Archive for the ‘Peter the Rock’ Category

Responding to "Gabriel Serafin" Regarding the Religion based on the Word

January 4, 2012

A poster using the handle “Gabriel Serafin” wrote:

Protestantism is a religion based on a book. But Jesus Christ did not hand out Bibles, He established a Church and gave her authority to teach. God gave us the Bible through His Church; thus the Catholic Church defined the Canon of Scripture in the first place. “Bible-only Christians” who dismiss the teachings of the Catholic Church are simply living in a state of ignorance and false understanding of Christianity. James White is merely one voice among thousands of voices spreading a cacophony of noise and confusion against the Church that was established by Christ. Without the Catholic Church you have no Bible.. 

I reply:

The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible.  The fact that Jesus himself did not “hand out Bibles” is hardly a compelling point, given that he frequently quoted from the old testament Scriptures and commanded his theological opponents to “Search the Scriptures.”

Moreover, the final book of Scripture is the Apocalypse, which describes itself as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him … .” (Revelation 1:1)  Us folks who follow the Book know this, or at least we should.  So, while it would be inaccurate to say Jesus “handed out Bibles” he certainly gave us the Bible, not only by virtue of being the Word made Flesh, and the capstone of the prophets (“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” Hebrews 1:1-2) but also by delivering this final Revelation to John by the hand of an angel (“… sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” Revelation 1:1-2) just as also the Pentateuch was delivered (“it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” Galatians 3:19).

You may say that Jesus established a church, and indeed Jesus did.  But Jesus did not establish a church headed by some other man, but rather he is the head (“gave him to be the head over all things to the church” Ephesians 1:22; “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” Ephesians 5:23; “he is the head of the body, the church” Colossians 1:18).  Jesus did not tell us that the bishop of Rome is to be a second head – as though when a husband is bodily absent some other man can fulfill that husbandly role with his wife.

In fact, the apostolic writings provide us with zero documentation of any papacy.  There wasn’t one.  Christ did establish his church, but modern Rome is not that church.

In fact, the implied conception of “the church” is foreign to the New Testament scriptures.  The expression “the church” in Scripture can refer to various things, such as the local body of believers or to the entire category of all believers.  It is faith that defines the church, though – not the other way ’round.

Christ built his church on himself, the Rock and our only Rock:

  1. “He is the Rock” Deuteronomy 32:4; 
  2. “he forsook the God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” Deuteronomy 32:14; 
  3. “Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee” Deuteronomy 32:18; 
  4. “except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?” Deuteronomy 32:30; 
  5. “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2; 
  6. “The LORD is my rock” 2 Samuel 22:2; 
  7. “The God of my rock, in him will I trust” 2 Samuel 22:3; 
  8. “who is a rock, save our God?” 2 Samuel 22:32; 
  9. “the LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.” 2 Samuel 22:47; 
  10. “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me,” 2 Samuel 23:3; 
  11. “The LORD is my rock” Psalm 18:2;
  12. “who is a rock save our God?” Psalm 18:31;
  13. “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted” Psalm 18:46;
  14. “O LORD my rock” Psalm 28:1;
  15. “be thou my strong rock” Psalm 31:2;
  16. “thou art my rock” Psalm 31:3;
  17. “I will say unto God my rock” Psalm 42:9;
  18. “He only is my rock and my salvation” Psalm 62:2;
  19. “He only is my rock and my salvation” Psalm 62:6;
  20. “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” Psalm 62:7
  21. “thou art my rock” Psalm 71:3;
  22. “they remembered that God was their rock” Psalm 78:35;
  23. “Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation” Psalm 89:26;
  24. “the LORD is upright: he is my rock” Psalm 92:15;
  25. “my God is the rock of my refuge” Psalm 94:22;
  26. “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” Psalm 95:1;
  27. “he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel” Isaiah 8:14;
  28. “thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength” Isaiah 17:10;
  29. “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” Matthew 7:24;
  30. “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock” Luke 6:47-48;
  31. “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” Acts 4:11;
  32. “Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” Romans 9:33;
  33. “for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4; 
  34. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ” 1 Peter 2:4; and
  35. “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:6-8.

