The Rock? What and Who
One simple, startling fact suffices here.
Matthew 16:18: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church."
Protestants, when evangelizing for their cause almost always refer to this verse, saying that Catholic have it wrong because supposedly we don't know any Greek, which is irrelevant, but they do not understand this.
So they like to say something like this: "To understand Matthew 16:18, we have to go behind the English to the Greek. In Greek rock is petra but Christ named Simon petros, a small stone." Then they add that the big rock petra is Christ Himself.
The response to this incomplete declaration is that while we must go to the Greek, we must also look to the Aramaic, something they rarely bring up; either they were not trained to, and with good reason, for it shoots holes in their arguments, or because if sincerely taught, it never occurred to them.
Aramaic was the language Jesus and the Apostles and all the Jews in Palestine spoke. It was the common language of the time there. Although the more educated of them were familiar with Greek, the main language of discourse and commerce at the time. And while most of the New Testament was written in Greek for this reason, the very interesting thing is that St. Matthew's Gospel was not----it was written in Aramaic. St. Matthew's primary purpose was to evangelize the Jewish people, whose every day language was Aramaic, not Greek.
It is a certainty that Jesus spoke Aramaic because some of His words are preserved for us in the Gospels. In Matthew 27:46 He says from the Cross, 'Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani.' Aramaic meaning, 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?'
Moreover, In St. Paul, 4 times in Galatians and 4 again in 1 Corinthians we find the Aramaic of Simon's new name. In English Bibles it reads Cephas, which is not a Greek word, but a transliteration of the Aramaic word Kepha. Kepha means a large massive rock the same as petra. So we know it does not signify a small pebble or stone. The Aramaic for pebble is evna. So literally Christ was telling Peter that he was Kepha a large stone or massive boulder a precise equation not a contrast or comparison as Protestants tell us. There is some irony here because most of the Protestants who use this passage of St. Matthew so interpretively also tell us they are fundamentalists, that the Scripture is their only source and it is to be taken literally. That is, unless it becomes inconvenient for those who are not seeking the truth and shield this from their followers.
One caution here. If a naysayer rejoins with "Why did not Jesus just say so, then?" The answer is because He could not and be authentic with language. Remember He is the Word. Words mean very specific things to the very Word Itself. Greek and Aramaic do not have identical grammatical structures. You see, in Aramaic you can use the word for rock for both genders, but in Greek you cannot, but distinct changes in endings of nouns for masculine, feminine and neuter. In Jesus' time you did not give a man a woman's name. In fact if Jesus had wanted to name Simon a small stone in Greek, he would literally have used lithos, from which we get the English word lithography.
Now, this isn't a perfect explanation because transliteration is necessary since the languages are so different, but it is the most precise we have given what we know from Biblical scholars who do not have an axe to grind. An honest apologist from a non-Catholic sect should at least pause here to reconsider his long-held belief about the Papacy.
FORWARD FOR THE PRIMACY OF PETER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.