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Matthew 16:18-19

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  • Matthew 16:18-19

    Source: Matthew 16:18-19 NKJV

    18And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    © Copyright Original Source



    So, I've been reading some polemical documents regarding this passage, and thought I'd do some digging. Among others, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Jerome were proffered as early Western members of the Church who rather disagree with the Roman Catholic Church's current interpretation.

    I'll start with St. Jerome:
    Source: Against Jovinianus 1.26

    But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism.

    © Copyright Original Source


    There are two issues here. Catholics assert that Peter alone was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which Jerome clearly denies. On the other hand, Peter is held to be the head, which Catholics assert is correct. However, the context makes that last statement less helpful than it appears; Jerome argues that Peter was chosen only because he was older (otherwise John, who was more highly qualified, would have been chosen).

    St. Ambrose of Milan:
    Source: The Sacrament of the Incarnation of Our Lord

    [When Peter] heard, ‘But who do you say I am,’ immediately, not unmindful of his station, exercised his primacy, that is, the primacy of confession, not of honor; the primacy of belief, not of rank. This, then, is Peter, who has replied for the rest of the Apostles; rather, before the rest of men. And so he is called the foundation, because he knows how to preserve not only his own but the common foundation...Faith, then, is the foundation of the Church, for it was not said of Peter’s flesh, but of his faith, that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ But his confession of faith conquered hell. And this confession did not shut out one heresy, for, since the Church like a good ship is often buffeted by many waves, the foundation of the Church should prevail against all heresies.

    © Copyright Original Source



    St. Ambrose explicitly disavows that Peter has a primacy of rank. Further, he identifies "rock" with Peter's confession, not Peter himself.

    St. Augustine:
    Source: Homilies on John, tractate 124.5

    So does the Church act in blessed hope through this troublous life; and this Church symbolized in its generality, was personified in the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his apostleship. For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, “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,” he represented the universal Church, which in this world is shaken by divers temptations, that come upon it like torrents of rain, floods and tempests, and falleth not, because it is founded upon a rock (petra), from which Peter received his name. For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, “On this rock will I build my Church,” because Peter had said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself also built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church. This Church, accordingly, which Peter represented, so long as it lives amidst evil, by loving and following Christ is delivered from evil.

    © Copyright Original Source



    St. Augustine apparently once held that the rock referenced by Jesus was Peter, but he retracted it. Here, it is clear that the Rock is Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ (or simply Christ Himself). Peter is portrayed as representative of the Church, not the head of the Church.

    There are other similar citations from Sts. Augustine and Ambrose in my sources, but I wanted to start with those I could quickly verify from the primary sources; I am reluctant to take polemic sources at face value, whether I agree with them or not.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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  • #2
    Interesting, OBP - thanks.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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    • #3
      Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
      St. Augustine apparently once held that the rock referenced by Jesus was Peter, but he retracted it. Here, it is clear that the Rock is Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ (or simply Christ Himself). Peter is portrayed as representative of the Church, not the head of the Church.
      It is my belief that Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ is indeed the keys to the kingdom.
      Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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