Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peter: the first rock built upon the Rock

In the Visits to Candyland blog post I linked to in my last post I made some comments about Peter that I want to keep a record of, so I am making them into a new post. Please read my earlier post and the ones I linked to there, including the one about St. Francis de Sales by Kelly on Visits to Candyland. Following are my comments.

Very interesting, Kelly.
I agree with many of St. Francis de Sales' points about Peter. I don't agree with his assessment of Luther and Calvin's interpretation of Matt. 16:17-19. I don't agree with the implication that Peter's 'primacy' (I think there is a better word for Peter's position) is the beginning of a succession of a single line of apostolic authority. I know that is not the subject of this but it is implied.
I am doing some reading and will have more to say about the post, if I am permitted.
Here is my recent post called 'Who is the Rock?' about the Matthew 16 passage: In my post there are some quotes from Augustine that give good understanding of the passage.


OK. One or two thoughts. If in Matt. 16 Jesus IS calling Peter the rock upon which the church is built, is He not also including the other Apostles in this while singling Peter out as the one who is a leader in doing the things that all the Apostles will do, and that indeed the whole church will do in the future as it grows? For example, as we said in the last post, Peter was given the lead in first giving the gospel to each major group: Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles. He was the spokesman, the one everyone could see out front, showing the boldness, authority and power of Christ, not his own authority and power. This is shown again as he, along with John, encounter the lame man at the Gate of the Temple and Peter heals him just as Jesus would have done, in Jesus' name. Then when all the people come running, he boldly preaches the gospel, glorifying Christ and convicting of sin, showing he is full of the Spirit. He and John are arrested by the Sanhedrin and Peter boldly preaches to them. He always points to Jesus, giving God the glory, and reflecting the person of Christ in his behavior. The only other person we see in scripture who is shown this way in detail (though I believe the other Apostles behaved with this authority and boldness and had healing power from the Spirit as well) is Paul. Peter is the spokesman, the one who goes first, and has the privilege of preaching first, laying the foundation.

Another thought, If Jesus IS NOT calling Peter 'the rock' (Petra), Jesus may still be giving him this first privileged office of being the head spokesman and example of Christ for the church and the world. I believe that Jesus was referring to Himself as petra, but laying Peter down as the first stone built upon Him. All future bishops and people would look to Peter as their example in boldness and Spirit-filled preaching of the gospel, and in always giving Christ the glory.


I just thought of something based on what I said in the last comment about Peter preaching first and laying the foundation. In a way Peter, in preaching the gospel in Acts 2 and beginning the Church (in Christ's name and power) is laying down Christ to the people as the cornerstone, and Peter laid down himself by faith as the first stone built upon Christ when he made the confession in Matthew 16 that Jesus is the Christ. He was the spokesman for the Apostles who all believed this (except Judas) and he was given the privilege to continue this office and be the first to preach it to his fellow men. Peter, after Christ, is our first example of Christ-likeness.


In my post 'Who is the Rock?' I quoted from the following passages from Augustine which came from an article by William Webster which has a link on my post.
Remember, in this man Peter, the rock. He's the one, you see, who on being questioned by the Lord about who the disciples said he was, replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' On hearing this, Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you'...'You are Peter, Rocky, and on this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of the underworld will not conquer her. To you shall I give the keys of the kingdom. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall also be loosed in heaven' (Mt 16:15-19). In Peter, Rocky, we see our attention drawn to the rock. Now the apostle Paul says about the former people, 'They drank from the spiritual rock that was following them; but the rock was Christ' (1 Cor 10:4). So this disciple is called Rocky from the rock, like Christian from Christ.
Why have I wanted to make this little introduction? In order to suggest to you that in Peter the Church is to be recognized. Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter's confession. What is Peter's confession? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' There's the rock for you, there's the foundation, there's where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.1

Its clear, you see, from many places in scripture that Peter can stand for, or represent, the Church; above all from that place where it says, To you will I hand over the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt. 16:19). Did Peter receive these keys, and Paul not receive them? Did Peter receive them, and John and James and the other apostles not receive them? Or are the keys not to be found in the Church, where sins are being forgiven every day? But because Peter symbolically stood for the Church, what was given to him alone was given to the whole Church. So Peter represented the Church; the Church is the body of Christ.13

Augustine, I think, is saying that Peter represents the church or stands for the whole church, what he was given is also given to the whole church,(and here's my addition to Augustine) but he is the first; the example; the spokesman.

Here is a passage from 1 Peter that adds to this idea: 1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here Peter is saying that all believers are stewards of God's grace, not just one man as was mentioned in an earlier post about Peter and the popes. He says that if any believer speaks,'let him speak as the oracles of God', so each believer can speak God's word boldly by the power of the Spirit. I believe we are all successors of Peter, and he is our first spokesman and example.

Here is another passage from 1 Peter in which he says all believers are living stones coming to the first living stone, Christ. Peter doesn't set himself apart from the other stones built upon Christ, but always points to Christ.

1 Peter 2:
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“ Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

“ The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,”

8 and

“ A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense.”

They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.


I guess I should add to what I already said that based on what I have read in scripture I don't agree with de Sales on what he said about Peter's authority:
Thus they were foundations of the Church equally with him as to the conversion of souls and as to doctrine; but as to the authority of governing, they were so unequally, as S. Peter was the ordinary head not only of the rest of the whole Church but of the Apostles also. For Our Lord had built on him the whole of his Church, of which they were not only parts but the principal and noble parts.

I believe Peter's gift from the Lord in Matt. 16 was to be the first stone built on Christ AND the first to build upon the foundation of Christ in preaching the Word. I don't see any authority over the other Apostles or bishops exercised by Peter in scripture that was not exercised by the other Apostles and even by the other elders like James the brother of the Lord. I see the authority and boldness of preaching the gospel.


Elena said...

FYI, we don't as a rule remove comments at VTC, so there will be a record there unless the Google comment server dies or something.

Jennie said...

I know you don't, Elena. I just wanted the comments all in one place so they flowed; and just in case something happened to the server like you said.