Non-Catholic Christians: Explain away Matthew 16:18-19 please?

This should be good.


Greek was the common language of the first century Near- and Middle East for commerce, trade, education and international communications – but Jews in Palestine would not have spoken it when talking to each other. Jesus might have used the language to speak to non-Jews (such as Pilate) but He would not have commonly spoken to His disciples in that language. For that, He would have used Aramaic – a semitic language related to Hebrew and common in the Persian empire. A number of examples are Aramaic are cited in the New Testament as the words that Jesus actually spoke (the most famous example is “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” found in Matthew 27:46.)

So, when Jesus called Simon “Peter” (meaning “rock”) He would not have said “Peter”. He would not even have said “Petros” (from where we get the English name “Peter”). He would have used the Aramaic – a word which we find eight times in Saint Paul's epistles (four times in Galatians and four times in I Corinthians). This word is Kepha.

Update 2:

Also, so far, I've heard several distorted explanations for verse 18, but none for verse 19.

21 Answers

  • Mr. E
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    What's to explain? It is the Catholic church which lays claim to Peter being the first Catholic Pope. Catholics have nothing to back this up other than their own claims. Now please show us your biblical support which states that Peter founded the Catholic church.

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  • 10 years ago

    You do raise a good point. The reality, though, is that whether Jesus spoke Greek or Aramaic or any other language to Peter, He made a distinction between Simon's nickname (Petros, in Greek) and the designated rock (petra, in Greek),

    Dr. Kenneth Wuest and others observe that petra refers to boulders, foundation stones, and even a mountain range but a "petros" was always a small rock.

    Some think that the "petra-rock" refers to Peter's testimony, namely, that Jesus Christ is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God. What else did Peter say? He mentioned that Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. Peter never claimed to be the foundation or even a pebble--he knew that salvation was always by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

    Source(s): Nuggets from the Greek New Testament, Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament, and other books by Dr. Kenneth Wuest.
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  • 10 years ago

    Matthew 16:18: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church."

    Of course this is the verse where our Lord appointed Simon as the leader of the disciples, head of the Church on earth and the Pope. It is believed by some Protestants that they can defend their position of Simon not receiving the authority from Jesus by using the original Greek.

    The claim made is that there is a difference between the Greek words “petra” and “petros”. Now, if this discussion between Jesus and Simon had occurred a few centuries earlier before Attic Greek had ceased to be and lost in antiquity it might be a valid argument. However, in the first century when this discussion occurred the Greek language was Koine Greek instead. In Koine Greek there is no difference in the meaning between “petra” and “petros” except in Koine Greek “petra” is feminine and “petros” is the masculine form. So what I am saying is that one is making a great error in interpretation to assign the Attic Greek meanings large stone and small stone, which was used in ancient Greek poetic writings, when that language was gone for centuries in usage.

    Now, let us look at the Aramaic which is the familial language spoken by Jesus and the disciples which is the language which this discussion recorded in the Scriptures in Koine Greek occurred. We know that Jesus spoke in Aramaic because His words on the cross are in Aramaic (Matt 27:46). In fact, the book of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic according to most scholars including myself. Also in the St. Paul’s letters to the Galatians and to the Corinthians we see the word Cephas a total of eight times which is the English equivalent of kepha. Kepha always means rock. So, in Matthew 16:18 it would read using the Aramaic “You are Kepha and on this Kepha I will build my Church.” There is no big rock and pebble as evidence was given in the then dead Attic Greek. So in the original language Jesus does not offer a contrast but instead He clearly is calling Simon the rock.

    If one is not yet convinced that the rendering in Attic Greek is improper let us look at Matthew 16:18 with the Attic Greek interpretation and see which one makes the most sense…. “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven. And I tell you, you are just a little pebble and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Instead of the Koine Greek “you are Rock (Petros) and upon this rock (petros) I will build my Church. He goes on to give Simon Peter the keys to heaven showing the authority of the rock named Peter. As the King of Kings Jesus is making Peter His prime minister of His kingdom and we can see the foreshadowing from Isaiah 22: 21-22 and the leader of the flock from John 21:15-17. It shows in Isaiah the passing on of the keys from one to another for authority of the kingdom just as the authority of the papacy is passed on.

