Protestants declare Peter is the Rock, Rock on

Craig L. Blomberg
Baptist and Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Acknowledging Jesus as The Christ illustrates the appropriateness of Simon’s
nickname “Peter” (Petros = rock). This is not the first time Simon has been
called Peter (cf. John 1:42), but it is certainly the most famous. Jesus’
declaration, “You are Peter,” parallels Peter’s confession, “You are the
Christ,” as if to say, “Since you can tell me who I am, I will tell you who you
are.” The expression “this rock” almost certainly refers to Peter, following
immediately after his name, just as the words following “the Christ” in v. 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. (The New American
Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22, (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 251-252.)

This is taken from Jesus, Peter and the Keys, by Dahlgren…get on board little children, get on board, there’s room for many a more…

of course He is.

What a great explanation! I’ll treasure that analysis of Jesus’ and Peter’s dialog. Thanks for the post.

I will stick with the majority of the church fathers with their interpretation of that one :stuck_out_tongue:

The majority? Which interpretation? If you believe Rock only refers to God or only Peter’s confession, you are mistaken. How can rock only to Peter’s confession apart from himself?

Well…it’s just a matter of historical record that that the majority of the fathers interpreted the rock to mean either Peter’s confession of faith or Christ. Of course, many did interpret it to mean Peter. But not the majority, at least if you’re going by the more influential fathers. Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian interpreted it to be Peter. Eusebius, Augustine, Jerome, John of Damascus, and Theodoret of Cyr interpreted it to be Christ. Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Hilary of Poitiers, Epiphanius, Basil of Seleucia, and Paul of Emesa interpreted it to be his confession of faith. Just for a smattering of the different opinions. While I personally believe it refers to his confession of faith, the more important point is that there was a divergence of opinion on it (despite the claims of Vatican I that it was “always, everywhere, and by all” interpreted to be Peter). If someone wants to argue it was Peter, I have no issue with that.

No its not. I bet you can’t even find two who claim that interpretation.

If I remember correctly even St. Paul never addresses Peter/Cephas as Simon. Even when he admonishes him on the Gentile incident. Why? Because he is Peter/Cephas/Rock -the MAN! :thumbsup:


St. Hilary: A belief that the Son of God is Son in name only, and not in nature, is not the faith of the Gospels and of the Apostles…whence I ask, was it that the blessed Simon Bar–Jona confessed to Him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God?..And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built…that Christ must be not only named, but believed, the Son of God. This faith is that which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven…The very reason why he is blessed is that he confessed the Son of God. This is the Father’s revelation, this the foundation of the Church, this the assurance of her permanence. Hence has she the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hence judgment in heaven and judgment on earth…Thus our one immovable foundation, our one blissful rock of faith, is the confession from Peter’s mouth, Thou art the Son of the living God (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), On The Trinity, Book VI.36,37; Book II.23; Book VI.20.

Cyril of Alexandria: But why do we say that they are ‘foundations of the earth’? For Christ is the foundation and unshakable base of all things—Christ who restrains and holds together all things, that they may be very firm. Upon him also we all are built, a spiritual household, put together by the Holy Spirit into a holy temple in which he himself dwells; for by our faith he lives in our hearts. But the next foundations, those nearer to us, can be understood to be the apostles and evangelists, those eyewitnesses and ministers of the word who have arisen for the strengthening of the faith. For when we recognize that their own traditions must be followed, we serve a faith which is true and does not deviate from Christ. For when he wisely and blamelessly confessed his faith to Jesus saying, ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God,’ Jesus said to divine Peter: ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ Now by the word ‘rock’, Jesus indicated, I think, the immoveable faith of the disciple. Likewise, the psalmist says: ‘Its foundations are the holy mountains.’ Very truly should the holy apostles and evangelists be compared to holy mountains for their understanding was laid down like a foundation for posterity, so that those who had been caught in their nets would not fall into a false faith (Commentary on Isaiah IV.2, M.P.G., Vol. 70, Col. 940).


