Upon this rock I will build my church?


#1

A few days ago, I was visiting a Christian (Protestant) fellowship on campus with a friend, where I saw a young man wearing a most interesting t-shirt.

The back of it said, “Upon this rock I will build my church. Matthew 16:18.”

I’ve never had this discussion before, but it was my understanding that this verse (the complete verse) is one of the ways we as Catholics explain the status of the Pope as the successor of St. Peter. I have no idea why a Protestant would be interested in using this verse to say anything – do they have a different interpretation of “rock”? What else can a rock possibly be? Does anybody know?

And a little off the topic, but it seems to me that taking verses out of context like this can be dangerous. After all, I could just as easily find Biblical approval for selling daughters off as slaves from Exodus 21…


#2

I think protestants would say ‘the rock of their faith’. So if you have faith, that’s the rock Jesus built his church on. I know Mormon’s think it’s the rock of the revalation Peter made by telling Jesus who he was, ie that info had been revealed by God and on that revalation he would build his church.

There’s the whole Petra/petros arguement as well which is interesting!


#3

To my knowledge, all protestants say that it is the revelation spoken by Peter. Although it makes no sense grammatically. But this is one of the examples of where they twist scripture to meet their needs.


#4

[quote=Lida]A few days ago, I was visiting a Christian (Protestant) fellowship on campus with a friend, where I saw a young man wearing a most interesting t-shirt.

The back of it said, “Upon this rock I will build my church. Matthew 16:18.”

I’ve never had this discussion before, but it was my understanding that this verse (the complete verse) is one of the ways we as Catholics explain the status of the Pope as the successor of St. Peter. I have no idea why a Protestant would be interested in using this verse to say anything – do they have a different interpretation of “rock”? What else can a rock possibly be? Does anybody know?

And a little off the topic, but it seems to me that taking verses out of context like this can be dangerous. After all, I could just as easily find Biblical approval for selling daughters off as slaves from Exodus 21…
[/quote]

Good Day, Lida

The historical view of this passage is a big question, some who are not part of the Roman Catholic Church tend to veiw this passage as do I happen to believe as Augustine that it was Peter’s faith that was the rock. The understanding such as this is not in violation of the Roman Catholic church for they have yet to exergete this passage in a formal manner.

[font=Times New Roman]Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid:[/font] . . the dogma being defined here is Peter’s primacy and authority over the Church — not a formal exegesis of Matthew 16. The passages from Matthew 16 and John 21 are given as reasons for defining the doctrine, but they are not themselves the subject of the definition. As anyone familiar with the dogma of papal infallibility knows, the reasons given in a dogmatic definition are not themselves considered infallible; only the result of the deliberations is protected from error. It’s always possible that while the doctrine defined is indeed infallible, some of the proofs adduced for it end up being incorrect. Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction (San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999), p. 254

[font=Arial]Nobody in the earliest generations of Christianity refers to the bishops of Rome having universal jurisdiction. The absence of an early papacy, the office of universal jurisdiction that you refer to, is a consensus among both Catholic and non-Catholic scholars. Craig Keener, citing Jaroslav Pelikan, comments that “most scholars, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, concur that Peter died in Rome but doubt that Mt 16:18 intended the authority later claimed by the papacy (Pelikan 1980: 60)” (A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999], p. 425).

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[font=Arial]Hope this will help in your understanding of the views of this passage.[/font]
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[font=Arial]Peace to u,[/font]
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[font=Arial]Bill[/font]
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#5

Hello Bill,

Matt 16:19 “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.”

Greg


#6

Protestants interpret it to mean that Peter’s Confession Of Faith In Jesus is the** Rock** upon which the true church is built - not Peter as the Rock. They likewise call Jesus as the Rock of all Ages, citing for instance :

[font=Times New Roman]" and drank the same spiritual drink ; for they drank from the spiritual Rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ" (I Cor.10:4).

[font=Arial][font=Times New Roman]in order [/font]to deny the claim that Peter is the rock upon whom He will build His Church, in effect denying the existence of the Papacy and hence the claims of the Catholic Church. [/font][/font]

Gerry


#7

Was Peter the Rock?

