actually spoke would be more accurately translated, “You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my church.” The confusion over the masculine and feminine forms of the Greek petros and petra would not occur in Aramaic. We can see the use of the Greek form of Simon’s new name, Cephas, in several verses. Even Paul, the favorite Apostles of Protestants, called Peter “Cephas” in several of his letters which indicates that even Paul understood that Peter was the rock upon which the Church was founded. If not, he would have referred to Peter as “Simon” instead.

For the Protestant Reformers to rationalize breaking away from what was universally acknowledged in their culture as the Christian Church, it was necessary for them to deny the Catholic Church’s authority. To explain their new ecclesiology, they were forced to portray Rome as a kind of “anti-Church” that was unjustly claiming the prerogatives of Christ’s true (but invisible) Church.

Their chief target was, of course, the pope. To justify breaking away from the successor of Peter, they had to undercut the Petrine office itself. They were forced to deny the plain reading of Matthew 16:18—that Jesus made Peter the rock on which he would build his Church.


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