1. The Primacy of Peter, the "Rock"
SLIGHTLY MORE SCHOLARLY EXPLANATION
Change in Name----Change in Mission
In order to put Saint Peter's authority and primacy in perspective we need to review the archtypes in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New, for instance: Jesus is the new Adam; Mary is the new Eve. The Old Testament is full of our Lord typed in various ways with characterizing names. Christ as "Lord" appears in many passages in the Old Testament. Nebuchadnezzar sees one like the Son of God in the fiery furnace [Daniel 3:25]. Likewise, God designates certain of His followers to assume new duties in the kingdom of God, for which He assigns them new names. Abram's name was changed to" Abraham"; Jacob to "Israel"; Simon to "Peter." Let us examine this further:
[Genesis 17:5] "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."
What did God do for Abram? He changed his name. Why? By changing Abram's name, there was a change in his role and assignment in God's plan, from shepherd to founder of the Jewish nation. In Hebrew, Abram means "exalted father," and Abraham is rendered as "chief of the multitude."
[Genesis 32:28] "And He said, thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
Why is Jacob's name changed? God is calling Jacob to be the founder of the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundation of genealogy by Israel [Heb. "who prevails with God"].
[Psalms 17:2] The LORD [is] my rock [sur], and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in Whom I will trust; my protector, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower.
Just as we find meaning in the importance of designating one as the "rock" in one sense or another, we may also look what are called "metaphorical parallels" in Scripture. A preliminary phrase is repeated a second time in a strong metaphorical sense in juxtaposition with and reinforcing the imagery of the other. One example:
[Isaiah 51:1] "Give ear to Me, you that follow that which is just, and you that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence you are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you are dug out."
[51:2] "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bore you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and multiplied him."
The plain meaning: All of you who seek the Lord, look unto the rock. All of you who seek the Lord, look unto the man whom God names as the "rock," the recipient of the metaphor. "Look unto" is repeated before each of the phrases in order that no doubt may be entertained as to who is the metaphorical rock, Abraham.
Jewish rabbinical writings identify Abraham to be the rock in Isaiah 51:1-2.
Also, some Protestant scholars grant Abraham the dignity of being designated rock:
"Abraham is spoken of as 'the Rock from which you were hewn.' (Is. 51:1)" D. Guthrie and others, The New Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1953) [reprinted by Inter-Varsity Press], 837.
Does the identification of Abraham as rock diminish in any way the status of God as rock? No. God's making Abraham "Rock" (Heb. sur) did not, and could not, usurp His Own position as "Rock." This is so because Abraham's new role and authority is conferred by, and derives from, the One Who has full and ultimate authority. God and Abraham are not in competition; their positions are complementary. God the creator is "Rock" [sur] in an ultimate sense; Abraham is made "Rock" [sur] of Israel by God.
From David H. Stern, a Messianic Jewish scholar:
"The word 'petra' appears as a loanword in Hebrew in a most interesting context. Yalkut Shim'oni, an anthology of midrashim on the Hebrew Bible from the Middle Ages, has in it this passage:
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), 54.
Revelation 21 : 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
On whom is Christ building the foundations in Revelation 21: 14? The Apostles. The apostolic foundation of the Church consists of the original twelve Apostles (Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James of Cleopheas, Simon the Zealot, Jude Thaddeus, and Judas Iscariot); after Judas Iscariot committed suicide rather than ask forgiveness for betraying Jesus, Matthias was selected by the remaining eleven, according to Divine lot, after the ascension
of Jesus Christ into Heaven.
Is Paul an apostle? Yes, according to 1 Corinthians 1:1.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
Is Paul one of the original twelve Apostles? No, according to the list of the disciples set forth in Acts 1: 13, 26.
John 1 :41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
1 :42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas.
The Apostle Simon's name was changed to Peter in Matthew 16:18. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus addresses Simon and says that he shall be called "Cephas."
