Church of Christ
at
Locks Cross Roads
4) Matthew 16:18 and following
The Church is seen as having real existence only in Christ who must Himself enter the gates of the city of the dead,
the grave.  According to this construction, then, we must not think of the Church as a great city-kingdom on the
outside of Hades and warring against the latter kingdom.  In fact, Jesus said nothing about that in this text.  Rather,
we must understand the Church as "in Christ" (a thoroughly Pauline concept), having real existence only in relation
to Him.  This means that the Church was in Hades with Christ during the time of His death, just as really as Christ
was within the "gates of Hades."

Those who reject Peter as the intended reference notice the distinction in gender between the words Jesus used.  
Jesus referred to Peter by his masculine name, Petros, but identified the Church's foundation by using a feminine
noun, Petra, thereby distinguishing the two.  Further, Petros refers to "a stone," in general contrast to Petra,
"bedrock, a great rock cliff."  Thus, whatever is represented by the term Petra is certainly not Petros!  Peter,
accordingly, is but a small stone incapable of supporting the Church.  The sure foundation must be sought
elsewhere.

CHRIST HIMSELF IS THE INTENDED ROCK

In favor of this view the following evidences are cited:
a) Christ is pictured as the Rock or as a Foundation in other texts.
b) Mention is also made of the difference in gender and meaning between Petros and Petra, a factor which
   facilitates a reference to someone other than Peter.

Church is pictured in our text as a great city-kingdom founded upon a rock foundation, and then none of the
above-cited texts are of any use, because they all involve quite different rhetorical images.  When Paul laid Jesus
Christ as the Church's foundation at Corinth, 1st Corinthians 3:11, another image is involved:  that of an artificial
foundation for a temple (1st Corinthians 3:9-16).  Paul "put" the foundation that now "lay" there.

1st Corinthians 10:4 helps the theory, since the "Rock that followed them was the Christ," was a rock at various
places int he desert from which Moses drew water, hence no symbol of a fixed, unmovable foundation for the
Church.  In the other texts He is no longer the foundation stone, as required by this view, but the "corner-stone."

Even if it is true that the divine basis of the Church cannot be a man as such, but only the Christ (1st Corinthians
3:11), we must ask the question:  is Jesus presented in our text as the foundation of the Church directly, or only
indirectly through the confession of Peter, just as is true for all the Apostles in Ephesians 2:20?  The major
misunderstanding represented by the papal view is its lack of sensitivity to the spiritual nature of Christ' s kingdom.  
Paul stoutly denied that his apostleship depended upon any man, especially upon those who preceded him
chronologically in the apostleship in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:11-17).  The entire New Testament theological doctrine
sees Christ as enjoying the primacy in heaven and on earth.  The New Testament is against any concept of Peter
or anyone as the substitute of Christ:  see Ephesians, Colossians, and the permanence of His high-priesthood in
Hebrews.
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