|" 13 Now when Jesus came into the district
of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, 'Who do people say that
the Son of Man is?'
Who is the "rock" in this verse?
While many have puzzled over this, there is a simple answer. I have
heard basically three explanations. Here is a basic summary of them:
1) Jesus declares that Peter is the "rock", the only "rock" that Jesus builds His church on.
2) Jesus is NOT saying that Peter is the "rock" nor is Peter in view as being the object on which Jesus builds the church. Jesus is here referring to himself as that "rock".
3) Jesus here declares Peter to be "this rock" while not excluding the possibility of there being other similar rocks. Jesus is here commenting on Peter's role because of his expression of faith without commenting one way or the other about other key persons.
In verse 17 Jesus is clearly addressing Peter. This address continues into verse 18. The second part of 18 is what concerns us. Then in verse 19 Peter is again the object of address and there he receives a special gift from Jesus, the keys of the kingdom.
So let's now focus on the problematic verse 18:
It is important to understand that the name "Peter" in Greek meant "rock" or "stone". Also in this verse Jesus used a related word "petra" which meant "boulder" or large bed-rock. If we were to paraphrase this it would say something like:
18"I also say to you that you are Peter (Greek - Petros - a stone), and upon this rock (Greek - petra - a large bed-rock) I will build My church;"
"I also say to you that you are Stone, and upon this big Rock I will build My church"Now let's analyze this passage verse-by-verse and taking careful note of the object of address. (Note that in the following breakdown, the reference to "you" is singular, referring to one person, not serveral.)
|verse||phrase /paraphrase||object of address|
|17||"And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona [son of Jonah], because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."||Peter|
|18 a||'I also say to you that you are Stone (Peter),'||Peter|
|18 b||"and upon this big Rock"||who?|
|18 c||"I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."||the church|
|19||"I will give you the
keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind
on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose
on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
Some persons believe that the reference to the figurative 'big Rock' is a deliberate play on words to draw attention to Peter who is the "stone". From this many have concluded belief number one mentioned at the beginning of this article.
But many others believe the 'big Rock' is not Peter but Jesus himself. They see this phrase as being:
"I also say to you that you are Stone, but upon this (gesturing to himself) big Rock I will build My church"This second view uses as support some scriptures that clearly show Jesus is the foundation-stone or corner-stone for the church (Matthew
So the first belief-system has Peter being THE Foundation-Rock of Matthew 16:18 and the second view has Jesus being THE Foundation-Rock (or corner-stone).
Now consider a third explanation and whether it fits all the verses. Is Peter one of several Foundation-Rocks upon which the church would be built?
Now with this information, which sounds more reasonable for Matthew16:18:
". . . the Father revealed Me to you Simon Barjona. You are also called Stone, and I will build my church on such a big stone, along with the other apostles, and furthermore I will give you the keys of the kingdom."Or
". . . the Father revealed Me to you Simon Barjona. You may be called Stone, but I am Jesus and upon me, a big Stone, I will build my church. But I will give you the keys of the kingdom."