Pristine Grace

The Rock of The Scriptures
Jesus Christ or Peter?
by Nicholas Laurienzo

     All to often in Christian circles, the issue of Authority is raised as to WHO is the head of the Body of Christ. Is it Peter the Apostle along with the line of successive popes, as Rome contends from Augustine’s writings ? Or is it Jesus Christ, the God-Man and Savior, as the scriptures and Apostles of Christ attest to all true Christians who are able to believe ?

     To answer this, we must appeal to the final authority, which is the Word of God , the Holy Scriptures. 2 Ti.3:16-17 states....."All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

     Jesus Christ our Lord stated in the Gospel of John 5:39.."Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." And after our Lord’s resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, speaking to Cleopas, Luke’s Gospel states in 24:27, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself."

     In the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, the only scriptures available were the Old testament. So let us begin with them. Let us see what God’s inspired Word has to say on this subject.

Ex. 17:6..."Behold I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel..."

     How did the Apostle Paul interpret this event ?

1 Co. 10:1-4..."Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (petra) that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

     Now that is clear, is it not ? Let us continue.

De.32:1-4..."Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is HE..."

1 S. 2:2..."There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God..."

2 S. 22:1-3..."And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence..."

2 S. 22:32..."For who is God, save the Lord ? And who is a Rock, save our God?

verse 47.. " The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock: and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.."

2 S. 23: 2-3 " The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.."

Ps. 18:2..."The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

V.31..." For who is a God save the LORD? Or who is a rock save our GOD "

v.46..." The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted ".

Please also read: Psalms 27:5...28:1....31:2,3,....40:2...42:9....61:2...62 :2,6,7.....71:3....78:35...89:26..92:15...94:22... 95:1.

Is. 8:14..." And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the house of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem ".

     The Apostle Paul, explains the meaning of the previous verse, as to why Israel fell.

Ro. 9:31-33..." But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore ? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at the stumbling stone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed ".

     Again in Isaiah

Is. 17:10:...." Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the Rock of thy strength, therefore thou shalt plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips ".

     Before we continue, let us make some observations to the previous passages of scripture.

Jesus Christ asserted that these Old testament scriptures, testify to Himself.

  1. The Rock is Christ.
  2. God is the Rock.
  3. The Rock’s works are perfect.
  4. The Rock is a God of truth.
  5. The Rock is without iniquity.
  6. The Rock is Just and Right.
  7. The Rock is Holy.
  8. There is NO other Rock like our GOD.
  9. The Rock is a fortress.
  10. The Rock is a Deliverer.
  11. We are to trust in the Rock.
  12. The Rock is a shield.
  13. The Rock is a horn of Salvation
  14. The Rock is a high tower.
  15. The Rock is a refuge.
  16. Who is a Rock save our GOD
  17. The Rock is Blessed
  18. The GOD of Israel speaks - The ROCK of Israel spake. God and the Rock are one.
  19. The Rock is a Rock of offense.

     Who in their right mind, and sober conscience, can ever think that Peter along with a line of successive popes, mere mortal sinners like the rest of humanity can ever be the Rock of the Bible? Well Augustine along with other post-Apostolic so-called church fathers did.

     Let us examine the passage of scripture in contention.

Mt. 16: 13-18...." When Jesus came into the coast of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the son of man am ? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon This rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ".

     Before we examine this scripture in the light of other scriptures, we must learn what the Roman Catholic church teaches on this subject.

     Rome contends that Jesus conferred authority to Peter, thus making him the Head of the Church. They also contend that Peter was the first POPE (supreme Bishop) in a long line of apostolic successors.

     All of the below statements are derived from OFFICIAL Roman Catholic sources.

Pope - This word comes from a Greek term father, As a title it has been reserved since the eleventh century for the bishop of Rome who is Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. The Pope’s full title is: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of the City of the Vatican. As bishop of Rome, the pope is St. Peter’s successor and is therefore the visible head of the Church on earth. Christ commanded St. Peter, "Feed my lambs...feed my sheep" and therefore St. Peter and all his legitimate successors are Christ’s true Vicegerents on earth, holding Christ’s authority to govern the faithful and their pastors. It follows therefore that the pope is a supreme judge in all matters of faith and morals, and his pronouncements on these matters have the guarantee of infallibility. He also has supreme jurisdiction and has the power of legislation for the whole Church and likewise the power of dispensation from canonical common law.