Yet against that backdrop, you will foolishly assert that Peter is the Rock of Matthew 16:18?  Why, because Peter’s name means “rock”?  Do you not know that Peter is called “Bar Jona” because of his relationship to his fleshly father Jona?  If so, then why do you not understand that Peter is called Peter because of his faith in the Rock, namely in Christ.

The foundation stone is Christ, as it is written:

  • “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isaiah 28:16
  • “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

Yes, there is some secondary sense in which we are built on the apostles (all of them, together with the prophets): “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20) but notice who is the one rock on which everything else is built: it is Christ.

The Bible did not come from “the Catholic church” it was delivered to the prophets and the apostles.  Most of the books were delivered in the Old Testament period, before “the Catholic church” even claims to have existed.  The rest of the books were delivered by the apostles and the evangelists.  The claim the Scriptures make about themselves is that they are God-breathed (“given by inspiration of God” 2 Timothy 3:16) not church-breathed.

When Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians he expressed it this way: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” (Galatians 1:1).  Those are not the words of someone who needs to run it past the church, or even past some imaginary 1st century pope.  Instead, Paul received divine revelation from Christ and was inspired to hand it on to us in writing.

God used many people, including unbelieving Jews, to preserve the text of the Bible for us. We are thankful for God’s providence in that regard.  Nevertheless, their role in preservation of the Scriptures is no endorsement of their theology.

Indeed, those in the English-speaking world ought rather to say that we received the Scriptures despite Rome, rather than because of Rome.  Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible (from the Vulgate!) was suppressed, as was Tyndale’s translation from the Greek.  To be a Bible translator in those days was to risk persecution, yet men did the work necessary to get God’s word into the language of those in England.

The idea that “the Catholic Church defined the Canon of Scripture in the first place” is laughable.  Rome’s first “infallible” definition of the canon of Scripture was at Trent – after Luther’s death.  That’s hardly “in the first place.”  Moreover, even if one goes back all the way to the North African Councils that came the closest to the Tridentine canon, they weren’t the first canons of Scripture to be provided.  Athanasius managed to provide a canon of Scripture before the north Africans.  Moreover, it is plain that others before him (such as Origen) had a canon of the Scripture.

Who is living in a state of ignorance about Christianity?  Those who follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles, which are set forth in Scripture?  Or those who instead following the teachings of Rome, whether or not they contradict what Scripture teaches?

James White is merely one voice among thousands of voices, one witness amongst a great cloud of witnesses. Yet referring to his appeals to the authority of Scripture as “cacophony” suggests that the author of the comment has a confused idea about Scripture.

Would that “Gabriel Serafin” would cast aside his mistaken idea that Christ’s church is founded upon Peter and instead recognize that Christ’s church is founded upon Christ, the true Rock of our salvation.


Bellisario (by Proxy) on the Papacy – Part 1

July 9, 2009

Mr. Matthew Bellisario has, as far as I can tell, only a single blog post directly on issues relating to the papacy (although there are a number of contra-Lutheran and contra-contraceptive posts that mention the papacy)(link to MB’s post).

Even in this instance, however, Mr. Bellisario is merely providing a quotation from another author. The author Bellisario quotes is Cornelius a’Lapide, a Flemish Jesuit Theologian/Exegete who died in 1637. Mr. a’Lapide’s commentary is certainly interesting.

One interesting admission from Mr. a’Lapide is that Augustine denied that Peter is the Rock. To combat Augustine, a’Lapide appeals to a mythical Syriac/Hebrew original Gospel of Matthew and claims:

To S. Augustine it is replied that he was misled by his ignorance of the Hebrew and Syriac languages, and, therefore, thought that Petrus was something different from Petra, and that Peter was, as it were, called appellatively from it “rock-like,” although it is clear from the Syriac that Petrus and Petra are the same.

Mislead by ignorance! I wonder if Mr. Bellisario will be so bold?

But, since Mr. Bellisario simply quotes from a theologian of his church (who in turn purports to derive his opinions from the fathers), perhaps it is an adequate rebuttal to point to a theologian of our church who has extensively studied the fathers with the benefit of a few hundred additional years of scholarship: (link to “The Patristic Exegesis of the Rock of Matthew 16:18: The Most Extensive Documentation of the Patristic Understanding of the Rock of Matthew 16 in the English Language, Spanning the Third to the Eighth Centuries” by William Webster)


What does Simon mean? and did "Peter" replace "Simon"?

