Thursday, August 8, 2013


Matthew 16:13-19

"Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Jesus asked. "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." The disciples replied. "But what about you? Who do you say I am?"  "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Simon Peter answered. "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," Jesus replied.

I will be building a case as to the Catholic view of this text and the Protestant’s misinterpretation.


“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Matt. 27:26) is Aramaic for “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” which Christ cried out on the Cross. When Christ spoke the above text to Peter, He did so in Aramaic. Because Jesus spoke Aramaic. Most ancient Biblical scholars believe Matthew was originally written in Aramaic as well as second-century Church Fathers who record that the Greek was a translation of an earlier Aramaic transcript. Therefore to really understand what Jesus meant and clear up any translation misunderstanding we need to go back to how Christ actually said it.

The original, spoken by Jesus more like, “you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.” The Aramaic is very close cognate to the Syriac dialect written in The Peshitta which uses the exact same word for both Peter and rock. This is the closest to what Christ would have spoken. (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 8, Zondervan, 368.)

The person who translated Matthew into Greek, during the first or second century, had a grammatical problem. You see, the current word for rock had a masculine and feminine version. The grammatically correct word in Greek was “petra” but that was a feminine noun and it wouldn’t work to call Simon “petra” so “petros” was used. The second “kepha” could then be used with the grammatically correct “petra.” So it ended up being “You are Petros and upon this petra...” As awkward as this was, it was grammatically correct.

Scholars admit that the original Aramaic play on words is lost when translated into Greek with the petros/petra distinction. Then when the English is translated from Greek there is a further loss of the pun as well as the meaning. It should read in English: “You, are Peter and upon this peter (rock) I build my kingdom.” Then you would catch Jesus’ play on words--a very Hebrew thing to do.


If the translator had wanted to get across the meaning of Peter being a little rock, he would have used the Greek word lithos which was generally, but not always, a more common word for a small stone. Peter would later call Christians lithoi or little stones in I Peter 2: 5. There is also a third option to convey the meaning of little rock--psephos meaning pebble. (Rev. 2:17) In fact, nowhere in the New Testament is petros used as small rock. So the Aramaic to Greek translator did not choose petros to mean little rock. Scholars have also found that after the fourth century B.C. in Koine Greek petra/petros were not meant as little or big rocks but simply as rocks--with no distinction in size.

However, in the end, we need to build our theology not on a translation but on what Jesus actually said, in His own language. That helps with the nuances of understanding his meaning.

The rock is often argued to be Peter’s faith and indeed Catholics believe that there is no real discrepancy with that view and theirs. Jesus is talking about both. It is Peter’s faith that opened up a way for the Father to tell him that Jesus is the Son of God. For Catholics it is not an either/or interpretation. It is a both/and. It is Peter and his faith upon with the church is founded.
It is interesting to note though that a favorite Protestant Greek dictionary “Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, agrees with the Catholic interpretation:

Petros himself is this petra, not just his faith or his confession. . . . The idea of the Reformers that he is referring to the faith of Peter is quite inconceivable. . . . For there is no reference here to the faith of Peter. Rather, the parallelism of "thou art Rock" and "on this rock I will build" shows that the second rock can only be the same as the first. It is thus evident that Jesus is referring to Peter, to whom he has given the name Rock.  (See also: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 6, Eerdmans, 98–99, 108)
Some Protestant apologists will argue that Jesus addresses Peter in the second person and the rock in the third. But Jesus often used metaphors in the third person even when He was referring to Himself. (See Matt. 21:42-44)

Oft overlooked is this part of the pronouncement: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

Jesus is blessing Peter. Jesus is pointing out that Peter, rather than the others, knew He was the Son of God. Peter didn’t discover this on his own, the Father revealed it to him. The Father was now speaking directly to Peter and Jesus was acknowledging that this was important and special. Peter was hearing the voice of the Almighty.--like Jesus was. How vital would that become when Jesus placed upon Peter His very own title of authority--Rock.

When God changes a man’s name, it is usually because he is to be a great leader of His people. Remember Abram was renamed Abraham, and Jacob was renamed Israel. Just as Abraham was a father to Israel, so is Peter was father to Christians. (Luke 16:24; Rom. 4:1–18; Jas. 2:21).