Council of Florence (1438-1443 ) - "We define furthermore that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, true Vicar of Christ, head of the entire Church, father and teacher of all Christians; and also that to him in the person of St. Peter was given full power for feeding, ruling and governing the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ."

Council of Ephesus ( 431 ) - " There is no one who questions, indeed it has always been well understood, that the holy and blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, the Pillar of the faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received from our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer of the human race, the keys of the kingdom, and that the power of binding and loosing sins was given to him; in his successors he lives and exercises judgements down to this present time and always."

Jerome ( 342 -420 ) - " Following no leader except Christ, I am associated in fellowship with your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is to say with the see of Peter. I know that the Church was built on that rock." Anyone who eats the Lamb outside that house is profane. Whosoever shall be outside the Ark of Noe shall perish when the flood prevails."

     It’s a funny thing. Many years ago (1966-1970) when I attended Cathedral Latin High School in Cleveland, Ohio, ( an all boys catholic college prep school ), We were taught the meaning of Jerome’s statement. Eating the Lamb means eating the Communion BREAD. Outside the house means, outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Outside the Ark of Noe means that all those who are not Roman Catholic will NEVER have any hope of salvation.

Ephraem ( 306 -373 )..."Simon, my disciple, I made you the Foundation of the Holy Church. Already I had called you a ‘rock,’ for you are to support the whole edifice; you shall be the overseer of all those who will build up My Church on earth; if they try to introduce into it whatever is not genuine, your function , as the foundation, will be to subdue them; you are the source and wellspring which my teaching is drawn; you are the head of my disciples; I will give drink to all the nations through you....to you have I given the keys of my kingdom. Behold, over all My treasury have I appointed you ruler."

Augustine of Hippo ( 354- 430 ) "Number the bishops from the see of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who succeeded whom, That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail."
Psalmus contra partem Donati, 18 (A.D. 393),GCC 51

Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they refuse to believe that the keys of heaven, lost from their own hands, have been given to the Church."Christian Combat, 31:33(A.D. 397), in JUR,3:51

"For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: ‘Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it !’ The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: -- Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found. But, reversing the natural course of things, the Donatists sent to Rome from Africa an ordained bishop, who, putting himself at the head of a few Africans in the great metropolis, gave some notoriety to the name of ‘mountain men,’ or Cutzupits, by which they were known." To Generosus, Epistle 53:2(A.D. 400), in NPNF1,I:298

"When, therefore, He had said to His disciples, ‘Will ye also go away?" Peter, that Rock, answered with the voice of all, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.’ " Homilies on John, Tract 11:5(A.D. 417), in NPNF1,VII:76

"And the Lord, to him to whom a little before He had said, ‘Blessed thou art, and upon this Rock I will build my Church,’ saith, ‘Go back behind, Satan, an offence thou art to Me.’ Why therefore ‘Satan’ is he, that a little before was ‘blessed,’ and a ‘Rock’ ?" In Psalms, 56[55]:14[PL 36, 656] (A.D. 418),in NPNF1,VIII:223

"Peter, who had confessed Him as the Son of God, and in that confession had been called the rock upon which the Church should be built."
In Psalms, 69:4[PL 36, 869] (A.D. 418), in Butler, 251

"And if a Jew asks us why we do that, we sound from the rock, we say, This Peter did, this Paul did: from the midst of the rocks we give our voice. But that rock, Peter himself, that great mountain, when he prayed and saw that vision, was watered from above." In Psalms, 104[103]:16(A.D. 418),in NPNF1,VIII:513

"[In my first book against Donatus] I mentioned somewhere with reference to the apostle Peter that ‘the Church is founded upon him as upon a rock.’ This meaning is also sung by many lips in the lines of blessed Ambrose, where, speaking of the domestic cock, he says: ‘When it crows, he, the rock of the Church, absolves from sin.’ But I realize that I have since frequently explained the words of our Lord: ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church’, to the effect that they should be understood as referring to him Peter confessed when he said: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’, and as meaning that Peter having been named after this rock, figured the person of the Church, which is built upon this rock and has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For what was said to him was not ‘Thou art rock’, but ‘Thou art Peter’. But the rock was Christ, having confessed whom(even as the whole Church confesses) Simon was named Peter. Retractations,1:21(A.D. 427),in GILES, 177

Code of the Canon Law Can. 331 - The bishop of the Church of Rome, in whom resides the office given in a special way by the Lord to Peter, first of the Apostles and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth; therefore, in virtue of his office he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he can always freely exercise.

