The article boasts:
"A bedrock Protestant argument against the Papacy gets reduced to rubble."
To the mainline Protestant who argues against Romanism, this statement is nothing short of a lie. "Bedrock argument" hardly describes the "petros/petra" line some Protestants like to use against the Roman Catholic Papacy. In fact, I would go so far as to say this argument doesn't make the list for many Protestant defenders, since there are a great number of Protestant theologians who readily and happily admit that "Peter" in the Koine Greek means "rock". The folks that I have seen promulgate the "petros/petra" argument are usually the Jack Chicks or KJV Onlyists, a group that does not at all represent the standards of Protestantism, whether in doctrine, action, or apologetic argument.
So right before we even delve into the article itself, the headline gives us reason to pause and consider its grossly exaggerated lie.
You participate in an employee Bible study every day on your lunch hour. This particular Monday, Fred, a new employee, is introduced to the group. He announces he's a former Catholic and is also a part-time minister at a nondenominational “Bible church” in a nearby town.
As you begin, Fred opens his Bible and begins to “explain” why the papacy is “unbiblical.” The other Catholics in the room look to you expectantly. They know you've been attending a Catholic apologetics training course at your parish, and as you look around, you realize you're the only one in the room who is ready to respond.
You take a deep breath and interrupt. “Fred, what exactly is your main objection to the Catholic teaching on the papacy?”
Fred's response is as blunt as it is sincere. “It's unbiblical.”
You grin to hide your nervousness. “Actually, it is biblical, and if you turn to...”
“No, it's not.”
“Yes, it is.”
Right away the reader is implicitly told through this very unrealistic dialogue that Fred the Protestant is simply a sincere idiot who immediately cuts into the Catholic's explanation, nearly transforming the discussion into a "No it isn't," "Yes it is" ad nauseam. Had this article been aimed towards Jack Chick disciples or King James Onlyists, I could see some reality in this scenario. But, since this article boasts that it will crush a "bedrock Protestant" argument, the scene is in complete misrepresentation. Had Mr. Staples truly intended to offer a substantial realistic Protestant viewpoint for Fred, he would not have had Fred bluntly interrupt the Catholic's response to the subject being biblical. Any Protestant would welcome such interaction from Roman Catholics, especially when focused on specific scriptural passages Catholics wish us to believe describe or prefigure the Papacy.
What Staples has presented thus far is a very Roman Catholic misinterpretation of a Protestant's response to the argument. But it gets even more interesting...
Man, oh man, this is getting off to a great start, you think to yourself in exasperation as you open your Bible to Matthew 16:17-19 and read aloud: “And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' “
“That passage does not refer to Peter as the rock!” Fred emphatically declares. “Contrary to the erroneous Catholic interpretation, it refers to Christ as the rock. For 30 years, I believed that Peter was the rock, but then I found the original Greek proves he wasn't. There's a distinction between the two “rocks” in Greek. The text actually reads, 'You are petros,' which means small pebble, 'and on this petra,' which means massive boulder, 'I will build My Church.' The first rock is Peter, the second rock is Christ. See? Christ didn't build the Church on Peter, but on Himself.”
Fred's response is, in short, a straw-man. Protestants who steer clear from this unstable argument find no point at all in Staples' article. Instead of using the words Staples gives Fred, allow me to speak for Fred in a more realistic way after the Catholic's citation of the biblical passage,
"Actually, interesting you should start the passage from verse 17. If you don't mind I'd like to make sure the context of the passage is taken into consideration so please allow me to read from verse 13. I'll be reading from the ESV. '13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"' Now, sir, why do you suppose Christ asked this question?"
Catholic: Well, He's asking them whether the people believe in His divinity.
Fred: Right, and further, He's wanting to know what they themselves believe of His divinity, as He clearly gets to the point in verse 15, "Who do you say that I am". What happens next?
Catholic: Peter immediately answers. I'd like to stress that it is Peter who answers for all the apostles.
Fred: Noted, though that bears no indication that Peter is the supreme leader of the apostles, which is what you were implying by your statement, correct?
Catholic: Well, I do think that is significant...
Fred: Let's get back to that. Now, Peter answers first, right? Is this Peter's own words or divine revelation?
Catholic: Divine revelation, of course. Scripture makes that clear in verse 17, "flesh and blood have not revealed this to you."
