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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

“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 overpower it.”

he Biblical Identification of the “Rock” in Matt. 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 overpower it.” Just as the foundation of the LDS Church raises and falls on Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Romish Catholic Church rises and falls on the idolatric false teaching of Papal Succession— based on her inaccurate a-patristic view of Matt. 16:18.

As with atrocious false doctrine of Rome’s Transubstantiation – where the bread and wine ontologically changes to the literal flesh, blood, and divinity of Christ (cf. CCC article 3, para 1413), which denies and deforms the biblical teaching of the incarnation of the Son, Rome teaches that Papal Succession in a real and literal way, . The Christian confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God is the Rock of faith upon which the Christian church has been built—and not upon the man Peter. Note these three points:

1. The Context is NOT Peter, rather, the identification of Jesus Christ (“Who do You say that I am” v. 13).

2. Peter’s Confession (“You are the Christ”) was of a divine origin, thus, not of himself: “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.” (Matt. 16:17; cf. Eph. 1:4-5; 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29).

3. Both exegetically and the general consensus of the early church affirms that the identification of the Rock in Matt. 16:18, was the faith that Peter confessed and not the man Peter.


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


Conversely, Rome asserts that the “rock” upon which Jesus will build His church is the Apostle Peter, not his confession. This erroneous interpretation can be shown as (a) exegetically false and (b) historically problematic.

The phrase in question reads: lit., “I also and to you say that you are Peter and upon this the rock I will build My [the] church.” (κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν). Note the following exegetical points: 

CONTEXT. The context, which surrounds Jesus’ statement to Peter in verse 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 Messiah, the Son of the living God”) that prompts Jesus’ statement to Peter. The two personal pronouns, σοι  (soi, “to you”) and σὺ (su, “you”), as in, “I say to you, you are Peter,” are singular second person personal pronouns.

Note: Jesus is directly addressing Peter. Thus, Jesus said to him, not about him. Whereas the pronoun ταύτῃ (tautē, “this” as in, “upon THIS the Rock”) is a demonstrative pronoun. Although demonstratives do not have “person,” a demonstrative pronoun can indicate an indirect reference, that is, a third person significance [3], as in this passage. Thus, Peter is direct reference to whom Jesus is addressing [4] and “THIS [ταύτῃ] the Rock” is the indirect reference, upon which Christ will build His 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, why even use the demonstrative pronoun? Jesus could have clearly affirmed that Peter was the Rock by simply saying, “And upon you the Rock” (ἐπὶ σὲ, or ἐπὶ σοι, the Rock). But Jesus did not. Rather, He directly addressed Peter using two second person singular personal pronouns, and indirectly addressed the Rock as something other that Peter.     

HISTORICALLY. First, no patristic writer for the first two hundred years of the church saw Matt. 16:18 as    so first h on eMany Catholics selectively quote (snippet) Patristics as agreeing with Rom’s view. (esp., Origen, Cyprian, and Eusebius, Augustine – citing only his early teachings; none of these held to Rome’s view). Further, 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 Peter 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 5 interpretations of Matt. 16:18, to which Fathers of antiquity held:         

  1. All Christians were the living stones, held by very few Fathers-. Origen who is a common source of patristic exegetical tradition: states “‘If we also say “Thou art 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).
  2. All the apostles, 8 Fathers (Cyprian et al).
  3. Christ as the Rock, 16 Fathers (Eusebius, early Augustine). Eusebius of Caesarea (D. 263-339), in his view (“rock” as Christ), He links this interpretation with the parallel rock and foundation statements of 1 Corinthians 3:11 and 10:4.
  4. Peter as the Rock, 17 Fathers. 
  5. The Rock upon which the Church was built was the Faith that Peter confessed, 44 Fathers, including the most important Fathers (e.g., Basil of Seleucia [448]; Cyril of Alexandria; Chrysostom, Ambrose, Hilary,[6] Jerome, and Augustine again. Note, that Augustine (later in life) Augustine stated:

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 (Retractations).[7]

Thus, 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. Kendrick 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.”[8]

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.”[9] In fact, no one before Callistus (c. A.D. 218-223) used Matthew 16:18 to support the primacy of the Roman bishop (i.e., “Pope” as Rome call it)—no one.

What 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:

1) There is no biblical evidence indicating that Peter had supremacy over all the other apostles.

2) 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.

3) 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).

4) 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).

5) 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!

6) 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 “Having been built [aorist participle] 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 Catholic Church categorically rejects essential biblical doctrines such as justification through faith alone, the cross work of Christ as the alone means and ground of justification (salvation), the perfect incarnational humanity of God the Son (due to Rome’s teaching of Transubstantiation), etc. And, of course, they reject the sufficiency of Scripture alone. Rome’s golden doctrine of Purgatory is nothing more than a flat out denial of the sufficiency and infallible work of Christ alone.

Any Christian who has done even a cursory and objective examination of the “official teachings” of the Roman Catholic Church, will see plainly and in fact that he or she must see Catholics as the object of evangelism.


“But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and Redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30-31; cf. Jer. 9:23).


[1] In 1870 (at Vatican I) Pope Pius IX proclaimed: “I am tradition” and hence, the Roman Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope (Ex Cathedra) emerged.

[2] In contrast to the teachings of Rome, salvation, faith, belief, repentance, etc. are grace-gifts granted by God alone. Hence, man does not cooperate or participate in God’s sole work of redemption, as Rome teaches. Salvation is God working alone—namely, monergistic, that is, an auto-soteric (self-salvation) system (contra John 1:13; 6:37-40; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 30-31; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 2:13).

[3] Demonstrative pronouns (“this, that”) can express an indirect significance as with a third person pronoun, thus expressing a thing (“this”) other than a direct reference.  

[4] Πέτρος, piece of rock; πέτρᾳ, large stone, rock, mass. 

[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] Augustine wrote The Retractations late in his life to correct points expressed in his own writings. Here, Augustine corrects his earlier opinion that Peter was the rock of Matthew 16:18.  According to Augustine the rock is Christ or Peter’s confession which pointed to the person of Christ

[8] Speech of Archbishop Kenrick, 109, An inside view of the vatican council, edited by Leonard Woolsey Bacon.

[9] 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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