Keys to the Kingdom

Every so often I get in this conversation about Peter being the first Pope and being given the keys to the kingdom. I’m not Catholic.  But I’m not anti Catholic.  I think they have some, interesting, takes on things, but I can defend many of their theological positions as well.  Considering I grew up SBC, I think I can make a claim that I’ve reached out to make efforts at understanding their faith better.

When I reached out on this Keys to the Kingdom topic, I found some interesting arguments in scripture to give me what I think to this point, to be a better conclusion.  I know the  Church of Rome’s positions and arguments well enough.  I don’t need to have them repeated back at me especially since all that will do is speak in contradiction to my arguments.  I am interested in my positions being attacked directly.  Being shown how I’m wrong, is how I can learn.  Whether I learn one more objection to answer, of I am shown the argument that makes me change my views again, I can’t lose.

I’ll start with a few questions I get from the script itself then present some analysis, finally corroborating with Peter’s comments on the topic from other books.  


Mat 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
1)  Who is Jesus addressing?

2)  The Son of Man identifies what, exactly?

Mat 16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

1)  WHO responded?

2)  Can we agree that’s verifying it wasn’t Peter alone?

Mat 16:15 He [!] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
1)  Still speaking to them all.

2)  Peter answered for them.

Mat 16:17 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.
Mat 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

1) Jesus addressed peter, you are (little rock)

2) upoin this BIGGER ROCK the church will be built.

3) My question for you, is what/who is the bigger rock here?

Mat 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven

1)  Who is Jesus addressing here, Peter?  Or did he go back to the disciples after Peter’s little interruption/answer?  

2)  It would be reasonable, would it not, to assume Jesus was addressing the disciples?  Peter spoke for the group; (peter was always wanting Christ’s attention…see after the rich young ruler conversation) Jesus acknowledged the answer; then Jesus went back to addressing the group as THAT WAS WHO THE MESSAGE WAS FOR.

3)  The visual would be that of a teacher panning his eyes across the lecture hall, asking a question.  One person gives an answer, so the teacher addresses the one giving the answer, then goes back to panning the whole of the lecture hall with the rest of the lesson.

The conversation seems to flow like this—

Jesus addresses the Disciples.

“Who do the people say I am?” (I would assume several gave answers and they are summarized here.

His answer was, “John, Jeremiah, Elijah, some other prophet.”

Jesus asked the group, “but who do you think I am.”

Remember the old sit-com Welcome Back Mr. Kotter?  Peter, like Horshack, speaks first for the group, “the Christ, Son of the Living God!”

I can easily see a teacher identifying what Peter did, and being amused and proud at the same time, and gives Peter a little ribbing.

“Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, because God gave you that awareness, not yourself.  I will name you Little Rock, and upon this Bigger Rock I will build my church.   Peter’s name here, means a stone, pebble, rock smaller than a boulder.  The rock Jesus is going to build His church on is a larger rock, boulder size.  This is my understanding of Petros and Petra, the words used for Peter/Rock here.  Where we in America see Peter as an ordinary name, it would be easier for us if we thought of Peter being addressed not by the transliteration of his name, but by what his name meant.  Like Rocky Balboa, or Rock Hudson, Jesus called Simon, “ROCK”.   The bigger rock, would be like a cornerstone, the main support stone of a house or castle.  

The focus of the conversation is on Who Jesus was.  Jesus acknowledged Himself as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. 

Now, I have to ask, if you choose a cornerstone for the Church to be built upon, which is more important for its success, Peter, or that Christ is the Christ, Son of the Living God?  Which one could we best do without?

I see Jesus as saying the answer Peter gave Him is the bigger rock, and Peter, a granted large player in the church’s development, being ribbed as the little rock, as Peter is the lesser need here.  Without Peter, we have James, John, Barnabas, any number of people that could fill that role.  Without Christ, you have a bunch of rebellious teen-age boys getting in trouble.  

Jesus is giving the keys to the Church, which at this point is the disciples, not just Peter.  Between vs 18 and 19, Jesus gaze would have moved from Peter who answered Him, back to the whole of the Church, His disciples.  THEY were charged with delivering the Great Commission.  

Now, for our RCC friends, their view is of course uniform across their whole faith as the Church interprets the Bible’s meaning. 

I would ask a member of the Church of Rome, if you believe Peter was THE ONE, when it comes to the disciples, and that as a result he prone to lots of wisdom, then please accept his view on the topic.  In Acts, early, we see Paul describing Jesus as the STONE.  Now the stone described here is a different word in Greek than the word for Rock.  However the context of bigger rock and cornerstone are still congruent.  

