Upon this Rock.... Enter the lists

There has been a challenge issued and I respond.

Jesus asks the Apostles one day, who do people say I am? After a few answers, Simon answers: “ You are the Messiah, Son of the living God! “ Jesus replies by giving Simon a new name, Peter; ( From the Greek Petras, or rock. ) and says “ Upon this rock, I shall build My Church… “ Now, Jesus addresses Saint Peter directly, not his answer, but the man himself; and gives him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven among other things. This means that Saint Peter is declared head of the Church and thus the first Pope.

Now, here’s the thing: In the Jewish monarchy, the king’s chamberlain held the keys to the royal household and was thus, quite an authority figure in the king’s household and administration. That is what Jesus delegates to Saint Peter and his successors.

It’s not a full exegesis, I know; but enough to get the ball rolling.

I challenge any Protestant apologist on this site: Adhering strictly to your Sola Scriptura and the exact wording of this text and without quibbling; defend and expound why your interpretation is correct and the Holy Mother Church is “ wrong. “


What does “Enter the lists” mean?

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It’s a reference to the jousting lists at medieval knightly tournaments.

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Got it. So, since no one is responding to your challenge, (for some reason) allow me to share a memory of a non-d bible study when I was 14, a loooong time ago, as a non Catholic.

We were going to study Matthew 16, 13 through 20, so we took turns reading verses. When we were done, my parents’ friend, whose house we were in, said, “this is what Catholics think these verses mean”, and she went on to describe her very basic, and evidently accurate, understanding of the Catholic take.

After considering the Catholic position for a while, we decided to figure out what those verses really mean. We compared Matthew 16:18 and 19 with Matthew 18:18, and John 20, 20 through 23 and decided it wasn’t only Peter who was given the keys or some kind of special authority. I seem to remember also going to Acts, Luke, Daniel, Revelations, and probably Philippians, because we were always going there so someone could say, “now lets flip to Philippians!”

Anyway, after a while, I raised my hand and said, “could we talk more about what the Catholics think those verses mean, because in the last half hour, it is the only thing that has made any sense to me.” I believe this was the holy Spirit helping me to understand a very basic truth. I did not understand why the adults were tearing something apart that was so clear and concise.

We cling to what we have invested our time and energy and money and talent into. Sometimes we are willing to hear the holy Spirit, and sometimes if it sounds too Catholic, we dismiss it immediately as a threat.


The biggest weapon they have is that Christ Himself is called a rock in other scriptures. So they use this to basically overrule what is otherwise the plain reading of Mt16:18. They say the Lord can’t be talking about Peter, because He Himself is the rock. He’s basically saying that He’s going to build His Church on Himself, is that therefore resultant interpretation, and they keep a straight face doing it as well.

And the straight face is key. That’s basically the foundation upon which the Protestant Church is built, it’s a straight face. If we can get that face to crack, then we might have them all back in quick fashion.


Have you heard the “petra” means “pebble” objection to the Catholic interpretation of that verse?

No, I hadn’t. What is it?

It has to do with the Greek translation of the Aramaic word for rock which in Aramaic is kepha. Greek had feminine and masculine words. Petra was feminine and meant rock. Petros was masculine and meant pebble. Though I’ve read that the two terms could have been used interchangeably.The apostle Kepha was translated in the Greek as Petros because at the time men could not take on feminine names. So the objectors not taking into account the context ask why would Jesus name the apostle after a pebble.

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Here we go.



Yes, I know. What I was saying is that they take other scriptures where Christ or God is called a “rock” or a “stone,” and then just port this observation into Matthew 16:18, and say that Jesus is here saying that He’s going to build His Church on Himself, not on Peter.

So they argue it means, “You are ‘The Rock’ (pointing to Peter; naming him), and upon This Rock (pointing now at Himself) I will build My Church.” This, they say, is what the passage records happening, and they say it with a straight face.

But why would it be Petros for Peter, and petra for Himself? Was He not also masculine like Peter? Of course He was. If the second "rock"refers to Him, then the verse should have been, “You are Petros (Simon /Peter), and upon this petros (Himself) I will build my Church,” but it reads, “You are Petros, and upon this petra I will build…”

So it can’t be Him, that He says He’s going to build His Church on, by the Protestants’ own arguments. It has to be something else. So Protestants will say, “‘petra’ refers to Peter’s confession.” Catholicism grants this. We just believe it means both Peter the Apostle, and the confession of faith of Peter the Apostle, namely the recognition that Jesus of Nazareth is God. iow “petra” refers to Peter, and to the Trinity, according to Catholicism. Jesus said He would build His Church upon Peter, and upon the Trinity. It makes it very easy to find His Church today, and at all times through history.


Thank you Holy Spirit!

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I’ve often wished non-Catholics would put themselves in our shoes. What if Jesus had said, “you are Martin Luther, (or John Calvin, or John Smyth, or any other tens of thousands of names) and upon this Martin Luther, I will build my church…”

I imagine how frustrating it would be for them as they hear others say, “well, a Martin is a small bird, so…”


lol! That is really insightful!

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Basically, we must ask: Was Jesus Lutheran?

It sounds ridiculous for a reason.


Jesus added new names at the start of his activity, and Simon was then called kefas meaning pebble.

The word Petra means mass of rock and could not be referred to Peter who was only pebble.

Petra regards someone else.

Jesus had authority by his father to change Simon into Peter; by the same authority Jesus had been called petre or mass of rock by the father.

It’s no more ridiculous than asking: Was Jesus Catholic? Jesus was born Jewish, died Jewish, and was Jewish when he had his conversation with Peter, who was also Jewish.


My recollection of Greek is that lithos meant rock, similar to a cornerstone.

As to Peter’s name, I am not sure there has been adequate exegesis on the issue; if petros was a Greek name as opposed to a noun, then we all may be running around in circles.

As to the name that Jesus used, one would have to be fairly creative to go from someone who spoke Aramaic (cephas) to a reason why, while speaking Aramaic, Christ would shift gears in the middle (or front or back, as word order does not follow English) to insert a Greek word into the statement Christ was making.

For what it’s worth, I have had a professor (again, I am a student at a Lutheran school) who, lecturing on Matthew, took this position. He was also fond of referring to the MDiv students as future priests.

I’ve always found the “no, Jesus is ONLY referring to Peter’s confession” position problematic on mere grammatical grounds.

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Just bookmarked this page to address this later.

Hold on just a minute there! Jesus founded one Church. He did so in AD 33, not in 1517. He did so in Jerusalem, not in Wittenberg. He did not use a bible, or any writing whatsoever. He founded the Church on the Apostles, with Peter being chosen by Christ to lead. That Church has an undeniable, unarguable lineage from Christ and the Apostles to this day. Unbroken line. Only the Eastern Orthodox can also make that claim.

No bible Church can make any claim prior to 1517. Not one.

Oh, and Saint Ignatius of Antioch? Student of Saint Polycarp > student of the Apostle John. In the year 107 at the latest, he called the Church (in writing!) the “Ecclesia Katolica” - the Catholic Church.

Facts are facts.

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