Peter and the rock 2

What follows is a part of a conversation with someone concerning Whether the church is built upon Simon Peter, the rock, or Jesus The Rock. My first post on this can be found at

“When the President of the US says…”My fellow Americans”, he is a fellow American and just because he says this does not diminish his office and his official position among these fellow Americans.”

You’re analogy breaks down, because  the president does not say, “My fellow Presidents”. But Jesus called Simon rock  (using petros) and then said on this rock (using petra)  He would build His church.  There is a distinct difference between petros and petra.

“No one in history has ever been called Rock before Peter as a specific name.”

Actually, you are wrong. Zur also means rock, and is the name of the father of Cozbi and one of the 5 Midianite princes who were slain when Balaam fell, as well as the son of Jehiel, the father or leader of Gibeon (Nu 25:15; Nu 31:8; Jos 13:21; 1Ch 8:30; 1Ch 9:36).

” Jesus says,”You are Kepha and on this Kepha I shall build my Church, and I will give YOU the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven….” you know the verse.”

I DO Know the verse. Let’s look at the complete passage.

 Matthew 16:13-19 

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

But He was not just speaking to Peter when He said “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The conversation started with Him speaking to all His disciples and ended with Him speaking to all His disciples. We know this by seeing that this same thing is written in Matthew 18:18, where He is speaking to His disciples, not just Peter. All believers have these keys – the belief in the Son of God. Just as He was not just speaking to Peter about the binding and loosening, neither was He speaking just to Peter when He said “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

Yet, even if Jesus WAS speaking directly and only to Peter when He made those statements and then Jesus made the statement about binding and loosening, this only only imply what the Orthodox Christians (and every other group other than Roman Catholics) believe, that Peter was simply first among equals. Peter was not the rock the church built upon, Jesus was, and is (Epheasians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). Peter was one of 12, of equal value, rank, and importance. We see this in Revelation 21:10-14.

But getting back to the verse in question, we do not have the original Hebrew version of Matthew, but we DO have Matthew in Greek. The word translated as Peter is petros. To see what Jesus meant by the word He used to say what He would build His church upon, ‘petra’, we can look at another place Jesus used the same word.

We see the term ‘petra’ is used by Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27,

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Here Jesus was speaking of rock (petra) as a foundation, solid rock. This is not the same word He used when He decided to call Simon bar Jona Peter.

However, the word translated as rock is petra, and means rock, like the rocks of a cliff, or bedrock. These are not the same thing. So obviously, Christ was not speaking of Peter as what He would build His church upon. If He HAD been speaking of Peter when he said petra, He would simply have said ‘you’, as He did in Mt 16:15 and verse 18.

“It would be good to read the Old Testament to understand why the Bishop of Rome and the See of Peter is “Dynastic” or forever passing down. We should ask questions like….Are Keys ever discussed in the OT and how are they understood??? Well, lets go to Is 22 in the OT where Eliakim receives the Keys for the House of David. Those Keys represent a position of great importance to the Hebrew people. It denotes Prime Ministership. It also denotes the ability to bind and loose doctrine, discipline, and legislate on behalf of the King.”

In this case, the keys open and close the gate to the kingdom of heaven – the ability to enter Heaven. As you know, one gets this ability by believing Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Everyone who believes has these keys.

” Peter is given this same honor that will pass down to whomever takes Peter’s office. It is also an office that will be protected by the Holy Spirit into ALL TRUTH.”

THIS can not be true, as much as you might want to believe it, because Peter denied Jesus three times (Mt 26:31-74; Mk 14:27-72; Lk 22:31-62). Peter had to be corrected by Paul (Gal 2:11-21).

“Today, most well respected theologians from the Protestant World have realized that Peter is the Rock and it was not his statement of faith.”

Actually, even Orthodox Catholics do not believe Peter is the Rock upon which the church is built. And I have not heard, nor read, any theologian other than Catholics say otherwise. The one’s I have read agree that Peter is rock, but not THE Rock. 

 “Peter is the greek of Kepha and Cephas, both which clearly are the word Rock. What a weird name at the time. It would be like Jesus today calling you “Waterbottle”. The changing of Peter’s name is significant, “

Yes, the significance is He was blessed by God to have the fact that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, revealed to him.

“the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are significant and the gift of the Holy Spirit is significant. We see later in the scriptures where Jesus tells Simon Peter to feed His Sheep, Tend His Sheep, feed His sheep obviously renewing Peter’s role as Chief Shepherd and Prime Minister.”

All the apostles were all at the same level. Peter had denied Jesus three times, and so Jesus renewed him by telling him to feed, tend, feed His sheep. All apostles and elders were shepherds.

“Moreover, Peter is mentioned more than any other person in the New Testament:197 Times.”

There is no doubt He was prominent. Yet, we have only two books from him. Paul had much more effect on the church as a whole. And in fact, Peter is mentioned 164 to 184 times in the New Testament, depending on the version you check. Paul is mentioned 170-206. In both cases, the searches show Paul is mentioned more than Peter.