Act 4:10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
Act 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

It certainly seems to me that PETER acknowledges Christ as the cornerstone the Church was built upon.  Peter certainly seems to make the bigger rock of the church CHRIST, and not himself.

I think when you ask what the stone is the church was built upon the answer is obvious. 

Another place attributed to Peter says…..

1Pe 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
1Pe 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,”
1Pe 2:8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
1Pe 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1Pe 2:10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

The concept of Christ is the BIG rock and Peter is one of the little rocks ABSOLUTELY fits into this commentary. This passage represents Christ as the larger part.

Now, one of the arguments is, Christ spoke to His disciples in Aramaic, and in Aramaic the word would be Kepha meaning stone or rock in both places where in Greek you see the two different terms, Petros, and Petra/little rock-big rock.

16:18  κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς

Mat 16:18       “I also say to you that you are (little rock) Peter, and upon this (bigger rock) rock (Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God)I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

I would ask, how do we presume to know what language the Christ addressed his people in?  The business language for the area would have been Greek or Roman.  The Septuagint was written in Greek, and was most likely the Bible they read from.  I am not aware of an older text in Aramaic than there is in Greek.  

And if there was, or it is, would be inconclusive. The people reading the Peshitta way back when, may full well have caught onto the pun without the different words.  All this KEPHA argument does is allow a reason to find acceptance in Aramaic stone, over Greek little rock and big rock.  

I think the more compelling evidence comes from the mouth of Peter himself, where repeatedly he refers to Christ as the big rock, contextually.

Therefore my conclusion is, Peter is not the rock the Church is built upon. Christ is the Son of the Living God, is the stone the church is built upon.  Peter is but a sub part, a smaller stone of that cornerstone.

The keys went to the church, which at this time consisted of the disciples only.  That was who Christ addressed during the conversation, with the side bar interruption from Peter.  And I think that would make sense as shortly after this meeting, Disciples scattered in different directions establishing churches.  Turkey, Ethiopia, Edessa, etc… etc… etc…  Each of them was a smaller stone, and part of the cornerstone.  And each of them established the Church outside of Peter’s influence.  Which speaks poorly for Peter being the leader from the get go.

Another compelling argument that Peter wasn’t the leader from early/time of that conversation with Christ, would be his role in the Council of Jerusalem.  The disciples came back and argued about how the Gentiles were with the Spirit and were accepted by God, and what should they do.  Barnabas and Paul made their comments, Peter spoke up and gave a big statement, Paul and Barnabas continued with examples of what they witnessed and then JAMES the Bishop of Jerusalem ruled over the matter.   Jerusalem was the center of the church at this time, and is the root of where all the other parts of the church branched off from.  

I find any claims that Peter led the Church from the conversation with Christ regarding the keys, to be a reach, as well as him holding the keys.  Those keys were shared with all the church plant’s leaders, in all directions from Jerusalem.  


5 comments on “Keys to the Kingdom

  1. plumber says:

    An enjoyable read. I agree with your interpretation of scripture here.

  2. Well, I’m not at all accustomed to that response. TY for your encouragement. 🙂

  3. plumber says:

    I liked your analogy/comparison of the lecture hall though I haven’t had college experience but it was cool.
    I have also believed from my beginning point that the RCC interpretation was a political interpretation designed to justify a power structure. My first thoughts early on were that Christ intentionally chose working class stiffs to lead HIS church because HE never wanted our relationship with God to be stolen again by an elite priesthood. Jesus was a correction, not a new religion. Jesus was trying to straighten out the mess that the Levitical priesthood had created be they Sadducees or Pharisees or whoever. Jesus was condemning the Pharisees for creating so many impossible hoops for people to jump through that it alienated all but a few from God. Matthew 23 is a good read.
    Paul says some pretty cool stuff in 2 Thessalonians 3. He points out that he always worked. It’s easy for me to say in 2013 that Paul definitely deserved to be supported and maybe he knew that also but he made a point of working for a living while teaching at the same time. He was not a burden financially on anyone.
    Once one is totally supported and their financial needs are met, after a while it gets hard to want to go back to working. You have created a paid position as a leader and might not be willing to give that up. This is the beginning of an elite priesthood. The tribe of Levi owned no property and all their needs were to be met through offerings.
    I know nothing of early church history or the development of the RCC so I can only speak my unsupported thoughts on my comparison of the Levitical priesthood and the RCC but to me it is obvious. The RCC is a political fattened cow that is bloated with corruption. Protestantism is not immune to this corruption either. The desire for power is similar to the flu in that it plays no favorites. It is an impartial disease that corrupts all but the strongest and purest of hearts.
    In 1 Samuel 2:12- 1 thru 1 Samuel 3:15 is the story of Eli and his two sons along with the calling of Samuel. It’s a personal favorite but from these verses I would propose a comparison between Eli and his sons with the RCC and the reformation. Eli is the Pope and his sons are the Bishops, priests etc of the RCC corporate structure.
    I extend the comparison through today based upon the way that the RCC from the pope on down have handled the issue of pedophilia within the church. This is not homophobia on my part or a gay rights issue; it is CHILD ABUSE.
    In Matthew 19:13-15, Matthew 18:1-10 Jesus speaks clearly. Now some may wish to say that “children” is not literal but are not children believers also? So for me, when an RCC member speaks of the “one church or true church” or however they want to phrase it, I am repulsed. They disgust me. I want to scream Matthew 7:4-5 at them.

