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:



The Immaculate Conception

The mother of our Lord, Mary, was conceived by  natural  reproduction, but Catholics teach that God intervened in a special way and kept her from the stain of original sin. She was preserved from a corrupt nature with a unique gift of God's grace. 

Why? What would be the purpose of Mary being sinless? 

Being chosen to be the bearer of God is the highest honor ever bestowed upon a human. Mary held God within her. She contributed half of Jesus' chromosomes. When we see Jesus, we are seeing the genetics of Mary. Her face is in His. Divinity  within Mary's humanity and Mary's humanity within His Divinity. Mary was part of the greatest miracle of cosmic history: God becoming man. She was not only created for this purpose, she was given the grace needed to be able to hold within her body the Holy God. A sinful human body could never have been impregnated by the Holy Spirit and held God. 

Mary was given the grace of sinlessness not  because of a willful act on her part but a gift for Christ. Mary being immaculately conceived was not to elevate her to divinity, but was for Christ

So if she was sinless she was like God and didn't need a Savior!

Adam and Eve were born without original sin and that didn't make them like God. Most angels are without sin and they are not divinity. Christians would not claim that the perfect souls now in heaven are in competition with God. 

Mary was born as all of us were originally created to be born if we had not sinned. Mary is our hope. Mary shows us what Christ meant for us and what He plans for us. When we look at Mary we are seeing a prophecy of the future of each of God's faithful. With God's grace we, like Mary, will be perfect. 

The Catholics teach that Mary was "redeemed in a more exalted fashion by reason of the merits of her Son." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 492.) Being saved from ever sinning by God's redemptive blood is just as much being saved as those who fall and must seek repentance. It is still God's merits not Mary's and she still required a Savior for if God's miraculous intervention had been withheld she would not have been "full of grace." 

My Bible translation says Mary was "highly favored" not "full of grace." (Luke 1:28) 

The Greek perfect tense verb that is translated in these phrases is Kecharitomene. It would have been understood by the reader in Christ's day as a permanent grace beginning in the past and continuing into the future. The archangel wasn't at this point bestowing God's grace on her, but addressing her as queen and recognizing her gift of grace. 

The texts that support the Catholic belief can be found in this video: 

But Mary being sinless is against scripture?

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-23
This is the Protestant "gotcha" text whenever they inform a Catholic that the Immaculate Conception is heretical. Yet logic will tell you that Paul's "all" didn't really mean all as in each and every individual human conceived or Jesus himself would be included. And what about the babies that die before the age of consent when they would be personally responsible for their sins? (Even Paul admitted that babies were sinless in Rom. 9: 11)

How strange for a Protestants to believe the Bible could be immaculately conceived--a book be saved from stain of sin and corruption--and yet God wouldn't do that for His Mother? If God kept the book who held the written Word infallible, could He not also making the woman who held the physical Word infallible?

Do not hate Mary because she is beautiful. She is the blessed mother of God and Jesus is showing us through Mary, who we are, who His church is. We are to be exalted and glorified just as Mary. And because the Trinity, the very Godhead addressed her with the title of queen when they said "Hail" through the angle Gabriel, so should we treat her with utter respect. Mary prophesied that "all generations will call me blessed." And so we do, Blessed Mary.


The papal encyclical on Mary:
The Catholic Encyclopedia on Mary:
Catholic encyclopedia about the Immaculate Conception:

List of recommended books about the Catholic Dogmas of Mary:

Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn

Mary: Mother of the Son by Mark Shea (a Trilogy)

Queen Mother 


From the New Advent website (under: Immaculate Conception). Here is a list of Church Fathers and early Christian writers who helped develop the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception from what Christ and the Apostles taught. 

Mary as the second Eve
This celebrated comparison between Eve, while yet immaculate and incorrupt — that is to say, not subject to original sin — and the Blessed Virgin is developed by:
The absolute purity of Mary
Patristic writings on Mary's purity abound.
  • The Fathers call Mary the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption (Hippolytus, "Ontt. in illud, Dominus pascit me");
  • Origen calls her worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings ("Hom. i in diversa");
  • Ambrose says she is incorrupt, a virgin immune through grace from every stain of sin ("Sermo xxii in Ps. cxviii);
  • Maximus of Turin calls her a dwelling fit for Christ, not because of her habit of body, but because of original grace ("Nom. viii de Natali Domini");
  • Theodotus of Ancyra terms her a virgin innocent, without spot, void of culpability, holy in body and in soul, a lily springing among thorns, untaught the ills of Eve, nor was there any communion in her of light with darkness, and, when not yet born, she was consecrated to God ("Orat. in S. Dei Genitr.").
  • it is evident and notorious that she was pure from eternity, exempt from every defect (Typicon S. Sabae);
  • she was formed without any stain (St. Proclus, "Laudatio in S. Dei Gen. ort.", I, 3);
  • when the Virgin Mother of God was to be born of Anne, nature did not dare to anticipate the germ of grace, but remained devoid of fruit (John Damascene, "Hom. i in B. V. Nativ.", ii).
  • The Syrian Fathers never tire of extolling the sinlessness of Mary. St. Ephraem considers no terms of eulogy too high to describe the excellence of Mary's grace and sanctity: "Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity ...., alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . . . flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate" ("Precationes ad Deiparam" in Opp. Graec. Lat., III, 524-37).
  • To St. Ephraem she was as innocent as Eve before her fall, a virgin most estranged from every stain of sin, more holy than the Seraphim, the sealed fountain of the Holy Ghost, the pure seed of God, ever in body and in mind intact and immaculate ("Carmina Nisibena").