KJV - 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
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Christ is the rock or stone, stricken that the Spirit of life flowed freely to all who would drink. (Exodus 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:4). He is the chief cornerstone of the Church's foundation. (Ephesians 2:20) At His first coming He became a stumbling stone to the Jews. (Romans 9:32-33; 1 Corinthians 1:23) At His second coming He will become Israel's headstone of the corner. (Zechariah 4:7) To the Gentile world powers at His second coming, He will be the smiting stone cut out without hands. (Daniel 2:34) In fulfilling divine purpose and after destruction of Gentile power, the Stone will grow and fill the earth. (Daniel 2:35) In judgment, this Stone will grind unbelievers to powder, crushing those it falls on. (Matthew 21:43) 2 Samuel 22:3 “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:47 “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.” Psalms 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Psalms 62:7 “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” Psalms 89:26 “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation." An Incorrect understanding of scripture leads to false teaching and heresies, usually a result of taking text out of context. By "cherry picking" or "cookie cutting" scripture we can certainly find one that fits our particular religion, belief and lifestyle. When a certain text is used exclusively to establish a particular doctrine or belief with refusal to consider the context and other relevant scripture, the intent is to mislead. It isn't the Holy Spirit speaking. Read Matthew 27:5 then add Luke 10:37. Now read them both in one string. Any teaching that would attempt to diminish the deity, glory, transcendence, purpose, position, power or authority of The Lord Jesus Christ is false. It is a man's "religion" not God's truth.
This issue has been a point of contention for perhaps hundreds of years if not thousands. The Catholic Church points to this verse as evidence of Peter being the first Pope and the beginning of the church. But if you go back to verse 16 where Jesus asks Peter who he says Jesus is the answer becomes evident in his reply. Mat 16:16 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (KJV). Jesus was clearly commenting on Peters reply. His confession of who Jesus is.
There is too much confusion arising from Roman Catholic theology here. The Rock is actually Jesus who is the Christ. Notice that the subject is the revelation that Peter received on Jesus being the Christ. Peter is not the subject. Christ is! He is the Anointed One and the revelation concerns Christ. On this divine revelation (that Jesus is the Christ), Jesus would build his church. The legitimacy of the church is founded on this truth not on a man's knowledge or idea. Is it any wonder today that may teachers have debased the biblical Christology to an all time low? Now watch this... Jesus began by asking the critical question: who do people say I am...(Matthew 16:15-18). The answers were varied and did not satisfy the purposes of His question. The next question is not addressed to Peter but to ALL the disciples. Look at the plural tense in the Greek word "umeis"! Peter was only privileged to be the first to answer. Notice the context carefully here. Jesus replies to Peter saying in Matthew 16:17 "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." In other words, Jesus was seeking to discover if the revelation of His divine truth had been conceived in their minds. Peter, being quick to answer (a matter of probability because any of the disciples could have answered this question anyway) broke the ice and received the accolades. Was Peter ingenious? Not at all. Jesus flatly acknowledges that the revelation was from God not Peter! What is the final idea here? The power and authority of the church rests in proper Christology, which is that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One. Once this revelation is lost, the church as we know it loses its foundation. This means Christ is the Supreme authority over His church, not Peter or any apostle for that matter. Where does this leave RCC theology which declares that Peter was the first pope and that the pope is infallible? Your guess is as good as mine!
I have a different answer to this question. Here the 'rock' means the faith, the absolute faith. As you know, the faith has to come from above. Peter's faith was revealed not by the flesh and blood but God has revealed this Truth and purely His work (2 Thes. 1:11). This faith has opened the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. But unfortunately many have interpreted as the formation of the church on Peter. Faith is the foundation; believing is what one builds on that foundation. This faith has the power to open the kingdom of heaven for us now. It is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8,9).
Jesus praised Peter’s insight as heaven sent and called him the rock on which He would build His church, promising Peter the keys to the kingdom. Nothing of the Roman notions of the papacy or apostolic succession appears here. But Jesus did predict the preeminent role Peter would play as the leader of the infant church in integrating new ethnic groups into the Christian community (see Acts 1–12). (Eph. 2:19-22) 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Jesus had a play of words with Peter here: Peter said, "You are the Son of God". Jesus said, "You are son of Jonah." Peter said, "You are the Messiah". Jesus said, "You are Rock." People might argue against Peter being the Rock using the Petros-Petra (male-female rock) distinction because the book of Matthew was written in Koine Greek. However, most bible scholars agree that when Jesus is with the company of his disciples, he likely would have spoken Aramaic. In the Aramaic, there is no Petros-Petra distinction because it only has one word for rock "Kephas". Jesus would have said, "You are Kephas, and on this kephas I will build my Church."
I'm glad you asked. We see in Matthew 16:18 (Life Application Bible Notes) that the rock upon which Jesus would build his church has been identified as: (1.) Jesus himself (his work of salvation, by dying for us on the cross); (2.) Peter (the first great leader in the church at Jerusalem); (3.) The confession of faith that Peter gave, and that all subsequent true believers would give. It seems most likely that the rock refers to Peter as the leader of the church (for his function, not necessarily his character). Just as Peter revealed the true identity and role. Later, Peter reminds Christians that they at the church, built on the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-6). All believers are joined into this church by faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, the same faith that Peter expressed here (see also Ephesians 2:20-21). Jesus praised Peter for his confession of faith. It is faith like Peter's that is the foundation of Christ's Kingdom.
Jesus taught with stories and parables that were difficult for many to understand for his time (Matt 13:10-11). In calling Simon a rock he was, of course, using metaphor, not a literal similarity. By calling Simon a rock, the rock upon which he would build his church, Christ did not necessarily limit the rock to Simon only. Any Christian who qualified by his characteristics could participate in building the church.The necessary characteristic is revelation directly from the Father (Matt 16:17), implying subsequent revelation from all three persons of the Trinity. This would include the many reformers and founders of the great denominations. Christ himself is identified in other scriptures as the true rock, of which Simon and the others in the future would participate only to a limited, finite degree. The physical rock or stone most fitting the description may be jasper, found in Revelation as comprising the wall and the first foundation of the New Jerusalem. Christ's words were never without practical application in the end.
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