20 July, 2009

Discussion with LottaLou on the interpretation of Matthew 16:18

(LottaLou) You say the Church and imply the Church is only of the Catholic Church.
I say the Church is all Christians. The Church is the Body of Christ and they are in a number of different Churches, yet one Church; or One Body of Christ.
Jesus Church is built on the foundation that St.Peter made an example of. To confess with ones mouth, in God given faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus said that He builds His Church on this Massive Rock (Christ, Petra) and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Peter was Cephas (curved rock) so first represented being humble. And then added Petros, 'Piece of the Rock' and is smaller than the Petra that is 'Massive Rock'. Jesus Christ is the Rock Foundation of His Church. To believe in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.

(Cristoiglesia) I truly appreciate the efforts to defend the Protestant opposition to Christ’s Church using the original languages as a weapon against what Christ and the disciples have founded. The defense with the following verse:

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


  1. If I'm not mistaken the Koine Greek in which the gospel writer is writing is considered scripture and therefore inspired by God. Setting aside these diversions of the differences between Attic and Aramaic, I'd like to look at what is actually written. Crisoiglesia has already admitted that petra is feminine and petros is masculine. "You are Peter (Petros, which is masculine), and on this rock (taute te petra, which is feminine and can in no way be referring to petros which is the opposite gender) I will build my church." This is elementary Greek grammar. Where in Greek grammar does it say that a feminine word/noun could ever refer to a masculine word/noun/name? If the gospel writer meant to refer to Peter he could have written petros, but he didn't and I know of no one in the early church who ever suggested that he may have mistakenly transcribed petra instead of petros. I know of no controversy over this word 'te petra'.

    Jesus probably spoke formal Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. The fact that He was quoting scripture from the cross and didn't bother to translate it into Greek or Latin doesn't support the idea that the gospel was originally written in Aramaic. The Koine Greek is a more precise language and erases all doubt as to what Jesus is referring to. I think that it's also important to look at what the subject of this conversation is about in the first place. Who is Jesus? ANS. The messiah, the son of the living God. Good job kepha, you're name will be rock (petros), and on this rock (taute te petra) I will build my church. Jesus even points out to Peter and everyon who will ever read this passage that Peter didn't just figure this out on his own, but that it was the Father who pointed it out to him. Peter is hardly the kind of person to build a church upon. He sank beneath the waves in a storm, he denied Jesus three times, and Jesus has to ask him three times to feed His sheep. Feed them what? How about starting with the truth. There is no more sure foundation than the rock which is Christ Jesus, the cornerstone which the builders rejected.

  2. Hello Ted,

    Here is your problem. You framed your argument on a false premise. The inspired written Word of God is that in the original language and not a translation as you have presumed. The fact that the translator preserved the pun from the Aramaic does not give evidence that St. Peter was anything other than the the "rock" that the Church is built upon. In the
    original inspired writing St. Peter and the "rock" are one in the same.

    As far as St. Peter not being worthy of being the rock the Church is built upon, this is a argument you can present to Jesus at judgment when you confess that you were not obedient to his Church. I pray He will have mercy on you.

    The foundation of the Church is clearly explained in Scriptures saying the following.

    Jesus is the high priest and cornerstone

    The disciples are the 12 foundation stones

    St. Peter is the prime minister as Prophesied in Isa 22:15.

    God bless!

    Fr. Joseph