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Peter – not the Rock of the Roman Catholic Church

by Bill Wong

 

 

The Roman Catholic Church says that it is the church of God and teaches the apostle Peter is the rock of the church – the founder and first pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  It uses Matthew 16:18 to support this claim and also as proof of apostolic succession to legitimize its teachings. 

 

However, the actual events of history and the Bible itself tell us it is the Lord Jesus who is the Rock of the Church of God, not Peter.

 

There is no evidence at all that Peter was ever involved with establishing the Roman Catholic Church and was its first pope.  The Bible tells us that God’s church was based in Jerusalem which was where the apostles were.  Peter was considered a pillar of the church along with John and James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, who was the leader of the church:

 

Acts 15:

2    Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them,

     they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem,

     to the apostles and elders, about this question.  

 

22   Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch

     with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.     (NKJV)

 

Acts 21:

17   And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly.

18   And the day following Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present.   (AKJV)

 

Galatians 1:

16   To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

17   Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18   Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days.

19   But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.   (AKJV)

 

Galatians 2:

9    and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me,

     they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (NKJV)

 

 

We are also told that the apostle Peter was married, but not even a priest, much less a pope, is allowed to marry by the rules of the Roman Catholic Church:

 

Matthew 8:

14   Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.

15   So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.    (NKJV)

 

1 Corinthians 9:

5     Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles

      and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?     (NASB; Cephas means Peter)

 

 

The apostle Peter was also humble and refused to have anyone even bow to him, but yet the pope not only allows people to do this and much more, but also to kiss his ring and call him ‘Holy Father’ in direct opposition of the Word of God:

 

Acts 10:

25   And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

26   But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.    (AKJV)

 

Matthew 23:

9     Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.   (NKJV)

 

 

And let us not forget that the apostle Peter was martyred by Rome.

 

 

What Does Matthew 16 really say?

 

Matthew 16:

13   When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying,

     "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"

14   So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15   He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

16   Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17   Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, \

      but My Father who is in heaven.

18   And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,

      and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.    (NKJV)

 

 

The Roman Catholic Church uses a faulty translation of Matthew 16, and also the power of the few controlling the dissemination and interpretation of God’s word (while adding their own traditions), to indoctrinate the masses to believing Peter was the first pope and it is the church of God by apostolic succession.  After many centuries of teaching this falsehood, much of it by priests who spoke in the dead language of Latin which those in the pews did not understand, this lie has become deeply engrained in the minds of many Roman Catholic believers. And now that the Catholic Church has its powerbase by promoting this lie in the beginning, and even more time has passed, we find fewer and fewer people care to even know the truth.

 

The Roman Catholic Church has claimed that the apostle Peter was the first pope so that they may claim apostolic authority on all things pertaining to God and Christ.  They claim this based on the interpretation that the reference the Lord makes to a rock upon which the church would be built is actually pointing to Peter, and therefore the Roman Catholic Church by extension.  This is faulty and false. 

 

Let us take a closer look at Matthew 16, verse 18.

 

Otherwise intelligent theologians, linguists and scholars know the Greek language they were translating, but for some reason, they left as hidden and un-emphasized the difference in meaning of the name Peter and the word ‘rock’ used later in the same verse.  For in Greek there is a clear difference in meaning, but in English there is no elaboration of this. 

 

When the Lord Jesus calls Simon Bar-Jonah "Peter", the Greek word used is "petros".  

It means: "petros", Strong's #4074; a (piece of) rock.

 

When Christ uses the word 'rock' upon which He will build His church, it is not the same word; the Greek word used is "petra".  It means: "petra", Strong's #4073; fem. of the same as 4074; a (mass of) rock. 

 

The Lord Jesus is calling Peter a piece of rock or a small stone, but He is referring to Himself as the mass of rock (‘the’ Rock) that the church will be built upon, of which Peter is only a small part (a piece of that massive rock). 

 

This means that the Lord Jesus is not building His church (which is the body of Christ) upon Peter, but upon Himself.   

 

This can clearly be seen also by the context of Matthew 16 itself.  The subject all throughout verses 13-18 is the Lord Jesus Himself, and specifically about who He is. Verses 13-15 bring up the question of who He really is.  Verse 16 is the revelation that He is the Christ/Messiah and Son of the living God. Verse 17 is Jesus saying that this answer came from His father in heaven.  Verse 18, therefore, is only building upon the existing context which is the truth that Jesus is the Messiah mentioned in verse 16, and as such He is the cornerstone of the body of Christ.  Indeed, if He was not the rock upon which His body is built, then we would not be called “Christians”, but would instead be called something related to “Peter” (Petricians or something).

