Protestants: What do you think of Matthew 16:18?

I really want to know.
What do you translate Matthew 16:18 as?:gopray2: :blessyou:

I think there are some threads on this one.

Protestants interpret this verse in context of the few that come before it, namely verse 16. I’ll bold the parts.

15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (meaning, verse 16) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The “rock” is interpreted as being the “rock of faith”, or the belief that Jesus is the Christ, and that is the rock his church will be built on.

The fact that “Peter” and “Rock” can have the same meaning adds a different dimension that Catholics use to interpret the verse. We’d say “You are Peter and upon this Peter (you, Peter!) I will build my church.”

Since there are many different Protestant denominations each with their own interpretation of this verse…the generalization that Garyjohn makes doesn’t always apply.

Some have really weird interpretations of that verse, which are completely based on incorrect translations or the vers removed from context.

As a Lutheran MS I have not issues with Christ saying he was going to use Peter to build a church. If you read the bible and study church history, it is easy to see that Peter is clearly important and has a special job. However Christ also charges many of his disciples with special jobs. John is to write the Gospel, Paul to evangelize and start churchs, Peter to start churchs etc.

I fully believe that Christ told Peter to be the rock he built his church on. However, he did not say “Peter I build my church only on you, and you will be the first of a long unbroken line of Popes who will for a magistarium, a church hierarchy, and be infallible when they speak from your throne. Oh and this whole thing will be located in Rome.”

The concept of the modern papacy, the structure of the Catholic Church etc, took hundreds of years to evolve. Again, I have no issues with the structure of the Catholic Church, an organization that big needs to have a structure of some sort. I just don’t believe you can extrapolate God ordaining it from a few verses in Matthew.

Peter a “stone” spoke words which would be the “Rock” on which the church would be built…upon those confessing…“Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God…”…This is the Rock…the Rock is the confession.

Peter certainly was a figure to those Christians which eventually formed the proto-Orthodox/Catholic church…it became more of an issue with the split of East and West.

Jesus would have said in Aramaic, "You are Kepa, and upon this kepa I will build my church.

usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew16.htm

13 [18] You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church:

the Aramaic word kepa - meaning rock and transliterated into Greek as Kephas is the name by which Peter is called in the Pauline letters (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:4; Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) except in Gal 2:7-8 (“Peter”).

It is translated as Petros (“Peter”) in John 1:42.

The presumed original Aramaic of Jesus’ statement would have been, in English, “You are the Rock (Kepa) and upon this rock (kepa) I will build my church.”

The Greek text probably means the same, for the difference in gender between the masculine noun petros, the disciple’s new name, and the feminine noun petra (rock) may be due simply to the unsuitability of using a feminine noun as the proper name of a male.

Although the two words were generally used with slightly different nuances, they were also used interchangeably with the same meaning, “rock.”

Church: this word (Greek ekklesia) occurs in the gospels only here and in Matthew 18:17 (twice). There are several possibilities for an Aramaic original. Jesus’ church means the community that he will gather and that, like a building, will have Peter as its solid foundation.

That function of Peter consists in his being witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it: the netherworld (Greek Hades, the abode of the dead) is conceived of as a walled city whose gates will not close in upon the church of Jesus, i.e., it will not be overcome by the power of death.

Okay so explain how one separates Peter’s confession from himself? So Peter’s confession is one entity and Peter is another?

The meaning of what he said was conveyed in the Greek text…how he said it in Aramaic is not the point…that the writer of Matthew used words to convey a meaning is…and the different words used in the Greek to convey what what said and meant…don’t necessarily lend itself to the Catholic churches understanding…

Since different words were used…“small rock(stone)” and “Rock” big ROCK…yes…your Orthodox brethren hold to a similar view as I have stated…and they too claim ancient beliefs…so there is precedent historically to understand “rock” and “Rock”…since the Orthodox lean this way is a point that there was not universal (catholic) understanding about this verse in the ancient/undivided church.

