Some say it was here that Peter had his name changed by
Christ and with that change came a special primacy among the
apostles and the church in general, for the duration of Peter's
life. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Peter was the first
bishop of Rome, that he had primacy above all other apostles and
elders, that the NT church was founded upon him and that his
primacy was to be transferred to another upon his death. This
transference of "top dog" authority they say was to continue
throughout the life of the NT church, until the return of Christ
in glory at the end of the age.
Please read the account in Matthew 16, verse 18 in
particular, for we shall first answer the argument that it is
here that Peter had his named changed for a special reason.
Now did Christ say: "Look Simon(Peter's original name) I am
giving you a new name here because it is to signify something
very special to the other apostles and the whole church." ? Did
Jesus say to Peter: "Here's your new name Simon." ? NO!
Nothing can be found in that verse to prove it was here that
Jesus gave Simon his new name for a special reason, for a sign of
primacy among all the disciples. Jesus simply said: "And you are
Petros(meaning little stone or pebble)." That is how the Greek
reads, nothing more and nothing less. Jesus was stating a fact of
the character and personality of Peter, no more and no less.
Jesus knew peoples personality. We all have one, and that
makes us all unique individuals, no two of us are exactly a like,
not even identical twins.
It was not the first time by any means that Christ had
changed peoples names or given them what we call "a nickname"
today. If you have a Harmony of the Gospels book you will soon
discover this truth.
Turn to the gospel of John and read in chapter one verses
forty three to forty seven. Jesus could see the personality of
Some time later from this encounter with Nathanael, Jesus
chose 12 inner circle disciples from among ALL the disciples He
had, and called them apostles. You will find this in Mark
Notice verse 17. Concerning James and John, He gave them an
additional name, Boanerges, which means "Sons of Thunder." Jesus
knew their personality type.
Remember once how they asked Jesus if they should call fire down
from heaven to devour people. Yes, they were pretty thunderous at
Was it in Matthew 16 that Peter was first given his new name
by Christ? Well a harmony of the gospels tells the truth.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan,
just BEFORE the start of His three and one half years ministry.
Turn to John chapter one and start to read from verse 35.
The next day after Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist was
standing with two of his disciples. He told them that this man
Jesus was the "Lamb of God." the two disciples followed Jesus.
They ended up staying with Christ all day. One of the two men
was Andrew the brother of Simon. And he went to bring his brother
NOW NOTICE VERSE 42! Mark it well, get a yellow marker or
something and MARK IT!
Jesus looking at Simon said: "You are Simon the son of Jona,
you SHALL BE CALLED CEPHAS(Peter), which is by interpretation, a
AT THE VERY START OF THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST, Simon is given
the name of PETER by Jesus!
THIS IS WAY BEFORE THE ACCOUNT IN Matthew 16:17. See a
Harmony of the Gospels (I recommend the one by Fred Coulter, a
one time minister with the WCG who left that organization in
1979. It is the best harmony I have ever seen).
Peter DID NOT acquire his new name from Jesus in the account
given by Matthew in chapter 16 of his gospel, but he was called
PETER , given the name Peter, AT THE START OF CHRIST'S MINISTRY
BY JESUS HIMSELF!
Now we see why in Mat.16:17 Jesus said nothing about Simon
being given a new name for a special primacy reason, but only a
statement by Christ that, "You are Peter." In the Greek, "You are
a small stone." Yes Peter had a hard personality at times, "I
will not deny you Lord" and "I'll pull out my sword and fight for
you Lord" as he tried to do in the garden when they came to
arrest Jesus. He was a stone type of guy in many ways.
Then notice what Jesus went on to say: "and upon this rock."
In the Greek this is how it reads: "and on this THE Petra." The
word "petra" means huge rock, massive shelf of stone. And did
you notice the definite article "the" is in the Greek - "and on
this THE HUGE STONE...."
The rest of the verse in the Greek reads: "I will build my
the assembly, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against
WHAT IS THE CONTEXT? WHAT IS THE MAIN THOUGHT OF THIS WHOLE
CONVERSATION? We need to know for within it lies the key to this
section of scripture, the lesson Jesus wanted His disciples to
learn and never forget.
They had arrived at the coasts of Caesarea Philippi and
Jesus asked his disciples, "Whom to men say that I the Son of man
am?" They answered that some said this and some said that(verses
13,14). Then He asked them, "But whom say you that I am?" It
was Peter who answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the
living God"(verse 16).
