The Roman Catholic Church, and all of her subsequent daughters in Protestantism, believe that Yeshua (Jesus) declared Peter to be the ‘rock’ and gave him the ‘keys’ of the kingdom. Based on these faulty declarations, an entire religious system has arisen and most of us were sucked in and indoctrinated by this tenuous interpretation. How did we get here? What was Yeshua really teaching Peter, and how are we to understand the truth of the matter?
Typically the church has taken an incident from the Biblical record and determined that Yeshua was making a brand new pronouncement and changing how the people of God are to do business. It goes hand in hand with the teaching that Acts Chapter Two was the beginning of a ‘new church age led by the Holy Spirit.’ This article will not delve into the Holy Spirit portion of these church doctrines. Instead, let’s explore what really happened when Yeshua had his conversation with Peter.
The incident with Peter occurs just prior to the Transfiguration where the three disciples saw a vision of Moses and Elijah and heard the Bat Kol (Voice from Heaven) declare the extraordinary blazing visage of Yeshua to be “My Son, in whom I am well pleased! Shema (Listen and Obey) him!” When these events are placed in chronological order (see The Chronological Gospels) it is apparent that the conversation with Peter occurs in the 7th month of the year, just a couple of days before Yom Kippur (when the Transfiguration happened).
Here is the incident in question. See also: Mark 8:27 and Luke 9:18.
Mat 16:13 When Jesus had come to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
Mat 16:14 They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Mat 16:15 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
Mat 16:17 Then Jesus told him, “How blessed you are, Simon son of Jonah, since flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, though my Father in heaven has.
Mat 16:18 I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock that I will build my congregation, and the powers of hell will not conquer it.
Mat 16:19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom from heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven.”
When we look at the Greek, verse 18 says this:
“I also say to you that you are Kefa (petros: a pebble) but on this rock (petra: Rock) I will build my church (Ekklesia: assembly of believers, first used in Deuteronomy 18:16).
WHAT ‘ROCK’ IS YESHUA TALKING ABOUT?
Paul, speaking about the Israelites in the desert of Mt. Sinai wrote:
1Co 10:3-4 They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that went with them. That rock was the Messiah.
Exo 17:6 I’ll be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock and water will come out of it, so the people can drink.” Moses did this in front of the elders of Israel.
Joh 7:37-38 On the last and most important day of the festival (Last Great Day/Sukkot), Jesus stood up and shouted, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have rivers of living water flowing from his heart.”
Yeshua is the Rock! Not Peter! Yeshua was explaining to him that the revelation he’d received from the Father so that he knew that Yeshua was the Messiah was the foundation stone, the Rock, on which the believers would build their assembly of Israel. It is a kehilah (Hebrew for called out/assembly of Israel) that was first mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:16, and this assembly of believers would have Yeshua the Messiah as their rock and foundation!
Another way to understand this passage was found when the transcript of the Ancient Hebrew Matthew was discovered. It is an example of a Hebrew word pun! In it the verse reads: You Kefa are even (a rock) and upon you will I evneh (build) my house of prayer (bet tefilati).
DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE?
The knowledge as revealed to Peter (that Yeshua is the Messiah) is how his house of prayer will be established! The Kehilah, however, has Yeshua as the foundation stone! [The stone considered unacceptable by the builders of Pharisaic Judaism.]
Mat 21:42 Jesus asked them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.’?
WHERE DID ALL THIS HAPPEN?
Remember, this event happened at Caesara Philippi. There is still an archaeological feature there known as the gates of hell! You can visit here today to see the evidence of the pagan practices that were performed there.
When Yeshua said that the gates of hell would not prevail against Kefa’s House of Prayer they were standing right there in the midst of the pagan stronghold!
WHAT ABOUT THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM?
Yeshua said, “I will give you (Kefa/Peter) the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven – and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Wow! This is the statement made by the Messiah that the entire Roman Catholic Church has built its church doctrine upon! What does it mean? Are we really to believe that Yeshua just gave Peter the absolute authority to declare what is bound (condemned) or loosed (approved) here on earth, regardless of what heaven has to say about it?
HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE?
Let’s look at the ISV translation for more clarity.
Mat 16:18-19 I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock that I will build my congregation, and the powers of hell will not conquer it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom from heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven.”
A careful reading changes the perspective, doesn’t it? He just told Peter (Kefa) that he would be given the keys from heaven…those keys originate from heaven. Then says that whatever is prohibited on earth will have been prohibited (already!) in heaven, and whatever is permitted on earth will have been permitted (already!) in heaven.
In other words, Peter (Kefa), and those in the assembly of the house of prayer which will be established in Jerusalem (on Pentecost/Shavuot?), will be praying in line with, and in accordance to, the things already prohibited or permitted in heaven! Our direction is still from the top down. It always has been, and it always will be.
Now do you see how Peter is but a pebble and the keys of the kingdom are for all who seek the will of our Father in Heaven? It was never taken away from Yeshua and handed to someone else, and the rules (keys) of the Kingdom are eternal! That is why Yeshua sent the disciples out to teach the Gospel of the Kingdom. It hasn’t changed. The authority is still sent from the Father and the Son.
Yeshua taught, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mat 6:33)
Thank you for this informative commentary. I’ve learned much from it. Going to
the original translations and original text has always proven to be eye-opening for me
and this is no exception. Again, thank you.