May 21, 2009

I recently heard a terrible argument arguing that Simon means “grain of sand” and that when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, he was changing this grain of sand into a Rock. Obviously, as you might guess, this argument came from someone who thinks that Peter was the first pope.

There are two significant problems with this argument.

First, “Peter” didn’t replace “Simon” it became a sort of surname, essentially replacing “Barjonna” although he continued to be called “Barjonna” even after being called “Peter.” We can see this from the following:

Mark 3:16 And Simon he surnamed Peter;

John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

John 1:40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

John 6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

Matthew 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

Luke 6:14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

John 13:6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

John 13:9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

John 13:24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.

John 13:36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

Mark 14:37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?

John 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

John 18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

John 18:25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.

John 20:2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

In these verses we see that Simon is referred to frequently as “Simon Peter” or by similar labels, such as “Simon, whom he also named Peter” (where “also” implies that this was an additional name) and “Simon he surnamed Peter” (where “surnamed” implies that an additional name was imposed upon Simon). Finally, while we see a large number of verses (not reproduced above) where Simon is simply referred to as “Peter,” we never see Simon referred to as “Peter bar-Jona” or “Peter the son of Jona” or the like. Thus, Simon’s name wasn’t changed: he was given an additional name that essentially took the place of his natural name.

A second significant problem is that “Simon” doesn’t mean “grain of sand” – it means “heard.” The Greek word that we translate “Simon” is Σίμωνα (Simona). This Greek word is a borrow word from Hebrew. The Hebrew word to which it (as well as the alternative Grecianized form Συμεὼν (Simeon)) corresponds is שׁמעון (Shimon) which is etymologically derived from the word שׁמע (Shama) which is the root word for “to hear.” With some words, the etymology is a bit speculative, but not with this one:

Genesis 29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.


Origen – Not a Papist

April 8, 2009

Origen was not a papist, not a person who held to the modern Roman Catholic doctrine of the papacy. Origen interpreted Matthew 16:18 more like a modern Reformed believer would interpret the passage, and actually a lot like the way that Augustine interpreted the passage. Thus, in the following video, I respond to Mr. Albrecht’s claims that attempt to assert (erroneously) that “Origen does indeed believe Peter to have been given his position in a special sense” in Matthew 16:18 and that Origen (again this is Mr. Albrecht’s erroneous assertion) is “clearly saying that the church is indeed built upon the Rock (being Peter) … .”

I hope that the video clarifies some of the issues involved. We could provide other quotations from the church fathers as well. For example:

Augustine: “Why does Pelagius choose to be sunk in that sea whence Peter was rescued by the Rock?” (On the Grace of Christ, Chapter 50)


What then saith Christ? “Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas.” “Thus since thou hast proclaimed my Father, I too name him that begat thee;” all but saying, “As thou art son of Jonas, even so am I of my Father.” Else it were superfluous to say, “Thou art Son of Jonas;” but since he had said, “Son of God,” to point out that He is so Son of God, as the other son of Jonas, of the same substance with Him that begat Him, therefore He added this, “And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;” that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd. “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” “And if not against it, much more not against me. So be not troubled because thou art shortly to hear that I shall be betrayed and crucified.”

(Homily 52 on Matthew, Section 3[second section 3, per this source])

Thomas Aquinas:

Again in the state of the Law the first revelation which was given to Moses was more excellent, and on this revelation all the other revelations to the prophets were founded. And so, too, in the time of grace the entire faith of the Church is founded on the revelation vouchsafed to the apostles, concerning the faith in one God and three Persons, according to Matthew 16:18, “On this rock,” i.e. of thy confession, “I will build My Church.”

(Summa Theologica, 2nd Part of the 2nd Part, Question 174, Article 6)

Now, Aquinas certainly wasn’t a Reformed Presbyterian, but (like the other writers of bygone eras quoted above) he didn’t share the view of Matthew 16:18 that we hear from Roman Catholic apologists and the modern Roman Catholic magisterium.


The Non-Identity of Peter and the Rock

December 4, 2008

One verse commonly argued as supporting the papacy is the following:

Matthew 16:18 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.

