Is Peter the rock on which the church is built? MATTHEW 16:18

MATTHEW 16:18— Peter the rock on which the built?

PROBLEM: Roman Catholics this passage to support their belief in the primacy of Peter, that , that he the rock on which the built. But Paul said the built on Christ, not Peter (1 Cor. 3:11). Is Peter the “rock” in this passage?

: There are different ways to understand this passage, but none of them support the Roman Catholic view that the built on St. Peter, who became the first Pope—infallible in all his official pronouncements on faith and doctrine. This evident for many reasons.

First of all, Peter was married (Matt. 8:14), and Popes do not marry. If the first Pope could marry, why later pronounce that no priest (or Pope) can marry.

Second, Peter was not infallible in his views on the Christian life. Even Paul had to rebuke him for his hypocrisy, because he was not “straightforward about the truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:14).

, the Bible clearly declares that Christ the foundation of the Christian church, insisting that “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which laid, which Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).

Fourth, the sense in which Peter had a foundational role in the church, all the other apostles shared in the same way. Peter was not unique in this respect. For Paul declared that in this sense the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). Indeed, the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine [not Peter’s]” (Acts 2:42). Even “keys of the ” given to Peter (Matt. 16:19) also given to all the apostles (cf. Matt. 18:18).

Fifth, there is no indication that Peter was the head of the early church. When the first council was held at Jerusalem, Peter played an introductory role (Acts 15:6–11). James seems to a more significant position, summing the conference and making the final pronouncement (cf. Acts 15:13–21). In any event, Peter is never referred to as the “pillar” in the church. , Paul speaks of “pillars” (plural), such as, “James, Cephas, and John” (Gal. 2:9). Peter (Cephas) is not even listed first among the pillars.

Sixth, many Protestant interpreters that ’ reference to “this rock” (Matt. 16:18) upon which His church be built was to Peter’s solid (rock-like) testimony that was “the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). But even if this rock reference to Peter (Petros, rock), which is certainly a possible interpretation, he was a rock in the apostolic foundation of the church (Matt. 16:18), not the rock. Nor is he the apostolic rock. Even Peter himself admitted that Christ is the chief rock (“cornerstone,” 1 Peter 2:7). And Paul notes that the other apostles are all part of the “foundation” (Eph. 2:20).



[1]Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties (347). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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