Can. 333-3 - There is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff.

     Now we have a pretty good idea how Rome interprets Mt.16:13-18. Rome insists that the Lord Jesus, made Peter (a fallible sinful human) the ROCK, instead of Jesus Christ (the Infallible perfect, sinless God-man ), whom the Old testament clearly described as that Rock.

     Only a carnal unregenerate mind, would thus hold to Rome’s lunacy. However, this is very typical of fallen man, desiring to rob God of His Glory and Supreme Authority. In fact this is the very nature of Antichrist. An attempt to substitute man in the place of God.

     How should we correctly understand Mt:16:13-18 ? Please read it again.

     Why did Jesus ask His disciples, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am"?

     The whole body of God’s elect, stands on the correct understanding of who the Messiah is, and also the work (the Gospel) the Messiah was to perform, by way of His substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection.

     When Peter extolled, " Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God", was he more knowledgeable than the other Apostles? Is this the reason that Christ rewarded him to be the supposed head of the church, because he scored the highest on the quiz ? Absolutely Not!!!

     Jesus Said to Peter, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona for flesh and blood (your own carnal wisdom ) hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

     Now we can understand this very vital issue. All true spiritual knowledge about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, comes by way of Spiritual Illumination. Sinful and unregenerate minds, cannot understand spiritual realities.

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Ro.8:7.

"For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." 1 Cor 2:11

     In saying this, we can only conclude thus far that God the Father was active in testifying about the reality of His Son Jesus, via revelation to a passive Peter. Peter and us (the elect) can never understand the truth of God unless He reveals Himself to us. God reveals to all His elect at some point in time via regeneration, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Does that make us all the head of the Church? Some have said "well Peter was the first to make that confession". So what! Christ said "the first shall be last and the last first" Should the very last elect soul who confesses "Christ is the son of the living God" be qualified as the "Rock" of the church. Rome has always abused and twisted scripture to suit her own agenda for supremacy and control.

" And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter (petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

     Petros - a piece of rock
     Petra - a massive rock

     The only massive Rock for the elect is Jesus Christ. Therefore the revelation of the Son, by the Father is indeed the only rock of our salvation. The Father is the Rock , the Son is the Rock, the Holy Spirit is the Rock who gives the elect revelation and illumination. God and the Rock are one.

     When Jesus used the metaphoric language "rock" in His statement to Peter a Jew, (we must never yank a scripture from it’s historical context) Christ was appealing to Peter’s knowledge of Old Testament scripture. The "Rock" as clearly alluded to in the Old Testament was God (Christ) Himself. There could have been no other meaning in Peter’s mind to what Christ was alluding to from a Jewish old testament perspective. Even Peter himself later on in his life never viewed himself as the foundation "Rock" of the church as we shall see. In fact early church historical and secular writings place James the just (the Lord’s brother) as the head of the Jerusalem church not Peter! If Peter was the "rock" of the church as some naively believe, then James was a usurper. A rebel against Christ’s choice of Peter.

     Let’s look a little into the life of this first (supposedly) Pope. This next portion is not to pick on Peter as if he were some fool or idiot, but rather to show how Christ could never build His Church on the foundation of a mortal sinful man. We all know Peter denied Christ three times - fallibility. He disagreed with Christ,(fallibility) when Christ said He must be delivered unto the Pharisees and be put to death.

Acts 10:23-26 " Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man."

     Now maybe Cornelius may have thought that Peter was the first Pope, by his action of obeisance, however Peter corrected him quickly by stating he was also a man. Peter knew that only Christ was worthy of worship.

     Remember how Peter was rebuked at the Jerusalem council? (Fallibility).

     Remember how Peter got off the boat and started to sink. (Fallibility)

Gal. 2:11 "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed."

     Please read the whole account in Galatians. Paul rebuked Peter because his actions nullified the Gospel. Just another example of fallibility.

     That is why the "Rock" can never be Peter or any other created human. It must be the God-Man Jesus Christ alone.

1 Peter 2:8 "And a stone of stumbling (referring to Jesus), and a rock (petra) of offence, even to them (reprobates) which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."

     Peter understood who the rock was. Why couldn’t the early fathers, Augustine, and later the Roman Catholic Church along with some of her whore daughters understand this?

     In closing let us thank God for the truth. "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" - 1 Cor. 3:11

     Nicholas Laurienzo