Question: Is Peter the rock Jesus built His church on?
Peter was singled out by the Lord to be the rock upon which He would build His church. The fisherman's first sermon was the net Jesus used to catch three thousand souls in one day launching the church into history. In addition to this amazing achievement Peter was also symbolic of the apostolic ministry that would be the foundation of the Christian church.
The claim that Peter is the rock that Jesus built His church upon is disputed by some. Jesus' statement, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18), is taken to mean that in some way Jesus was actually referring to Himself as the rock, because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the foundation upon which the church is built - For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (I cor. 3:11). This has caused many theologians to engage in some elaborate theological acrobatics to explain why Peter cannot be the rock that Jesus is referring to, yet the passage in question is clearly speaking about Peter.
In Matthew sixteen, verse fifteen the disciples are asked by the Lord, "Who do you say that I am?"
Peter responds, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16).
And Jesus replies, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to You, but My Father which is in Heaven" (Matt. 16:17). This statement is the key to understanding this passage.
Peter had received a direct revelation from God, which was a prelude to his calling as an apostle. In recognition of Peter's budding apostleship, Jesus tells him that he will be the rock upon which He would build His church. Here Peter is symbolic of the Holy Spirit filled apostolic ministry that Jesus would build His church upon through direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. To confirm this, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are - "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20).
We are shown a symbolic portrait of the church and her foundations in Revelation chapter twenty-one, verse fourteen - "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." So we conclude that the rock is the ministry of the apostles of which Peter is the symbolic representative.
The Old Testament was founded upon the Scriptures that were given to Moses and the prophets by a direct revelation from God. The New Testament Scriptures were also initiated by direct revelation from God to his Holy Apostles. In turn their revelations were also founded upon the Torah and the prophets; the word of God being the source of the revelations, as God's plan of redemption is the purpose of the New Testament Scriptures.
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