Is St. Peter the Rock on which Jesus built his Church?

by Jimmy Akin

in +Religion, Apologetics, Podcasts, Video

Is St. Peter the Rock on which Jesus built his Church?

One of the most controversial passages in the Bible is Matthew 16:18, where Jesus tells Peter, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.”

Catholics see this passage as evidence that Jesus made Peter the first pope.

Many Evangelicals look at it as just the opposite.

Who is right?

It’s an interesting question, and I’ve been on both sides of the question. In fact, this passage played a pivotal role in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

You may think you’ve heard all the arguments about whether Peter is the rock, but I’m going to show you the one that convinced me, and you probably haven’t heard it anywhere else . . .

The Basic Argument

A common claim in Protestant apologetics is that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus is actually contrasting St. Peter with the rock on which he will build his Church.

The argument is based on the fact that in Greek the word for Peter is petros, while the word used for “rock” here is petra.
It is often claimed that these words meant two different things–that petros meant a small stone or a pebble, while petra meant a large rock.

The idea is that Jesus is contrasting Peter–a tiny, insignificant stone–with the great rock on which he will build his Church, which is often said not to be Peter but Peter’s faith.

How well does this argument work?

By the Way . . .

Incidentally, if you’re interested in this type of information, you might want to check out my Secret Information Club.

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GenieFB October 7, 2012 at 8:28 am

@JimmyAkin3000 That was an awesome video Jimmy!

sirlouis October 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm

A marvelous video. Your exegesis is compelling. May I add to it? Could our blessed Lord really mean to belittle Simon Bar-Jona by attaching the appellation of “rock” to him when the only person who is called rock in the Hebrew scriptures is God the Father? Suppose someone with real authority, suppose, to take someone not in our time, Abraham Lincoln in your presence said to someone “You are Father of your country.” Because only George Washington has commonly been accorded this title, wouldn’t it make you stop cold in your tracks and wouldn’t you think that the person thus titled musts be destined to be the authoritative foundation of whatever subsequently was going to be America? Remember that Jews in our Lord’s time were very familiar with Scripture. Many, for example, recited the entire Psalter from memory every day. If Jesus did not mean to shock everyone into a recognition that he was conferring on Peter an office of foundational and indeed eternal dimension, then he made a terrific boo-boo. And that, I submit, is impossible.

Kelli October 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I was glad to have come across this while searching for more information regarding this passage of scripture. I have been going back and forth between the Catholic church and Protestant churches for years. I was raised protestant, but was introduced to the Catholic faith when my mother remarried, following her conversion and annulment. There are so many different issues that I go back and forth on – baptism, saints, purgatory, etc. but I have decided that for me personally it all has to come down to this – was the church founded on Peter and was he the first pope? Everything else will have to fall into place based on my answer to this question. Thank you for another piece to add to my puzzle as I work through all of this.

Curious October 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Hello Jimmy,
    That’s a very nice example of looking at the whole sense of the passage and not getting stuck on one verse.
    Nice Green Lantern shirt!
    Your eyes seem to be tracking really well.  I am glad your recovery is proceeding!

Indeed October 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Jimmy, Excellent work; just one problem…I think I heard you accidentally say that the “gates of HEAVEN” (instead of “Hades”) would not prevail against the Church, at roughly 8 minutes, 6 seconds in the YouTube video. (A quick audio-overdub should fix the problem.) Otherwise you’ll have anti-Catholic apologists of the Jack Chick variety crowing that you let the cat out of the bag and that the Catholic Church is some kind of Satanic conspiracy, et cetera, et cetera, et alia, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Finch October 8, 2012 at 6:08 am

Thank you, Jimmy.  What a marvelous gift is your ability to analyze and to explain.  Thank you for sharing!

ttalauta October 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm

@JimmyAkin3000 so inspiring! Thank you for all you do!

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