The Petrine Office

This is me thinking out loud. The prominence of Peter in the New Testament is striking, but it does not mean what the modern RCC says it means. So what does it mean? I’m not sure. The famous passage from Matthew 16 says:

And Jesus answered 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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

It looks to me like Jesus is addressing Peter, not everyone. Peter features prominently in the Gospels and the early part of Acts. He is given a lot of attention. His post-Resurrection restoration by Jesus is portrayed at length. Why? Why the focus on him?
Peter was flawed, he was not infallible, he made mistakes.
He was not in charge of the church in Jerusalem.
Paul says Jesus appeared to him first of all.
A party in Corinth claimed to be of him.
He led the church in the earliest days.
Peter was the rock, the leader of the early Church, but it was leadership in council, a conciliar model. He was not even first among equals, but one of perhaps a triad of leaders.
I believe that he did go to Rome.
The NT cannot possibly lay obedience to the See of Rome on believers as a necessity.
Jesus built the church on Peter in some sense.
The gates of hell did not prevail in some sense.

3 thoughts on “The Petrine Office”

  1. I take the view that the rock was not Peter, but the truth that Jesus is the Christ, from the previous verse. Those who believe in Him are given authority in prayer. Alas, I am but a lowly woman.

  2. Commentators are all over the place on that of course. I don’t have any special insight, but reading it as if you didn’t know anything about Rome vs. the Reformation, I think you would believe it to be Peter. Also, the ‘this rock’ ties in so well to Peter’s name that it makes more sense that way to me. I also wonder what the disciples would have made of Jesus talking about “his church?”

    I was surprised that my ESV study Bible said many scholars now take it to mean Peter also.

  3. The teaching I received from those who catechized me is that Peter’s faith, not Peter himself, was the rock on which the Church would be built.

    I agree that perhaps that isn’t the whole of it, and I also think it’s possible that Peter went to Rome, and that he even dies there.

    But there is absolutely nothing in my reading of the New Testament that would imply a monarchical hierarchy in the Church; in fact, the opposite, based on Christ’s own words as to what Christian leadership looks like.

    It isn’t until we get to Ignatius of Antioch, writing after the Church had had some time to evolve a rudimentary structure, that anything like modern Church hierarchy and obediences appears.

    Whatever happened, in the Orthodox Church, we’re stuck with it; and the last time I looked, we don’t have a pope (not in the Roman sense).

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