“He performed the first miracle, Peter’s faith will strengthen his bretheren, Peter is given to be Prime Minister and chief shepherd, angel sent to Peter about resurrection, risen Jesus appeared to Peter first of the Apostles,”

Interesting that He did not appear first to Peter, but to a woman. You’d think that if Peter was to head the church, Jesus would have appeared to Peter first.

“Peter headed meeting [s]electing Mathias,” 

Yeah. About whom we hear nothing. If you notice, they did this without the Holy Spirit (Acts 1), who did not come until Pentecost (Acts 2). Christ selected the 12th apostle – Paul (Acts 9). Peter was also doing things out of passion he should not have done.

” Peter’s name is always named first among his fellow Apostles,”

Actually, in Galatians 2:9, Peter is mentioned AFTER James.

“Led Apostles in preaching on Pentecost, received first converts, performed first miracle after Pentecost, inflicted first punishment: Ananias & Saphira, excommnicated first heretic: Simon Magnus, Received revelation to receive Gentiles into the Church, Guided by the HS made decision for first council at Jerusalem, pronounced first dogmatic decision, after Paul was converted he went to see the Head Apostle Peter.”

He also saw James. It may be none of the others were in Jerusalem at the time. Just because he went to stay with Peter does not mean it was because he was Head Apostle.  It may be Paul stayed with Peter, because Peter was married and probably had a place for him to stay. It makes sense that it was because Peter had been the one to whom God had revealed the need to accept Gentiles into the church, and Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles.

“It is clear Peter had a special “Primacy” among the other Apostles. It is also clear Peter was the Leader.”

No it is not. The twelve told the church to pick deacons, not Peter (Acts 6). James is the one who came up with the solution of what to tell the Gentile believers, not Peter (Acts 15). James is mentioned by Paul before Peter in Galatians 2.

” It is also clear as Peter died, that the Bishop of Rome continued to have this “Primacy” because of the Keys given to the Rock. “

No, it is not clear. The keys, faith in Christ, was given by The Rock (Christ) to the rock (Peter) and all believers.

“There are hundreds of quotes by early Church fathers who were all discipled by the Apostles and they always pointed to the “Presidency” of the Bishop of Rome.”

there are also plenty of disputes by other churches, such as the Orthodox Catholic Church, that Rome has no primacy of value or rank.

“If you are outside communion with the Rock-The Bishop of Rome that Christ established as the leader of all Christians, then you may still be Christian but not in the fullness that God had intended.”

If I am outside the communion with the bishop of Rome it is because he teaches heretical teachings that go against what the Bible teaches.

Even Peter taught Jesus was THE ROCK:

Acts 4:8-12

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. HE IS THE STONE YOU BUILDERS REJECTED, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CAPSTONE. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Even PAUL wrote that Jesus is the Rock, and the apostles and prophets were foundation stones.

Ephesians 2:19-21

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, with CHRIST Jesus himself as the CHIEF CORNERSTONE. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

Peter wrote that all believers are living stones, Christ is the Rock upon which the church is built.

1 Peter 2:5-8

YOU, also, LIKE LIVING STONES, ARE BEIING BUILT INTO A SPIRITUAL HOUSE to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through JESUS CHRIST. For in Scripture it says: “See, I LAY A STONE IN ZION, A CHOSEN AND PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, THIS STONE IS PRECIOUS. But to those who do not believe, “THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CAPSTONE, AND A STONE THAT CAUSE MEN TO STUMBLE AND A ROCK THAT MAKES THEM FALL.” They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.

Jesus is that cornerstone. Trusting in Peter would be idolatry, but trusting in Christ is not, as He is God. Peter is not the one who was rejected, Christ was.

In fact, Christ made it clear that all the apostles are at the same level:

Revelation 21:10-14

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had TWELVE FOUNDATION STONES, and on them were the twelve names of the TWELVE APOSTLES of the Lamb.

Peter was one of 12 foundational stones laid upon the bedrock. Christ is THE Rock upon which the church is built. The Apostles and prophets make up the rest of the foundation. While believers make up the living stones who comprise the church.

You wrote, “this gospel was written in Greek”

Actually, you are wrong again. We’ve been over this before. Matthew was written in Hebrew and translated to Greek, as Jerome wrote in his Lives of Illustrious Men, chapter 3, (

“Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who use it. In this it is to be noted that wherever the Evangelist, whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord the Saviour quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Wherefore these two forms exist “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” and “for he shall be called a Nazarene.” (see Mt 2:15 and 2:23, verses where Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 and Judges 13:7). 

Do not forget that Papias wrote,

“Matthew wrote down the sayings in Hebrew and each translated it as he was able”, (Eusebius, H.E. [the History of the Church], 3.39; cf. 3.24).

Origen said,

“Matthew; it was published for believers of Jewish origin, and was composed in Hebrew letters/language”.