In recent years some Evangelicals have suggested that the Greek word that means “rock” did not refer to Peter but only to his “faith”. I got an email that said:

However Jesus stated “upon this rock I will build my church” in reference to Peter’s declaration that He (Jesus) was the Christ (Matthew 16:16).

Dave Armstong responds that he believes that Jesus builds his Church on people, not a declaration.

Catholics believe that Jesus was saying that Peter was the rock. Following through on the passage we see that Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom to St. Peter, not to his declaration.

This theory that Jesus was talking about the “declaration” and not the person Peter, is very recent in Evangelical thought. Nearly every Protestant commentary written in the last 50 years, including Carson’s "Expositors Bible Commentary", says that Peter is the rock upon which Christ promised He would build his Church. These Evangelicals have closely looked at the Greek word for rock “Petra” and have determined that it is referring to Peter. Reformer, Martin Luther, said this:

Why are you searching heavenward in search of my keys? Do you not understand, Jesus said, 'I gave them to Peter. They are indeed the keys of heaven, but they are not found in heaven for I left them on earth. Peter’s mouth is my mouth, his tongue is my key case, his keys are my keys. They are an office. They are a power, a command given by God through Christ to all of Christendom for the retaining and remitting of the sins of men. (Martin Luther 1530 - after he left the Church)(1)

W. F. Albright, one of the best known Protestant theologians of this century, in his Anchor Bible Commentary, says “Peter as the Rock will be the foundation of the future community, the church…To deny the pre-eminent position of Peter among the disciples or in the early Christian community is a denial of the evidence.”

Catholics believe that Jesus had a very specific purpose in saying that Peter was the Rock upon which he would build his Church. Jesus was evoking Isaiah 22:22.


#8

Ahh! There is a bible school song. I can’t remember it all anyone else help? I used to teach it in an Evangelical Church.

’ The foolish man builds his house upon the sand, his house upon the sand, (etc.) where the waves wash it away.

The Wise man builds his house upon the rock,???

My understanding had always been that Jesus is that rock. That is what I used to teach. Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation, the rock. That was my understanding. The rock of my faith is not something I ever heard. Although, I obviously did not make a very good Evangelical, because I came home to Rome. What do I know?

God Bless


#9

[quote=FightingFat]I think protestants would say ‘the rock of their faith’. So if you have faith, that’s the rock Jesus built his church on. I know Mormon’s think it’s the rock of the revalation Peter made by telling Jesus who he was, ie that info had been revealed by God and on that revalation he would build his church.

There’s the whole Petra/petros arguement as well which is interesting!
[/quote]

I agree it’s interesting. The passage, using the Greek for rock would be rendered as Thou art *Petros *and upon this petra I will build my church.

The problem arises from the fact the petros in Greek refers to a small stone, but petra means a massive rock or boulder. The answer lies in the fact that Greek nouns have gender (petros is masculine, petra is feminine). It would have therefore been appropriate to translate rock as petra, since it refered to a man (Simon Peter).

To find the answer one must look to the original Aramaic, a language without genders for nouns. In Aramaic, the verse would be rendered as Thou art Kephas, and upon this kephas I will build my church. Seen in this light the “rock” is most certainly Peter.
Further, if you look at translations into different languages, you get the same result. For example, in French, the passage is Thou art Pierre, and upon this pierre I will build my church. The meaning of the evangelist is clear. It’s only in English that this becomes an issue.


#10

Jesus says “you are Peter” just before He says on this rock I build my Church.

It would seem clear that the only reason Jesus would say “you are Peter” is to say that he is the rock.

This is further supported by “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.”

Obviously, Jesus was not giving the keys to Peter’s profession of faith but to Peter.

Therefore the context makes is clear that Peter is the rock.


#11

For added emphasis, Simon was called Peter meaning Rock. Why would Jesus even bother to call Simon as Peter if the latter is not the Rock upon whom Christ meant to build His Church? Christ our Lord would **never **do something pointless and irrelevant.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#12

[quote=Greg_McPherran]Hello Bill,

Matt 16:19 “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.”

