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So, Jesus is saying; "Peter you are  
rock, you are the rock that I am going
to build My kingdom on, just like the
stone in Daniel 2."
St. Peter as the Rock!
READ: Matthew 16: 17-19. Mat 16:17 And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou,
Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in
heaven. Mat 16:18 And I say to thee:
That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will
build my church
, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou
shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on
earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (NAB)

TIMOTHY GRAY, The Bible Foundation for the Papacy, 'Rock'

Throughout the Old Testament Yahweh is called the 'Rock'.

Psalm 95:1 (1) Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.

You will see this in many of the Psalms and many places in the Old Testament.

Why is God called 'Rock'?

Because the word 'tsuwr' (tsoor) in Hebrew means rock, but it also means 'refuge'. Also many
of the words in Hebrew that mean rock also metaphorically symbolize 'protection', refuge or
fortress. The Jews take the image of rock meaning something solid, something concrete,
something weighty and that becomes a term for God. Because it signifies God's protection,
God's steadfast love, His integrity that He is always a solid refuge and fortress for those who
call upon Him. Proverbs 18:10,"The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous man
runs into it and is safe."

There is only one other Hebrew person who is referred to as rock in the Old Testament.

The person is Abraham. Abraham is the only one in the Old Testament who is called 'friend of
God' and he is given God's own title of rock. Aristotle once said; "Friend's have a common
bond", and so the friend of God is also called rock.

Isaiah 51:1 Listen to me, you who pursue justice, who seek the LORD; Look to the rock from
which you were hewn, to the quarry from which you were digged;

What does that mean?

In v. 2, there is a parallelism and so we are told what is meant by line 1.

"Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth;"

So, look to the rock from which you were hewn - 'look to Abraham'.

He is the ancient 'father' of all the Israelites.
(ME) If Abraham is rock & father in the Old Testament then wouldn't it be fitting, if Peter is rock
in the New Testament to also be called rock & father?
back to Gray The rock & the quarry are metaphors for Abraham & Sarah, parents of all the

So, here is an example of Abraham being called rock from which everyone else (all the good
Israelites) are hewn. For Jesus to call Peter rock; Mat 16:18 And so I say to you, you are
Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not
prevail against it.

We might not see that as anything significant. But for the Jews that is a phrase of great
dignity, to be called a rock. Only Yahweh had been called rock except for Abraham, the
Patriarch! For Jesus to call Peter rock, He is basically saying; "Peter you are so associated to
me that your name will be rock just like Abraham was so associated with Yahweh's plan in the
Old Covenant that he was given the term rock.

There is great symbolism in that name rock. But that is not the only reason why Peter is called

In the Old Testament & for the Jews there is an important rock. There is one rock that stands
out among all the other rocks. In fact if you have ever gone to Israel it is covered with rocks,
big stones and rocks everywhere. It is a very rocky terrain.

But there is one rock that sticks out for the Jews!

That is the rock that is the Foundation Stone for the Temple. It was so special that the rabbis
had all kinds of traditions about this stone.

It was believed that when the waters parted in Creation the first land to appear was that rock,
that the Temple was built on. It was also believed by the rabbis that this stone was the very
stone upon which Abraham offered up Isaac. That when Abraham offered up Isaac on Mt.
Moriah in Genesis 22 there was a large rock and it was a rock that happened to be the
foundation stone of the Temple.

Why would the Jews see an association with the rock between Abraham & Isaac- and the
Temple Stone? Because Solomon chooses to build the Temple on the very place where
Abraham offered up Isaac, Mt. Moriah.

(ME) Mat 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall
condemn it: because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and behold a greater than Solomon is here. (DR)

back to Gray 2 Chron. 3:1 And Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, in
mount Moriah,

Gen 22:2 Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the
land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to

The Temple is built on the very place where Abraham offered up Isaac.

That becomes the most sacred place for all of Israel. In fact according to the Torah the
Temple can only be built on Mt. Moriah, where Abraham offered up Isaac. Which means the
Jews can't build the Temple anywhere else in the world! Not even anyplace in Jerusalem but
only on the Temple mount.

That rock is still there until this day. Whenever you see pictures of Jerusalem you see this
golden dome. That dome is called the 'Dome of the Rock'. The Dome is covered with real
gold. That dome is a Muslim mosque now. It is the third holiest place for all of Islam. It is built
over where the place for the Temple was. The rock is as big as a room.