Jesus told them all that and Peter directly, "Blessed are
you Simon Barjona(using his original name), for flesh and blood
has not revealed this to you, but my Father which is in
Verse 20, He tells them not to reveal this truth to anyone,
that Jesus was the Christ.
The whole question and answer quiz was to get at the truth
of who Jesus REALLY was, and to make sure the disciples had no
doubt about His identity, that He was no ordinary man of flesh
and blood but THE Messiah, God in the flesh(Immanuel). This
conversation was to point out to the disciples the IMPORTANCE of
Christ, not the importance of Peter, or any of them, but the
foundational importance of HIMSELF, the Christ, the Son of the
So after THAT FACT was established in verse 17, Jesus went
on to say to Peter(with all the other disciples standing there
listening), "And I say unto you, that you are Peter, a little
stone(just a very small part in the building, nothing to get
swell headed about), and upon this THE ROCK, the huge shelf of
rock(Myself as the Son of the living God) I will build, not you,
but Me, I will build My church, and the grave will not prevail
against it, it will never die out" (amplifying myself the words
of Jesus with the Greek for Peter and Rock).
We are given only the audio version of what transpired here
NOT the visual. If we put the two together, it probably went
something like this: Jesus after saying what He said in verse 17
to Peter and telling him that he was only a small stone, THEN
POINTING TO HIMSELF, says: "and upon THIS THE ROCK I will build
Christ was telling them that the church was to be built upon
the foundational shelf of massive rock THAT WAS HIMSELF, and
persons like Peter were only a little stone in the overall
And this is exactly how Paul, who was taught directly by
Christ, understood it when he wrote in Ephesians 2:20,21, "For
through Him(Jesus) we both(Jew and Gentile) have
access by one Spirit unto the Father......and are built
upon(stone upon stone, many small stones to make the building)
the foundation of the apostles(plural, not just Peter) and
prophets(plural), Jesus Christ Himself BEING THE CHIEF CORNER
Without that chief corner stone, when a building is erected
and built upon anything but a STRONG SOLID foundation, it is
insecure, and when the winds blow and the tempest rolls, and the
floods come, the building falls and is shattered and is
But Jesus told His disciples that the church would never be
killed and put to death, that it would always remain BECAUSE it
was NOT to be founded and built upon any man such as Peter, but
upon THE ROCK, upon HIMSELF as the very Son of the living God!
If Jesus was here telling Peter that the NT church would be
built upon the man Peter, then Jesus would have said and the
Greek would read: "You are Peter and upon YOU I will build my
church...." Yet the Greek in no way is constructed with those
words in Matthew 16:18.
Now to Matthew 16 and verse 19. The disciples, all of them,
are standing there listening, they are all present during this
conversation. Jesus goes on to say: "And I will give unto
you......" Was this only said to Peter? Was this only for Peter
to have? Was Jesus only looking at Peter and giving these words
to him alone? MAYBE, but then again maybe not! It could just as
likely have been said to ALL the disciples. From this account
only we cannot say with any assurance one way or the other. But
from the rest of the NT we can KNOW that what was said by Jesus
in this verse 19 was not just for Peter as the one with primacy
in the church, but was for ALL apostles and elders/overseers of
the flock and church of God, for all ages to the return of Christ
in glory. This I have proved both in the first section of this
study and in my book on New Testament Church Government.
The "keys of the Kingdom of heaven" were to be given. Was
it ONLY Peter who could have the full, supreme, inner secret
knowledge of the deep workings and understandings of Jesus? Was
it only through him, Peter, that the church could come to know
the answers to difficult issues and problems and questions of
theology and Christian morality? To answer yes to those
questions would mean a total neglect of
reading the entire NT, or a blindness to all the words of the NT
that boarders on the line of insanity.
How anyone can read the writings of Paul and the way he
conducted his ministry to the Jews, Gentiles and the churches of
God he wrote to(with his preaching, teaching, correction and
guidance), and believe that he believed or taught that only Peter
had the indepth "keys of the Kingdom" .........is to me absurd,
ridiculous, bizarre and theologically unsound.
Why if anyone in the NT church was the one with the
technical Ph.D. mind, it was Paul. His background was from the
feet of Gamaliel(a doctor of the law - Acts 5:34), see
Acts 22:3. And within the religion of the Jews he was above many,
and blameless(Gal.1:14; Phil.3:6). Even Peter(the one many teach
had the primacy in knowledge and insight and understandings of
God) had to admit that when it came to the theology writings of
Paul, there were "some things hard to understand" (2 Pet.3:16).
