What's your Church's teaching on Matthew 16:18 and why?

Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

What is the significance of Jesus saying, “You are Peter” and is “Peter” the same word as “rock” that Jesus will build His Church on?

What’s your Church’s official teaching on this exact phrase?


Here’s what it says about it in Vatican I:

On the institution of the apostolic primacy in blessed Peter

  1. We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord.
  1. It was to Simon alone, to whom he had already said You shall be called Cephas [42], that the Lord, after his confession, You are the Christ, the son of the living God, spoke these words:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven [43] .

  1. And it was to Peter alone that Jesus, after his resurrection, confided the jurisdiction of Supreme Pastor and ruler of his whole fold, saying:
    Feed my lambs, feed my sheep [44].
  1. To this absolutely manifest teaching of the Sacred Scriptures, as it has always been understood by the Catholic Church, are clearly opposed the distorted opinions of those who misrepresent the form of government which Christ the lord established in his Church and deny that Peter, in preference to the rest of the apostles, taken singly or collectively, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction.
  1. The same may be said of those who assert that this primacy was not conferred immediately and directly on blessed Peter himself, but rather on the Church, and that it was through the Church that it was transmitted to him in his capacity as her minister.
  1. Therefore, if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant; or that it was a primacy of honor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema. (Read more)

And here’s an excerpt from Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium:

But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, and made him shepherd of the whole flock; it is evident, however, that the power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter, was granted also to the college of apostles, joined with their head. This college, insofar as it is composed of many, expresses the variety and universality of the People of God, but insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ. In it, the bishops, faithfully recognizing the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own authority for the good of their own faithful, and indeed of the whole Church, the Holy Spirit supporting its organic structure and harmony with moderation. The supreme power in the universal Church, which this college enjoys, is exercised in a solemn way in an ecumenical council. A council is never ecumenical unless it is confirmed or at least accepted as such by the successor of Peter; and it is prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke these councils, to preside over them and to confirm them. This same collegiate power can be exercised together with the pope by the bishops living in all parts of the world, provided that the head of the college calls them to collegiate action, or at least approves of or freely accepts the united action of the scattered bishops, so that it is thereby made a collegiate act. (Read more)

Christ established ONE Church, not 200000, and on that day His words were clear, He made St Peter the very first Pope to guide Christianity through His Church. The origin of the name Peter is Rock (Petro = Peter, Petra = Rock). It was only after 1500 years that people with no knowledge of Patristics came to think all knowledge must come from the Bible, and ignore everything has been taught to the Apostles by our Lord which are not mentioned in the Bible, the very existence of the Church itself, in the Bible, isn’t much clear, and then some by ignorance and others by cunning dishonesty use that to create an heresy called “protestantism”.

In Aramaic, there is only one word for rock, kepha. This is the word Christ would have used, both for the new name of Simon bar-Jonah and for the rock upon which His Church would be built. Thus, Peter is the rock.

Here is our teaching from “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope”:

23] In all these passages Peter is the representative of the entire assembly of apostles [and does not speak for himself alone, but for all the apostles], as appears from the text itself. For Christ asks not Peter alone, but says: Whom do ye say that I am? And what is here said [to Peter alone] in the singular number: I will give unto thee the keys; and whatsoever thou shalt bind, etc., is elsewhere expressed [to their entire number], in the plural Matt. 18:18: Whatsoever ye shall bind, etc. And in John 20:23: Whosesoever sins ye remit, etc. These words testify that the keys are given alike to all the apostles and that all the apostles are alike sent forth [to preach].

24] In addition to this, it is necessary to acknowledge that the keys belong not to the person of one particular man, but to the Church, as many most clear and firm arguments testify. For Christ, speaking concerning the keys adds, Matt. 18:19: If two or three of you shall agree on earth, etc. Therefore he grants the keys principally and immediately to the Church, just as also for this reason the Church has principally the right of calling. [For just as the promise of the Gospel belongs certainly and immediately to the entire Church, so the keys belong immediately to the entire Church, because the keys are nothing else than the office whereby this promise is communicated to every one who desires it, just as it is actually manifest that the Church has the power to ordain ministers of the Church. And Christ speaks in these words: Whatsoever ye shall bind, etc., and indicates to whom He has given the keys, namely, to the Church: Where two or three are gathered together in My name. Likewise Christ gives supreme and final jurisdiction to the Church, when He says: Tell it unto the Church.]