One frequent rebuttal of the claim that this verse is stating that the church will be built upon Peter is the fact that although there is some similarity between the Greek words for “Peter” and “rock,” nevertheless they are different Greek words.

I’ve seen a number of attempted counter-arguments from those supporting the papacy (which, in a word, are properly called “papists”). The papists argue:

1) While the words are different words in Greek, the words are the same in Aramaic and Jesus was speaking Aramaic, not Greek. This is the “speculative reconstruction of the original” argument.

This is probably one of the better objections. There are, however, several reasonable rebuttals:

a) We have no good reason to suppose that the statement was made in Aramaic rather than in Greek. In other words, we don’t know that the text we have is a translation. Although Jesus doubtless knew Aramaic, nevertheless Greek was also spoken in Judea at the time, and there is no particular reason to favor one language over the other in this instance (aside from wishful thinking on the part of the papists). Since Jesus and his earthly parents had lived in Egypt for a time, it would not have been surprising if they knew Greek – since it was the international language of the day.

b) Even if the original language spoken had been Aramaic, the inspired words penned by Matthew were in Greek. Although a few people have tried to argue that Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, the historical consensus is that the original language was Greek. Furthermore, this historical consensus is confirmed by the translation at Matthew 1:23:

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The provision of this translation provides evidence that the original was Greek. If the original was in Aramaic, there would have been no need to provide a translation of the name “Emmanuel,” and there would have been no clue to the translator from Aramaic to Greek to insert such a translation rather than simply transliterating the name.

2) Other times, the papists argue that πετρος (petros = Peter) and πετρα (petra = rock) are used because one is the right word for a man and the other is the right word for a rock. Sometimes this is phrased as saying that Jesus couldn’t have called Simon “Petra” because that would have been like calling him “Mary” or some other feminine name. Alternatively, they say that Jesus couldn’t have said that he was going to build his church upon “petros” because that wouldn’t be the right Greek word for “rock.” I call this the “God is boxed-in by Greek” argument.

a) Although this argument may have some appeal, there is an obvious way Jesus could have avoided the Petros/petra distinction. Jesus could have said, “thou art Peter, and upon thee I will build my church.” Jesus did not say this. Instead, Jesus said “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

For the “God is boxed-in by Greek” argument to work, one has to speculate that Jesus spoke the first half the sentence to Peter and the second half of the sentence about Jesus – he has to change audiences mid-sentence, even though (as though to avoid the papist misconception) Jesus begins the sentence by saying, “And I say also unto thee.” Notice the “thee.” That means that he is (again) addressing Peter, just as had been addressing Peter in the previous verse.

With this in mind, the most natural sense of Jesus’ words is to understand “this rock” as referring to the same thing as Jesus had already referred to in the previous statement to Peter. Recall that Jesus’ first response to Peter was:

Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

The word “it” there in the center of the sentence is a word added by the translators to help convey the sense of the sentence. The “it” referenced (implicitly, in the original Greek) is Simon Peter’s confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is what was not revealed to Simon Barjona by flesh and blood, but by God the Father. This rock is what the church will be built upon.

Interestingly, even the council of Trent acknowledged this interpretation of the text:

For which cause, this council has thought good, that the Symbol of faith which the holy Roman Church makes use of,–as being that principle wherein all who profess the faith of Christ necessarily agree, and that firm and alone foundation against which the gates of hell shall never prevail,–be expressed in the very same words in which it is read in all the churches.

And again, later:

Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.

In both quotations, the emphasis has been added. It is worth noting that Trent foreclosed an argument that the symbol of faith is just one foundation by the use of the word “alone.” But I digress.

The key to this first rebuttal is to note that Jesus’ use of the third person makes more sense viewed as simply referring to someone other than Peter rather than as an audience switch mid-sentence.

b) In the second place, if Jesus had wanted to use a Greek word that would permit a direct relation between Simon and that upon which the church is built, Jesus could have surnamed him θεμέλιος (themelios = foundation), which is a masculine Greek noun.