For the Muslims it was on this rock that Abraham offered up Ismael. Remember Ismael
becomes the 'Father' of the Arabs. In the Koran it is Abraham offers up Ismael. The Jews
according to the Muslims changed the text, putting in Isaac. Also the Muslims say this is where
Mohammed ascended into heaven, from this rock. It is also the place where Jesus and Moses
came during Mohammed's 'Transfiguration', Jesus and Moses appeared with Mohammed. You
can see how the Muslims take the Christian and Jewish stories and subvert them.
(ME) [2.135] And they say: Be Jews or Christians, you will be on the right course. Say: Nay!
(we follow) the religion of Ibrahim, the Hanif, and he was not one of the polytheists. (excerpt
from the Koran)

Back to Gray, That 'rock' is the Holy Place. It is the place where all the sacrifices took place in
the Temple. That is why Solomon chose to build the Temple there. And why it had a great
significance for the Jews even to Jews of Jesus' day.

So, when there is talk of the 'House of the Lord' being built on a rock they would think of this
rock. Just to give you the kind of significance that was put into this rock. One of the rabbis in
speaking of Creation says; "What that the Holy One, Blessed be he do when He created? Like
a man setting in place a central pole of a tent, He raised his right foot and drove the stone
(the foundation stone that we are talking about) into the very bottom of the deeps and made it
the 'Pillar' of the earth."

So, not only is this the 'Foundation Stone' of the Temple but also the 'Foundation Stone' of
the world! Then the rabbi goes on. "Therefore it is called [...] the very navel of the earth from
which the whole earth is stretched out. And upon the 'stone' is the 'House of the Lord', the

There is also some Jewish lore that says; "That the Foundation Stone was the capstone over
hell". And that it was the sacrifices on this capstone that bound the powers of hell!

The sacrifices kept them from coming out against God's people.

(ME) Gen 22:17 your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies,

Mat 16:18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and
the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Back to Gray, Why do we point this out?

When Jesus says to Peter; "You are Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Temple
(Church)." What does that evoke for the Jews? Jesus is saying; "Peter you are the new
'foundation stone'." "I am building a new 'house' for the Lord and you are going to be its
basis." Remember in Christ we become a 'new creation'. So, Peter is becoming a 'new
creation' as well. Is there any connection with Peter being the rock and the Temple rock?

Let's go back to Matthew 16 and see. There are other clues to this.

Mat 16:18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and
the gates of the netherworld (the powers of death - literally, the power of Hades) shall not
prevail against it (the Teaching authority of Christ's Church). The power of Hades will not
prevail against Peter because he is the rock - the capstone that binds the power of Satan and
the powers of hell. Just as the rock of the Temple from which all the sacrifices were offered
bound the power of Satan, so likewise this 'new rock', the Papacy & Peter will bind the power
of hell and the 'gates of Hades' will not prevail against it.

To really see the significance of Jesus being a builder who builds on the rock you have to go
back earlier in the gospel. Jesus talks about building on 'the rock' in this gospel at the end of
his discourse on the 'Sermon on the mount'.

Mat 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is
like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (NIV)

Who does this passage remind you of? "You will be like a wise man who built his house upon
the rock?" Solomon is 'The wise man for all of Israel'! Solomon is known for 3 things.

First: being the son of David.

Second: for his wisdom.

Third: he is known for being the Temple builder.

(ME) Mat 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall
condemn it: because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and behold a greater than Solomon here. (DR)

Back to Gray, He builds the Temple and he builds it on Mt. Moriah. So, Solomon is the wise
man who builds the House of the Lord on the rock. Now Jesus says; "Peter, I am building - (in
other words Jesus is saying that he is the new Solomon Mt. 12:42) - My Church (My Temple)
and you are rock and I am going to build it on this Rock." Jesus now is the new Solomon, the
new wise man who builds His house on the Rock!

(ME) 1 Timothy 3:15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the
household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

back to Gray, Now does Jesus see himself as the new Solomon? "Behold a greater than
Solomon here." Right here in the gospel of Matthew Jesus relates to Himself as the new

There were lots of Jewish expectations that when the Messiah comes He would bring about
the new Temple of God.
(ME) Rev 3:12 " '"The victor (the one who endures) I will make into a pillar in the temple of my
God, and he will never leave it again. On him I will inscribe the name of my God and the name
of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, as
well as my new name."

back to Gray, In fact, there is a legend that this Temple would not be built by human hands!
Many, even today, believe that when the Messiah comes the Temple will just appear! In fact,
in the trail in the gospel of Mark, Mark 14:57 Some took the stand and testified falsely against
him, alleging,

Mark 14:58 "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three
days I will build another not made with hands.'"