 Pantaenus, c.180s, an early church missionary and Bible scholar, travelled to India to preach the gospel but found that the apostle Bartholomew had gone there before and left behind Matthew’s gospel,”in the actual Hebrew characters” (Eusebius, H.E., 5.10; cf. Jerome, De.Vir.Ill. 36) (all the above quotes were taken from

Others are of the same opinion (

 In fact, the majority of the scrolls from the Qumran (dead-sea) scrolls are in Hebrew, and not Aramaic with some texts written in Aramaic and Greek ( We also have examples of Jesus speaking to Roman Centurians and Pontius Pilate, which would have been in either Latin or the trade language Greek, most likely Greek since it was the common language of the eastern Roman Empire.

Jesus would have spoken Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and possibly Latin  ( 

One word used for rock is the Hebrew tsuwr, and indicates a large rock, boulder, rocky cliff, or block of stone, and has been used to speak of God (2 Samuel 22:32;Psalm 18:31; Psalm 18:46; Ps 18:2; Ps 62:2; Ps 62:6; Ps 92:15; Ps 94:22; Ps 95:1; Ps 144:1; Isa 26:4; Isa 30:29; Isa 44:8; Hab 1:12, as well as others). Zur, also from tsuwr means rock, is the name of the father of Cozbi and one of the 5 Midianite princes who were slain when Balaam fell, as well as the son of Jehiel, the father or leader of Gibeon (Nu 25:15; Nu 31:8; Jos 13:21; 1Ch 8:30; 1Ch 9:36). Cela’ is yet another name for rock and can be found in numerous places, including Nu 20:8-11, 24:21, Ps 18:2, and other places. Another word in Hebrew for rock, or stone, is ‘eben. This is often used for stone, precious stone, and occasionally large stone (Ge 2:12; Ge 11:3; Ge 28:18; Ge 29:2).  Another work for rock is keph and is used in Jer 4:29 and Job 30:6 . This word in Aramaic is the word Kephas, which is what Jesus called Simon bar Jona (otherwise known as Peter, or Cephas) in John 1:42.

We do not have the original text to examine so as to be sure of what words were used. Nor do we now for certain in which language Jesus spoke. We only have supposition that Jesus spoke in this instance in Aramaic; it may well be He spoke in Hebrew, which is was also common at the time in that location. In either case, both languages are rich, and old languages with many words for the term rock ( Given that this verse is a word play, and that God maintains His word across translations and time, it is highly likely the translator from Hebrew to chose two different words so as to maintain the word play.

It is by no means certain that the same word was used. Had Jesus wanted to not use a word play, He would have simply said ‘you’, rather than the second term translated as rock.  Since this IS a play on words, it would make no sense for Jesus to refer to Peter as ‘you’, Simon, rock, and then this rock. It is much more likely to be something akin to what we see in Ps 18:2,

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

In this verse, the first ‘rock’ is Cela`, which means the rock on a cliff, while the second ‘rock’ is Tsuwr – which has among its meaning rock of God, block of stone (boulder), and  rocky cliff/wall.

So taking the idea of translation up, we see that Christ could have spoken in either Aramaic or in Hebrew, as both were well known in the area at the time. But certainly, we know that Matthew was written in Hebrew.

Since you choose to suppose that Jesus used the same word, cephas, in dealing with the term used for rock, I will also make a supposition that God had written and translated the exact message He wanted spoken.  Given that this was most likely a play on words (which is supported by the fact the translator to Greek chose to use words that indicate small and large rock), and we know God is powerful enough to keep the message He wants transmitted across translation, in all likelihood the words used were keph for Peter and tsuwr for Christ, who had just been named as the Christ by Peter, although unless God gives us a copy of the original in Hebrew, we’ll never know for sure.

 But no, many people do not think Peter is THE ROCK. But one rock of many. 


3 Responses

  1. […] Comments Peter and the rock 2 « Wbmoore’s Weblog on What Rock did Jesus build His church upon?What Rock did Jesus build His church upon? […]

  2. WB is the belief of matthew being in hebrew first only only base on what church fathers said many many years after Him or is there any textual evidence?

    so far scholars hold to they have only about 6,000 out of 24,000 scripts we have to be the oldest i think.

  3. It is based upon what the church fathers wrote.

    A disciple of John (Papias, c 60-135) said the book of Matthew was written in Hebrew.

    Irenaeus in Against Heresies 3.1 (C. 180) wrote that Matthew wrote a gospel in Hebrew while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and that then Mark, Luke, and John were written
    ( ),

    Origen (c 185-254) said the Gospel of Matthew was in Hebrew.

    Pantaenus (c 180, Christian, philosopher, founded a theological school in Alexandria, mentored/taught Clement and Origin) found in India that the apostle Bartholomew had left a gospel of Matthew in Hebrew characters.

    Jerome (C 347-420) wrote that the apostle Matthew taught the Hebrews and there was a copy of Matthew in Hebrew in a library at Caesarea and the Hebrew Gospels of Matthew was in use by the Nazarenes of Beroea, Syria.

    Take a look at for more info.

    It should be noted that there are three different Hebrew lines of Matthew, with at least one being thought to go back to 1st century.

    Other interesting web sites:

    online versions of two lines of Hebrew texts of the book of Matthew:

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