Fred: Quite significant! Peter has just confessed Jesus to be the divine Messiah, the Son of God. Christ builds upon this by stating this was not some random thought on Peter's part, but a direct revelation from God the Father Himself. If we want to follow along in the context of the passage, take into consideration the grammatical structure of the Koine Greek, and compare the whole of the New Testament we cannot conclude that Peter alone is the "petra" Jesus is referring to.
Catholic: Oh? I'd like proof of this if you don't mind.
Fred: Certainly. Allow me to quote Reformed Baptist Dr. James White--
Catholic: Him! Oh I don't listen to him! He's so arrogant and his doctorate is uncredited, invalid.
Fred: Well, I could argue those points, but be that as it may let's suppose for the sake of argument that he is, as you claim, a nasty man without a valid doctorate. Does this invalidate his argument? If he's on par with us credential-wise then it should be perfectly easy to refute him and I'll simply be emberresed using him as a reference.
Catholic: Alright, fair enough. What's your quote?
Fred: Dr. White points out in Matthew 16:18:
As we simply translate the passage and attempt to ascertain the meaning, we note that Jesus begins with direct personal address to Peter. "And I say to you (soi)" is singular, addressed to Peter and to Peter alone. This is continued in the first part of the main statement, "You (su,) are (singular) Peter." This is known as direct address. Jesus is speaking in the first person, and Peter is in the second person, being directly addressed by the Lord. Up to this point, all is clear and understandable.
Then we run into the phrase at issue. kai. evpi. tau,th| th/| pe,tra is indeed singular; there is only one "rock" in view. The issue is, to what does tau,th| refer? As a pronoun, it has an antecedent, a referent that it is pointing back to. Rome insists the referent is Peter.* But if it is, why use a demonstrative pronoun at all? Jesus has used two personal pronouns of Peter already in this sentence, soi and su,. He could have easily said, "and upon you the rock," (evpi. se, or evpi. soi, th/| pe,tra). But again, He didn’t. Instead, he switches from direct address to the demonstrative "this." I have expressed this, in non-technical language, as going from second person, "you, Peter," to third person, "this rock." "This rock" is referring to something other than the person who was being addressed in the preceding phrase, something that we find in the immediate context. A natural reading of the passage (one that I truly believe would be nigh unto universal if history had not fallen out as it did, with only one "apostolic see" in the West, the continuance of the Empire in the East, etc.) makes it plain what must function as the antecedent of the demonstrative pronoun:
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
The confession that Peter gives of the Messiahship of Jesus is the central thought of the entire passage. It is the reason for the trip to Caesarea Philippi. Jesus indicates that Peter has just been the recipient of divine revelation. God, in His grace, has given to Peter an insight that does not find its origin in the will of man, but in God the Father Himself. The content of that confession is, in fact, divine revelation, immediately impressed upon the soul of Peter. This is the immediate context of verse 18, and to divorce verse 18 from what came before leads to the errant shift of attention from the identity of Christ to the identity of Peter that is found in Roman Catholic exegesis. Certainly we cannot accept the idea, presented in Roman theology, that immediately upon pronouncing the benediction upon Peter’s confession of faith, the focus shifts away from that confession and what it reveals to Peter himself and some office with successors based upon him! Not only does the preceding context argue against this, but the following context likewise picks up seemlessly with what came before: the identity of Jesus as Messiah. Hence, the logical antecedent for tau,th| is Peter’s confession. Such not only commands the most logical grammatical sense, but it also commands the obvious teaching of the rest of the New Testament itself! While Peter falls out of view by Acts 15, the centrality of the Messiahship of Jesus continues in the forefront throughout the recorded history of the primitive Church.
Hence I have suggested that the shift from the direct address of Peter to the use of the demonstrative pronoun, pointing us back to something prior, specifically, the confession of faith, that will function as the foundation of the Church Christ promises to build, is significant and must be explained by the Roman apologist who seeks to present an interpretation that is to be binding upon all Christians.
So you see, sir, the issue at hand isn't as simple as you make it. Greek grammar is incredibly vital when discussing this sort of thing
Catholic: I, uh...yes, of course. But, well, there are other Protestants whom I respect as doctors who DO indeed say Peter was the rock!
Here, dear reader, is where we resume Staples' article as it leads into the Catholic gentleman's point in the dialogue...