It looks to me as if the Protestants here have pretty much summed up the foundational issues why we reject Peter as the rock.

But there are others. One of the biggest reasons is that Peter NEVER CLAIMED primacy among the other disciples or apostles. Not once. Nor did Jesus say Peter had some special position. In fact, it was Peter who denied Christ THREE times before the crucifixion and this was well after Matthew 16:18. Jesus also said to Peter “Get thee behind me Satan”. Now Jesus wasn’t calling Peter Satan he was saying that Peter was using worldly eyes to view the kingdom and not spiritual eyes.

Paul had to correct Peter on his doctrine. Paul is much more prominent in the New Testament writings. None of the other apostles even once claimed that Jesus had given Peter any special dispensation to found the church. We don’t find that in the writings of any of the four gospels, or from James, Jude, Timothy, John, Titus. It simply did not happen. Paul traveled all over preaching the gospel in places like Corinth, Galatia, Laodicea, etc. He never said to follow Peter. He said to follow Christ.

The entire idea that Matthew 16:18 proclaimed Peter as the leader of the church just isn’t there. Jesus was responding to the words Peter had said “You are the living Christ”. It was upon those words that the church was built on, not the fact that Peter said them under the authority of the Holy Spirit. The “Living Christ” is the foundation.

It makes no sense at all that in the entire Bible, ONE VERSE should be used to make such a claim. If Jesus had really wanted to say that, then He might have said and “upon you, Peter” I will build my church. But Jesus didn’t say it there, or anywhere else.

Jesus reaffirmed the gospel over and over and over. He spoke of sin over and over and over. He predicted the crucifixion and the resurrection over and over and over. But only once in a heavily debated verse, is the idea that the church might be built upon Peter is even mentioned.

Protestants exegete scripture in light of scripture. Jesus made sure that we knew our foundation as Christians was built upon Him, not a man.

There is little to no evidence that Peter was ever in Rome.

Having said all that, if Catholics choose to believe a different reading of Matthew 16:18, then I respect their right to do so. In general I find Catholics to be lovely people who truly love God and want to live lives that are pleasing to the Savior. In that, they are not separate from Protestants. The church is not in a grand edifice in any particular geographical location. The church is comprised of true believers in the death, and resurrection of the living Savior. It is in our hearts and no man can take that from any of us. The greatest commandment proclaimed by Jesus was to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength. On that principle spoken by Jesus, we are undivided.

In His Amazing Grace…

There are more than one verse to support Peter having primacy. This thread is about 1 verse only though.

Peter’s tomb is in Rome.

Peter denying Jesus shows that he is not perfect, like all of us, not that he was not primary.

When the apostles were having a debate on doctrine, Peter was the last to speak. This, in ancient Jewish culture, shows his primacy as well.

Paul is featured more prominently in the Gospels, but that doesn’t tell us anything except that he wrote a lot. If you look at the Bible, the OT is featured more than the NT…that does not denote importance in any way.

There is definite evidence that their was universal acceptance in the ancient world in regards to the tradition of popes, because there was one pope and one church for the 1,000 years immediately following Christ’s assumption. This alone would testify how this particular verse in Matthew was originally interpreted and understood at the time of its writing, and for many generations afterward.

1 Like

Actually, there is evidence that Peter was indeed in Rome and died there as recounted by both Origen and Tertullian who are both respected early church fathers as well as other church leaders of the time, only a generation seperated from the apostles themselves. So unless they were lying, I tend to believe Peter was in Rome, and he was martyred there (the martyrdom which Christ himself infered at the end of John). Most Protestant scholars also believe that Peter was indeed in Rome and was martyred there by Nero.

The “Peter was never in Rome” arguement is used by a lot of fundementalists as an attempt to tear down the Catholic Church. (I’m not sure why certain churchs have almost made their misson of tearing down other denominations more important than worship, it really puzzles me.) Just because something is not recounted in the Bible doesn’t mean it did not happen. It just wasn’t recorded in the Canon.

