Monday, September 04, 2006

Protestant Scholars on Mt 16:16-19

Mt 16:16-19
16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 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.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter (Pevtro├č, or "petros"), and on this rock (pevtra, or "petra") I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
19 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."


One thing I have found in my debates on the authority of Peter in Mt 16:16-19 is an underlying bias regarding this passage, the reason being that Catholics use it so often to affirm something that Protestants do not believe in. The Protestant feels that only a Catholic could make the claims that we make regarding this passage, and so, for the very fact that he is a Protestant, he must disagree with all of them. In counteracting this bias, it is helpful to show that many reputable Protestant Bible scholars have made the claims that form the basis for our belief in Peter's authority, lacking only the willingness to take these claims to their logical conclusion.

The "claims" in question are the following:
  • There is no distinction in meaning between "petros" and "petra."
  • Two different Greek words are used because you can't use a feminine noun for a man's name.
  • "This rock" refers to Peter.
  • The identity of the rock ("petra") is affirmed by the Aramaic that Jesus was speaking.
  • The keys symbolize authority over the house.
  • Peter's position is like that of the steward in Isa 22.
Once a Protestant realizes that the very scholars and Bible commentaries he uses to understand Scripture in fact affirm, in various places, all 6 of the above claims, my hope is that he will be more apt to remove his bias regarding this passage and affirm these statements himself. Once that happens, it is the task of the Catholic to show how these 6 statements, as well as other verses in the Bible, can rightly lead one to affirm the authority of Peter and of his successors.

Protestant Scholars on Mt 16:16-19 [1]

1. There is no distinction between "petros" and "petra."
  • "In Aramaic 'Peter' and Rock are the same word; in Greek (here), they are cognate terms that were used interchangeably by this period." --Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, (Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 90.
  • "Although it is true that petros and petra can mean 'stone' and 'rock' respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry." --Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Volume 8 (Matthew, Mark, Luke), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 368.
  • "Many insist on the distinction between the two Greek words, thou art Petros and on this petra, holding that if the rock had meant Peter, either petros or petra would have been used both times, and that petros signifies a separate stone or fragment broke off, while petra is the massive rock. But this distinction is almost entirely confined to poetry, the common prose word instead of petros being lithos; nor is the distinction uniformly observed." --John A. Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), 355.
  • "I grant that in Greek Peter (Petros) and stone (petra) mean the same thing, save that the first word is Attic [from the ancient classical Greek dialect of the Attica region], the second from the common tongue." --John Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries: The Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 2, trans. T. H. L. Parker, ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), 188.
  • "The obvious pun which has made its way into the Gk. text as well suggests a material identity between petra and Petros, the more so as it is impossible to differentiate strictly between the meanings of the two words."--Gerhard Friedrich, ed., and Geoffrey W. Bromley, trans. and ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. VI, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 98-99.

2. Two different Greek words are used because you can't use a feminine noun for a man's name.
  • "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." --Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Volume 8 (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 368.
  • "When using both the masculine and feminine forms of the word, however, Matthew is not trying to distance Peter, Petros, from 'this rock,' petra. Rather, the evangelist changes the genders simply because Simon, a male, is given a masculine form of the feminine noun for his new name." --James B. Shelton, letter to the authors, 21 October 1994, 1, in Scott Butler, Norman Dehlgren, and Rev. Mr. David Hess, Jesus Peter and the Keys: A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, (Goleta, CA: Queenship, 1996), 23.
  • "The name Peter (not now first given, but prophetically bestowed by our Lord on his first interview with Simon (John 1:42), or Cephas, signifying a rock, the termination being only altered from petra to petros to suit the masculine appellation, denotes the personal position of this Apostle in the building of the Church of Christ." --Henry Alford, The New Testament for English Readers, vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1983), 119.
  • "The most likely explanation for the change from petros ('Peter') to petra is that petra was the normal word for 'rock.' Because the feminine ending of this noun made it unsuitable as a man's name, however, Simon was not called petra but petros." --Herman N. Ridderbos, Bible Student's Commentary: Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987), 303.
  • "The feminine word for rock, petra, is necessarily changed to the masculine petros (stone) to give a man's name, but the word-play is unmistakable (and in Aramaic would be even more so, as the same form kepha would occur in both places)." --R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 254.