    In Christ

    Fr. Joseph

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  • Sheila
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    You can recognize a tree by its fruit. Bad trees bear bad fruit. Bad trees are cut down and tossed in the fire. Your comment does not line up with: Mat 7:18 "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Your passage from Ephesians is correct. You are not saved by works. However, you do good works naturally because you are saved. Works is not the deciding factor in where you spend eternity. For a Christian, it determines your rewards. 1 Cor 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each ones work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each ones work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

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  • 10 years ago

    non catholic here. no denominational baggage to push.

    ok. say i agree that this is the mandate for the catholic church. it does appear to be a reasonable take on this scripture.

    and here they are today, the gates of hell have not prevailed over them.

    does this mean that they are the only true church?

    no. actually jesus identifies 7 distinct churches in revelation, each with it's own lampstand and angel, with jesus in their midst.

    when jesus chose peter, we find later that the first church will lose their first love.

    we follow the timeline and find that the church that sent men out for crusades (still catholic), jesus actually sees as a different church. he has a different message for them.

    and we find that it is the church of philadelphia that is saved. this corresponds to the protestant reformation, sola scriptura.

    so jesus actually authorised 7 churches, starting it all from peter. and of them all, the ones that hold to scripture alone are the ones saved. all others had specific circumstances that they must overcome. luke warmness for this age.

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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  • Jai
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Not sure what is supposed to be explained away and also why non-catholics as opposed to non-christians in general. Simon's name was changed to Peter meaning rock which is a strong foundation.

    Jesus' belief was that Peter's faith was a good foundation on building the christian church. Church of course meaning the religion not the actual building.

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  • 10 years ago

    Matthew 16:15-19 says:

    "He said to them: 'YOU, though, who do YOU say I am?'

    In answer Simon Peter said: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' In response Jesus said to him: 'Happy you are, Simon son of Jo′nah, because flesh and blood did not reveal [it] to you, but my Father who is in the heavens did. Also, I say to you, You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Ha′des will not overpower it.

    I will give you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you may bind on earth will be the thing bound in the heavens, and whatever you may loose on earth will be the thing loosed in the heavens."

    Certainly, the context and the whole Bible must be considered.

    1 Corinthians 3:11

    "For no man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

    1 Corinthians 10:4

    "and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass that followed them, and that rock-mass meant the Christ."

    Ephesians 2:20

    "and YOU have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone."

    Who was this rock-mass? Peter? Or Jesus himself? It seems your interpretation is faulted in light of the context and other scriptures.

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  • Miss Q
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    Just because Catholicism highjacked the Christian faith doesn't mean it is Christ's spiritual church, nor does it mean the popes hold the same authority as Peter, or that anyone else was entitled to take Peter's place in future. Peter had nothing to do with the formation of the Catholic Church.

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  • carl
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    "On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open."

    - Isa 22:20-22

    "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

    Mt 16:18-19

    Many biblical scholars agree, whether Protestant or Catholic, that Mt 16:18-19 is an allusion to Isa 22:20-22.

    Many Protestant scholars have had to agree with the Catholic interpretation of Mt 16:18-19. It is the only logical explanation. A prestigious Protestant scholar once said that the only reason many Protestants don't interpret Mt 16:18-19 to be Jesus building His Church on Peter is because they are biased against Catholics. It has nothing to do with proper biblical interpretation.

    The Catholic interpretation (and the interpretation of the Church Fathers) is that it is not just Peter's faith Jesus is building on but Peter himself. Jesus is saying He is building His Church on Peter the rock. Mt 16:18-19 points out Peter's exclusive position in the Church, having received this authority from Christ himself. And it is an allusion to the old testament scripture, in Isa 22:20-22, something Mathew's gospel does quite frequently. Scholars agree 'Keys of the kingdom' means teaching authority.

    Also, Eph 2:20 further states the Church is built upon the Apostles with Christ as the chief cornerstone. So, it is not Christ or Peter. Rather, the Church is built on both Christ and Peter, including all the Apostles.

    "The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome] . . . handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:3 [A.D. 189]).

    "[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church" (Tertullian, Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Well, it sounds like Jesus gave Peter the authority and power to run the church in His absence. I don't really understand what you are getting at though?

    I was raised a Mormon (no longer practicing) and they believe those scriptures are refering to the Holy Priesthood, and the sealing power they use in their temples.

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