Editorial – The Rock

“He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice. … Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you. … Their rock is not like our Rock.” Deuteronomy 32:4, 18, 31.

Jesus is called the chief cornerstone of the church and the foundation of which nobody can lay another (Ephesians 2:19–22; I Corinthians 3:11). But, because of the confusion that has been in existence for over a thousand years on this point, we will allow the Anabaptists from the 16th century explain Matthew 16:18:

“They misinterpret the word petra, as though thereby was meant the apostle Peter; but this is a great and palpable error. For the Lord there plainly distinguishes between the name Petros (Peter) and the word petra (rock); saying immediately before, ‘Thou art Peter’ [Petros], but afterwards, ‘and upon this rock [petra]; … I will build my church;’ so that the Lord does not promise there, to build His church upon Peter [Petros], but upon the rock [petra]; which he plainly mentions.” Martyrs Mirror, 47. The word petros is a masculine word whereas the word petra is a feminine word—they are completely different words with different meanings.

There is also confusion over the word Cephas in John 1:42 which some say signifies a foundation stone. This word is a derivative of the Hebrew word Keph but the Hebrew words for foundation stone are Sela or Zur (see Deuteronomy 32:13). “Thus Peter is indeed called a stone in holy Scripture, yet not a foundation stone, but only such a one as is generally built upon a foundation. Christ is properly the foundation stone, as Peter Himself declares, when he calls Christ the living stone (I Peter 2:4); … whereupon he adduces the words of the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him (that is build upon him through faith) shall not be confounded.” ’ I Peter 2:6 from Isaiah 28:16. Therefore he admonishes the believers to build themselves, as living stones, to a spiritual house, upon the foundation which is laid—Christ.” Ibid.

“Christ is referred to as the cornerstone upon which the apostles and prophets are built (Ephesians 2:19–22). It is not inconsistent with this, that the twelve apostles, of whom Peter was one, are called twelve foundation stones in Revelation 21:14. For, even if it were admitted that by the words, city of God in this place there is to be understood the church of God here on earth, this would only prove that Peter, as well as the other apostles, was one of the twelve foundation stones of the church of Christ; which by no means confirms the proposed objection, that Peter alone is the foundation stone, or foundation, of the church.”

“Thus Christ is the ground, bottom, or foundation of His church; the apostles, through their doctrine, are the foundation stones; and the church is the building erected upon these foundation stones and the foundation.” Ibid.