Too many protestants completely misinterpret what Luther meant by Sola Scriptura. It doesn’t mean that only Scripture is true and everything else is false and must be thrown out. It means that the traditions and writings of the early church after the apostles, and later is good and valueable as long as it doesn’t conflict with scripture. Luther never called for all tradition and writings of the early church to be thrown out.

Keep in mind, if you are going to throw out everything the early church fathers ever said or wrote because it’s not in the Bible, then you have to throw out the Creeds, and the concept of the calling God the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and you will miss out on the beauty and knowledge their writings and those traditions contain.

1 Like

It looks to me as if the Protestants here have pretty much summed up the foundational issues why we reject Peter as the rock.

Rejection does not necessarily negate what the text states.

But there are others. One of the biggest reasons is that Peter NEVER CLAIMED primacy among the other disciples or apostles. Not once.

So in order to make it acceptable and valid Peter has to declare it? What you are forgetting is that we are dealing with a first century culture which expressed itself entirely different than our 21st century Western ideas and beliefs. Problem with so many Bible-only folks is the belief everything must be explicitly stated in the Bible.

Nor did Jesus say Peter had some special position. In fact, it was Peter who denied Christ THREE times before the crucifixion and this was well after Matthew 16:18. Jesus also said to Peter “Get thee behind me Satan”. Now Jesus wasn’t calling Peter Satan he was saying that Peter was using worldly eyes to view the kingdom and not spiritual eyes

.

Yeah and it is the same Peter he asked if He loved Him-three times. :wink:

Paul had to correct Peter on his doctrine.

Wrong! It was not doctrine,but a matter of discipline. If I correct my boss on an error,does that rebuke his or her authority?

Paul is much more prominent in the New Testament writings. None of the other apostles even once claimed that Jesus had given Peter any special dispensation to found the church.

Why? Because Paul wrote more? Whatever gave you the idea the RCC teaches and believes Peter founded a church? Jesus found HIS Church which he empowered the 12 to care take care of.

We don’t find that in the writings of any of the four gospels, or from James, Jude, Timothy, John, Titus. It simply did not happen. Paul traveled all over preaching the gospel in places like Corinth, Galatia, Laodicea, etc. He never said to follow Peter. He said to follow Christ.

No offense,but you have false suppositions of what the RCC teaches. You seem to parrot what most non-Catholics hear and think what the RCC truly teaches.

The entire idea that Matthew 16:18 proclaimed Peter as the leader of the church just isn’t there. Jesus was responding to the words Peter had said “You are the living Christ”. It was upon those words that the church was built on, not the fact that Peter said them under the authority of the Holy Spirit. The “Living Christ” is the foundation.

False. It is based on the ENTIRETY of the NT text,not merely one verse. BTW: I can quote other verses where the Apostles are also referred to as the foundation.

It makes no sense at all that in the entire Bible, ONE VERSE should be used to make such a claim. If Jesus had really wanted to say that, then He might have said and “upon you, Peter” I will build my church. But Jesus didn’t say it there, or anywhere else.

Should I post all the verses clearly showing Peter had a primacy over the others?

Jesus reaffirmed the gospel over and over and over. He spoke of sin over and over and over. He predicted the crucifixion and the resurrection over and over and over. But only once in a heavily debated verse, is the idea that the church might be built upon Peter is even mentioned.

Again,the RCC has never said Chirst did not found His Church.

Protestants exegete scripture in light of scripture. Jesus made sure that we knew our foundation as Christians was built upon Him, not a man.

I beg to differ the above statement.

There is little to no evidence that Peter was ever in Rome.

WRONG! You have historical writings from the early church clearly proving Peter died and was buried at another city other than Rome? What city in the past 2,000 has testified Peter without a doubt died elsewhere other than Rome?

Having said all that, if Catholics choose to believe a different reading of Matthew 16:18, then I respect their right to do so.

