Sunday, August 5, 2012

*BEST OF DTB #206* Refuting CARM's position on the primacy of Peter. (revised 8/11/09)

The Protestant organization CARM attempts to refute the Catholic position on the Primacy of Peter, as elucidated in Matthew Chapter 16. They fall short, to say the least. Let's get right to it.

There are problems with the Roman Catholic position. First of all, when we look at the Greek of Matthew 16:18 we see something that is not obvious in the English.
" are 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." Let me illustrate by using the words "actor" and "actress": "You are the actor and with this actress I will make my movie." Do see that the gender influences how a sentence is understood? Jesus was not saying that the church will be built upon Peter, but upon something else. What, then, does petra, the feminine noun, refer to?

This is a tortured interpretation of the verses. The person is on the right track when he says that petros is the masculine form of the word. That is why- and the only reason why- it is applied to Peter. It is a name and it is directly ascribed to Peter. Therefore, the masculine form must be used. The default form is the feminine form Petra, which is why it is used in the second, adjoining part of the sentence. This is a result of the translation from Aramaic to Greek and makes the sentence make no sense whatsoever if interpreted the way CARM suggests.

Here is why. In the sentence construction, Peter is called Petros (meaning Rock) rather than Lithos (meaning little stone). The first part of the sentence is joined to the second part by the adjoining conjunction kai (and) rather than the contrasting conjunction alla (but). Finally, the second instance (Petra), is connected to the first (Petros) by the demonstrative construction tautee tee ("This very same" See: 1 Corinthians 7:20, 2 Corinthians 8:6, Acts 13:33).

So, the sentence is literally "You are Rock, and upon this very same rock, I will build my church" Applying this sentence construction to one of the examples given above would read like "You are Actor and upon this very same actress". It makes the sentence make no sense.

It is clear that Petros and Petra refer to the same thing.

The feminine "petra" occurs four times in the Greek New Testament:Matt. 16:18, "And I also say to you that you are Peter (petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it."Matt. 27:60, "and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock (petra); and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away."1 Cor. 10:4, "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock (petras) which followed them; and the rock (petra) was Christ."1 Pet. 2:8, speaking of Jesus says that he is "A stone of stumbling and a rock (petra) of offense"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed."

Notice that none of the 4 cited instances refers directly to addressing a man by name, in which case, the masculine form must be used.

We can clearly see that in the three other uses of the Greek word petra (nominative singular; "petras" in 1 Cor. 10:4 is genitive singular) we find it referred to as a large immovable mass of rock in which a tomb is carved out (Matt. 27:60) and in reference to Christ (1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:8). Note that Peter himself in the last verse referred to petra as being Jesus! If Peter uses the word as a reference to Jesus, then shouldn't we?

No. The writer is still playing the same Biblical shell game here. let's look at 1 Pet 2:8
2:8 and
"A stone that will make people stumble,
and a rock that will make them fall."
They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.

Jesus is being depicted as the Rock but He isn't being NAMED Rock. In fact, to say that Jesus is being NAMED Petra is to ascribe to Him a woman's name! Blasphemy! Peter wasn't simply being described as a Rock, he was being called Rock as a proper name and thus, the Greek translation from Aramaic demands use of the masculine form of the name. The very use of the feminine form in Matthew 16:18b demands that it could not possibly have been referring to Jesus.

In addition, Greek dictionaries and lexicons give us further insight into the two Greek words under discussion: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."
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.

Again, this interpretation is made impossible by the words kai (and) and tautee tee (this very same). "You are John and upon this very Joanne". "You are Robert and upon this very Roberta". The interpretation is grammatically untenable.

Only by understanding that the sentence construction necessitates that Petros and Petra refer to exactly the same thing can one interpret this in a way that makes sense.

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.Matt. 14:29-30, "And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"Luke 22:57-58, "But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know Him." 58 And a little later, another saw him and said, "You are one of them too!" But Peter said, "Man, I am not!"Gal. 2:11,14 "But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned...14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

The writer misses the whole point. If Peter were a mighty leader, elevated to the authority over the Church, it would be less dramatic. Moses was put over Israel, and freed them from Pharoh though he was the meekest man on earth. (Numbers 12:3). It was Peter's openess that made him the vessal through which God chose to lead the Church. That is why the Father reveled His truth directly to Peter.

Matthew 16:17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood * has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

Jesus, who knew the heart of Peter, was not saying that Peter, the movable 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. 32:3, "The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice."
1 Sam. 22:2, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; 3 My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge."
Psalm 18:31, "And who is a rock, except our God." Isaiah 44:8, "Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none."

Rom. 9:33, "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed."
It should be obvious from the Word of God that the rock Jesus was referring to was not Peter, but himself.

Actually, it is obvious that the opposite is the case. Notice that the first three citations are Old Testament citations, while the 4th quotes the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:16). True, all these citations refer to God-and specifically Jesus- but that does not change anything.

The mystery here is that God- the Heavenly Rock and Foundation- works through Peter and the Apositles- the earthly Rock and Foundation. (John 1:42, Revelation 21:14).

The fact is clear that one must torture Matthew Chapter 16 to deny that Peter is the Rock, even, as I mentioned before, accepting the idea that Jesus ascribes a woman's name to Himself!

In contrast to this, in paragraph #2 at the beginning of this article, the Roman Catholic Church says that the rock cannot refer to Jesus, "but only Peter, as is so much more apparent in Aramaic in which the same word (Kipha) is used for 'Peter' and 'rock'." The problem is that the text is not in Aramaic, but Greek. Since we do not have the Aramaic text, it is not proper to refer to it as proof of the Roman Catholic position.
Furthermore, in
John 1:42 it says, "He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas," (which is translated Peter)." The word "Peter" here is petros, not petra. It is used to
elucidate the Aramaic kephas which is not a name in Aramaic.
"Except in
Jn. 1:42, where it is used to elucidate Aramaic kēphás, Pétros is used in the NT only as a name for Simon Peter....The translation supports the view that Kēphás is not a proper name, since one does not usually translate proper names."

Actually, we do know that Matthew is translated from Aramaic. It is not a supposition. The first of two proofs can be found in this very Gospel where Jesus is translated as calling Simon "Simon Bar Jonah". The second instance is Chapter 27, verse 46 where Jesus cries out "Eli, Eli Lama Sabachthani. To suggest we don't know that Matthew was translated from Aramaic to Greek is dishonest.

This paragraph is even more tortured than the first. Peter is referred to- by name- as Kephas, not only in John 1:42 but in 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 1 Corinthians 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:5, Galatians 1:18, Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:11, Galatians 2:14.

For Peter to be translated as "little stone" would have required the Aramaic work Enva rather than Kephas. That Peter is the Rock is inescapable.

The truth is that the only foundation is Jesus. The only rock of truth is Jesus Christ and that we, as his redeemed, need to keep our eyes on him. We are to look to no one else as the foundation, the source, or the hope in which the church is built. The Church is built upon Jesus, not Peter.
"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ," (
1 Cor. 3:11).

Ephesians 2:20 tells us that the church was built on the foundation of the apostles. Is this verse contradicting 1 Cor 3:11? Far from it. Context is key. The Apostles, with Peter at the head are the Church's earthly foundation while Jesus is it's ultimate foundation. The idea of Jesus working through men is certainly not alien to scripture.

Some protestants try to escape the plain sense of Matthew 16 by making a contexual argument that the Rock is neither Peter nor Jesus but Peter's profession of faith. Let's look at their case;

16:13 * When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
16:14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, * others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16:16 * Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
16:17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood * has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 16:18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, * and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
16:19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. * Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
16:20 * Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.

The argument is, admittedly, stronger than their others. Let me paraphrase in order to elucidate the argument;

Jesus: "Who do you say that I am?"
Peter: "The Messiah, the Son of God"
Jesus: "Blessed are you, Simon. This fact was revealed to you from heaven and I will build my church upon the rock that is your profession of faith"

Once again, the plain text gets in the way of this admittedly clever diversion.

If Jesus went straight from "My Father gave you this truth", to "Upon this rock I will build my church", the interpretation would be plausible. At least then, rock and truth could be inferred as describing the same thing. He does not. Instead, He turns the entire discourse directly to Peter and addresses him personally and, with great emphasis, leaves no doubt that Peter is the subject.

16:17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood * has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 16:18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, * and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
16:19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. * Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

YOU are blessed.
YOU did not receive this knowledge by flesh and blood (your own efforts)
My Father has revealed this to YOU.
YOU are the Rock.
YOU will be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
What YOU bind on earth will be bound in heaven.
What YOU loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Jesus, seven times, emphasized that Peter is the subject that connects the whole discourse together. Not only that but, one by one, ratifies the doctrines that define the Catholic Papacy.

By saying YOU are blessed, He ascribes that Peter's office is set apart with a special blessing. By saying that Peter received knowledge directly from God, not men, He validates the Divine inspiration of the office. By calling Peter the Rock upon which He would build, He declares Peter the earthly cornerstone of the Church. By giving Him the keys, He declared that God's plan of salvation must necessarily pass through His Catholic Church. Finally, by giving Peter the power to bind and loose on HIS behalf, Jesus declares the infallible teaching authority of the Church.

How anyone could read Matthew 16 and deny the authority of the Catholic Church is impossible for me to imagine.

For the first 1500 years of the Church, no one disputed that Peter was the Rock. but don't take my word for it. Look at what prominent Protestant scholars have to say;

J. Knox ChamblinPresbyterian and New Testament Professor,
Reformed Theological Seminary
By the words “this rock” Jesus means not himself, nor his teaching, nor God the Father, nor Peter’s confession, but Peter himself. The phrase is immediately preceded by a direct and emphatic reference to Peter. As Jesus identifies himself as the Builder, the rock on which he builds is most naturally understood as someone (or something) other than Jesus himself. The demonstrative this, whether denoting what is physically close to Jesus or what is literally close in Matthew, more naturally refers to Peter (v. 18) than to the more remote confession (v. 16). The link between the clauses of verse 18 is made yet stronger by the play on words, “You are Peter (Gk. Petros), and on this rock (Gk. petra) I will build my church.” As an apostle, Peter utters the confession of verse 16; as a confessor he receives the designation this rock
from Jesus. (“Matthew,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker, 1989), 742.)

Craig L. Blomberg Baptist and Professor of New Testament,
Denver Seminary

Acknowledging Jesus as The Christ illustrates the appropriateness of Simon’s nickname “Peter” (Petros = rock). This is not the first time Simon has been called Peter (cf. John 1:42), but it is certainly the most famous. Jesus’ declaration, “You are Peter,” parallels Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ,” as if to say, “Since you can tell me who I am, I will tell you who you are.” The expression “this rock” almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following “the Christ” in v. 16 applied to Jesus. The play on words in the Greek between Peter’s name (Petros) and the word “rock” (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification. (The New American Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22, (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 251-252.)

David Hill Presbyterian minister and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, England
On this rock I will build my church:
the word-play goes back to Aramaic tradition. It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church. The disciple becomes, as it were, the foundation stone of the community. Attempts to interpret the “rock” as something other than Peter in person (e.g., his faith, the truth revealed to him) are due to Protestant bias, and introduce to the statement a degree of subtlety which is highly unlikely. (“The Gospel of Matthew,” The New Century Bible Commentary, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972), 261.)

Suzanne de Dietrich Presbyterian theologian
The play on words in verse 18 indicates the Aramaic origin of the passage. The new name contains a promise. “Simon,” the fluctuating, impulsive disciple, will, by the grace of God, be the “rock” on which God will build the new community. (The layman's Bible Commentary: Matthew, vol. 16, (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1961), 93.)
Donald A. Hagner Fuller Theological Seminary
The natural reading of the passage, despite the necessary shift from Petros to petra required by the word play in the Greek (but not the Aramaic, where the same word kepha occurs in both places), is that it is Peter who is the rock upon which the church is to be built. . . . The frequent attempts that have been made, largely in the past, to deny this in favor of the view that the confession itself is the rock . . . seem to be
largely motivated by Protestant prejudice against a passage that is used by the
Roman Catholics to justify the papacy. (“Matthew 14-28,” Word Biblical
Commentary, vol. 33b, (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 470.)

Fundamentalists have a great deal of difficulty understanding that God's sovereignty remains perfectly intact even when He works His will through fragile human beings. In fact, in all of scripture, that is God's normal model.

No comments:

Post a Comment