Therefore it is necessary that in these passages Peter is the representative of the entire assembly of the apostles, and for this reason they do not accord to Peter any prerogative or superiority, or lordship [which he had, or was to have had, in preference to the other apostles].

25] However, as to the declaration: Upon this rock I will build My Church, certainly the Church has not been built upon the authority of man, but upon the ministry of the confession which Peter made, in which he proclaims that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He accordingly addresses him as a minister: Upon this rock, i.e., upon this ministry. [Therefore he addresses him as a minister of this office in which this confession and doctrine is to be in operation and says: Upon this rock, i.e., this preaching and ministry.]

Read more:

Here is what it says about it in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” (Read more)

For further study on the Papacy:

Peter and the Papacy
Peter the Rock
Peter’s Primacy
Peter’s Roman Residency
Peter’s Successors
Was Peter in Rome?
Papal Infallibility
The Pope - Catholic Encyclopedia
The Primacy of Peter in Sacred Scripture and in the Early Church
St. Cyprian, an Eastern early Church father and martyr, about the role of Peter
Primacy of Rome - Early Church fathers
The Authority of the Pope: Part I
The Authority of the Pope: Part II
Origins of Peter as Pope

Thank you for your input, but you focused more on the keys than what I am asking.

What significance does Jesus’s “you are Peter” and “on this rock” is there? Why did Jesus say that Peter is Peter and on such a rock the Church shall be built. I’m interested in the linguistics and the history of such a statement. Was Jesus saying Peter is the rock? If not, why “you are Peter”? Did Jesus use the same words for “rock” each time?

I see. Well here is my hero Martin Luther’s take on it. It’s not dogmatic for Lutherans but I think its pretty standard Lutheran interpretation,

The Lord then says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock will I build my church.” In St. John 1 :42], he calls him Cephas, “You shall be called Cephas,” Keph in Hebrew, Kepha in Chaldean, and Petros or Petra in Greek, Rupes in Latin, all of which mean rock in German—like the high rocks the castles are built on. Now the Lord wants to say, “You are Peter, that is, a man of rock. For you have recognized and named the right Man, who is the true rock, as Scripture names him, Christ. On this rock, that is, on me, Christ, I will build all of my Christendom, just as you and the other disciples are built on it through my Father in heaven, who revealed it to you.” In plain German one would say, “You say (on behalf of all) that I am the Messiah or Christ, the Son of the living God; very well then, I say to you, you are a Christian, and I shall build my church on a Christian.” For in German the word “Christ” means both the Lord himself, as one sings, “Christ the Lord is risen, Christ ascended to heaven,”127 and he who believes in the Lord Christ, as one says, “You are a Christ.” Thus Luke in Acts 11 :26] says that the disciples in Antioch were first called Christians, which is why names have survived such as, “Christians, Christendom, Christian faith,” etc. So here our Lord gives Simon, son of Jona, the name “man of rock” or “Christian” because he, from the Father, recognized the rock, or Christ, and praised him with his mouth on behalf of all the apostles.

From this it is clear enough that by the building of his church on the rock or on himself, Christ meant nothing else but (as was said above, from the apostles Peter and Paul) the common Christian faith, that whoever believes in Christ is built on this rock and will attain salvation, even against all the gates of hell; whoever does not believe in Christ is not built on this rock and must be damned, with all the gates of hell. This is the simple, single, certain understanding of these words, and there can be no other. This the words clearly and convincingly prove, and they agree with the words in the last chapter of Mark [16:16], “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” and with John 11 :26], “Whoever believes in me shall never die.” Yes, I say, remember well and mark diligently that the Lord in Matthew 16 does not speak of laws, Ten Commandments, or the works we should or could do, but of the Christian faith or the work of the Father, which he, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, performs in us, namely, that he spiritually builds us on the rock, his Son, and teaches us to believe in Christ, that we might become his house and dwelling, as is proven in I Peter 2 :4–7] and Ephesians 2 :19–22].

