We learn about the foundation of the church from the following passage:-
"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? So they said, Some say John the Immerser, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter (Greek: Petros), and on this Rock (Greek: Petra)I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against It." - Matthew 16:13-18
Thus, the foundation of the church is Jesus Christ - the reality that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God.
Some people believe that Peter is the rock on which Christ built the church.This is not true for the following reasons:-
- Jesus did not say to Peter, "Upon you will I build the church". He said, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church". Notice the contrast between YOU and THIS.
- Matthew uses different Greek words for Peter and the Rock. Peter is "Petros", a masculine word referring to a single stone or piece of rock (also see John 1:42). The rock on which Christ would build his church is "Petra", a feminine word referring to a huge rock, such as a cliff. While it is true that Jesus was speaking in Aramaic, it is also true that God inspired the writing of the New Testament in Greek. The different words indicate that Peter was not the same as the Rock.
- Peter was more like sand. The very next moment, he asked Jesus not to die. If Jesus had followed Peter's advice, there would be no church!! When Jesus was being tried, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus thrice!!
- It was Paul, and not Peter who received most revelation from God about the church.
- When Paul became a disciple of the Lord Jesus and wanted to join the church at Jerusalem, Peter was terrified of him and tried to avoid him (Acts 9:25, 26). How could the "foundation rock" of the church fail to recognize the greatest instrument of church growth and development?!
- When Gentiles (non-Jews) were added to the church, Peter joined with Jews who did not want to fellowship with them (Galatians 2:11-14). But the unity of Gentiles and Jews was a fundamental principle of the church (see Colossians 3:11). How could the "foundation rock" of the church fail to implement such a basic principle?!
- Not once after the founding of the church, did Peter or anyone else refer to Peter as the Rock.
- Other Bible passages provide clarification: Jesus Christ is mentioned as the Foundation in 1 Corinthians 3:11. Only God is a rock according to Psalm 18:31. Jesus Christ is called the chief cornerstone of the church in Ephesians 2:20, with the apostles and prophets providing the rest of the foundation.
Taken together, the evidence is conclusive. Christ, the perfect, stable Son of God, and not Peter, the imperfect impulsive man is the foundational rock on which the church is built.
The Roman Catholic Church is the primary organization that promotes the error that Peter is the rock on which the church is founded. The Vatican even teaches that Peter was the first "Pope" (head of the Catholic church). This is a grosser error, for the following reasons.
- In his two epistles, Peter does not refer to himself as the Pope, or the rock on which the church was founded. His death was imminent (2 Peter 1:14), but he makes no mention of his successor, nor is there any mention anywhere else in the Bible.
- The Vatican would have us believe that the second and third popes lived when the Bible was being written but Bible authors didn't bother to mention them, although they mentioned so many other Christians. This is ridiculous.
- There is no resemblance between Peter, a married Jew who was always broke and forbade people from bowing down to him, and the popes of the RCC, who are celibate (at least that's what they claim), champions of antisemitism, living in great wealth and luxury, putting out their feet for people to kiss, and brutal to true Christians whom they considered heretics.
- Roman Catholic teachings are markedly different from those of Peter and the rest of the apostles and prophets.