But this was even more than giving a new name to a leader, Jesus was giving Peter His own title. Throughout the Old Testament God was referred to as the rock, (Ps. 18:31, I Sam. 2:2) even Jesus was called the foundation and cornerstone (I Cor. 3:11; 10:4). This is an enormous gift of authority. This is not new, the priests of Israel were referred to with God’s name, Abraham was referred to as rock in Isaiah 51:1, 2 and in Eph. 2: 20 and Rev. 21:14 the apostles are referred to as the foundation of the church. God shares His title with His leaders.

Christ’s first title in Matthew is “son of David.” Jesus came to restore and fulfill the kingdom of David. So, like the kingdom set up in Israel, the king had a prime minister or better said, master of the household. This prime minister placed the keys to the kingdom on his shoulder as his visual badge of authority. 

Jesus commissioning of Peter in Matthew 16 resembles Eliakim’s authority who had the “key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” Isaiah 22: 20-22. So we can see, like Eliakim, Jesus is giving Peter the authority of the keys like a prime minister.

Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16: 18 is based upon solid exegesis, hermeneutics and Christian history. But it is a hard pronouncement of Christ. It’s not easy following Peter and his successors. In fact it is hard. We don’t follow Peter because we want to because frankly we live in a society that teaches us we should be independent and free. We follow Peter because Christ placed him as our leader. We do it to please Christ.

Compiled from:
Tim Staples and Karl Keating of Catholic Answers A.D. Carson Oscar Cullman
Suggested DEBATES to listen to:
(you can download them and listen to them online or download them onto via MP3)


A Catholic/Protestant debate on sola Scriptura
Patrick Madrid & Karl Keating vs. Bill Jackson and Ron Nemec $6.00
This debate took place before an audience of nearly 600 people at a Fundamentalist Baptist church in Denver, Colorado, during the Pope’s visit there in the summer of 1993. The debate theme was framed as “Does the Bible Teach the doctrine of ‘The Bible Alone’?” In this rollicking and sometimes humorous exchange, you’ll hear veteran Catholic apologists Karl Keating and Patrick Madrid square off against two Fundamentalist Baptist ministers as they disect the Reformation notion of sola Scriptura, using Scripture and the facts of history. Informative, thought-provoking and dramatic.

Patrick Madrid debates James White on the question “Does the Bible Teach Sola Scriptura?” Hard-hitting, penetrating exchange on the central slogan of the Protestant Reformation.

Youtube debate with Robert Sugenis and David Hester

PURGATORY: (two parts, turn up volume)


PREDESTINATION (You can find all the series of video at this first link)

Not debates but links to Catholic information:


1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...


Jesus said I will build My church. Which church was that? Matthew 16:15-19...."But who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.".....18 I also say to you that are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven......(THE KEYS WERE USED IN ACTS CHAPTER 2)

Did Jesus say I will build the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, or any of the other 30,000 denominations?


HEAD OF THE CHURCH: Ephesians Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

The apostle Paul did not say, select a man on earth, or a national board and then appoint him or them as head of the church? Paul said Jesus was the head of the church.


When the apostle Paul sent greetings to the Christians in Rome, he said; (Romans 16:16 ....All the churches of Christ send greeting.) Paul did not send greetings from the churches of Roman Catholics, nor from any other denomination. Paul was a member of the Lord's church, not some denomination.

Acts Chapter 2: The same Peter, who Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven told them how to become member of the kingdom of heaven here on earth, (the kingdom of heaven on earth is the church of Christ, the Lord's church, the body of Christ)? Peter preach Jesus to them and when they believed, he told them to repent and be baptized so their sins could be forgiven, and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit and were added to the Lord's church.

Acts 2:40-41....."Be saved from this perverse generation!" 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

They were added to the church only after they believed Peter's preaching and were immersed in water.

The Lord added the saved to His church. The Lord did not add them to the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran church, the Baptist Church, nor any of the other 30,000 denomination that exist today. (Acts 2:47... And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.)


Did the apostle Peter consult a man-made catechism, a creed book, or a denominational statement of faith before he preached on the Day of Pentecost?

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Having you name written in the role book of one of the 30,000 denominations cannot keep you from being thrown into the lake of fire.

When Jesus returns He is coming for His church. Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:1-27......27 but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Which church did Jesus die for? JESUS DIED FOR HIS CHURCH!

( All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)