 

 

To those who cannot discern or those who deliberately mislead others, the wrong interpretation of Matthew 16:18 of Peter being the rock which the church is built upon, can be likened to what we see in John:

 

John 2:

8     Then answered the Jews and said to him, What sign show you to us, seeing that you do these things?

19   Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20   Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?

21   But he spoke of the temple of his body.

22   When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them;

     and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.   (AKJV)

 

In John 2 the apostle John clarifies to us in verses 20 and 21 what the Lord was really referring to – the temple of His body.  Otherwise, without this information (as the Jews did not have), one may think Jesus was referring to the literal temple of stone.

 

Likewise, in Matthew 16, without a truthful clarification, the reader can be misled to misunderstand what the Lord was speaking about.  Unfortunately, in this case, the Roman Catholic Church deliberately does not tell believers the difference between ‘Peter’ – a piece of rock, and the ‘rock’ – a mass of rock,  and that therefore the ‘rock’ cannot be Peter, but someone else – Christ Himself.

 

We know this also, because the apostle Peter himself acknowledges that we are just stones that are built up upon Christ as the chief cornerstone (which He is always called).  We are just smaller stones built upon the massive foundation that is Christ:

 

1 Peter 2:

4     Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

5     you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,

      to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6     Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, " Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,

     And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."

7     Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

     " The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,"     (NKJV)

 

 

To say that Peter is the rock and foundation of the church of God (which the Roman Catholic Church believes it is) contradicts the Bible and is saying that there is another foundation that is not the Lord Jesus:

 

1 Corinthians 3:

11    For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.   (NASB)

 

 

And again, if the Lord Jesus supposedly made Peter this foundation of God’s church, then why on the very night the Lord was to be betrayed, did the apostles argue amongst themselves about who would be greatest (remember, all the apostles were present in Matthew 16)?  It is quite obvious that the Lord Jesus never made such a declaration; otherwise the apostles would know it and not argue, because Peter could just say: “I am the greatest; don’t you all remember, the Lord said I was to be the rock he would build the church?!?” 

 

Luke 22:

24   Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.

25   And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them,

     and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.'

26   But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger,

     and he who governs as he who serves.

27   For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table?

     Yet I am among you as the One who serves.    (NKJV)

 

 

Also, Christ is always called the head of the church.  No one else is called this:

 

Ephesians 5:

23    For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.    (AKJV)

 

Colossians 1:

18   And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;

      that in all things he might have the preeminence.    (AKJV)

 

 

And Christ is our Rock:

 

1 Corinthians 10:

4     And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:

     and that Rock was Christ.   (AKJV)

 

 

This rock is so massive and powerful that it cannot be overpowered, but what falls upon it will be destroyed and what it falls upon will be ground to dust:

 

Luke 20:

17   Then He looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written:

      'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone' ?

18   Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."   (NKJV)

 

 

The Bible truth is that the rock the church is built upon is obviously Christ, not Peter.

 



The Roman Catholic Church has deceived many that it is the true church (through the apostle Peter or otherwise).  But we must live by God’s truth and God’s word, the Bible only, and not the traditions of men.  We must flee from the deceptions of the Roman Catholic Church that have been put upon its believers.


Indeed, not only has it deceived earnest Bible believers who want to worship in spirit and truth (which God seeks from us, John 4:23-24), but it has also succeeded in deceiving non-believers that it is the “face” of Christianity.  What the Roman Catholic Church has done to the true faith of the Bible is extremely damaging not only to believers; because some of these non-believers, such as atheists and Muslims, use this idea that the Roman Catholic Church and its un-Biblical teachings, traditions and actions are reflective of the Bible, as reasons to attack the God and truth of the Bible itself, and make many turn away from the true Bible faith (it should be noted also that the teachings and actions of the Roman Church is also a major reason why the Jews stay away from Christianity).  This will only get worse in these end times.  However, if we just adhere to the Bible truth only, then there would be no problems.


And please do not think that I hate Roman Catholics; this is absolutely not the case.  I have family and friends who are Roman Catholic believers and I love them very much, and they, like all Roman Catholics must know that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are false and go against God.  Test for yourself what God’s truth is, and you will find that if you as a Roman Catholic believer should be offended, then you should be offended at the Roman Catholic Church which has prevented you from knowing God’s truth since the very beginning, and has instead blinded and misled you with its lies.  The time is too short in these end days to be comforted by lies we have always known, but we must seek God’s truth only: seek and find; knock and know; and live it --- it is the truth which sets us free in the dark days soon ahead. 

 


Please also see the article: ‘Truth about the Eucharist’.