“I understand your argument, but there are problems with it. Petros is simply the masculine form of the feminine Greek noun petra. Like Spanish and French, Greek nouns have gender. So when the female noun petra, large rock, was used as Simon's name, it was rendered in the masculine form as petros. Otherwise, calling him Petra would have been like calling him Michelle instead of Michael, or Louise instead of Louis.”
“Wrong.” Fred shakes his head. “Petros means a little rock, a pebble. Christ didn't build the Church on a pebble. He is the Rock, the petra, the big boulder the Church is built on.”
Of course, we do not confess this sort of straw-man defence, so there really is no point commenting on it.
You take a deep breath, calm your nerves a little, and continue. “Well, what would you say if I told you that even Protestant Greek scholars like D.A. Carson and Joseph Thayer admit there is no distinction in meaning between petros and petra in the Koine Greek of the New Testament? [Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 507; D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), vol. 8, 368.] As you pointed out, petra means a 'rock.' It even usually means a 'large rock.' And that's exactly what petros means, too — large rock. It does not mean 'pebble' or 'small stone,' as you've been told. The Greek word for 'pebble' or 'small stone' is lithos, not petros.
First, it is erroneous to call Joseph Thayer a "Protestant Greek scholar" since he was not Protestant at all, but Unitarian. Unitarianism is distinct from Christianity in that it denies the doctrine of the Trinity clearly taught in Scripture. Christ is regarded as supernatural, but certainly not God Himself in human flesh. For Mr. Staples to claim Thayer was Protestant is just as gross an error as saying Pope Benedict 16th is a five-point Calvinist. Be that as it may, despite Staples' error the Thayer Lexicon is definately a valuable tool to the biblical student. My own personal copy is an 1889 edition, and though quite valuable it is somewhat outdated. This is why most biblical students and scholars prefer the Bauer-Danker Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature over Thayer's.
Second, let's consider what Thayer actually said in his lexicon.
πέτρᾳ ...Mt. xvi. 18 [some interpp. regard the distinction (generally observed in classic Greek; see the Comm. and cf. Schmidt, Syn. ch 51, 4-6) between πέτρᾳ, the massive living rock, and πέτρος, a detached but large fragment, as important for the correct understanding of this passage; others explain the different genders here as due first to the personal then to the material reference. - Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, 1889 ed., p. 507, emphasis mine
Πέτρος (an appellative prop. name, signifying 'a stone', 'a rock', 'a ledge' or 'cliff'; used metaph. of a soul hard and unyielding, and so resembling a rock.................This is not the place to relate and refute the ecclesiastical traditions concerning Peter's being the founder of the church at Rome and bishop of it for twenty-five years and more; - Ibid, p. 508
Contrary to Mr. Staples' claims, Thayer does indeed distinguish between 'petras', the massive living rock, and 'petros', the detached but large fragment. Given this information it is easy for the casual reader to realize that Peter cannot be the 'masculine petras' Jesus intends to build His church upon. Therefore, the Roman claim fails.
But let us also consider what Carson says regarding the passage. From the Expositor's Bible Commentary:
18 And I tell you… : Weiss sees a contrast between Jesus and his Father, as if Jesus were saying, “Just as the Father revealed something to you and thereby honored you, so now I do the same.” But the formula is common enough in places without such a contrast, and this may be an unwarranted refinement. The words simply point to what is coming.
that you are Peter… : The underlying Aramaic kepa (“Cephas” in John 1:42; 1Cor 15:5; Gal 1:18 et al.) was an accepted name in Jesus’ day (see on 4:18). Though B.F. Meyer (pp. 186-87) insists that Jesus gave the name Cephas to Simon at this point, Jesus merely made a pun on the name (4:18; 10:2; Mark 3:16; John 1:42). Yet Meyer is right to draw attention to the “rock” motifs on which the name Cephas is based (pp. 185-86, 194-95), motifs related to the netherworld and the temple (and so connoting images of “gates of Hades” and “church”: see below.) The Greek Kephas (Eng. “Cephas”) transliterates the Aramaic, and Petros (“Peter”) is the closest Greek translation. P. Lampe’s argument (“Das Spiel mit dem Petrusnamen—Matt. xvi.18,” NTS 25 : 227-45) that both kepa and petros originally referred to a small “stone,” but not a “rock” (on which something could be built), until Christians extended the term to explain the riddle of Simon’s name is baseless. True, the Greekpetros commonly means “stone” in pre-Christian literature; but the Aramaickepa , which underlies the Greek, means “(massive) rock” (cf. H. Clavier, “Pe÷troß kai« pe÷tra,” Neutestamentliche Studien, ed. W. Eltester [Berlin: Alfred Topelmann, 1957], pp. 101-3).
