Category: Pope

Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23, the Rock

Gospel Mt 16:13-23

This is another wonderful passage which I frequently use to explain the Papacy to Protestants.  To anyone really.  The Bible text is in bold.

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippiand he asked his disciples,

Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi and asked His disciples a question.  Now, the way it is phrased, it almost sounds as though Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi EXPRESSLY to ask the question which He asked.  But even more, to make the specific statement which He made.

I love to read Biblical commentaries because, I personally, have never been outside the U.S.  But Biblical commentaries can tell you so much about the context in which the Scriptures were written.  This one, I learned from reading one of Scott Hahn’s books.  Caesarea Philippi is a very special place.

In the time of Jesus, a river flowed through this area and went into a cave, a hole in a huge rock.  It was the belief of the Romans that this cave was the entrance into hell.   On the top of this rock, the Romans had constructed a temple, in our terms, a church to one of their gods.

And this sets up the rest of this Gospel.

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Jesus asked, “who do the people of Israel say that I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

They answered what they had overheard the people saying.  Some thought that Jesus was John the Baptist.  We recently saw that Herod thought that Jesus was the reincarnation of John the Baptist.  The disciples said that other people thought He was the second coming of Elijah, one of the greatest Old Covenant prophets.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

But Jesus was just warming up.  He puts them on the spot with the next question.  “Who DO YOU, my students whom I have been guiding for at least two years now.  Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said in reply,“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And this is why St. Peter is one of my most beloved Saints.  There is no indication in this Gospel that he hesitated even one little bit.  “You are the Son of God who is to come into the world!” 

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And Jesus says to him, “you are right.  But it isn’t because you are so brilliant.  You can only know this if you are given the inspiration from my Father in heaven.”

And so I say to you, you are Peter,and upon this rock I will build my Church,

“And now, since you have correctly revealed who I am, I will tell you who you are.  You are Rock and on this Rock I will build my Church.”

Right here, think back on where they are standing.  As Jesus says these words, I envision that His arms sweep out to point towards that huge rock in the horizon and the temple that sits on top.  But that is a Pagan church on top of that rock and that is a place where idolatry and orgies regularly take place.  Therefore, hell has prevailed upon that church.  Therefore, Jesus continues:

and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus then gives St. Peter the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  Essentially saying, in my opinion, that St. Peter will have the power and authority to save people’s souls.

Then he strictly ordered his disciplesto tell no one that he was the Christ.

Then Jesus instructed His disciples to keep quiet about the fact that He is the Messiah.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciplesthat he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatlyfrom the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,and be killed and on the third day be raised.

At that time, Jesus also began to reveal that He would suffer greatly and die on the Cross in order to rise on the third day.

Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”

St. Peter, out of love and concern for Jesus, could not imagine these things happening to Him.

He turned and said to Peter,“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

But Jesus instructed St. Peter that this is trick of Satan.  Jesus was sent to do the Father’s will and even His love for His Apostles will not sway Him from His appointed task.


If you found that interesting, see also Why did Jesus give Simon the name Rock

The Pope in Scripture

Jesus Christ appointed Simon to be the very first Pope.

MT 16:13-23 NAB

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi is a very special place. On top of the rock was a Roman Temple dedicated to their gods. At the foot of the rock is a hole so deep it was reputed to go all the way to Hades, the home of the dead. Keep this in mind as you listen to Jesus’ words to St. Peter.
and he asked his disciples,

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus asked His students, whom the people thought that He was. They gave various answers, the people thought that Jesus was the reincarnation of John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the other Prophets.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Then He asked them, pointedly, who they that that He was. This time, they fell silent. Except for St. Peter. He spoke up immediately!

Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

He said, “You are the Messiah for whom we’ve been waiting. He who is to save the world. God incarnate.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And Jesus in turn said to St. Peter, “You could not have known this if my Father in heaven had not revealed this to you. Therefore, I want you to know that you are blessed.

And so I say to you, you are Peter,

Further, I name you Rock.

and upon this rock I will build my Church,

Because of your rocklike faith, I will build my Church upon you, the way this Roman temple is built upon this mountain.

and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

And the Church which I build will storm the doors of hell and hades and give eternal life to all whom she baptizes and persevere in well doing.

I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

And I will give you, Peter, the keys to heaven. Whom you save will be saved. Whom you do not save will not be saved. What you decree will be obeyed on earth and in heaven. Because your voice will be the voice of God on earth.

By naming him Rock, Jesus gave Peter His own name. Thus signifying that Peter would represent Him on earth. Is this shocking to you?

Perhaps you never wondered why Jesus named Simon, Rock. Here’s why. Because He wanted all to know that Simon would be he to whom all must turn who want to know God’s will. There is a precedent for this in Scripture:

Exodus 7:1
King James Version (KJV)
7 And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

Exodus 18:13-15
King James Version (KJV)
13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?15 And Moses said unto his father in law,
Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:

Exodus 19:9
King James Version (KJV)
9 And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.

God put Moses in a position of authority over the people. Jesus has done the same thing with Simon. God covered Moses with the Cloud, Jesus gave Simon His own name, Rock along with the keys to the Kingdom (Matt 16:18-19) and appointed him Shepherd over the Church (John 21:15-17).

In the same way, Jesus has appointed Simon as Shepherd over His flock.

John 21:15-17
King James Version (KJV)
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

And in order to bring this point home, Jesus gave Simon His own name, “Rock” or “Peter”.
This is to signify the type of authority which Jesus has given to Simon. He has the authority to bind and loose in God’s name.

Do these verses not show that Jesus Christ appointed a Pastor over His Church?

This is why I believe that the office of Pope in the Catholic Church is in accordance with Scripture.

Jesus Christ appointed a Pastor as head of the entire Church:

John 21:17
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus Christ said that the Pastor over His Church would be infallible:

Matthew 16:17-19 (King James Version)
17And 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.18And 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. 19And 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.

Does anyone disagree?