3. "This rock" refers to Peter
  • "Jesus, then, is promising Peter that he is going to build his church on him! I accept this view." --William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 647.
  • "Nowadays a broad consensus has emerged which--in accordance with the words of the text--applies the promise to Peter as a person. On this point liberal (H. J. Holtzmann, E. Schweiger) and conservative (Cullmann, Flew) theologians agree, as well as representatives of Roman Catholic Exegesis." --Gerhard Maier, "The Church in the Gospel of Matthew: hermeneutical Analysis of the Current Debate," trans. Harold H. P. Dressler, in D. A. Carson, ed., Biblical Interpretation and Church Text and Context, (Flemington Markets, NSW: Paternoster Press, 1984), 58.
  • "By the words 'this rock' Jesus means not himself, nor his teaching, nor God the Father, nor Peter's confession, but Peter himself." --J. Knox Chamblin, "Matthew," in Walter A. Eldwell, ed., Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids: MI: Baker, 1989), 742.
  • ". . . If, then, Mt. 16:18 forces us to assume a formal and material identity between petra and Petros, this shows how fully the apostolate, and in it to a special degree the position of Peter, belongs to and is essentially enclosed within, the revelation of Christ. Petros himself is this petra, not just his faith or his confession." --Gerhard Friedrich, ed., and Geoffrey W. Bromley, trans. and ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. VI, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 98-99.
  • "The expression 'this rock' almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following 'the Christ' in vs. 16 applied to Jesus. The play on words in the Greek between Peter's name (Petros) and the word 'rock' (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification." --Craig L. Blomberg, The New American Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22, (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 251-252.
  • "The foundation of the messianic community will be Peter, the rock, who is recipient of the revelation and maker of the confession (cf. Eph 2:20). The significant leadership role of Peter is a matter of sober history . . . . [T]he plain sense of the whole statement of Jesus would seem to accord best with the view that the rock on which Jesus builds His Church is Peter." --William E. McCumber, "Matthew," in William M. Greathouse and Willard H. Taylor, eds., Beacon Bible Expositions, vol. 1, (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill, 1975), 125.
  • "'You are Rock, and on this Rock I will build my church.' Peter is here pictured as the foundation of the church." --M. Eugene Boring, "Matthew," in Pheme Perkins and others, eds., The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995), 345.
  • "Let it be observed that Jesus could not here mean himself by the rock, consistently with the image, because he is the builder. To say, 'I will build,' would be a very confused image. The suggestion of some expositors that in saying 'thou art Peter, and on this rock' he pointed at himself involves an artificiality which to some minds is repulsive." --John A. Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), 356.
  • "Another interpretation is that the word rock refers to Peter himself. This is the obvious meaning of the passage." --Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament, Robert Fraw, ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 170.
  • "It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church. The disciple becomes, as it were, the foundation stone of the community. Attempts to interpret the 'rock' as something other than Peter in person (e.g., his faith, the truth revealed to him) are due to Protestant bias, and introduce to the statement a degree of subtlety which is highly unlikely." --David Hill, "The Gospel of Matthew," in Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black, eds., The New Century Bible Commentary, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972), 261.
  • "Some interpreters have therefore referred to Jesus as rock here, but the context is against this. Nor is it likely that Peter's faith or Peter's confession is meant. It is undoubtedly Peter himself who is to be the Rock, but Peter confessing, faithful and obedient." --D. Guthrie and others, The New Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1953) [reprinted by Inter-Varsity Press], 837.
  • "There is no good reason to think that Jesus switched from petros to petra to show that He was not speaking of the man Peter but of his confession as the foundation of the Church. The words 'on this rock [petra]; indeed refer to Peter." --Herman N. Ridderbos, Bible Student's Commentary: Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987), 303.
  • "The word-play and the whole structure of the passage demands that this verse is every bit as much Jesus' declaration about Peter as vs. 16 was Peter's declaration about Jesus. Of course it is on the basis of Peter's confession that Jesus declares his role as the church's foundation, but it is to Peter, not to his confession, that the rock metaphor is applied." --R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 254.
  • "The frequent attempts that have been made, larely in the past, to deny this in favor of the view that the confession itself is the rock (e.g., most recently Caragounis) seem to be largely motivated by Protestant prejudice against a passage that is used by the Roman Catholics to justify the papacy." --Donald A. Hagner, "Matthew 14-28," in David A. Hubbard and others, eds., World Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b, (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 470.

