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The Roman Catholic Church greatly opposes many essential biblical teachings include Purgatory (which is a flat out denial of the sufficiency and infallible work of Christ alone); service-worship of Mary (as well as other false Marian doctrines); and esp. Rome’s denial of justification through “faith alone.”

It is unfortunate that many Christian leaders, who are either afraid and/or unaware of the basic teachings of Rome, stay utterly silent on the issue; or, even worst, they endorse the Catholic Church as a legitimate true Christian church! 

 

See Matt 16 18: The Plastic Rock of Rome- On my YouTube page  

 

The “Rock” of Matthew 16:18

This passage is Rome’s basis of the Roman dogma of Papal Succession. Just as the foundation of the false LDS Church raises and falls on Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Romish Catholic Church, rises and falls on the Papal Succession, which is the so-called divine transmission of ultimate spiritual authority from the Apostle Peter through successive Romish Popes.

As with atrocious false doctrine of ontological Transubstantiation, Rome sees Papal Succession in a real and literal way. The Romish doctrine that the Roman Pope carries the authority and infallibility of the biblical Apostles is called by Rome: Ex Cathedra (“from the chair”), which was officially made Dogma not until 1870 at Vatican 1, under Pope Pius IX.[1]

If Rome’s infallible Papal Succession doctrine is biblical, then not only would be supported by exegesis of the text at Matthew 16:18, but it would be historically shown that no Pope speaking officially, that is, “from the Chair” have ever erred. However, on both counts, Rome’s doctrine of Papal Succession fails. For example, there’s been heretical Popes such as Honorius I (625- 638), who after his death, was Anathematized, for embracing Monothelitism (Christ as having “one will”) and then later he was Anathematized for not ending it. And even officially named a heretic and Anathematized by the Third Council of Constantinople (680). And Pope Leo II (682- to death 683) endorsed the condemnation of him, as did later Popes. Pope Leo declared that Honorius, “allowed the immaculate faith to be stained” by teaching not “in accord with apostolic tradition.”[2]

Before examining this text in detail, we must consider three important points in Jesus’ response to Peter.

  1. The context is not Peter, rather, the identification of Christ (“Who do you say that I am?” v. 13).
  1. Peter’s Confession (“You are the Christ the Son of living God”) was of a divine origin, thus, not of himself (cf. Phil. 1:29). In Matthew 16:17 we read: “And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
  1. Exegetically and the general consensus of early church, according to Jesus, it was Peter’s Confession that was the “rock,” upon which Jesus will build His church.

Conversely, Rome asserts that the “rock” upon which Jesus will build His church is the Apostle Peter, and not his confession. The Roman interpretation of Matthew 16:18 is false both exegetically and historically, and problematic and unsupported.

Exegetically. The passage reads: kagō de soi legō [‘I also now to you say’] that su ei Petros [“that You are Peter”] and epi tautē tē petra (‘upon this the rock’) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Note the following: as mentioned, the context, which surrounds Jesus’ statement to Peter (v. 18), starts in verses 13-15 with Jesus’ question to His disciples 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 Christ, the Son of the living God”) that stimulates Jesus’ statement to Peter. Note again verse 17, which indicates Jesus’ confirmation that Peter’s Confession was not derived from Peter himself (not “flesh and bone”)—rather it was revealed by God the Father.

“You” vs the phrase “this the rock.” “I also now to “YOU” [soi] say that “YOU” [su] are Peter” (lit.). The two pronouns “YOU” (soi, and su) are singular second person personal pronouns. Thus, the pronouns are in direct reference—Hence, Jesus is directly addressing Peter. Jesus said to him, not about him. Note the next phrase (lit.), “And upon THIS [epi tautē] the Rock, I will build my church.”

The pronoun THIS (tautē) is a demonstrate pronoun. The demonstrative pronoun “THIS” has a third person significance, that is, indirect address,[3] contra the two second person pronouns (“I also say to you [soi] that you [su] are Peter”; emphasis added). So, Jesus is not directly addressing the Rock, but rather He is directly addressing Peter: “I say to “YOU, that YOU are Peter and upon THIS [not you] the rock I will build My church.”[4]

Question: If Jesus had wanted to directly identify Peter as the rock, why use the demonstrative pronoun “THIS” at all? For Jesus had already used two second person pronouns (soi, su. “you”) to directly address Peter. If Jesus had meant what modern-day Catholics assert, He simply would have stated to Peter: epi su tē petra (‘”upon YOU the rock’, I will build My church” or “You Peter are the rock,” but He did not. Rather, Christ said, “Upon THIS the rock” I will build My church.”

Historically. Many Catholics selectively quote (snippet) Patristics as agreeing with Rome’s view (esp., Origen, Cyprian, and Eusebius, and Augustine, but citing only his early teachings; yet none of these church Fathers held to Rome’s view). In fact, 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. 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.[5] He points out the five interpretations of the identification of the rock in Matthew 16:18, to which important Fathers of antiquity held.  

  1. All Christians were the living stones. This view was held by very few Fathers. Origen, who is a common source of Patristic Tradition, states: “If we also say “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” then we also become Peter . . . for whoever assimilates to Christ, becomes rock. Does Christ give the keys of the kingdom to Peter alone, whereas other blessed people cannot receive them?” (Origen, Commentary on Matthew).

 

  1. All the Apostles—eight Fathers (cf. Cyprian).

 

  1. Christ as the Rock—sixteen Fathers (Eusebius, early Augustine). Eusebius of Caesarea (D. 263-339), in his view (i.e., the rock as Christ), he links this interpretation with the parallel rock and foundation statements of 1 Corinthians 3:11 and 10:4.

