People misuse Matt. 16:18 which says, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” They say the verse states that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built.

First of all, when we look at the original Greek of Matthew 16:18 we see something that is not obvious in the English. “…thou art Peter (πέτρος, petros) and upon this rock (πέτρα, petra) I will build My church…” In Greek, nouns have gender. It is similar to the English words actor and actress. The first is masculine and the second is feminine. Likewise, the Greek word “petros” is masculine; “petra” is feminine. Peter, the man, is appropriately referred to as Petros. But Jesus said that the rock he would build his church on was not the masculine “petros” but the feminine “petra.”

3 other times in the New Testament, is the Greek word petra used:

Matt. 27:60 “And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock(petra): and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

1 Cor. 10:4 “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock(petra) that followed them: and that Rock(petra) was Christ.

1 Peter 2:8 “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock(petra) of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

In the 1st verse, it is referring to petra as a large immovable mass of rock in which a tomb was carved out. In the other two, it is referring to petra as Christ himself. In the last verse, it is Peter himself talking about Jesus. Peter himself is calling Jesus the rock…

Insight through means of Greek dictionaries and lexicons:

1. Source: Liddell, H. (1996). A lexicon : Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English lexicon (636). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Petros: “πέτρος, a stone, distinguished from πέτρα
Petra: πέτρα , Ion. and Ep. πέτρη, , a rock, a ledge or shelf of rock, Od. 2. a rock, i.e. a rocky peak or ridge…Properly, πέτρα is a fixed rock, πέτρος a stone.”

2. Source: Vine, W., & Bruce, F. (1981; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). Vine’s Expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (2:302). Old Tappan NJ: Revell.
PETRA πέτρα , (4073)) denotes a mass of rock, as distinct from petros, a detached stone or boulder, or a stone that might be thrown or easily moved.

A stone is movable, unstable and this is exactly what we see with Peter, who doubted when he walked on water, who denied Jesus, and who was rebuked by Paul at Antioch. Examples of the instances of Peter’s instability evidenced in the scripture:

Matt. 14:29-30, “And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”

Luke 22:57-58, “And he denied him, saying, Woman, i know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them, And Peter said, Man, I am not.”

Gal. 2:11,14 “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 14. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

Jesus, who knew the heart of Peter, was not saying that Peter, the movable and unstable stone, would be the immovable rock upon which the Church would be built. Rather, it would be built upon Jesus and it was this truth that Peter had affirmed what he said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (Matt. 16:16). This is consistent with scripture elsewhere where the term rock is sometimes used in reference of God, but never of a man.

Deut. 32:4, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

2 Sam. 22:2-3, “And he said, the LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will i trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”

Psalm 18:31, “For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?”

Rom. 9:33, “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

So, time after time in the Bible, the rock was is being referred to is not Peter, but Jesus Christ himself. Thanks for reading peeps. God bless.  Holla!

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