4. The identity of the rock ("petra") is affirmed by the Aramaic that Jesus was speaking.
  • "The meaning is, 'You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter, I will build my church.' Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, 'And I say to you, you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.'" --William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition on the Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 647.
  • "'You are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church (mou ten ekklesian).' These words are spoken in Aramaic, in which Cephas stands both for Petros and petra." --Veselin Kesich, "Peter's Primacy in the New Testament and the Early Tradition," in John Meyendorff, ed., The Primacy of Peter, (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992), 47-48.
  • "In Aramaic 'Peter' and Rock are the same word; in Greek (here), they are cognate terms that were used interchangeably by this period." --Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, (Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 90.
  • "The underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and most probably kepha was used in both clauses ('you are kepha' and 'on this kepha'), 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." --Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Volume 8 (Matthew, Mark, Luke), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 368.
  • "'And upon this rock'--As 'Peter' and 'rock' are one word in the dialect familiarly spoken by our Lord--the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic, which was the mother tongue of the country--this exalted play upon the word can be fully seen only in languages which have one word for both. Even in the Greek it is imperfectly represented. in French, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, it is perfect, Pierre-pierre." --Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, and David Brown, One Volume Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Associated Publishers, n.d. [197?]), 47-48.
  • "The Saviour, no doubt, used in both clauses the Aramaic word kepha (hence the Greek Kephas applied to Simon, John 1:42; comp. 1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; Gal 2:9), which means rock and is used both as a proper and a common noun. Hence the old Syriac translation of the N.T. renders the passage in question thus: 'Anath-her Kipha, v' all hode Kipha.' The Arabic translation has alsachra in both cases. The proper translation then would be: 'Thou art Rock, and upon this rock,' etc." --John Peter Lange, trans. Philip Schaff, Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: The Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 8, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 293.
  • "But the main answer here is that our Lord undoubtedly spoke Aramaic, which has no known means of making such a distinction [between feminine petra and masculine petros in Greek]. The Peshitta (Western Aramaic) renders, 'Thou are kipho, and on this kipho.' The Eastern Aramaic, spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, must necessarily have said in like manner, 'Thou are kepha, and on this kepha.' (Comp. Buxtorf.) Beza called attention to the fact that it is so likewise in French: 'Thou are Pierre, and on this pierre'; and Nicholson suggests that we could say, 'Thou art Piers (old English for Peter), and on this pier.'" --John A. Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), 355-356.
  • "Edersh. finds the words petros and petra borrowed in the late Rabbinical language, and things that Jesus, while speaking Aramaic, may have borrowed those Greek words here. But this is grossly improbable, and the suggestion looks like a desperate expedient; nor has he shown that the late Rabbis themselves make the supposed distinction between the two words." --John A. Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), 356.
  • "Furthermore, the whole passage contains semitic structures. In Aramaic the word for both Peter's name and the rock would be identical, Kepha' . . . kepha'." --James B. Shelton, letter to the authors, 21 October 1994, 1, in Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and Rev. Mr. David Hess, Jesus, Peter, and the Keys: A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, (Goleta, CA: Queenship, 1996), 21.
  • "PETER (Gr. Petros). Simon Peter, the most prominent of Jesus' twelve disciples. Peter's original name was Simon (Aram. sim'on, represented in Greek by Simon and Symeon). Jesus gave him the Aramaic name kepha "rock" (Matt. 16:18); Luke 6:14 par.; John 1:42), which is in Greek both transliterated (Kephas; Eng. Cephas) and translated (Petros)." --Allen C. Myers, ed., The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 818.
  • "Rock (Aram. Kepha). This is not a name, but an appellation and a play on words. There is no evidence of Peter or Kephas as a name before Christian times. On building on a rock, or from a rock, cf. Isa 51:1ff.; Matt 8:24f. Peter as Rock will be the foundation of the future community (cf. I will build). Jesus, not quoting the OT, here uses Aramaic, not Hebrew, and so uses the only Aramaic word which would serve his purpose." --W. F. Albright, and C. S. Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), 195.
  • "On the other hand, only the fairly assured Aramaic original of the saying enables us to assert with confidence the formal and material identity between petra and Petros: petra = kepha = Petros." --Gerhard Friedrich, ed., and Geoffrey W. Bromley, trans. and ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 6, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 98-99.
  • "The play on words in [Mat 16] verse 18 indicates the Aramaic origin of the passage." --Suzanne de Dietrich, The Layman's Bible Commentary: Matthew, vol. 16, trans. Donald G. Miller, (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1961), 93.
  • "On this rock I will build my church: the word-play goes back to Aramaic tradition." --David Hill, "The Gospel of Matthew," in Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black, eds., The New Century Bible Commentary, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972), 261.
  • "The feminine word for rock, petra, is necessarily changed to the masculine petros to give a man's name, but the word-play is unmistakable (and in Aramaic would be even more so, as the same form kepha would be occur in both places) . . . ." --R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 254.
  • "The natural reading of the passage [Mat 16:18], despite the necessary shift from Petros to petra required by the word play in the Greek (but not the Aramaic, where the same word kepha occurs in both places), is that it is Peter who is the rock upon which the church is to be built (thus rightly Morris, France, Carson, Blomberg, Cullman [Peter, 207], Davies-Allison; so too the interconfessional volume by Brown, Donfried, and Reumann [Peter in the NT, 92])." --Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28, in David A. Hubbard and others, eds., World Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b, (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 470.

5. The keys symbolize authority over the house.
  • "The keys are the symbol of authority, and Roland de Vaux (Ancient Israel, tr. by John McHugh [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961], 129 ff.) rightly sees here the same authority as that vested in the vizier, the master of the house, the chamberlain of the royal household in ancient Israel." --W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), 196.
  • "For the same reason, Christ calls the office of teaching the word, (Mat 16:19) 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven'; so that it is idle and foolish to spend much time in endeavouring to find a hidden reason, when the matter is plain, and needs no ingenuity." --John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, vol. 2, trans. William Pringle, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1948), 136-137.
  • "The image of keys (plural) perhaps suggests not so much the porter, who controls admission to the house, as the steward, who regulates its administration (Is 22:22, in conjunction with 22:15). The issue then is not that of admission to the church (which is not what the kingdom of heaven means; see pp. 45-47) but an authority derived from a delegation of God's sovereignty." --Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, (Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 256.
  • "The keeper of the keys has authority within the house as administrator and teacher (cf. Isa 22:20-25, which may have influenced Matthew here). The language of binding and loosing is rabbinic terminology for authoritative teaching, for having the authority to interpret the Torah and apply it to particular cases, declaring what is permitted and what is not permitted. Jesus, who has taught with authority (7:29) and has given his authority to his disciples (10:1,8 ) here gives his primary disciple the authority to teach in his name." --M. Eugene Boring, "Matthew," in Pheme Perkins and others, eds., The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995), 346.
  • "The keys of the kingdom would be comitted to the chief steward in the royal household and with them goes plenary authority." --George Buttrick and others, eds., The Interpreter's Bible, (New York: Abingdon, 1951), 453.
  • "The authority of Peter is to be over the Church, and this authority is represented by the keys." --S. T. Lachs, A Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1987), 256.
  • "What do the expressions 'bind' and 'loose' signify? According to Rabbinical usage two explanations are equally possible: 'prohibit' and 'permit', that is, 'establish rules'; or 'put under the ban' and 'acquit.'" --Oscar Cullman, Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr, trans. Floyd V. Filson, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1953), 204-205.
  • "These terms [binding and loosing] thus refer to a teaching function, and more specifically one of making halakhic pronouncements [i.e., relative to laws not written down in the Jewish Scriptures but based on an oral interpretation of them] which are to be 'binding' on the people of God. In that case, Peter's 'power of the keys' declared in [Matthew] 16:19 is not so much that of the doorkeeper, who decides who may or may not be admitted to the kingdom of heaven, but that of the steward . . . . whose keys of office enable him to regulate the affairs of the household." --R. T. France, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1989), 247.
  • "In other words, Peter would give decisions, based on the teachings of Jesus, which would be bound in heaven; that is, honored by God." --Ralph Earle, "Matthew," in A. F. Harper and others, eds., Beacon Bible Commentary, vol. 6, (Kansis City, MO: Beacon Hill, 1964), 156.
  • "This verse [Mat 16:19] therefore probably refers primarily to a legislative authority in the church." --Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, (Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 90.
  • "Hence handing over the keys implies appointment to full authority. He who has the keys has on the one side contol, e.g., over the council chamber or treasury, cf. Mt. 13:52, and on the other the power to allow or forbid entry, cf. Rev. 3:7." --J. Jeremias, "Kleis," in Gerhard Kittel, ed., and Geoffrey W. Bromley, trans. and ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 3, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 749-750.

  • Particularly note-worthy are the words of Martin Luther in his tract called "The Keys," which he wrote 9 years after his excommunication:
    • "So we stand there and with open mouth stare heavenward and invent still other keys. Yet Christ says very clearly in Mat. 16:19 that he will give the keys to Peter. He does not say he has two kinds of keys, but he gives to Peter the keys he himself has and no others." --Martin Luther, "The Keys," in Conrad Bergendoff, ed., trans. Earl Beyer and Conrad Bergendoff, Luther's Works, vol. 40, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1958), 365-366.

6. Peter's position is like that of the steward in Isa 22.
  • "Isaiah 22:15 ff. udoubtedly lies behind this [Mat 16:19] saying." --W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), 196.
  • "And what about the 'keys of the kingdom'? The keys of a royal or noble establishment were entrusted to the chief steward or majordomo; he carried them on his shoulder in earlier times, and there they served as a badge of the authority entrusted to him. About 700 B.C. an oracle from God announced that this authority in the royal palace in Jerusalem was to be conferred on a man called Eliakim . . . . (Isaiah 22:22). So in the new community which Jesus was about to build, Peter would be, so to speak, chief steward." --F. F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1983), 143-144.
  • "The 'kingdom of heaven' is represented by authoritative teaching, the promulgation of authoritative Halakha that lets heaven's power rule in earthly things . . . . Peter's role as holder of the keys is fulfilled now, on earth, as chief teacher of the church." --M. Eugene Boring, "Matthew," in Pheme Perkins and others, eds., The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995), 346.
  • "The keeper of the keys was one of the most important roles a household servant could hold (Mark 13:32-34). A higher official held the keys in a royal kingdom (Is 22:22) and in God's house, the temple." --Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, (Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 90.
  • "'The keys of the kingdom of heaven: the phrase [from Mat 16:19] is almost certainly based on Is. 22:22 where Shebna the steward is displaced by Eliakim and his authority transferred to him." --D. Guthrie and others, The New Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1953) [reprinted by Intervarsity Press], 837.
  • "The master of the palace had similar functions at the court of Judah. Announcing the promotion of Elyaqim, Isaiah 22:22 says: 'I lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder, if he opens, none will shut; if he shuts, none will open.' The Egyptian vizier's instructions are described in a very similar fashion. Every morning 'the vizier will send someone to open the gates of the kings house, to admit those who have to enter, and to send out those who have to go out.' One is reminded of the Lord's words to Peter, the Vizier of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19)." --Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, trans. John McHugh (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961), 130.
  • "In Isa 22:22 the key of the house of David is promised to Eliakim. According to Paul, Jesus is the only foundation (1 Cor 3:11), and in Rev 1:18; 3:7, Jesus possesses the key of David and the keys of death and Hades. But in this passage [Matthew 16:19] Peter is made the foundation (cf. Eph 2:20, where the Christian apostles and prophets are the foundation and Christ is the cornerstone) and holds the keys." --George Buttrick and others, eds., The Interpreter's Bible, (New York: Abingdom, 1951), 453.
  • "In Matthew 16:19 it is presupposed that Christ is the master of the house, who has the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, with which to open to those who come in. Just as in Isaiah 22:22 the Lord lays the keys of the house of David on the shoulders of his servant Eliakim, so Jesus commits to Peter the keys of his house, the Kingdom of Heaven, and thereby installs him as administrator of the house." --Oscar Cullman, Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr, trans. Floyd V. Filson, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1953), 203.
  • "Materially, then, the keys of the kingdom of God are not different from the key of David. This is confirmed by the fact that in Mt. 16:19, as in Rev. 3:7, Jesus is the One who controls them." --J. Jeremias, "Kleis," in Gerhard Kittel, ed., and Geoffrey W. Bromley, trans. and ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 3, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 749-750.
  • R. T. France, in his commentary on Mat. 16:19 says that Isaiah 22:22 is "generally regarded as the Old Testament background to the metaphor of keys here. . . ." --R. T. France, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1989), 247.

I hope this helps as you strive to defend the "first" from among the apostles (cf. Mt 10:2). For more on Peter and the Papacy, go here.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - -
[1] All citations are taken from Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and Rev. Mr. David Hess, Jesus, Peter, and the Keys: A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, (Goleta, CA: Queenship, 1996).

3 comments:

David Haines said...

Dear Nicholas,

I quite appreciate this interesting post. I think that you have done a decent job of showing how a number of "protestant" theologians agree with "catholic" theologians on the certain elements of interpretation concerning Mt. 16:16-19. I am, however, unclear as to what, as you say in your introduction to the blogpost, the "logical conclusion" of these 6 points would be. I have looked at these 6 points from a number of different angles, and all that I can deduce from these angles is that, assuming that the interpretation that you propose is true, Peter was given authority over the early church as a steward, at least to oversee it's growth and expansion. I don't see how you could possibly go any further than that with what is given us. Furthermore, as Aquinas has stated in a number of places, an appeal to authority is the weakest argument. Therefore, simply citing a number of authorities, even authorities respected by a number of protestants, doesn't prove anything. The majority interpretation could very well be wrong. What guarantee do we have that this verse is properly interpreted?

Whatever the case, thank you for the interesting post.

Jallah said...

PThank you for the extensive explanation of Matthew 16:16-19 and the analysis you made between petros
and Petra. However, may I ask this question. Does apostolic succession mean that Peter owns the church? For example, I see the name of some churches written as "St. Peter's Church" signifying ownership. If Jesus is the builder of the church as indicated in the text "upon this rock I will build my church", why would anybody in his right theological frame of mind suggest human ownership of the church that Jesus built?

Nicholas Hardesty said...

No, that a Catholic church would be named after a saint does not imply ownership by that saint. It simply means that the bishop has chosen a particular saint to be the patron saint of a local Catholic community. I should add that Catholic churches are often named after Christ as well ("Sacred Heart Parish", "Holy Name Cathedral", "Christ the King Parish", etc.).

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