Further, “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” [Matt. 16:19]. The Lord wants to provide well for his churches, built on him and believing in him. Because they should preach and confess the gospel before the whole world and govern on the basis that Christ Jesus is the Son of God, he wants to have their words honored and not scorned, as though he were speaking personally from heaven. Now he who hears the gospel from the apostles or churches and does not want to believe should be sentenced to be damned. Again, if he should fall after he has believed and will not convert back to faith, he should be sentenced in the same way—he should keep his sins and be damned. On the other hand, he who hears and believes the gospel, or turns from his sins back to faith, should have his sins forgiven and should attain salvation. And he will consider such a verdict in heaven as if he had spoken it himself. See, these are the keys of the kingdom of heaven and they should be used to give eternal retention and remission of sins in the church, not just at the time of baptism, or once in a lifetime, but continuously until the end—retention for the unrepentant and unbelievers, remission for the repentant and believers.

And here remember once again, and write it upon your heart, that the Lord does not speak here of laws or the works we should do, but of his works, namely, of retention and remission of sins. To retain or forgive sins is the work of the divine majesty alone. But he wants to perform and accomplish these works of his through his church; that is why he says that whatever it will bind or loose on earth should be bound or loosed by him in heaven. That is why, too, the two items follow one another in the Children’s Creed, “I believe in one holy Christian church, the communion of saints, forgiveness of sins”; so, where the church is, namely, the building on the rock, there are the keys to the forgiveness of sins. [LW 41:314-315]

Well, let’s look at the context:

Matthew 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare′a Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?”

Caesare’a Philippi was an area at the center of which there was a gigantic pagan temple built upon… you guessed it: a rock. When Christ renames Simon bar-Jonah “rock” and proceeds to say that He will build His Church on that rock, he is using the environment to drive home an analogy. Just as the gigantic rock was the foundation of the temple in Caesare’a Philippi, Peter is the foundation of the Church that Christ established.

And yes, Christ used the same Aramaic word each time: kepha.

The Orthodox Church in its patristics understands the verse to mean both Peter personally, as well as the faith which he demonstrated it. We don’t take it to the extreme that it means the See of Rome (as the primary see of Peter) is beyond reproach and cannot err, as Catholics do.

If the foundation falls, so does the entire structure.

That is Lutheran Personal Interpretation, because Lutherans don’t want to see Christ
passing on authority to one man whose successor lives today. “Oh no, Jesus hand–
ing the Keys of Heaven to ‘Peter’ has NOTHING to do with Second Chronicles 26:21
or Isaiah 22.” “It’s Fine! It works for our non-papist Church!”

House Harkonnen

I have read Martin Luther’s explanation before. What it doesn’t take into account is the name change that is dismissed without comment. Why the name change? There are only three name changes in Scripture none of them were meaningless

Abram to Abraham Meaning Father of a multitude
and his wife
Sarai to Sarah meaning princess

Jacob to Israel I have heard multiple meanings.

The change of name was significant and I doubt if Peter was any different.

Take it to the extreme? The extreme of what? Rome is beyond reproach? I am not sure your intent with this statement. It sounds like an extreme misunderstanding of infallibility.

How about another Luther quote…It is as though He were saying,Why are you staring heavenward in search of the keys?Do you not understand that I gave them to Peter? They are indeed the keys of heaven,but they are not found in heaven.I left them on earth. Don’t look for them in heaven or anywhere else, except in Peter’s mouth where I have placed them. Peter’s mouth is my mouth, and his tongue is my key case. His office is my office, his binding and loosing, are My binding and loosing. Martin Luther

Apologies dronald, that was off topic!:doh2:

I’d ask,St. Paul. When he scolds St.Peter he still calls him Kephas. Only Jesus could call him Simon even after the change of name. “Simon, i have prayed for you…”. Thus Peter is on whom the Church was built, keeping the Faith till the return of the Master.


Yes. Luther taught that the keys are given to the church. Since he is a member of the church, he has the keys as much as any other member of the church. This would be consistent with Luther’s theology that I quoted above.

It is not simply infallibility I am talking about. That is a relatively new issue.

Rome has created a system by which its bishop cannot be corrected on anything, no matter what.

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