What would have been interesting about this word is that in Revelation 21:14 the heavenly city is described has having walls with twelve foundations, in which the names of the twelve apostles are written. Paul likewise describes believers as being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Paul is careful, however, to note that Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner stone. Likewise Peter himself, in exhorting his readers to the desire of the Word of God, states:

1 Peter 2:2-8
2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

Notice that like Paul, Peter points to Jesus himself as the corner stone upon which the church is built. So, although Jesus could have performed a mid-sentence audience shift without introducing a distinction by surnaming Simon Themelios instead of Petros, nevertheless, Jesus did not do so – and Jesus’ failure to do so is understandable in view of the other testimony of Scripture above, which describes Jesus as the cornerstone.

In fact, there is an even closer word than Themelios that Jesus could have picked: he could have picked λίθος (lithos – stone). But, again, it is Jesus himself that is the chief corner lithos in those verses above.

c) God is in control of all things. When Jesus wanted to pay the temple tax, he was able to arrange that the first fish Peter caught on a particular occasion would have in its mouth a particular coin that would be sufficient to pay the temple tax for both Peter and Jesus (Matthew 17:24-27). Furthermore, as Moses was reminded:

Exodus 4:11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

So then, if God had wanted to, God could have arranged the Greek language to avoid the distinction provided in Matthew 16:18, if God had wanted to avoid that distinction. Since the distinction is there, it is reasonable to presume that the distinction is intentional. That is to say, God is not limited by human language.


Response to Steve Ray on Petrine Primacy

July 10, 2008

I’ve provided a response to one of Steve Ray’s blog posts in which he suggests that there are some verses related to Peter and the Papacy that are frequently overlooked by Protestants. My response can be found here (link) at the Team Apologian blog.

Another time that the Team Apologian blog has addressed Steve Ray’s teachings on the supposed primacy of Peter can be found here (link).

May God edify the readers!


An Example of a Typical False Roman Catholic Claims Regarding Scriptural Interpretation

March 2, 2007

A Roman Catholic Apologist recently wrote:

I feel the need to get back to the basics. One of the basics is that
Christ told Peter that he would be the foundation of His Church.
“And Jesus
answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood
has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you
are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall
not prevail against it.” Matt 16:17-18
Clearly, Christ promised to
build His earthly Church on Peter. To interpret this any other way is to
invite doctrinal disaster.

I wonder whether any Roman Catholic apologist could tell me when the first time this “doctrinal disaster” was averted? What was the first time that the passage above from Matthew 16 was interpreted that way?
For example, Augustine came across that passage, but did he interpret the way this apologist does? No.
Augustine had this to say:
Augustine (Sermon 26)

1. The Gospel which has just been read touching the Lord Christ, who walked
on the waters of the sea; and the Apostle Peter, who as he was walking, tottered
through fear, and sinking in distrust, rose again by confession, gives us to
understand that the sea is the present world, and the Apostle Peter the type of
the One Church. For Peter in the order of Apostles first, and in the love of
Christ most forward, answers oftentimes alone for all the rest. Again, when the
Lord Jesus Christ asked, whom men said that He was, and when the disciples gave
the various opinions of men, and the Lord asked again and said, “But whom say ye
that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
One for many gave the answer, Unity in many. Then said the Lord to Him, “Blessed
art thou, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,
but My Father which is in heaven.” Then He added, “and I say unto thee.” As if
He had said, “Because thou hast said unto Me, ‘Thou art the Christ the Son of
the living God;’ I also say unto thee, ‘Thou art Peter.’” For before he was
called Simon. Now this name of Peter was given him by the Lord, and that in a
figure, that he should signify the Church. For seeing that Christ is the rock
(Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original
name. Therefore Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as
Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ.
“Therefore,” he saith, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock” which thou hast
confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, “Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;” that is upon Myself,
the Son of the living God, “will I build My Church.” I will build thee upon
Myself, not Myself upon thee.

One thing is clear, Augustine’s interpretation is distratrous, but only for Roman Catholic apologists.

What will this Roman Catholic apologist reply? Who knows, but the expected reply is to appeal to the second section of the sermon where Augustine claims that Peter was the chiefest of the apostles, and then ask an inane question like “was Augustine Protestant or Catholic?”

Let’s wait and see. If you want to read Augustine’s sermone for yourself in its entirety, here is a link:


%d bloggers like this: