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Is Peter Or Jesus Christ The Rock On Which The Church Is Built?

The passage in Matthew 16:13-20 has often sparked debates and confusion regarding who the rock on which the Church is built truly is: Peter or Jesus Christ. To understand this passage accurately, we need to examine the speakers involved and their statements.

The episode began with Jesus asking his disciples who people say the Son of Man is. The disciples responded with various answers, indicating the diverse opinions circulating at the time. Then Jesus directed the question to his disciples, asking them who they believe he is. Peter, in a moment of divine revelation, responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus acknowledges Peter’s revelation and declared him blessed, stating that this knowledge was revealed to Peter by his Father in heaven. He then, as many people mistakenly assume, made a significant statement, saying, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

It is crucial to identify all the speakers in this episode to gain clarity. The known speakers are Jesus, Peter, and the rest of the disciples. However, there is also an unknown speaker, who is God, the Father. The role of this unknown speaker is vital in understanding the passage fully.

God, the Father, participated in the episode by revealing to Peter that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus himself confirms this when he acknowledged that it was his Father who revealed this truth to Peter. Later, God, the Father, spoke directly to Peter through Jesus’ mouth, declaring, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

The presence of God, the Father, as an active participant in this episode is often overlooked, leading to misinterpretation. He spoke to Peter directly through Jesus’ mouth, intervening halfway through Jesus’ statement. This arrangement may confuse average readers, making it appear as if Jesus alone addressed Peter.

To understand this passage more clearly, we can explore a hypothetical English translation of God, the Father’s statement. When presently plainly the statement by God, the Father, will read as follows: “And I tell you that you are Peter. I mean that you are a rock. But, on this reliable and greater, chief rock, Jesus, the Messiah, whom I have just revealed to you, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

The key message in God, the Father’s statement is that, even though the name “Peter” means “rock”, Jesus, the Messiah, is the steady and superior rock on which the Church is built. This aligns with other biblical references, such as 1 Corinthians 10:4, which states that “that Jesus Christ is a Rock.”

Furthermore, it is essential to note that the promise made by God, the Father, to Peter regarding the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the authority to bind and loose is not exclusive to Peter alone. This promise is extended to all who receive the same revelation that Peter received. The basis of the promise lies in the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, not in Peter’s individual status or position.

The passage’s obscurities and puzzling elements serve as reminders that understanding the Word of God requires divine revelation. It surpasses human intelligence and necessitates a dependence on God’s guidance and illumination. As 1 Corinthians 2:14 explains, the things of the Spirit can only be discerned spiritually, not by natural human reasoning.

In conclusion, the rock on which the Church is built is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, as affirmed by God, the Father, in Matthew 16:13-20. While Peter is acknowledged as a rock, his role is not that of the foundational rock on which the Church is established. The revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, received by Peter and all who share in this revelation, forms the basis of the christian faith. The passage highlights the involvement of God, the Father, as a speaker, emphasizing the divine origin and significance of this revelation.


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