and on this rock … “Rock” now becomes petra (feminine), and on the basis of the distinction between petros (above) and petra (here), many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Peter is a mere “stone,” it is alleged; but Jesus himself is the “rock,” as Peter himself attests (1 Peter 2:98) (so, among others, Lenski, Gander, Walvoord). Others adopt some other distinction: e.g., “upon this rock of revealed truth—the truth you have just confessed—I will build my church” (Allen). Yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretation, it is doubtful whether many would have taken “rock” to be anything or anyone other than Peter.
1. Although it is true that petros and petra can mean “stone” and “rock” respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. Moreover the underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and most probably kepa was used in both clauses (“you are kepa and on this kepa “), since the word was used both for a name and for a “rock.” The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name.
2. Paronomasia of various kinds is very common in the Bible and should not be belittled (cf. Barry J. Beitzel, “Exodus 3:14 and the Divine Name: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia,” Trinity Journal : 5-20; BDF, par. 488).
3. Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been lithos (“stone” of almost any size). Then there would have been no pun—and that is just the point!
4. The objection that Peter considers Jesus the rock is insubstantial because metaphors are commonly used variously, till they become stereotyped, and sometimes even then. Here Jesus builds his church; in 1 Corinthians 3:10, Paul is “an expert builder.” In 1 Corinthians 3:11, Jesus is the church’s foundation; in Ephesians 2:19-20, the apostles and prophets are the foundation (cf. also Rev 21:14), and Jesus is the “cornerstone.” Here Peter has the keys; in Revelation 1:18; 3:7, Jesus has the keys. In John 9:5, Jesus is “the light of the world”; in Matthew 5:14, his disciples are. None of these pairs threatens Jesus’ uniqueness. They simply show how metaphors must be interpreted primarily with reference to their immediate contexts.
5. In this passage Jesus is the builder of the church and it would be a strange mixture of metaphors that also sees him within the same clauses as its foundation.
None of this requires that conservative Roman Catholic views be endorsed (for examples of such views, cf. Lagrange, Sabourin). The text says nothing about Peter’s successors, infallibility, or exclusive authority. These late interpretations entail insuperable exegetical and historical problems—e.g., after Peter’s death, his “successor” would have authority over a surviving apostle, John. What the NT does show is that Peter is the first to make this formal confession and that his prominence continues in the earliest years of the church (Acts 1-12). But he, along with John, can be sent by other apostles (Acts 8:14); and he is held accountable for his actions by the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:1-18) and rebuked by Paul (Gal 2:11-14). He is, in short, primus inter pares (“first among equals”); and on the foundation of such men (Eph 2:20), Jesus built his church. That is precisely why Jesus, toward the close of his earthly ministry spent so much time with them. The honor was not earned but stemmed from divine revelation (v.17) and Jesus’ building work (v.18). - emphasis mine
While Carson allows for Peter to be the rock which Christ builds His church, he makes perfectly plain and obvious that this in no way whatsoever bolsters Roman Catholic claims to Peter being the first Pope. In fact, Peter isn't even the sole foundation! When taken as a whole, the New Testament does not so much as even hint at any supremacy supposedly given to Peter. The Greek Orthodox Churches hailed the Bishop of Rome as primus inter pares, first among equals, because of the (historically inaccurate) tradition that Peter founded the church in Rome. However, these same Orthodox Churches will in the exact same breath point out that they do not in any way shape or form regard the Bishop of Rome as Supreme, Universal Bishop, Head of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. They will, by use of Scripture and history, prove with ease that early Christianity never heard of the Papacy nor operated under one Universal Bishop as Roman Catholic churches do today.
With these citations quoted in context, it becomes clear why Mr. Staples refused to actually quote them.
“In Matthew 4:3,” you continue, “the devil cajoles Jesus to perform a miracle and transform some stones, lithoi, the Greek plural for lithos, into bread. In John 10:31, certain Jews pick up stones, lithoi, to stone Jesus with. In 1 Peter 2:5, St. Peter describes Christians as 'living stones,' lithoi, which form a spiritual house. If St. Matthew had wanted to draw a distinction between a big rock and a little rock in Matthew 16:17-19, he could have by using lithos, but he didn't. The rock is St. Peter!”
Indeed, 'lithos' does mean 'small stone', but as we have seen from the previous citations this doesn't present any issues whatever for the Protestant. The detached boulder is Peter, the rock itself is Christ.
Wilma, the VP of finance and a member of your parish has a thought, “Fred, how do you explain the fact that Jesus addresses St. Peter directly seven times in this short passage? It doesn't make sense that He would address everything to St. Peter and then say, 'By the way, I'm building the Church on Me.' The context seems pretty clear that Jesus gave authority to St. Peter, naming him the rock.”
The exact number of times a person is mentioned means absolutely nothing. In fact, the Apostle Paul is mentioned more than Peter in the books of Acts! The New Testament epistles are penned mostly by Paul, with only two short letters by Peter. Most of the thick of Christian doctrine comes from Paul's quill rather than Peter's. Wouldn't it make sense that the meat of doctrine should come from Peter rather than Paul or any other Apostle, that is, if Peter were truly the first Pope?
Fred shakes his head. “I don't think so. And even if petros and petra mean the same thing, Jesus surely made the distinction with His hand gestures or tone of voice when He said, 'You are rock, and on this rock I will build My Church.' “
Betty, another young Catholic in the group, chimes in. “I don't think it's much use to conjecture about what Jesus' hand gestures or voice intonations might have been, since we can't know what they were. And doesn't that kind of speculation contradict your belief in the 'Bible alone' theory? Anyway, speculation aside, we do know that Jesus definitely said, 'You are rock, and on this rock I will build My Church.' Going from the text alone, His meaning seems crystal-clear to me.”
Staples' portrayal of the Protestant objection is just plain insulting. No Protestant who is serious about his biblical knowledge would ever use this 'argument' against Rome. I believe it speaks for itself regarding Mr. Staples' attempts at any sort of Protestant/Catholic dialogue.
You notice several heads nodding in agreement. Fred's isn't one of them. “But getting back to the Greek, Fred,” you say, “notice Matthew used the demonstrative pronoun taute, which means 'this very,' when he referred to the rock on which the Church would be built: 'You are Peter, and on taute petra,' this very rock, 'I will build My Church.'
“Also, when a demonstrative pronoun is used with the Greek word for 'and,' which is 'kai,' the pronoun refers back to the preceding noun. In other words, when Jesus says, 'You are rock, and on this rock I will build My Church,' the second rock He refers to has to be the same rock as the first one. Peter is the rock in both cases.
“Jesus could have gotten around it if He'd wanted to. He didn't have to say, 'And,' kai, 'on this rock I will build My Church.' He could've said, 'But,' alla, 'on this rock I will build My Church,' meaning another rock. He would have then had to explain who or what this other rock was. But He didn't do that.”
Let us recall Dr. White's observations regarding this:
The issue is, to what does tau,th| refer? As a pronoun, it has an antecedent, a referent that it is pointing back to. Rome insists the referent is Peter.* But if it is, why use a demonstrative pronoun at all? Jesus has used two personal pronouns of Peter already in this sentence, soi and su,. He could have easily said, "and upon you the rock," (evpi. se, or evpi. soi, th/| pe,tra). But again, He didn’t. Instead, he switches from direct address to the demonstrative "this." I have expressed this, in non-technical language, as going from second person, "you, Peter," to third person, "this rock." "This rock" is referring to something other than the person who was being addressed in the preceding phrase, something that we find in the immediate context. A natural reading of the passage (one that I truly believe would be nigh unto universal if history had not fallen out as it did, with only one "apostolic see" in the West, the continuance of the Empire in the East, etc.) makes it plain what must function as the antecedent of the demonstrative pronoun:
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Fred flips through his Bible. “God says in Isaiah 44:8, 'And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.' And 1 Corinthians 10:4 says, 'And all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.' See? These passages tell us Peter could not have been the rock of Matthew 16:17-19. Only God — Christ — is a rock.”
“That's a good point,” you say. “Yes, God is called 'rock' in Isaiah 44:8 and elsewhere. But notice that just seven chapters later in Isaiah 51:1-2, God Himself calls Abraham the rock from which Israel was hewn. Is this a contradiction? No. Jesus is the one foundation of the Church in 1 Corinthians 3:11, but in Revelation 21:14 and Ephesians 2:20, we're told that the Apostles are the foundation of the Church. Jesus said He is the light of the world in John 9:5, but the Bible also says in Matthew 5:14 that Christians are the light of the world. Jesus is our 'one teacher' in Matthew 23:8, yet in Ephesians 4:11 and James 3:1, it says 'there are many teachers' in the Body of Christ.
“Are these contradictions? Of course not. The Apostles can be the foundation of the Church because they are in Christ, the one Foundation. The Church can be the light of the world because she is in the true Light of the world. A teacher can teach because he is in the one true Teacher, Christ. In the same way, St. Peter is indeed the rock of Matthew 16, and that doesn't detract from Christ being the rock of 1 Corinthians 10:4. St. Peter's 'rock-ness' is derived from Christ.
Indeed sometimes titles used of God and Christ are given to patriarchs and disciples. This in and of itself is not the issue and is a clear attempt to dodge the real problem at hand. That problem being that neither in Rev. 21:4 or Eph. 2:20 is Peter even hinted at being the Head of the Apostles. Roman Catholics read late interpretations into the text which simply are not there. To read any text in context means the reader must allow the author to define his own terms and words and allow the author's thoughts and points to be completely and readily understood through the text itself. As Carson noted, Peter was held accountable to the church instead of being its sovereign head.
“Aside from everything we said earlier about the Greek,” you continue, “there's an even stronger case that can be made for Christ meaning Peter was the rock on which He would build His Church. When Jesus gave Simon the name 'Rock,' we know it was originally given in Aramaic, a sister language of Hebrew, and the language that Jesus and the Apostles spoke. And the Aramaic word for 'rock' iskepha. This was transliterated in Greek as Cephas or Kephas, and translated as Petros. In Aramaic, nouns do not have gender as they do in Greek, so Jesus actually said, and St. Matthew first recorded, 'You are Kephas and on this kephas I will build My Church.' Clearly the same rock both times. “And just as Greek has a word for 'small stone,' lithos, so does Aramaic. That word is evna. But Jesus did not change Simon's name to Evna, He named him Kephas, which translates as Petros, and means a large rock.”
“No way,” Fred shakes his head. “There's no evidence in Scripture that Christ spoke in Aramaic or originally gave Simon the name 'Kephas.' All we have to go on is the Greek, and the Greek says Simon was called Petros, a little stone.”
All of this is very true, but, as we have already pointed out, this makes no doctrinal impact at all for the Protestant. In fact, the Roman Catholic must misinterpret the passage in order to fit their late dogmas into Scripture. Of course, Staples makes our Fred look arrogant and ignorant, which again is simply insulting.
“Actually, Fred, you're mistaken on both counts. The second point we've already discussed, and as far as your first point, well, take a look at John 1:42. 'Jesus looked at [Simon] and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).' See? St. John knew that the original form of the name was Kephas, large rock, and he translated it into Greek as Petros, or Peter.” Just then, your watch beeps 1:00, signaling the end of your lunch hour. You close in a quick prayer, then grab a Catholic apologetics tract from inside your Bible and catch Fred on his way out. “Hey, Fred,” you smile warmly. “I really appreciate your input in this group, and I'm glad you've joined us. You're going to add a great new dimension to the group. Welcome!” You extend your hand to shake his. Fred shakes politely, but you can see on his face that he's not pleased with the way the day's discussion went. But he's a good sport and he promises to be back tomorrow for “round two,” as he calls it.
On the way out, you hand him the apologetics tract and smile inwardly at the odd look he gives you as he slips it into his Bible. He's clearly not used to being on the receiving end of a tract, especially not one that's handed to him by a Catholic.
I realize that this short work is that of an amateur responding to a professional Roman apologist, but I do believe the facts contained herein with their context fully considered will allow the reader to compare posts and ponder the information provided.
In short, we may summarize that 'petros' means boulder or large detached piece of rock, whereas 'petras' means massive rock, and is therefore distinct. We may also conclude that though Christ builds His church on all the Apostles, Peter's primacy is no way equal to Popish supremacy. The earliest documents of the Christian church, the New Testament, do not hint at such a supremacy. But suppose Peter held such a supremacy, this still does not account for his supposed successors, the bishops of Rome. The Bible is completely silent regarding Peter's successors, and their invented infallibility cannot be sustained through scriptural references.
Once again, I believe the facts speak plainly for themselves.