TECHNICAL LOOK AT MATT.16:17,18
Was Jesus talking to Peter her or was He pointing to Himself,
when He said the church would be built upon someone?
Many of the Protestant teachers have claimed that Jesus pointed to
Himself in saying the church would be built upon a "petra" - stone
But we need to be honoest when we look at the construction of the
Greek in this passage. It is I submit very revealing and also very
I will give you the translation by Jay P. Green (in his Greek/English
Interlinear NT). With the important numbers of the Greek to tie with
Strong's Concordance of the Bible.
Verse 17, "...And answering, Jesus said to him, Blessed are you Simon
Bar-jonah because flesh and bllod did not reveal to you, BUT (Greek
"all" #235) the Father of Me - in the heavens. I also and to you say -
you are Peter, AND ON (Greek "kai epi" - #1909) this the rock (Greek -
"petra" - #4073) I will build of Me the church....."
Berry's Greek/English Interlinear gives the same.
So does the Greek/English Interlinear by Spiros Zodhiates.
The Greek word for "BUT" is NOT the same as for "AND ON" - they are
completely different words in the Greek, as you can see from the above.
Now Jesus used BUT in verse 17. If He was going to look at Himself in
verse 18 after Peter, I submit He would have said something like:
"I also say you are Peter (Greek stone or rock) BUT on this rock (meaning
and pointing to Himself) I will build of Me the church..."
The Greek was there to have Him use the word "BUT" as in a contrast from
Peter to Himself. Yet Jesus did NOT inspire it to be so written or recorded.
Jesus could have easily said, "You are a stone Peter, BUT I am the rock and
it will be upon Me that my church will be built."
Or Jesus could have said, "Peter you are like a stone, strong, BUT the church
will be built upon Me, the huge mountain."
There are words in the Greek of the NT that Jesus could have said it as such
if He really was trying to get the point across to Peter and everyone that
His church would be built upon Himself and NOT on Peter or any other human.
in this particualr passage under study. (Of course we know from other
passages Jesus is the head of the Church of God).
Jesus did not use such language. The word "BUT" was not used in verse 18 -
no important contrast was given that the word "but" would have clearly
shown. Jesus said "You are Peter AND ON (KAI EPI) this the rock I will build
of Me the church..."
The NATURAL way I submit to you is to read this section as Jesus is still
looking at Peter, and telling everyone that Peter would be the main man
upon whom the NT church would get its start - the strong as stone or rock
man that Peter was in character. And we find in the book of Acts that very thing.
Peter was the leading voice and miracle worker in the start of the NT church.
Hence Albert Barnes is correct in his Bible Commentary on these verses in
The Analytical Greek Lexicon gives "epi" as "upon, on, in, near upon, by, at,
over, immediately upon, towards," and other meanings used in various contexts.
Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT under the word "petra" (#4073 in
Strong's Con.) has "...a rock, ledge, cliff...a projecting rock, crag...
a rock, large stone..."
Under the word "petros" (#4074 in Strong's Con.) Thayer gives, "a stone, a rock,
a ledge or cliff...."
We see that in a technical way there is very little difference, and in a specific
context there may be no difference.
Okay, now to passages where the two words are used.
Matt.7:24,25 - a man builds his house upon a rock. The rock does not have to be huge
per se - large enough to build a house on, and some houses are small.
Matt.16:18 - we have covered this above.
Matt.27:51,60 - many rock rent when Jesus died on the cross. Many rocks are not
that large. Jesus was placed in a tomb cut out of a rock - again does not have to
be that large to cut a hole in a rock for a tomb. The word "stone: here is #3037
Mark 15:46 - same as Matt.27:60.
Luke 6:48 - building a house on a rock, covered above.
Luke 8:6,13 - seeds falling on a rock - that for sure does not have to be very
large; it could be a relatively small rock, but no soil, the seeds will not grow.
Romans 9:33 - a rock to stumble over - does not have to be very large either
as people know who have stumbled over a rock in the ground.
1 Corinthians 10:4 - the rock was Christ - a spiritual rock and hence once more
does not have to be large; Jesus in the flesh was probably an average size Jew
of His day.
1 Peter 2:8 - Jesus was a spiritual rock of offence for many; a rock does not have
to be large to stumble over.
Revelation 6:15,16 - hiding in the caves of the rock, can be large rock, could be
small rocks. And then rocks that fall on you (verse 16) are small to large, but
notice here the contrast of a mountain falling on them as contrasted to rocks,
which can be small to large (whatever you think is large).
I will not give every passage in the NT where "petros" is used, but enough for
you to get the point. You can find every passage by using Strong's Concordance.
The passages just use the name Peter.
John 1:42 - Peter was a stone figuratively; a stone can be the size of a man, it's
in how you use the word and think of a stone.
#4073 - PETRA; feminine of the same as 4074; a (mass of) rock - literally or
figurativly - rock.
#4074 - PETROS; appr. a prim. word; a (piece of) rock (larger than 3037); as a
name Petrus, an apostle, Peter, rock.
When all is said and done what I submitted at the top of this study is the KEY
to it all.
Jesus continued to look at Peter and said "...you are Peter, and upon this rock I
will build my church..."
There can be no denying that Peter was at the start of the NT church its HUMAN
foundation, the man who was the LEADING spokesman and miracle worker, and the
man who was used by God to bring salvation and the NT Gospel to the Gentiles
Albert Barnes is correct in his expounding of this passage of the Gospel of