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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Dr Paisley on who was the 'rock' upon which the Church was built

This quote is taken from Dr Paisley's Concise Guide to Bible Christianity and Romanism. It was in the form of questions and answers:

Question 27: What text in Matthew's Gospel does the Church of Rome use to support her claims for St. Peter being the first Pope?

Answer - Matthew chapter 16 and verse 18: '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.' The meaning of this text is obvious. Jesus having heard from the disciples the various notions which were entertained of Him, asked them: 'But whom say ye that I am?' and Peter, always more forward than the rest, replied: 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 

Jesus, having pronounced him blessed, as every believer is (Psalm 32:1), said: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' Christ in addressing Peter said: 'Thou art Peter,' using the word 'petros', which signifies a stone, but in referring to the rock He used the word 'petra', which means properly 'an immovable rock'. He does not say: 'Thou art Peter, and upon thee I will build my church', but 'upon this Rock.' The Rock he had confessed was Christ the Son of the living God, as though He said: 'Thou art Peter, a living stone in this spiritual edifice, but upon this immovable foundation I will build my church.'

10 comments:

Tom said...

Pastor McClung,
With all due respect, have you read any Protestant/Puritan commentaries on this verse prior to 1951? Matthew Henry for example? The notes from the Geneva Study Bible, etc.? The RHKJVSB clearly does not state that "Peter is the Rock upon which the Church is built", as you claim. It says, "The rock that Jesus builds His Church upon is most naturally understood as Peter, together with the other apostles in their Spirit given testimony of Him (Eph. 2:20, Rev. 21:14)". This is a position that others, including Matthew Henry, have articulated as being possible interpretations of the verse in. He would also utilize Eph. 2:20 and Rev. 21:14 as the RHKJVSB did. Also, take a look at how Calvin speaks of this verse and you get the same idea expanded even further. Would Calvin and Henry be setting forth "Romish Teaching" as well?
Tom

Rev Brian McClung said...

Tom

You are being very charitable to the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible when you say: The RHKJVSB clearly does not state that "Peter is the Rock upon which the Church is built", I would suggest far too charitable.

Whatever else the RHKJVSB, to use your helpful abbreviation, says, it singles out Peter and highlights him as the rock upon which the church is built by telling us his name "literally means rock." There is no getting away from this! Something which is not true!

The RHKJVSB does not give the three possibilities as other commentaries and study Bibles usually do. It makes a bold statement. It nails it colours to the mast! In its forthright statement there is no room for Christ as the rock upon which the Church is built at all. Not even as a possibility. Which is quite shocking for such a controversial verse and important subject! Whatever explanations you may suggest the shameful reality is that in the RHKJVSB there is no possibility that Christ is the rock. Neither does it acknowledge that the rock may be Peter's confession of Christ. This possibility is nowhere mentioned. It specifically singles out Peter.

In the statement that the RHKJVSB makes we are told that the most natural understanding of this passage is that Peter is the rock that Jesus builds His Church upon. Even including the rest of the original statement: together with the other apostles in their Spirit given testimony of Him (Eph. 2:20, Rev. 21:14) this does not take away from the point I am making that the RHKJVSB singles out Peter particularly as the rock and there is no acknowledgment that Christ could be so.

Let's have a look at what the sources you have cited have to say:
1. Matthew Henry He gives all three possibilities. He declares his own view by saying:
The foundation on which it is built is, this Rock. Let the architect do his part ever so well, if the foundation be rotten, the building will not stand; let us therefore see what the foundation is, and it must be meant of Christ, for other foundation can no man lay. See Isa 28:16…… [emphasis mine]
But this must be explained by those many scriptures which speak of Christ as the only Foundation of the church; see 1 Co 3:11; 1 Pe 2:6. Christ is both its Founder and its Foundation; he draws souls, and draws them to himself; to him they are united, and on him they rest and have a constant dependence.


Continued

Rev Brian McClung said...

Tom

Continued from previous reply

2. The Geneva Study Bible. Here is what it says: Christ spoke in the Syrian tongue, and therefore did not use this discourse to distinguish between Petros, which signifies Peter, and Petra, which signifies a rock, but in both places used the word Cephas: but his meaning is what is written in Greek, in which the different word endings distinguish between Peter, who is a piece of the building, and Christ the Petra, that is, the rock and foundation: or else he named him Peter because of the confession of his faith, which is the Church's as well as his, as the old fathers witness, for so says Theophylact. That confession which you have made, shall be the foundation of the believers.

