Since joining the ministry, I have learned that studying scripture is not only a must as we learn about Christ and grow in Him but it’s also fun to study scripture. As believers, we should want to learn more about our Savior and from scripture; this is where our doctrines and beliefs come from. After all, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Recently, I was a part of a Bible study and we taught about the Rock in Matthew 16:18. The book of Matthew is not just one of the most important books in all of scripture but it’s also one of the best to study as we get so much meat on the bone. There’s so much to take in and digest and one of the beliefs that comes from studying Mathew is the rock or who the rock is. There are two beliefs here: one says the Rock is Christ and the other concludes that Peter is the rock.
With this belief or doctrine, one is able to make a fair point either way with scripture to earnestly support the belief. Peter says in Matthew 16:16, “….Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” which is established different times in scripture and with either belief, this is concluded. However, many believe that Peter is the rock on which the church is established because we read “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 16:18).
Christ is the head of the church, both sides agree on this, and both also reiterate that even the devil himself that resides in hell will not prevail against the church (the rock). It’s important to note that church itself is we the people and not a physical building. Therefore, the devil will not prevail against the Saints as long as we reside in Christ. Whichever thought process you are a part of, Peter plays an important role as Peter is used greatly within the foundation of God’s word as he was the first one that the Holy Spirit fell upon and 3,000 Saints were saved on the first Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47) and Peter was the first one to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48).
When we look into the meaning of words from Greek, Peter in Greek is “Petros” which means stone. Many people like to point to this and conclude Peter is the stone upon which the church is built. A few chapters later, though, in Matthew 21:42, we read “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” Christ, here, is the cornerstone of the church and Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:11 that “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” From this explanation, we see that there is no other foundation which a church, any church, can be laid but upon our Lord and Savior.
Peter himself tells us that, as believers (the church), we place our faith in Christ: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,” (1 Peter 2:4). While Peter does have an important role within the Christian faith and does play a significant role within history, he is not given any authority over any other apostle nor is he described as some type of leader. Therefore, it’s fair to conclude that the rock of the church is the same rock, or foundation, upon which wise men build their house, Jesus Christ: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24). In other words, take me to the rock upon which our foundation is built!