It is not a matter of “choosing” a different reading,but what has been taught in lieu of Sacred Tradition from the beginning. Do you have ancient documents clearly showing a different tradition Peter having no primacy at all?

In general I find Catholics to be lovely people who truly love God and want to live lives that are pleasing to the Savior. In that, they are not separate from Protestants. The church is not in a grand edifice in any particular geographical location.

True.

The church is comprised of true believers in the death, and resurrection of the living Savior

.

And also obeying its authority which was evidently broekn apart with the Reformation due to spiritual pride.

It is in our hearts and no man can take that from any of us. The greatest commandment proclaimed by Jesus was to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength. On that principle spoken by Jesus, we are undivided.

And to obey His Church and to remain as one as He and the Father are one.

The earilest document outside the new testament I can find, the shepard of hermas, says the foundation rock is the son of God. As for other opinions even the fathers themselves disagreed about who or what the rock was. I think it was Augstine who even changed his mind about who or what the rock was in the end.

Interesting.

Is there an alternative explanation for popes:

1 St. Peter (32-67)

2 St. Linus (67-76)

3 St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

4 St. Clement I (88-97)

5 St. Evaristus (97-105)

?

I’m curious, if you don’t believe Peter is the Rock, then who or what does Jesus give the key of heaven in versus 19? The confession can not bind or loose.

“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

1 Like

Not so fast ForeverGrace; Catholics are the epitome of all faithful to our King of King and Lord of Lords, for we only subject our faith to what God has revealed and spoken to us, we do not share in your luxury freedoms as protestants do, to put asunder what God has joined together, or the liberty as protestants boast to change what God has revealed through His Son Jesus. We poor Catholics do not exercise our faith in the spirit of freedom to add to God’s spoken Word or subtract from God’s revealed Word.

ForeverGrace;7689029]Having said all that, **if Catholics choose to believe a different reading of Matthew 16:18, **]

I place before you other scriptures that point to Peter’s authority followed by some quotes not all from the Early Church Fathers.

Only St. Peter hears the voice of God and received revelations from heaven. Only Jesus heard what the Father spoke from heaven, now Peter hears from heaven also, praise God.

Matthew 16: 16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 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.

Now this revelation to Simon (not Peter yet) from heaven has nothing to do with his faith, It was sign from heaven for Jesus to begin building his Church.

If Jesus was looking for a great faith to build his church he would of began building it upon Nathanael who was the first disciple to claim Jesus to be “the son of God” John 1:49, Yet the greatest of all faith’s is revealed by **a doubting disciple Thomas who reveals Jesus to be “MY LORD AND MY GOD” see John 20:28 **

Yet the greatest faith Jesus finds in all of Israel was found upon a Pagan Roman Centurion, from (Matthew 8; 5 a centurion approached him and appealed to him, 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel 7 have I found such faith.

Jesus reveals Peter’s infallibility in His presence by being the only human being to ever walk on water;

Matthew 14: 28 Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
29 He said, “Come.” **Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. **

Peter is the only apostle given the instruction from Heaven to allow the Gentiles into the Church Jesus is building His Church upon.

Acts 10: 9 …** Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime. 7
11 He saw heaven opened **13 A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.”
16 This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into the sky.

Jesus confirms a kingdom on the apostles and gives Peter the leadership by praying for Peter only while the others are present to confirm his brethren in the faith.

Luke 22: 29 and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me,
30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat,
32 but **I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” **

**Peter is always listed among first of the apostles, Andrew was first to meet Jesus who was Peter’s older brother, **

Matthew 10: 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
3 Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
4 Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

cont;

cont;

Peter exercised his God given authority in binding and loosing on earth by allowing death to take not one but TWO fellow member Ananias from his own words, and then later raise the dead in Tabitha from the book of acts.

