Peter The Rock on Which His Church Would Be Built

Did Jesus Really Say That?

Dear Rev. Jamison,

Did Jesus really say that Peter was the rock on which his church would be built, and what does that mean?

That reference to Peter is found in Matthew 16:18. Jesus asked his disciples to tell him what the people were saying about him. They reported that people were saying that Jesus was the reincarnation of Elijah (Jesus did replicate all of Elijah's miracles), or of Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter piped up and said, "You are the Christ (verse 16)." Matthew then has Jesus say, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." Peter's Hebrew name was Simon, but many Jews in Palestine in those days took on Greek names as well, much like our former Taiwanese accompanist, Chi-Wen Hsaio, had us call her Esther. Peter is the English equivalent of the Greek name Petra. In Greek, petra means rock. Verse 18 is a contrived play on words. Bible scholars are certain that the early Christian church authorities had all to do with that passage, not Jesus.

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