Forum Post on Mt 16:18 & the Papacy

Mt 16:18 and the Papacy


Greetings friends,

Yet more stuff from that Apologetics board that I believe would be of interest to those of you wishing to know more about Church history...the "Fathers"....etc. The current discussion is not Matt 16:18 and the Papacy....The following is my response to the first point of a post by "Chrissie F" relating to Matt 16:18....hopefully it will offer some light for those here as well.
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Now, let's first take a look at Matt 16:18 AND 19.... (quotes are from the NIV)

"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. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

It is clear that everything in this passage is referring to Simon....

1. Jesus changes Peter's name. Name changes virtually always denote change in status.

2. Jesus gives Peter "the keys to the kingdom of heaven", along with the power to bind and loose.

3. Six (6) times in the course of two verses, Jesus refers directly to Simon as "you" or Peter.

a) "I tell YOU"
b) "that YOU"
c) "are PETER"
d) "I will give YOU" the keys to the kingdom of heaven
e) "whatever YOU bind on earth will be
bound in heaven"
f) "whatever YOU loose..."

Based on this, it would seem that Peter is "the rock", rather than Peter's faith, or Peter's confession. Considering that it would do much to stretch the text to exclaim all these things to Peter directly, but in the middle of such, make a complete 360-degree turn and say Peter is merely a "stone".

Further, it should be noted that Jesus is being referred to as the builder, not the foundation in this passage. It is Jesus who will "build his church."

Paul mentions the "foundation of the apostles and prophets" in Eph 2:20. Are we to think that Paul does not view Jesus as the foundation, by this statement?

Also, what about the Church being the "pillar and foundation of truth" in 1 Tim 3:15? Are we to think that Paul doesn't believe in Christ as the ultimate foundation?

I could offer a few other examples, but such would seem to berate the point. The point is that these associations all work to illustrate a specific point, and do not take anything away from Christ Jesus.

Now, let me get to the points raised, directly....

Chrissie writes:
> It may jolt most Catholics to hear that
> the "Great Fathers" of the church saw no
> connection between Mt.16:18 and
> apostolic succession. Not one of them applies
> "Thou art Peter" to anyone other than Peter.
> For Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome,
> Ambrose, Augustine etc., it was Peter's faith
> or the Lord in whom Peter has faith which is
> called the Rock.

"'...thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church' ... It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness...If a man does not fast to this oneness of Peter, does he still imagine that he still holds the faith. If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?"
Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiae(Primacy text),4(A.D.251),in NE,228-229

"And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail..."
Origen,Commentary on John,5:3(c.A.D. 232),in ANF,X:347

'He promises to found the church, assigning immovableness to it,as He is the Lord of strength, and over this he sets Peter as shepherd."
Cyril of Alexandria,Commentary on Matthew (A.D. 428),in SPP,74

"Peter, the foremost of the Apostles, and Chief Herald of the Church..."
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,11:3(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VIII:64

"(B)lessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom..."
Hilary de Poiters,On the Trinity,6:20(A.D. 359),in NPNF2,IX:105

"But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one(ie. Peter)among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism."
Jerome,Against Jovinianus,1 (A.D. 393),in NPNF2,VI:366

"'Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church', Wherefore where Peter the Church is..."
Ambrose,Commentary on the Psalms,40:30 (AD 395),in DOP,184

"At length, after being tempted by the devil, Peter is set over the Church."
Ambrose,Commentary on the Psalms,43:40(AD 397),in GILES,145

"Number the priests even from that seat of Peter. And in that order of fathers see to whom succeeded: that is the rock which the proud gates of hades do not conquer."
Augustine,Psalmus contr Partem Donati(A.D. 393),in GILES,182

"Peter bore the person of the church"
Augustine, Sermon 149:7(inter A.D. 391-430),in SPP,69

"Peter, who is called 'the rock on which the church should be built,' who also obtained 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven...' "
Tertullian,On the Prescription Against the Heretics,22(c.A.D. 200),in ANF,III:253

~~~ Now, basically, I have shown above that EVERY one of those you cited, disagree with what you say about them; and attest to Peter's primacy, and even attribute the "rock" verse to him directly. So, what can we make of the rest of your statements?
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God bless, Matt


This "ChrissieF" person must have been listening to what her pastors or some anti-catholic on whom she has placed her trust, and not actually do some better readings herself. Such is typical of most if not all the Protestants I meet in person.


You go, Matt! :>):>)


Hello Matt,

Chrissie writes: > It may jolt most Catholics to hear that > the "Great Fathers" of the church saw no > connection between Mt.16:18 and > apostolic succession. Not one of them applies > "Thou art Peter" to anyone other than Peter. > For Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, > Ambrose, Augustine etc., it was Peter's faith > or the Lord in whom Peter has faith which is > called the Rock.

Does this response make sense to you?

Peter's faith is an attribute that belongs to Peter (note the 's, signifying possession) and therefore even they, those who make this argument, are referring to Peter.

For instance, if I was carrying a sack of potatoes a long way and I got tired and couldn't pick it up any longer. Then I saw Peter coming by and I said "Peter, thou art strong and on your strength I will place this sack of potatoes." Where would the sack of potatoes wind up? On Peter's shoulders, of course.

Why? Because Peter's strength is Peter's attribute, thus referring to Peter. And Peter's faith, whether it be in God or not, still refers to Peter.

Peter's faith is not God, otherwise we would be worshipping Peter's faith and we do not. Let me know if you see any flaws in this argument. If not, I might use it on the next guy that says that to me.
May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you,
De Maria


What's your website suppose to be - it didn't work


Hello James

thanks for letting me know. the website is http://members.xoom.com/abcsoffaith/
I think it will work now. I'm barely getting the handle on this html stuff.
May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you,
De Maria


De Maria,

Does this response make sense to you?

It seemed that in the context of the response, that Chrissie was attempting to say that the Church Father's didn't agree with the present day Catholic application of this verse. However, I went on to show that EVERY person she said didn't apply this verse in the "Catholic" sense, in fact, did present it in that way. She offered no response to this.

Further, as for your analysis. I don't necessarily see a problem in your statements, for it always focus' on Petrine primacy. However, I think the point that most Protestants try to make is that the faith upon which the church "will be built" does not belong solely to Peter; thus denouncing his primacy and importance in "stregthening his brethren". Rather, they say Peter's statement of faith is based on a broader sense of faith that is in Christ; therefore, Peter is of little importance. (I hope that makes sense.)

I believe, as Catholics (and apologists), we need to keep the emphasis on Peter (as you have done), while keeping in mind the faithfilled statement, and not shying away from the idea that Peter's faith is very much a part of this "equation".

God bless, Matt


Hello Matt,

Was that a yes or a no? :)
May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you,
De Maria


Hello Matt,

Just kidding. Thanks for the info.
May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you,
De Maria


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