is the largest “professing” Christian denomination worldwide
with over a billion members. In spite of the numbers, as
pointed out many times before, the Roman Catholic Church
is a false church embracing many teachings that
sharply oppose “essential” biblical doctrine. Some of
Rome’s anti-biblical teachings include Purgatory
(which is a flat out denial of the sufficiency and
infallible work of Christ alone); the worship of Mary
(as well as other false Marian doctrines); and
Rome’s denial of justification through “faith
It is unfortunate that many Christian leaders, who are
either afraid and/or unaware of the basic teachings of
Catholicism, stay utterly silent on the issue; or, even
worst, they endorse the Catholic Church as a true Christian
church! What happened to the divine command of Jude 3:
“Contend earnestly for the
faith, which was once for all handed
down to the saints”?
The “Rock” of Matthew 16:18
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock
I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not
This passage is the so-called hallmark proof-text that Rome
uses to teach that Peter was the “rock” (and thus, the
first “Pope”) upon which Christ built His church.
This notion also spawned other false Catholic doctrines such
as the “infallibility” of the Pope when speaking, ex
cathedra—“from the throne”):
We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is
absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human
creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Pope
Boniface VIII, papal bull,
A.D. 1302; emphasis added).
However, as with any text of Scripture, to arrive at a
correct interpretation of the intended meaning, one
must engage in a proper exegesis of that text. Hence, for
any interpretation to be “biblically” accurate, it must be
Before examining this text in detail, we must consider two
important points in Jesus’ response to Peter.
Peter’s confession was of a divine origin, thus, not
of himself (cf. Phil. 1:29),
and, as we will argue,
According to Jesus, Peter’s confession that
Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” is “the
rock,” upon which Jesus will build His church.
asserts that the “rock” upon which Jesus will build His
church is the Apostle
his confession. This erroneous interpretation can be
shown as (a) exegetically false and (b)
phrase in question reads: kagō de soi legō hoti su ei
Petros kai epi tautē tē petra oikodomēsō mou tēn ekklēsian
(lit., “I also and to you say that
you are Peter and upon this the
rock I will build My [the] church”). Note the
which surrounds Jesus’ statement to Peter in verse 18,
starts in verses 13-15
Jesus’ question to
regarding His identity:
“But who do
you say that I am?”
It is Peter’s
response (v. 16), that is, his confession of
who Jesus is (“the Messiah, the Son of the living
God”) that prompts Jesus’ statement to Peter.
The personal pronoun su
(“you are Peter”) is a singular
second personal pronoun. Note:
Jesus here is directly addressing Peter: “I also say
to you that you [su]
are Peter. . . .” Thus, Jesus said to him, not
about him. Whereas the pronoun tautē
(“upon this rock”) is a demonstrative
pronoun, which has a third person
that is, it is in indirect address. “Indirect,” in
that Jesus is not directly addressing or speaking to
the rock, but rather He is speaking to Peter: “You
[su] *direct address] are Peter
and upon this [epi tautē,
indirect address] rock I will build My church.”
Hence, the text
differentiates between Peter, to whom Jesus is directly
addressing and the “rock,” to which is indirectly addressed
(“upon this rock”). If Jesus had meant what
modern-day Catholics assert, He simply would have stated:
“Upon you [su] I will build My church” or “You Peter
are the rock,” but He did not. Rather, as the text literally
reads: “upon this the rock [epi
tautē tē petra] I will build My (the) church.”
reference, “this rock,” therefore, is other than the
direct reference, Peter, who is being directly
addressed in the preceding phrase—, which is also clear
in the immediate context.
Catholics, however, cannot accept any doctrine contrary to
the “infallible” position (ex cathedra) of their Ultimate
Most Roman Catholics are not aware of the historical
research done by Roman Catholic Archbishop Peter Richard
Kenrick regarding the early church’s view of Matthew
16:18. Archbishop Kenrick
prepared a paper on this subject, which was to be delivered
to Vatican I (1870). However, it was never delivered, but it
was published later, along with other insights.