Greg
[/quote]

Good Day, Greg

With reguards to Matt 16:19.

The Roman Catholic historian Klaus Schatz comments:

“There appears at the present time to be increasing consensus among Catholic and non-Catholic exegetes regarding the Petrine office in the New Testament….The further question whether there was any notion of an enduring office beyond Peter’s lifetime, if posed in purely historical terms, should probably be answered in the negative. That is, if we ask whether the historical Jesus, in commissioning Peter, expected him to have successors, or whether the author of the Gospel of Matthew, writing after Peter’s death, was aware that Peter and his commission survived in the leaders of the Roman community who succeeded him, the answer in both cases is probably ‘no.’…If we ask in addition whether the primitive Church was aware, after Peter’s death, that his authority had passed to the next bishop of Rome, or in other words that the head of the community at Rome was now the successor of Peter, the Church’s rock and hence the subject of the promise in Matthew 16:18-19, the question, put in those terms, must certainly be given a negative answer…Rome did not succeed in maintaining its position against the contrary opinion and praxis of a significant portion of the Church. The two most important controversies of this type were the disputes over the feast of Easter and heretical baptism. Each marks a stage in Rome’s sense of authority and at the same time reveals the initial resistance of other churches to the Roman claim.” (Papal Primacy [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], pp. 1-2, 11)

Peace to u,

Bill


#13

Klaus Schatz sounds pretty interesting. In a review of Gary Will’s “Why I am a Catholic”, the author (Brigid Elson) points out Will’s misuse of Schatz:

Wills’ misuse of his sources is particularly egregious. Consider his references to Klaus Schatz’s Papal Primacy (1996), a far better work than his. Trying to shore up his argument that Rome was not the leading community in the early church, he refers to Schatz thus:

“Joint authority is the essential note,” as the Jesuit authority Karl Schatz emphasizes: “A judicial superiority of one church over another, or certainly anything like papal primacy of jurisdiction, was completely foreign to Ignatius or Irenaeus [in the second century], or even Augustine [in the fourth]…in particular, all kinds of thinking in categories of hierarchical subordination or superiority will lead us astray” (Wills, p. 63).

**Now compare the above with what Schatz actually says: **

"Is a negative answer not inevitable if we approach the first centuries using the yardstick of our modern, fully developed, doctrine of primacy, or especially the standards of Vatican I? Is such an inquiry really historical? lf we ask the questions in such a way as to evoke a negative answer, are we not precluding any serious theological investigation? In fact, we everywhere encounter this kind of alienation by means of a later concept of primacy and all the historical associations, especially negative ones, connected with it.

This is usually the case to a greater degree for those who reject any notion of primacy in these texts than for those who think they can discern one. In such cases it is usually said that a juridical superiority of one church over another, or certainly anything like papal primacy of jurisdiction was completely foreign to Ignatius, or lrenaeus, or even Augustine; they knew nothing of any bishops being placed over one another, and so on" (Schatz, p.3).

**Note that Schatz is replicating a type of argument, not giving his own opinion. In fact throughout this passage Schatz repudiates the very type of approach Wills uses, viz, imposing modern categories on times to which they do not apply. **

Full review here: catholicinsight.com/original/other/culture/wills.html

Scott


#14

Any assertion that the sub-apostolic Church yielded no kind of special primacy to Rome is pure hogwash. I, myself, was “converted” to an apostolic view of the Church when I was still a Protestant – not in or by the Church but in the library of my university, where I first read the third book of Irenaeus of Lyons’ Adversus Haeresis. Ignatius of Antioch also notes the special position Rome held in his day (d. 115).

Laying aside all the usual canned arguments on both sides of this issue, my personal capitulation to Rome came from three simple points:

  1. One of the great scandals of the Incarnation was that Jesus had a physical body – a flesh-and-blood body. If he had a physical body, then it is only reasonable that his Church, the Body of Christ, should also have a physical body. Nowhere is there a more likely candidate for that title than among those Churches in communion with Rome.