Oh, not impossible! He did not say that, but not theologically
easy either, and that was why some (who were unlearned and
unstable) wrested and twisted to their own destruction.
There is no plain teaching nor is there even any example in
the NT that can demonstrate Peter and Peter alone above Paul or
any other apostle, had the ONLY ultimate primacy of knowledge
concerning the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
Peter had power to perform miracles, and healings, and see into
the hearts of people(read again the first chapters of Acts).
Peter was able to preach powerfully at times, and was led by God
to teach the church that Gentiles were to be called and
become children of the Father just as much as any Jew or
Israelite. But, Paul was used just as much in his own way as led
by the Lord, and miracles and signs often followed him also.
Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Apollos, James, John, and others were
all used of God as chosen and as the gifts of the Spirit were
given to each man(and woman) to "profit withal" (1 Cor.12:7).
Now what about Jesus saying in Matthew 16:19, ".....and
whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and
whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" ?
Did this mean Peter or any apostle could, out of their own
mind, add things to the word of God, or take away from the word
of the Lord, or dream up doctrines to be imposed upon the members
of the church, or decide with authoritative dogma that a member
of the church should buy this car or this house, live in this
town, or wear this dress or suit to services? Did it mean that
Peter and/or the Elders of the church could "do away with this
commandment or law of God? Did these words by Jesus mean that
God in heaven would be the servant to human men, and jump to
their tune as they called the shots in decreeing how things would
be done on the earth within the church?
It blows my mind to think that some indeed believe this is
exactly what Christ was saying and teaching and authorizing.
Again to those who believe this way, I must ask you with all
politeness: What Bible are you reading, and especially what NT
books are you reading to ever come up with such an idea?
Passages such are Deut.12:32 and Rev.22:18-19, are pretty plain
and easy to understand. So is John 10:35. There is no
contradiction in the word of the Lord.
The problem of Matthew 16:19 is not with what Jesus said,
but with how it has been translated into English by some(far too
many) translators. The actual Greek does not say what many
English translations have written.
The Greek really says: "I will give you the keys of the
kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind - this is, declare to be
improper and unlawful - on earth must be already bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth - declare lawful - must be
what is already loosed in heaven" (Amplified Bible).
A foot note in the Amplified Bible reads: "Williams:
'Perfect passive participle, so things in a state of having been
already forbidden (or permitted)."
J.B. Phillips under Note 3, page 552 of the NT Bible I have
in my library by him, has this enlightening comment:
"Matthew 16, 19 and 18, 18 - 'forbidding' and 'permitting'.
There is a very curious Greek construction here, viz. a simple
future followed by the perfect participle passive.
If Jesus had mean to say quite simply, 'Whatever you forbid on
earth will be forbidden in heaven', can anyone explain why the
simple future passive is not used? It seems to me that if the
words of Jesus are accurately reported here, and I have no reason
to doubt it, then the force of these sayings is that Jesus' true
disciples will be so led by the Spirit that they will be
following the heavenly pattern. In other words what they 'forbid'
or 'permit' on earth will be consonant with the Divine rules. If
a simple future passive had been used it would mean an automatic
heavenly endorsement of the Church's actions, which to me, at
least, is a very different thing........"
Ah, Ah, now we see what Jesus was really saying to Peter.
He told Peter that he was just a pebble, a small stone in the
building that was the church, which would be built and founded
upon THE ROCK, or huge shelf of stone, Himself as the Son of the
living God. And yes Peter(and all shepherds and overseers of the
flock) would be guided by the Spirit into all truth(John 16:13),
to know the basic keys and way into the Kingdom(so they could
make disciples of all nations(Mat.28:19,20), to teach others as
they had been taught(Mat.28:20). But in all this Jesus then gave
a serious warning to all leaders and ministers in His church. The
warning was that whatever they taught was the correct and right
way to serve and worship God, whatever the laws and commandments
they taught were still blinding on Christians, whatever laws and
commandments they taught were not binding, whatever they taught
to people as the way to live as holy children of God, HAD BETTER
BE ACCORDING TO WHAT WAS ALREADY THE DIVINE WAY AND RULES,
ALREADY THE HEAVENLY PATTERN!
I guess so! For Jesus had already said that man was not to
live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDED OUT OF THE
MOUTH OF GOD! Jesus was to later say that the Spirit would lead
into "all truth" and that truth was the Father's word(John 16:13;
17:17). God's children are to be SET APART(sanctified)
by......not the ideas, the whims, the fancies, the notions, of
men's minds that have no Biblical foundation, examples, or
principles from the word of God, but they are to be SANCTIFIED
by the truth, which is the word of the Father(read it and mark it
- John 17:17).