He points out the 5 interpretations, which
Fathers of antiquity
held to: 1) Peter as the Rock, 17 Fathers,
2) all the apostles, 8 Fathers, 3)
that the church was built on the faith that Peter confessed,
44 Fathers, including the most important
Fathers, 4) Jesus as the Rock, 16 Fathers, and
5) all Christians were the living stones, held
by very few Fathers.
only 20% of the Fathers held to Rome’s now canonized
“infallible” “Petrine Rock” interpretation of Matthew 16:18.
That is far from being the norm of the early church.
Catholic apologist, H.
of the writings of the first two centuries describe St.
Peter as a bishop of Rome.”
fact, no one before Callistus (A.D.
223) used Matthew 16:18 to support the primacy of the Roman
bishop (i.e., “Pope” as Rome call it)—no one.
church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea (A.D.
sees the “rock” as Christ. He links this
interpretation with the parallel rock and foundation
statements of 1 Corinthians 3:11 and 10:4. Sharing this view
(Christ as the Rock) was Augustine. In fact, he
commented more on Matthew 16:18 than any other church
Father. It is true that at the beginning of his ministry, he
saw Peter as the Rock. However, he changed his position
throughout the balance of his ministry in which he adopted
the view that the Rock was not Peter, but either Christ or
Peter’s confession, which pointed to the Person of Christ:
Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on
Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession?
‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the
rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the
Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld
cannot conquer (Sermons, XI, Sermon 229, 327;
has been demonstrated over and over is that Roman
Catholics do not engage in critical exegesis when
interpreting Scripture, nor do they objectively examine the
patristic (church Fathers) record, not because Catholics
lack the ability, but because they do not need to—for
Rome has already provided the “infallible” interpretation
for them. Thus, for the Catholic: Rome’s
interpretations are correct, because Rome says they are.
However, the following points seriously challenge Rome’s
position of the so-called Primacy of Peter and him
being the first Pope of Rome:
There is no
indicating that Peter had supremacy over all the other
Peter never once considered that he was
Pope, Pontiff; Vicar
of Christ, Holy Father, or Head of the whole Christian
Church, nor did any of the other apostles make such as
Peter outwardly denied the Lord (out of fear) and
Peter was rebuked by the Apostle Paul for being prejudice
against the Gentiles (cf. Gal. 2:11-12).
At the first church council
in Jerusalem (not Rome), it was James and not Peter
who was the leading speaker and decision maker, for James
authoritatively declared: “It
is my judgment
that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from
among the Gentiles. . . .” (Acts 15:19). Moreover, the
letter that was sent out regarding the judgment never
mentions Peter (cf. v. 23).
At the end of Romans, Paul sends
his greetings to at least 26 people—but Peter is not
even mentioned! Why? Surely, if Peter had
“recognized supremacy” over Rome and all the apostles, we
would expect Paul to have greeted him first!
Peter was a married man, unlike the Roman Popes (cf, Matt.
8:14; 1 Cor. 9:5).
These are but a few of the many valid objections to Rome’s
position. Simply, there is no place in the NT where Peter
acted as “Pope,” or as the “supreme head” of the apostles
and the church. Quite the opposite is true. Paul says that
the Christian church has “been built on the foundation of
the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the
cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). The Christian
confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God
is the very ROCK of faith upon which the Christian church
has been built—and not upon the man Peter.
The religious belief of Rome is a “both-and”
system: The word of God is both Scripture
and tradition; salvation is by faith and works,
nature (i.e., man’s own natural ability) and God,
Mary and Jesus, and submitting to the ultimate
religious authority, the Roman Pontiff (i.e. the Pope).
biblical Christianity teaches that Scripture alone
is our final authority, and salvation is by grace
alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone,
and for the glory of God alone—Soli Deo Gloria!
By His doing
[alone] you are in Christ
Jesus, who became to us wisdom
from God, and
righteousness and sanctification,
so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST
IN THE LORD” (1 Cor. 1:30-31; emphasis added).
H. Burn-Murdock, The
Development of the Papacy (1954), 130f.