 

  1. Peter as the Rock—only seventeen Fathers!

 

  1. The rock upon which the Church was built was the Faith that Peter confessed—forty-four Fathers! including the most significant Fathers (e.g., Basil of Seleucia, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Hilary,[6] Jerome, Augustine who stated (later in life) in his Retractions:

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.

 Thus, only twenty percent 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. So, Kendrick himself concluded: “If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that the ‘rock’ should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.”

As Roman Catholic apologist, H. Burn-Murdock actually admitted: “None of the writings of the first two centuries describe St. Peter as a bishop of Rome.”[7] In fact, no one before Bishop Callistus (A.D. 223) ever used Matthew 16:18 to support the primacy of the Roman Bishop (i.e., “Pope” as Rome calls it)—no one.

 Lastly, consider the following points that seriously challenge Rome’s position of the so-called Primacy of Peter and him being the first Pope of Rome:

  1. There is no biblical evidence indicating that Peter had supremacy over all the other apostles.
  1. 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 claim.
  1. 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).
  1. 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 Acts 15:19: “It is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles.” Moreover, the letter that was sent out regarding the judgment never mentions Peter (cf. v. 23).
  1. At the end of Romans (A.D. 57), Paul sends his greetings to at least twenty-six 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!
  1. Peter was a married man, unlike the Roman Popes (cf. Matt. 8:14; 1 Cor. 9:5).

 

NOTES

[1] Ex Cathedra: Any doctrines of “faith or morals” promulgated by the Pope – in his capacity as Successor to St. Peter, speaking from the Chair or Seat of his Episcopal authority in Rome is infallible, he cannot error. The Holy Spirit protects him from erring. The Nature of Infallibility was Stated in Session 4, Constitution on the Church 4, Vat 1.

[2] Philip Schaff, “The Heresy of Honorius” in the History of the Christian Church, Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library; First Published: 1882).

[3] Although demonstrative pronouns (“this, that”) do not grammatically have “person,” it can express an indirect significance similar to a third person pronoun. It can express a thing (“this”) other than a direct reference.  

[4] In Greek, Petros means, “piece of rock”; while petra, means, “large stone, rock, mass.” However, I do not see this distinction as a strong argument against Rome’s view.    

[5] Cf. An Inside View at Vatican I, ed. Leonard Woolsey Bacon (New York: American Tract Society, 1871).

[6] Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity (Book II): “Thus our one immovable foundation, our one blissful rock of faith, is the confession from Peter’s mouth, Thou art the Son of the living God” (On the Trinity).

[7] H. Burn-Murdock, The Development of the Papacy (1954), 130f.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Roman Catholicism’s false (a-historical) view of Matthew 16:18 regarding the identification of the “Rock” as Peter.

  1. Ya this just isn’t a very good argument. Fact of the matter us, many early Christian writers saw both Christ and St. Peter as the rock of the Church, they didn’t view scripture in this hyper-rationalist way where all views are mutually exclusive. 3rd century writer Origen of Alexandria in his Homilies on Exodus calls St. Peter the foundation of the Church, and informs us that bishops derive their power from this fact. St. Cyprian of Carthage in “On the Unity of the Catholic Church” also identifies St. Peter as the rock of the Church, and that this is manifested through the episcopacy (the bishops). And this view is confirmed by many others including Sts. John Chrysostom, Jerome, etc. I mean there’s a reason all churches that are from before the 16th century have bishops: it’s just a basic Christian thing to have. Obviously I disagree with the Latin view on the pope, namely because they view St. Peter as the papacy and not the episcopacy, but obviously Protestants are way more wrong about this than Latins are.

    • Edward Dalcour says:

      Thank you for your comments, Ben.

      I am not sure that you read the article here in full. You said that it, “just isn’t a very good argument” and then you proceed to cite a few fathers, which you feel, are supporting the Roman position. I am not sure as to what arguments you are referring.

      Along with an exegetical analysis (which refute the Roman view), the latter point was the very thing that you must have missed. You said: “Fact of the matter us, many early Christian writers saw both Christ and St. Peter as the rock.” Really? Many early Christians?

      Please go back and read the article carefully—namely, the factual historical data even provided by Romans Catholics. For example, Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick prepared a paper for Vatican I regarding the early church’s view of Matthew 16:18.

      As indicated in the article (which seemingly you missed), his well-known documented research shows that the MAJORITY of important early church Fathers did NOT see Peter and the Rock in Matt. 16:18. Rather, 44 early church Fathers, including the most important Fathers, believed that Peter’s confession (“You are the Messiah, the Son of God”) was the Rock. Also, Kenrick pointed out that the current Peter-Rock theory of Rome was held by only 17 Fathers. That means, as I stated in the article, only 20% of the Fathers held to Rome’s now canonized “infallible” “Petrine Rock” interpretation of Matthew 16:18—hardly Christian norm. So scarce is the Fathers who actually supported a Peter Rock view that Kenrick said:

      “If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that by the rock should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.”

      Even more, (again as pointed out in the article), Roman Catholic apologist, H. Burn-Murdock states: “None of the writings of the first two centuries describe St. Peter as a bishop of Rome.”

      So your argument and implication that the ‘Peter as the Rock in Matt. 16:18’ was the view of early church is demonstrably false, and well refuted historically (again, no mention by any Christian for 200 years), and especially debunked and refuted by a Roman Catholic Archbishop! Romes “minority” view is also (more importantly) well refuted the exegesis and syntax of Matt. 16:18 and the surrounding context.

      On these two points presented in the article (both the patristic research of Archbishop Kenrick et al. and the specific exegesis of Matt. 16:18) you have not provided one comment regarding these arguments, which are presented in article—, Yet you said, “just isn’t a very good argument.”

      So, I am not exactly sure what argument to which you’re referring, since you were silent on the actual arguments of the article, but again, thanks for your comments.

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