Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is Peter the Rock? (Part 1)


Heads-up. Let’s get ready to rumble! 

Over the next coming days I’m going to spend some time here looking at one of the most debated passages in all of the Gospels. I’d love to get feedback. So please, make use of the comment box. So, here we go. . .
In Matthew 16:13–20 we read the famous confession of faith by Peter at Caesarea Philippi. In response to his statement affirming him as the “Son of the Living God,” Jesus tells Peter: “I tell you, you are Peter [Greek: petros] and on this rock [Greek: petra]. I will build my church . . .” (Matt 16:18).
About this text, Davies and Allison write that is “among the most controversial [verses] in all of Scripture.”[1] Specifically, the question revolves around the identification of Peter as the “rock” upon which Jesus builds the church. Because two different terms are used Πέτρος [petros], referring to a small stone, and πέτρα [petra], which carries the connotation of a larger rock, some have suggested that something other than Peter himself is to be seen as that which the church is built upon (e.g., Peter’s confession of faith).
This however, as a number of commentators have noted, would seem to ignore some important grammatical issues involved. I’ll be covering them here in the next few days. So again, stay tuned! And tell all your friends!
NOTES


[1] Davies and Allison, Matthew, 2:623.



11 comments:

Richard Fellows said...

Michael,

it is important to understand the naming of Peter in the context of other similar cases of re-naming in the first century church (and in the ancient world generally). Too often the naming of Peter is discussed in isolation and the significance of the name is under-played. I may blog on this in due course, but in the meanwhile take a look at my short piece here.

I'm looking forward to your posts, and I hope you get lots of comments.

Gary said...

Michael,
I was raised as an evangelical, attended Wheaton College, studied Greek, and could recite the standard evangelical interpretation in my sleep. I came to realize that the Petros/Petra distinction doesn't hold any water. I recently had a discussion at dinner with some of our separated Brethren about this. For the sake of argument, I granted them the Evangelical interpretation. They had no adequate explanation for the next two clauses- I give you the keys, and the power to bind and loose. It is abundantly clear that Jesus is not giving those powers to every believer.
When you connect this data point with all the others in the New Testament- Peter is named first among the apostles, the name change signifies a special role, the feed my sheep, and Peter's role in the early church, it is clear that he was the leader of the pack.

Gary

brock said...

Good points, Gary! I might also add the significance of the name change, which is very important to the biblical interpretation.

As in all name changes throughout the Bible, such as Abram to Abraham etc, the change denotes a change in status...a role change. As Peter confesses the role of Jesus as the Christos (The Messiah), Jesus then confesses Simon as the rock on which He will build his church.

Fides Quarens Intellectum said...

Fulton Sheen points out the significance of name changes in connection with Peter, Abraham and Jacob in his work The Rock Plunged Into Eternity.

-Luke Arredondo

Michael Barber said...

Thanks for all these comments!

Richard:

Thanks for you piece. Good stuff there.

Gary:

I agree. I completely agree: it is significant that only Peter is given the keys.

Brock and Fides:

Thanks for bringing in the other cases of re-naming. No doubt that is significant!

De Maria said...

It is important, I think, to remember that St. Augustine does make the case for the rock being the faith of Peter:

and the Church does not discount this view:
424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.

And accepts both:
881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. "The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head." This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church's very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

So, I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Muhinda Richard said...

This text is not controversial at all. People who want to benefit out of it make it appear so difficult. The Petra is obviously the truth about jesus being "Son of the Living God". On this is where Chrsit build his Church. The keys promised are just about "knowledge". If peter was the rock or any other human being, then the Church is built on a wrong foundation. There is only on foundation 1 Corinthians 3:11

De Maria said...

Muhinda Richard said....... If peter was the rock or any other human being, then the Church is built on a wrong foundation. There is only on foundation 1 Corinthians 3:11

I believe you are mixing metaphors.

The Church is built on the foundation which Christ built it. Peter. Matt 16:18

Our faith is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 3:11 Because it is on Jesus Christ whom we believe. He is the foundation of our faith.

Two distinct metaphors illustrating two different truths.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

You said:
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Is Peter the Rock? (Part 1)

Heads-up. Let’s get ready to rumble! Over the next coming days I’m going to spend some time here looking at one of the most debated passages in all of the Gospels. I’d love to get feedback. So please, make use of the comment box. So, here we go. . .I've been waiting patiently for the other four parts. Am I missing something? Is the link somewhere here....


I've been waiting patiently. Did I blink?

Sincerely,

De Maria

Harry Giordano said...

Cephas is what Jesus would have said the only reason there is a difference in spelling isin the greek is because petra would have been peters name if he was a girl but it was the masculine form also understand In casear phillipi there is a huge boulder or small mountain and that is where they were standing Jesus said on this rock! meaning not the other rock (mountain) next to them . You see the mountain next to them is where many pagans came and paid homage to pan the shepherd god and placed idols on the rock Jesus said not that rock but this one meaning Peter Peace and love sorry bout the spelling LOL

Harry Giordano said...

one more thing @ De Maria it is more probable that Augustine is talking about that one instant when Christ asked his apostles who do you say i am. there is no way he could mean Peters faith all the time LOL Peter reject and denied Christ many time he sank in the sea even LOL much love and as always i feel this argument for primacy is great but the Keys of the Kingdom can not be argued with Isaiah 22:22 would be really hard I love you all and if im wrong i apologize i am just a tramp Peace