  2. Jesus knew that “preaching the Gospel to all nations” would take more than the lifespan of the Apostles. Therefore, we can accept the belief of early Church that when he transmitted the Holy Spirit to the disciples on Easter day, he intended that Spirit to be passed on via their spiritual descendents, the bishops of the Church. Once you accept *that, *it logically follows that if Peter is not in your house of bishops, then you are missing the centerpiece. The see of Rome is the visible point of unity affirmed in our Lord’s prayer “that they all might be one.”

  3. Even Paul, who lacked no confidence in his own authority and boasted of calling Peter to task, went to Rome to consult personally with Peter and the other “pillars of the Church” there, later boasting in the Epistle to the Ephesians that they had affirmed that his gospel was the same as theirs: that he was teaching WITH the apostle.

This is not a question of the character of papal supremacy and its development (imperial, jurisdictional, collegial, or whatever) but recognition of the simple fact that the Church, to be as Christ intended it, must hold some point of unity in order to guard the deposit of faith.


#15

Greg McPhernan just said what I wanted to say. JESUS is speaking to Peter. The first time that Jesus saw Peter, Peter was named Simon Bar Jonah. Jesus told Simon that now his name would be Cephas ( This is Aramaic for rock…Peter is from the Greek Petros) .

Jesus said to Peter, just after calling Peter the rock - “Upon this Rock I will build my Church”…He said will build “my” Church. Church is singular. Jesus did not say He would build Churches!

It is perfectly clear that the Rock is/was Peter, not something made up by neo-Christians reciently. Jesus did not say that He, Jesus., was the Rock did he?

Quite a few Fundamentalists will say Jesus was building His Church on Peter’s “confession” that He, Jesus., was the Son of God. That would not hold up in an 8th Grade English Class.:yup:

Maria G, I am happy that you came back.


#16

[quote=Exporter]Greg McPhernan just said what I wanted to say. JESUS is speaking to Peter. The first time that Jesus saw Peter, Peter was named Simon Bar Jonah. Jesus told Simon that now his name would be Cephas ( This is Aramaic for rock…Peter is from the Greek Petros) .

Jesus said to Peter, just after calling Peter the rock - “Upon this Rock I will build my Church”…He said will build “my” Church. Church is singular. Jesus did not say He would build Churches!

It is perfectly clear that the Rock is/was Peter, not something made up by neo-Christians reciently. Jesus did not say that He, Jesus., was the Rock did he?

Quite a few Fundamentalists will say Jesus was building His Church on Peter’s “confession” that He, Jesus., was the Son of God. That would not hold up in an 8th Grade English Class.:yup:

Maria G, I am happy that you came back.
[/quote]

Good Day, Exporter

Such rules of the 8 grade english class, being used to explain the Greek here would fail in a standard third grade Greek speaking nation.

Peace to u,

Bill


#17

[quote=bbas 64]Good Day, Exporter

Such rules of the 8 grade english class, being used to explain the Greek here would fail in a standard third grade Greek speaking nation.

Peace to u,

Bill
[/quote]

Bill, I know from other threads that you are usually above this sort of thing. I read Greek Hellenistic Greek. Explorer is correct on this one.


#18

[quote=mercygate]Bill, I know from other threads that you are usually above this sort of thing. I read Greek Hellenistic Greek. Explorer is correct on this one.
[/quote]

Just trying to be funny, am will try to be better in the future and use more smiles :slight_smile: , I meant no offense to Exporter forgive me.

Peace to u,
Bill


#19

Hi Bill,

Well let’s see. I can listen to
either
Klaus Schatz,
or
the early local churches that did not understand/accept the office of Peter,
or
the office of Peter

I’ll listen to the office Peter.

There are also Jews and rabbis of Jesus’ time and today who were of the opinion that Jesus is not the Messiah. I’ll listen to Jesus.

Showing that others had different opinions in no way diminishes the truth of God.

What a person ***believes ***about the office of Peter and Jesus is a matter of faith, not opinion.

Greg


#20

[quote=bbas 64]Just trying to be funny, am will try to be better in the future and use more smiles :slight_smile: , I meant no offense to Exporter forgive me.

Peace to u,
Bill
[/quote]

Thanks, Bill! Got it! Glad you’re still on board. :smiley:


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