The full import of this name change will unfold as we look into the meanings of these words "Peter" and "Cephas." An early sign that Peter's role in the New Testament will be somehow different is derived from Jesus changing Simon's name to Peter, a significance not lost on the early Church.
What is Christ prophesying regarding Simon in John 1:42? That Simon (Greek Simon; from Heb. simon meaning "God has heard") will become Cephas [Eng. transliteration of the Gr. Kephas; from Aramaic word kepha meaning "rock"]. Interpreting this passage in the context of it prophetic utterance, one Catholic commentator has written:
"'You shall be called 'Cephas': naming something is the same as taking possession of the thing named (cf. Gen 17:5; 22:28; 32:28; Is 62:2). Thus, for example, Adam when he was made lord of creation, gave names to created things (Gen 2:20). 'Cephas' is the Greek transcription of an Aramaic word meaning stone, rock: therefore, St. John, writing in Greek, has to explain the meaning of the word Jesus used. Cephas was not a proper name, but our Lord put it on Peter to indicate his role as his vicar, which he will later on reveal (Mt 16: 16-18): Simon was destined to be the stone, the rock, of the Church." Jose Maria Casciaro and others, eds., The Navarre Bible: The Gospel of Saint John, (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1992), 57.
In the Appendix of this book is an investigation of Aramaic as the original written language of the book of Matthew.
The Rock of Matthew 16:18
Matthew 16: 13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? [Cf. Daniel 7:13.]
16:14 And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
16: 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16: 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son ot the living God. [Peter recognized Jesus as priest, prophet and king. Contrast, John 1 :49, wherein Nathaniel recognized Jesus as king only.]
16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven.
16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [sur, kepha, petros], and upon this rock [sur, kepha, petra] I will build My Church; and the gates ot Hell shall not prevail against it. [Cf. Daniel 7:13-14; 2 Samuel 7:11-14.]
16: 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.
Jesus favoredspecial physical settings for making signifying hallmarks of His ministry, as evidenced by the Sermon on the Mount, Jacob's Well in Samaria, Mt. Horeb for the Transfiguration, and Jerusalem.
Where were Jesus and the Apostles when Jesus asked His disciples Who He was? They were in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, "the area of the headwaters of the Jordan, the sacred river that stopped flowing so that the ark [of the covenant] could be carried dry-shod into the promised land. ... Standing at a distance, Jesus and the Twelve must have been impressed by the massive wall of rock rising over the source of the Jordan. Here was a sacred river taking its origin through an opening in a massive wall of rock, an opening which could evoke the wide-open jaws of death----both spiritual and physical death. In this magnificient setting Jesus spoke to Simon: 'You are Rock and on this rock I will build My Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.' To echo such words : called for a wall of rock." S. L. Jaki, And On This Rock, 2nd
ed., (Manassas, VA: Trinity, 1987),78-79.
This last paragraph alone ought to suffice not only in metaphorical imagery whereby truth is revealed so powerfully, but through the significance of the setting itself, without words, for a person of faith seeking the true Faith, to recognize at last that Peter is the Vicar of Christ with primacy in the Church and full authority and that his successors receive the same. The ark is metaphorical, too. First the ark of Noah and the covenant that followed after the deluge. Recall that Noah was the primate to whom had been granted the safety of the world; he proclaimed the ark of safety to all but few heeded his word. Those who rejected it, perished. The Church is called the Barque [Bark] of Peter for good reason, for without Peter there is no assurance of safety or the ship of salvation. Just as Noah had a covenant with God, so Peter one with Christ and it is until the end of the world. And how can we be sure? Because after the last battle between Good and Evil, between Christ and Antichrist, Satan and his minions will no longer be able to threaten anyone ever again, the gates of Hell cannot prevail at all. But until that time they can, so Christ promised His assurance of Divine protection.
FORWARD FOR THE ROCK IN GREEK AND ARAMAIC.