The whole NT proclaims this truth of how the church is to be
led, and how Christians are to live their lives in the Lord. We
are to do as Paul said to his readers, "Be you followers of me,
even AS I am of Christ"(1 Cor.11:1). The plain inference is, only
follow me as I follow Christ. The NT teaches over and over again
that every person must have a personal relationship with the
Lord. We come to the Lord individually, we do not come to Him
through another human man after we have been baptized and have
His Spirit within us. The NT tells us that apostles and elders
CAN GO ASTRAY, they can become false apostles. The NT tells God's
people to "test the spirits" to "work out your own salvation with
fear and trembling" to be watchful for false prophets coming in
the name of Christ will appear and deceive many. It is you that
must appear before the judgment seat of God to give account for
the things you have done. There will be no minister between you
and God at that time. If you give your mind over in blind faith
to any man/woman at any time, you become their servants and not
the servants of the Lord.
And the NT teaches that you, your mind and body and soul, are
bought with a price, the price of the blood of Christ, so you
belong to HIM, and not to any physical man(1 Cor.6:19,20; 7:23).
Yes, we should honor, respect, remember and obey the true
ministers/elders of the Lord when they teach and are within the
word of God, for they do watch for the souls of the flock and
sheep within the church(Hebrews 13:7,17,18 ). But never forget
the other verses mentioned above. Do not read the Bible with
blinkers over your eyes, only looking at certain verses while
reading right over others.
The Elders of God must according to Jesus STAY WITHIN THE
WORD, WITHIN THE LAWS, COMMANDMENTS, EXAMPLES, AND CLEAR
PRINCIPLES OF THAT WHICH IS ALREADY LAID DOWN IN HEAVEN. THEY
MUST TEACH THE CHURCH ACCORDING TO THE HEAVENLY PATTERN.
Are there some things that the true minister of God will
have to make a "judgment" upon, to bind and loose? Yes, there
are serious matters when this must be so, but even then it will
be guided by the word and examples in the Bible. Let me give you
a few examples.
Turn to the gospel of John, chapter 20 and read verse 23.
Sometimes in leading people to Christ there will be judgment
needed in determining if the attitude of a person is truly
repentant and ready for baptism. Or is it something they still do
not really understand, or they want to be baptized because their
friend or brother or sister, wife or husband, is getting baptized
? Sins will have to be either retained(if they are not ready
for baptism) or forgiven(if they are ready for baptism). Yet,
again, this must be all done within the word of God, according to
what the word tells us to look for when anyone wants to be
baptized. It is not to be done from any angle of favoritism or
politics, or any human fancy and whim, for such so called
"binding and loosing" will fall on deaf ears in heaven.
Paul, according to the word of the Lord, had to make a
judgment and cast his vote so to speak, in regards the serious
issue over the man practicing incest unrepentedly, in the
Corinthian church(1 Cor.5). This binding and loosing decision
(the punishment to be inflicted upon the unrepentant sinner by
the church) was based upon what God had already clearly laid
down and given in His word as what the church is to do under such
At another time Paul had to make a judgment in correcting
Peter for his error and sin(Gal.2). Once more this was bound or
loosed according to what God had already taught and given as to
the truth of the matter on the issue at hand, which was derived
at by the scriptures and what the Holy Spirit had clearly
done(Acts 15 - Jews and Gentiles were to be as one in the
church). Peter was now living contrary to this heavenly truth and
needed correction. Paul gave it.
There is nothing in Matthew 16:19 to say that a minister or
group of ministers can change the word of God, can add or take
away from the word of God, can "do away with" any law or
commandment of God as they fancy, can change the Sabbath from the
7th day to the 1st day of the week, can dream up "doctrines" out
of their own head to impose them on the church, can tell members
of the congregation what car to buy or when to get their teeth
repaired, how many children to have, for the man in the ministry
not to marry, and a whole group of other things that some church
organizations have claimed they can blind and loose on their
church because of this verse.
The rest of the Bible would be in powerful disagreement with
such a teaching by any primacy of Peter promulgators.
This has taken much longer than I at first thought or
planned. I will explain the other scriptures I intended to cover
in this part two, in a yet part three of this study.
Keith Hunt(January 21 1997) Quotations are from the KJV
unless otherwise stated.