WHO IS THE BIG ROCK AND THE SMALL ROCK IN MATTHEW 16:18 ?

 

Before we can answer this question, first we have to know the meaning of the words Peter and Rock in Greek. The word Peter in Greek means PETROS. PETROS means ROCK or ROCKMAN, or ,A  SMALL ROCK, A SMALL MOVABLE ROCK, OR A MERE PEBBLE. And PETRA means A BIG ROCK, AN INMOVABLE ROCK.

(Matt. 16:18) say- " And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overcome it". The name Peter (in Greek , Petros ) means Rock or Rockman. In the next phrase Christ used " Petra" (upon this rock ) A feminine form for " Rock ", not a name. Christ used a play on words. He does not say" upon you Peter" or "upon your successors", "But upon this rock"-A declaration of Christ deity that Peter had just uttered "--------You are Christ , the son of the living God" (Matt.16:16) . In (1 Peter 2:4),  Peter called Christ the living stone. In (1 Peter 2:6-8), Christ is called a Rock and a Chief  Cornerstone. But Peter here claims nothing for himself. Indeed he is explicit in calling all believers living stones build up a spiritual house with Christ  as the head of the Corner.

 

Christ is repeatedly called a Rock. The background for this is that around 34 times in the old testament God is called a Rock or Rock of Israel. It was a designation of God. In the messianic  passages, (Isaiah 8:14 , 28:16); and (Ps.118:22), Christ is called a Rock or Stone upon which we should believe. These passages are quoted in the New Testament and for this reason Christ is called a Rock several times. It designates Him as divine. Jesus is the Rock or Big Rock ( Petra). We, the believers are living stones built upon it. (Esp. 2:20) says this plainly. We are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Himself being the Chief Cornerstone.

 

Paul says of the Rock from which the Israelites drank that it typified Christ ( 1 Cor.10:4). In the new testament there are twelve foundations and on them are the names of twelve Apostles-none of them are made pre-eminent.

 

The Greek "Petros" is commonly used of a small movable stone, a mere pebble which designates Peter in (Matt. 16:18). But "Petra" means an immovable foundation which designates Jesus Christ, the Big Rock and permanent foundation of Christendom.

 

If in (Matt. 16:18) had been intended to teach that the church is founded on Peter, it would have read something like this: " I tell you that you are Peter, and upon you I will build my church" or " I tell you that you are Peter, and upon you the Rock I will build my church". But this is not what Christ said. He made TWO COMPLETE DISTINCT STATEMENTS. " I tell you that  YOU ARE PETER", and "ON THIS ROCK (change of gender, indicating change  of subject)  I will build my church ".

 

(Matt. 16:18b) say's- But the gates of Hades ( Hell) will not overcome it. ( the church). But the gates  of hell did overcome against Peter shortly afterward, as recorded in this same chapter, when he attempted to deny that Christ would be crucified, and almost immediately afterward in the presence of other disciples, received that stinging rebuke, " get behind me Satan; you are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men" (v.23).

 

(Matt.16:19) says- " I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven ! The authority to open the doors of Christendom was given to Peter, who used that authority for Jews on the day of Pentecost and for gentiles in the house of Cornelius ( Acts10 ). " WILL BE BOUND ........WILL BE LOOSED ". Heaven, not the Apostles , initiates all binding and loosing, whereas the Apostles announce these things . In (John 20: 22-23 ) Sins are in view. John said " ...receive the holy spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, there are forgiven; if you do not forgive them they are not forgiven " (v. 22,23). " ARE FORGIVEN .....ARE NOT FORGIVEN "- since only God can forgive sin ( Mark. 2:7) , the Disciples and the Church are here given the authority to declare what God does when a men either accepts or rejects his son.

 

Written by Osmundo S. Sabado

Edited by Orman L. Sabado