Acts 5: 3 **But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart **so that you lied to the holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land?
5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last, and great fear came upon all who heard of it.
9 **Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen, the footsteps of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
10 At once, she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. **

Acts 9: 40 **Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, rise up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.
41 He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive. **

Jesus commands Peter alone to shepherd his sheep on earth after the resurrection;John 21: 15 … Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Feed my lambs.”
16 , "Simon, son of John, “Tend my sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, " (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my shee
p.

Early church Fathers excerpts regarding Peter and his apostolic successor in the popes.

St. Ambrose, in Epist. ii, ad Cor. cap. xii, says; “Not Andrew, but Peter was chief amongst the Apostles.”

St. Augus. lib. de Baptis., says: “Behold Peter, who held the pre-eminence with such lustre.”

St. Optat., lib. contra Parmen., adds: “Peter was appointed chief of the Apostles, to the end that unity might be preserved in the Church.”

St. Augustine, Ep. ad Gener., enumerating the bishops who had governed the Church of Rome, begins thus—Peter was the first, to Peter succeeded Linus, and to Linus,Clement.

St. Optatus, contra Parmen.—“St. Peter first occupied the See of Rome, to him Linus succeeded, and after Linus, Clement.”

St. Ireneus, lib. iii, cap. 8; gives a list of all the successers of Peter to his present time

St. Epiphanius, de 27 Heres.; " In Pream. Concil. Chalc., arid also in Coun. of Ephesus., it is said, that “Peter lives, judges, and defines, in his successors.”

''Happy Church," says Tertullian, addressing the Church of Rome, “which the Great Apostles fully impregnated with all their doctrine and all their blood.”

So all the Fathers teach. St. Ireneus, lib iii, cap. 3, says: “The Roman Church is the principal, and hence all other Churches must be united to her.”

St. Cyprian, lib. i Epist. 8—“There is only one God, one Christ, one Church, one chair of Peter, established by the Word of Christ himself.”

St. Jerom, Epist. to Pope Damasus—“I am attached to your chair, which is that of St. Peter,—I know that the Church is built upon that rock;” and again, “Whoever eats not the Lamb in that house, is profane; whoever takes not refuge in that ark, shall perish in the waters of the deluge; whoever is not with you, is against Jesus Christ; whoever gathereth not with you, scattereth abroad.”

**Peter **immediately after the Ascension of our Lord. He assembled the Apostles, he **presided at the election of an Apostle to replace Judas. (Acts, chap. i.) **

Peter decided, in the first Council held at Jerusalem by the Apostles, that the Christians should not be subjected to the Jewish rite of circumcision; St. Paul, though an Apostle, did not venture to decide upon it.

brethren," said Peter, “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, when Peter had made an end of speaking, “all the multitude held their peace;” and even James himself, who was bishop of Jerusalem, where the Apostles were assembled, rose only to repeat St. Peter’s decision, and to acquiesce in it (Acts, xv.)

Peace be with you

1 Like

I have often wondered about that too. I have heard those who say that Jesus was referring to the truth that Peter had just spoken about Jesus being the Messiah as being the rock upon which He would build His church. In other words, the truth you have spoken is the rock on which I will build my church. Since Peter spoke the truth that would be the rock on Which Jesus would build His church, he in turn would be called “Rock.”

On the other hand I have heard those who way it was Peter himself that Jesus was referring to. If this version is true, I am puzzled about what Jesus says to Peter 5 just verses later in the same chapter. If this is the case, verse 16 shows Jesus telling Peter that he is the rock on which He will build His church, and 5 verses later in verse 23 he calls him Satan and tells him to get behind Him. This would not bode well for anything built upon Him, so I think I would go with the first option.

Your friend
Sufjon

Exactly!

Perhaps He meant that He would give Him certain truths that are the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (His teachings). Since Heaven is a state of being, you bring with you what binds you in life and leave behind that which you are able to leave behind.

On the other hand, perhaps He meant that Peter would perpetually be posted as the sole sentry at a cosmic turnstile leading to a physical location called Heaven.

Your friend
Sufjon

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.