These notes rule out the possibility of Peter being the rock by identifying Christ as the Petra and highlight one other possibility namely Peter's confession. Again a position totally different from the RHKJVSB.

3. John Calvin In CHAPTER 6 of his Institutes Calvin deals with the subject of the "PRIMACY OF THE ROMISH SEE." Points 6 & 7 of the chapter summary read respectively: "6. Answer to the argument that the Church is founded on Peter, from its being said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” & 7. Answer confirmed by passages of Scripture."

Section 6 reads: Though we are not yet come to that part of the discussion, I would merely observe at present, how futilely those argue who, out of the mere name of Peter, would rear up a governing power over the whole Church. For the ancient quibble which they at first used to give a colour—viz. The Church is founded upon Peter, because it is said, “On this rock,” &c.—is undeserving of notice, not to say of refutation. Some of the Fathers so expounded! But when the whole of Scripture is repugnant to the exposition, why is their authority brought forward in opposition to God? nay, why do we contend about the meaning of these words, as if it were obscure or ambiguous, when nothing can be more clear and certain? Peter had confessed in his own name, and that of his brethren, that Christ was the Son of God (Mt. 16:16). On this rock Christ builds his Church, because it is the only foundation; as Paul says, “Other foundation than this can no man lay” (1 Cor. 3:11). Therefore, I do not here repudiate the authority of the Fathers, because I am destitute of passages from them to prove what I say, were I disposed to quote them; but as I have observed, I am unwilling to annoy my readers by debating so clear a matter, especially since the subject has long ago been fully handled and expounded by our writers. [emphasis mine]

John Calvin won't even entertain the idea that Peter is the rock. He says this idea is: "undeserving of notice and further that: the whole of Scripture is repugnant to the exposition" of Peter being the rock.

This is somewhat different to the RHKJVSB. I would suggest that Calvin does indicate that it is Romish teaching.

Brian McClung

Rev Brian McClung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Pastor McClung,

My take on this is that you are being very critical of the RHKJVSB, and I would suggest far too critical. In fact, I believe that your criticalness is unwarranted. First, I do not see how the RHKJVBS “singles out Peter” (as you claim) when the note clearly says, “The rock that Jesus builds His church upon is most naturally understood as Peter, together with the other Apostles in their Spirit –given testimony to Him.” The first part of that statement (if it stood alone) is “most naturally understood” as saying that the Rock is Peter with the other Apostles. For example, if I was to say that “you are incorrect, together with the other critics of the RHKJVSB in your assessment of this note”, would I be singling out you alone as incorrect? Not a bit! The construction of my statement would clearly apply the designation of being “incorrect” to both you and any other critics. Although it may in a sense “highlight” you, especially since you are the one I am addressing initially by the statement. But, the use of the term “incorrect” would be applicable collectively to the group of critics that you are a part of. In other words, I would not be singling you out at all. Bringing that back to my disagreement with you, the statement from the RHKJVSB in the same way does not single out Peter as the “rock”. There is no getting away from this! That is, if you follow the construct of the sentence and don’t try to imagine it going beyond the bounds of what it is actually saying. As Edmund Burke says, “There is a boundary to men’s passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination”.
What I have said above should show that what is being stated in the RHKJVSB is not even remotely close to the erroneous teaching of Rome on the apostolic succession of the papacy beginning with Peter. If that notation intended to set forth that specific teaching, they could not have done it in a more clumsy way in their handling of the English language. Whatever your criticism of the editors of the study Bible is, I believe you can at least concede that they are intellectually capable men in handling the English language. (Continued)

Tom said...

(Continued) The second part of the sentence which says, “...in their Spirit-given testimony to Him”, takes the statement that speaks of Peter, with the other Apostles, as the “rock” and brings further meaning and clarity to it. The entire sentence together does not say that these particular men, as men, are declared to be the “rock” but it is in fact the testimony coming from these men (with Peter in a sense their spokesman) that is referred to in this way. My reference to Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Geneva study Bible in my previous post was intended to show that the understanding of the sentence in the way I have just set forth is consistent with what others have said. In other words, this short notation from the RHKJVSB (which you have sought to make into something that it is clearly not) is in reality a very succinct statement of what other orthodox reformed theologians have already said. But I believe that the biggest issue I have had with what you have posted is in fact what you fail to mention. And that would be the statement from this notation that you don’t address. You say nothing about what follows the sentence that you have focused so much attention on. Following the statement, The rock that Jesus builds His church upon is most naturally understood as Peter, together with the other Apostles in their Spirit –given testimony to Him”, the notation says, “However, there is no indication here that Peter would have any apostolic succession in the popes; true apostolic succession lies in the gospel through the ages.” (The picture on your blog clearly shows this statement.) Why wouldn’t you even give this latter statement any mention in your original post? If the editors of the RHKJVSB had intended to say what you claim they meant in the former statement, why would they seek to negate what they had said in the latter? This unmentioned statement not only says that “there is no indication” that Matthew 16:18 indicates anything of Rome’s view of apostolic succession through Peter, it also makes it clear (again succinctly) what true apostolic succession entails. And what is said in that respect is Protestant through and through.

