"Thou and This"

Richard Weaver
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

"When Jesus came into the coasts 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 saith 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 Bar-jona: 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." -Matthew 16:13-18.

One of the many errors taught by the Catholic Church is that Jesus built His church upon Peter and made him the first Pope. Peter, however, was a married man and had children (Mk. 1:30; 1 Peter 5:1; Titus 1: 5-6). Too, he was rebuked publicly by Paul (Gal. 2:11-14). No Pope would permit it. Furthermore, he did not act like a Pope for he would not allow Cornelius to fall at his feet and worship him or kiss his toe (Acts 10: 25-26) and no one ever referred to him as such.

It is true that Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church," but when the Catholics preach that Peter was the rock upon which Jesus built His church, they preach false doctrine. Their claim is that "Peter" means "stone," therefore, Jesus was talking about the apostle Peter as the rock upon which He would build His church. Let us see if this is so (Acts 17:11).

Johnson's Commentary

In B. W. Johnson's explanatory notes on Matthew 16:18 he has the following:

"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." This is the first time Jesus speaks of his church, and here, as not yet founded. Three terms are to be noted: (1) Peter, in the Greek, Petros, meaning a single stone; (2) Rock, in the Greek, Petra, which means the solid, immovable bed-rock, a great mass like a cliff, and (3) church, Greek, ecclesia, those "called out," the fellowship of believers, the organized society of Christ, the kingdom of heaven on earth. There is probably no passage in the word of God that has called forth more discussion.

"The Papal church insists that Peter is the rock upon which Christ founded his church. The Catholic position is based upon the fact that Peter means a stone (see John 1:42), and the Savior's language might be rendered, "Thou art a stone, and upon this rock I will build my church." The Catholic view is untenable, for 1. The Savior does not say, "Thou art a stone, and upon thee I will build," etc., or, "Thou art a rock, and this rock I build." He changes the word Greek from Petros (Peter, a stone) to Petra, a rock, or ledge of rock - a solid bed rock. 2. Every saint is a stone (see I Pet. 2:5). The Lord declares that Peter is one of these living stones, made such by his confession of faith, and ready to be built into the church, the spiritual temple, formed of living stones, and built upon the rock. So is every confessor of Christ.

"In order to settle what the Saviour does mean by the rock, we must consider the 18th and 19th verses together, and keep in mind the entire figure. This figure portrays (1) a Builder, Christ; (2) a temple to be built, composed of lively stones, the church; (3) a foundation for that temple, the rock; (4) the gates of an unfriendly city or power which shall seek its destruction, hell, or more correctly, Hades, the unseen abode of the dead, the grave; (5) a door-keeper of the church, or spiritual temple, with his keys, Peter. Peter's place in the figure is not that of the foundation, but that of the key-holder, or turnkey.

"The only difficulty is in settling what the Lord means by the rock. Since this rock is the foundation of the church, the central principle, the fundamental idea, we are aided to a correct decision by the teachings of the Word elsewhere. We learn from I Cor. 3 :11, "That other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." This excludes Peter on any human platform. Christ is often called a stone, "the stone that the builders rejected," "the chief corner stone," "the stone that is the head of the corner," "the spiritual rock which is Christ." Faith in Christ held in the heart and confessed with the lips is the very foundation of the spiritual life and of the church. This constituted the fundamental difference in apostolic days between Christians and unbelievers, the church and the world. It does still. It is the essence of the teaching of the New Testament that the platform or foundation of the Christian society, the church, is the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

"It is then Peter's grand confession, faith in the Spiritual Rock, the faith that lays hold of Christ, belief that he is the Anointed of God, the Divine Saviour, that the Lord pronounces the rock upon which he will found his church."


Even if we did not have the advantage of the above commentary, and explanation of the Greek, we can see, from the English, the difference between "thou" and "this." Jesus did NOT say, "Thou art Peter and upon thou I will build my church." Rather, Jesus said, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock (the confession you have made that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God) I will build my church." Matthew 16:18. Christ's church, therefore, is God's divine organization because it is built upon the confession of the divinity of Jesus.

Yes, Jesus promised to build "my" church. Hence, it is Christ's church or the church of Christ (Romans 16:16), meaning the church belonging to Christ. Moreover, when Jesus said, "I will build," future tense, John the Baptist was already dead. See Matthew 14:1-2. No church built by men will survive for the house, they labour in vain that build it." (Psalms 127:1 ) and "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." (Matthew 15:13).

Friends, why not be a member of the church you can read about in the Word of God? By being a faithful member of Christ's church, you will be saved by Jesus for "Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Ephesians 5:23).

Truth Magazine IV:9, pp. 23-24
June 1960