That goes back to this expectation that the Temple will not be made with hands. What is that
Temple? It is Peter! Peter is the foundation stone, that first stone of the Temple not made with
hands, it is going to be begotten.

This idea of the Church as the Temple was the predominant picture that early Christians had
of the Church. We see this in Paul and also in Peter's First Letter, chapter 2. If you look at the
First Letter of Peter he talks about Old Testament texts that talk about rock. He talks about
how you are a 'living stone' in this Temple.

(ME) Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens
with the holy ones and members of the household of God,

Eph 2:20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as
the capstone.

In order to understand what is happening in Matthew 16 you have to first understand Jesus as
the 'builder'. Jesus the 'Temple builder'! That is why He calls Peter rock.

There is one other mention of rock in Scripture that is significant and it is in Daniel 2.

In Daniel 2, Daniel interprets the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had a nightmare
and he asks; "Who can interpret my dream?" He says; "Tell me what my dream is and then
interpret it." Daniel steps forth and he tells the king his dream and interprets it.

Dan 2:31 "In your vision, O king, you saw a statue, very large and exceedingly bright,
terrifying in appearance as it stood before you. The head of the statue was pure gold, its
chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron, its feet partly iron and
partly tile. While you looked at the statue, a stone which was hewn from a mountain without a
hand being put to it, struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces. The iron, tile, bronze,
silver, and gold all crumbled at once, fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer, and
the wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the stone that struck the statue became
a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

You have gold, silver, bronze, & iron mixed with clay, representing 4 kingdoms. These
represent 4 kingdoms that will come. Which will be the 4 kingdoms that will rule over Israel in
the next 500 yrs. The Babylonians, the Medopersians, the Greeks and finally the Romans.
Then Daniel says; "You saw O king a stone, a small stone coming down, it hit the statue in the
head and crushed it shattered each part till it crumbled to the ground."

This little stone shattered all these kingdoms. Then this little stone grows and grows until it
becomes a mighty mountain that covers the whole earth!

Dan 2:45 That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain without a hand
being put to it, which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold. The great God has
revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its
meaning is sure."

The stone is the kingdom of God! That little stone is the 'kingdom of God'.

So, Jesus says; "Peter you are rock, you are the rock that I am going to build My kingdom on,
just like the stone in Daniel 2."

There are all kinds of images with the word rock. If you understand the Old Testament
imagery of rock you begin to understand the significance of what Jesus is telling Peter.
(ME) Remember the Jews knew, for the most part, what you and I have to learn. That is
probably one reason why Jesus is so hard on those who 'refuse' to believe. We sit here and
think they should have believed just on the evidence we see. But actually they saw and
understood much more, especially the leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Because
they would know all of this background information and still refuse to accept Jesus!

back to Gray, He is saying here that He is going to build His New Church. That Peter is going
to be the 'New Temple', 'Kingdom of God', (the small stone) that will grow and cover the whole

("THIS ROCK", April'96 p. 19)
Further light is shed on the role of Peter as rock, as foundation of Christ's Church, by the
book of Daniel. Vladimir Soloviev, a member of the Russian Church but an apologist for the
Papacy, calls attention to a series of two verses, Daniel 7:13, 18, 27 and Daniel 2:34-35, 45.
Daniel 7:13 is the key passage for the title "son of man" which our Lord applied to Himself (cf.
Matthew 16:13). The verses from Daniel 2 tell of a fifth kingdom which comes like a gigantic
stone to destroy and supplant the four pagan empires.

Although the New Testament does refer to Christ as Rock, he never applied the image to
himself. Instead, he consistently used the language of Daniel 7:13, "son of man". If the stone
of Daniel 2 represented Christ, this would mean that Christ himself would become the great
mountain which filled the earth and replaced the pagan empires. Christ himself, in other
words, would be the institutional Church. But this interpretation would only confuse and distort
the imagery used by the sacred writer.

It comes to this. Daniel 7:18 and 27 state unequivocally that the fifth kingdom is that of "the
saints of the Most High."

Obviously (says Soloviev) the fifth kingdom is the universal Church which Christ established.

Now both Daniel and Matthew give us the title "son of man' and "rock" of the Church. There
can be no doubt that "son of man" in both Daniel and Matthew denotes the same person, the
Messiah. By analogy, "rock" must bear in the same sense in both passages. In Matthew, Peter
is rock. Therefore the rock (stone) in Daniel must "equally foreshadow the original trustee of
monarchical authority

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