Got a Lutheran Scholar that diagrees with you…

Gerhard Maier
Leading conservative evangelical Lutheran theologian

Nowadays a broad consensus has emerged which – in accordance with the words of
the text – applies the promise to Peter as a person. On this point liberal (H.
J. Holtzmann, E. Schweiger) and conservative (Cullmann, Flew) theologians agree,
as well as representatives of Roman Catholic exegesis. (“The Church in the
Gospel of Matthew: Hermeneutical Analysis of the Current Debate,” Biblical
Interpretation and Church Text and Context, (Flemington Markets, NSW:
Paternoster Press, 1984), 58.)

One’s not an ECF and the other is expressing personal musings, not a declaration of truth.

I’m going to go with John Chrysosotom on this one…

Then He mentions also another honor. “And I also will give you the keys of the heavens.” But what is this, “And I also will give you?” “As the Father has given you to know me, so will I also give you.”

And He said not, “I will entreat the Father” (although the manifestation of His authority was great, and the largeness of the gift unspeakable), but, “I will give you.” What dost Thou give? Tell me. “The keys of the heavens, that whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven.” How then is it not “His to give to sit on His right hand, and on His left,” Matthew 20:23 when He says, “I will give you”?

Do you see how He, His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Son of God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church in capable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father, speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as “a brazen pillar, and as a wall;” Jeremiah 1:18 but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world.

I would fain inquire then of those who desire to lessen the dignity of the Son, which manner of gifts were greater, those which the Father gave to Peter, or those which the Son gave him? For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to a mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven. “For heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35 How then is He less, who has given such gifts, has effected such things?

Yes… there are multiple interpretations of the passage. It allows for Peter being the rock. However, again, it isn’t a universal one. Either among Protestants or early Catholics.


Suppose I reframe this as

Yes…there are multiple interpretations of the passage. It allows for Peter being the rock. However, again it isn’t a Catholic one. Either among Protestants or early Catholics.

If you believe in the development of doctrine then what was said early in the Catholic belief has been formulated later in the Catholic belief and confirmed by Protestants to a Catholic belief.

If you take the whole notion of Protestant thought looking backward trying to reconstruct Christianity from the retrospectoscope then you discount these authors doing exactly what Protestants say they did to formulate Protestant thought. Does this make sense to you.

If Cephas does not refer to Cephas the why is Cephas called Cephas?

Go figure.

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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, Catholic Answers

Same drum role I see no validity to the debate. :wink:


Here is another example of what a Protestant says. I love Honest Protestants and there are many. Christianity demands honesty and those Protestants that obey and believe what Christ teaches have to admit honestly what they discover. This is the beauty of those Protestants I speak with when they express honesty…in spite of their prejudice.

Donald A. Hagner
Fuller Theological Seminary

The natural reading of the passage, despite the necessary shift from Petros to
petra required by the word play in the Greek (but not the Aramaic, where the
same word kepha occurs in both places), is that it is Peter who is the rock upon
which the church is to be built. . . . The frequent attempts that have been
made, largely in the past, to deny this 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.
(“Matthew 14-28,” Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b, (Dallas: Word Books,
1995), 470.)

It is also important to note that what we have here is the example of where is the ultimate authority in Protestant thought. It cannot be the Church. If the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth and the vehicle through which the manifold wisdom of God is known then this issue would not need discussion. No number of Protestants can agree to impart a belief that all must and will believe or deny.

Those Protestants that dispute this confirm that there is no higher authority on earth concerning resolving an issue than their mind…for they cannot take it to the Church…which Church can any Protestant take this issue to and find reconciliation with something that all will believe and agree on. This confirms the Protestant paradigm as ineffective and untrue.

How many Protestants can I post that disagree with Igg? How many opinions can I provide that disagree with Igg? How many times will Igg disagree.

How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man…the answer is blowin in the wind…:slight_smile:

The Catholic position as enunciated by the first Vatican Council does not allow for development of an understanding of Peter as the rock. The claim of the decrees of Vatican I state that it has always, everywhere and at all times been the position of the universal church that the rock of 16:18 refers to Peter and that it has always been understood by the universal church that the bishop of Rome is the head of the church, along with papal infallibility. The problem with that is that it wasn’t the majority of the early church that interpreted 16:18 that way, as demonstrated by numerous sources in the fathers, and the Eastern churches reject that the headship of the Pope is a part of sacred tradition.

Up until Newman, the theory of doctrinal development was repudiated by the Western See. Newman’s theory is a capitulation to the Protestant argument that Roman doctrine has changed over the years and was his attempt to explain why.

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