What did Jesus Name Simon(Peter)


I am leading up to something, but I want to see what the consensus is both amongst Protestants and Catholics, even though I know what the Catholic Answer is…

Did Jesus Give Simon the name Peter and mean Little Rock, or simply Rock.

In Christ


In the original language of Jesus. It is Kepha or Cepha, which makes no difference between little rock or large rock.

“You are Kepha and Upon this Kepha, I will built My Church.”


I’ve got a slightly different slant on “Rock”. Up to this point this word had not been used as a name. It was very unusual to “name” someone Rock. Did Jesus name Simon, Rock, or, was He naming Simons’ position or title? Would it be reasonable to consider Jesus giving Simon the title Rock, rather than the name Rock? Consider the ramifications of a title, Rock, or say Pope. Was Jesus calling Simon “Rock or, as we would say today, Pope” as a title? When Jesus calls Simon Peter, why does He use both “names”? Is He in effect saying Pope Simon?


No, Christ gave Simon a new name… Peter.
“Pope” is a word that comes from “Papa” (or Father)…

When Jesus addresses Peter as “Simon Peter” he is recalling Peter’s denial of Christ in the garden… reminding him of who he was before, and asking Peter to confirm his love for Christ.


By the way… post some reasoning for your response. If you think it means little rock, give your reason, as well as if you believe it means simply rock

In Christ



“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 (Protestant) 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].

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 maintain their positions, they were forced to portray it 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.


Why did Jesus Rename Simon?


Cephas, or “Rocky”. Whilst there is no record of anyone before Simon Peter having this nickname, it wasn’t necessarily unusual or anything too remarkable. He was a tough guy. Small groups of men quite often call each other by nicknames.


Well, someone already let the Cat out the bag, so I will go with what I am driving at…

People have a huge issue with peter and say… see… it means little rock… Petra/Petros argument.

However, In reading, I see that we have an explicit definition of the name.

John 1:42: Jesus names Simon CEPHAS… Which simply means rock. In order for the those that argue for little rock, Jesus would HERE have to say I will call you LITTLE cephas. But he doesn’t… its just Cephus. Not Petros…

So… THE BIBLE SAYS Simon is named CEPHUS, which means rock…

Does that not therefore mean since its the same even recorded in differant gospels, that in Matthew it means

You are ROCK and upon this ROCK I will build my Church.
No Distinction between the two. No change in focus… it DOES NOT SAY you are little rock and upon a big rock i will build my church.

Anyway… just some food for thought

In Christ



Kudos to Randy Carlson on the posted quotes. It really helps explain that passage of scripture and the Catholic view. I’ve heard similar arguments in the past, but nothing that concise and from such a broad scope of sources. Unfortunately, some previous posts on this subject have either just provided circular arguments or “cheap shots” at one another. I’m going to have to print a hard copy of this post for further research.

This is one of the Catholic doctrines that I’ve been “chewing” on for quite some time now and this really gives me something to ponder and “digest.” - Sorry couldn’t resist the second cheesy pun.

Thanks again Randy.


yeah, thanks to Randy, it’s very useful to have this from the Potestant authors :clapping:


It’s worth pointing out also that Peter actually is referred to as “Cephas” in both Galatians and 1 Corinthians. That alone should demolish the “little rock” theory.


Well, according to the King James Version which is the Bible version that Jesus and the Apostles used, and therefore inerrant:

John 1:42
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

This proves without a doubt that Jesus was referring to Simon as a stone, or small rock.

And The KJV is not a biased translation, so you can’t refute it.
sorry… you just can’t.


Since Cephas is a nickname then it would be diminutive if it was meant to be “little rock”.
The whole argument is just an attempt to argue that Matthew 16, which very clearly gives leadership of the Church to Peter,in fact does not do so. However even if “Cephas” were to be a diminutive the passage would not bear any other interpretation, because the next sentence removes any doubt.


If you think it is a unbiased translation, why is it called the King James “Version”?:confused:


Because it is the “Version” Jesus and the Apostles used.

sorry, I was being facetious in my post.:rolleyes:


Friend Runandsew: Would you please just skip the Petra/Petros business for a minute and look at John 1:42? Then recall how the name Cephas occurs in Corinthians and Galatians to name Peter? and THEN look at Matthew? That’s will clarify what Heisenburg is offering.


Runandsew, would you please just read the above bit I cropped out of the long research several posts above, if you’re not going to read the research itself???


Does it matter if Jesus calls Peter a ‘little rock’ or not? Jesus calls Simon “ROCK”, the end. The fact that Jesus gave him a new name should be enough to convince anyone of Peter’s importance in God’s plan.

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