  4. Ok, I understand where you are coming from, except in Eph 4 Paul describes the Church nearly exactly as it’s set up today.
    And Clement around 100 AD/CE described it as it is now, and Clement lived at a time the last Apostle lived, as well as probably was the Clement mentioned by Paul and thus heard Paul, Peter, and Barnabas preach some and set up the Church.

    So, I’m not sure the Priesthood is out, although I can’t defend Rome personally.

    Also, remember Christ’s Church is to be set up in the order of the Priesthood of Melchizedek. Mel was high priest, so he obviously had lower priests for him to be a high priest to God Most High.

    Just some thoughts for you…

  5. plumber says:

    Sadly, what you say about church structure is true. If the leadership was of the same cloth as Melchizedek the current mess may not exist. By “mess” I’m referring to RCC, Prot and all the various divisions in existence today.
    Child abuse is a personal issue for me. It has affected my life through personal experience and marriage. It is the one topic that never gets mentioned by RCC or Prot.. So when an RCC member babbles about “theirs is the true church” I tend to come unglued.
    The RCC has only covered up their problem with bribes to the individual and/or families and the use of legal letters of non-disclosure. To make matters worse, they hide their priests behind the veil of confession and then send that same wolf back into the same flock of sheep to continue leading lambs to the slaughter. If the flock notices too many damaged lambs and they begin to rebel, the RCC just sends the wolf to another flock of unsuspecting sheep in a different pasture. This is a degree or level of perversion that I am incapable of grasping or understanding.
    I understand the sanctity of confession but this sick good ole boys club abuses the privilege at the expense of the very people they have sworn to Christ to love, protect and lead. Take the wolves confession but lock that bastard up in a monastery atop the highest mountain on some island located in shark infested waters where there are NO children.
    My position is simple. RCC leaders (and all church leaders of any denomination) have an obligation to the sheep first. John 21:15-17. RCC leadership has failed miserably to fulfill this obligation for fear of losing their elite priest status. Their desire for self-preservation has destroyed countless lives of innocent children who were and are unable to defend themselves from the very people that they should have been able to count on as defenders. Denial of knowledge is not remotely plausible for any senior member of RCC leadership past or present. Denial of knowledge is not plausible for any lay member of the RCC today. The RCC is an on going criminal organization and the silence of lay person’s is aiding and abetting this criminal organization. To all RCC lay person members, Matt 7:4-5!
    Once love is destroyed and that destruction is repeated often enough and long enough the results are devastating. Love becomes a four letter word. 1 Cor 13 sounds nice but is not true. The day came when I had to tell Christ that I like HIM but I don’t love HIM or anything, myself included. His summation of the Ten Commandments is impossible for me. I try to obey but is obedience the same as love? It doesn’t feel the same.
    I darken no church doorway. I reject any brotherly kisses and hugs. I am a sojourner who belongs to no group or organization. I have a bible and nothing else. I trust no mans interpretation of scripture.
    I know most of my sins and will confess to no man. I feel as if I am the exception, Heaven is for others. I have this earthly life, nothing more, to spend with God reading HIS word, telling HIM when I don’t understand and then waiting for answers. Some answers are given soon, others later and some are withheld. Whatever is withheld is that which I’m not ready for now or don’t need to know now.
    My intent is not to change your thoughts or positions. If any of my thoughts influence you one way or another that’s cool but again, not necessarily my intent. The result of abuse creates a personal dilemma for me. I know that I am in direct conflict with Christ in the matter of fellowship and that I’m the one who adamantly refuses to budge an inch. It’s not a comfortable place. Jumping from planes and helicopters was much easier.
    Sorry for the rant.

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