Rev Brian McClung said...

Tom

This a short reply until I get more time to reply more fully.

The reason I put this article up on the Blog was that other people have raised the issue with me as they understood the footnote to single our Peter and give him undue prominence. This is not something that is only an issue with me.

Furthermore since putting up the article I have been contacted with other issues in the Study Bible. By reformed people outside the FPC I may add. I haven't got time to look at these issues myself but for example some the issues that have been raised is questionable teaching about regeneration and justification.

I am preaching in a week of meetings presently therefore I don't have the time to respond fully to your points but I will once I have more time.

Brian McClung

Tom said...

Pastor McClung,

I look forward to your response.

May I also suggest (if time allows) that if you have a copy of James Bannerman's 2 volume "Church of Christ", that you would look at what he says on Matthew 16:18. In my copy which is a facsimile recently published, he discusses that particular verse on pages 254-259 of the second volume. (I found it by looking up "Peter" in the index in the back.) I believe what he says is in keeping with the meaning behind the entire notation in the RHKJVSB.

May the Lord grant great grace and liberty in your endeavors this week.

Tom

Rev Brian McClung said...

Tom

We are going to disagree on this evidently. I believe this footnote does single out Peter. Why mention Peter particularly at all? The other verses quoted with reference to the point they are seeking to make, don't mention Peter by name, namely Eph 2:20 & Rev 21:14. These two verses just mention the apostles as a collective group.

However the Study Bible doesn't mention the apostles as a group. It singles out Peter for particular emphasis. We are informed, wrongly I believe, that Peter's name literally means 'rock'. When the Saviour wanted to single out Peter from the others when he was in gravest danger the Saviour mentions him specifically by name in Luke 22:31,32: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

I'm sure you know that this is one of those passages that emphasise the importance of distinguishing between 'you' [plural] and 'thee' [singular]. Satan sought to sift all the disciples but Peter was in particular danger and the Saviour had prayed for him especially.

The same could be said of the events after the Saviour's arrest in the Garden. The Word of God seeks to single out Peter from the rest of the apostles again as it mentions him by name in following far off. Again Peter was in the greatest danger. Yet he wasn't the only one following afar off.

Apply that principle to the comment made in this footnote and I can come to no other conclusion than that Peter is being singled out here.

To use your analogy, if someone mentions me, by name, within a wider group I would most definitely take it that they were singling me out. Whatever was said of the group was being especially said of me. That is singling me out!

Whatever else the footnote goes on to say it singles Peter out especially. That is my complaint against the footnote. This is how others, besides myself, have understood it. So I am not alone in reading it this way.

Continued

Rev Brian McClung said...

continued
The way this sentence is constructed in the footnote, and the other Scripture references employed, do not permit this footnote to refer to the apostles' confession of Christ.

The most amazing and troubling point here is that there is no mention at all of Christ being the Rock, even as a possibility. Learned someone might be, whoever wrote this footnote, but it is wrong to say that Peter's name literally means rock.

In reading what James Bannerman has to say on the issue I think he is much more circumspect than this footnote in the Study Bible. I read this: I cannot help thinking that the natural interpretation of the passage does seem to involve the declaration that, in some sense, and to a certain effect, Peter is to be regarded, in his official character of an apostle, as upholding the superstructure of the Christian Church… Its Divine Author and Head is the only real rock on which the Christian Church is built; for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The Study Bible footnote says: The rock that Jesus builds His Church upon is most naturally understood as Peter…. James Bannerman says: in some sense, and to a certain effect. A heavily qualified statement and somewhat different I would suggest especially when we take into account his further statement in the same section about Christ being the only real rock on which the Christian Church is built

As I mentioned before I have been informed of other questionable footnotes. I just had it confirmed today that there are indeed alterations between the hard printed copies in circulation and the ebook edition presently available online. These corrections will feature in the next hard copy print run. If these corrections involve false teaching then that needs to be highlighted now so that Christians, especially young Christians are not seduced by false teaching!

Brian McClung