[This is a response to a comment on my last post...if you're interested check it out first . . . I'm afraid this may not make sense if you don't:)]
I have been out of town for the last couple days . . . so I apologize for my delinquent response.
Anyhow, thanks for the thoughts; however, I still disagree with you.
We're probably going to have to agree to disagree on this one. But here is a little bit of a defense of my view:
I agree that Matt 16:18 is inseparable from 16:19, but it is also inseparable from 16:16..."You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This is what I believe Jesus is referring to as the rock... the faith in Jesus Christ that Peter had just confessed. The division between faith and apostasy is belief in Christ . . . the foundation of the church. Why would Jesus make the division between heaven and hell a foundation of the man Peter? Also, how does the "foundation" of the church built on Peter harmonize with Ephesians 2:19-20 "citizens of the household of God are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone."
Earlier Jesus had already given Peter the new name…John 1:42 makes it clear that Jesus gave Simon the name Peter when he called him to be a disciple…not later at this point in Jesus’ ministry.
Regarding the keys to the kingdom, I believe this means a confirmation of Peter’s apostleship. The keys are as John Calvin would say, “Applied to the office of teaching. [John Calvin's commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke - Volume 2 pp. 180]” The knowledge is Peter’s confession of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God (Luke 11:52 “key of knowledge”). However, this is a difficult phrase. To build one’s theology of the “foundation” of the church solely off of this passage that is highly contested would be an error (in my opinion). See other New Testament references to Christ as foundation (Luke 6:48-49); also, Paul speaks of building not on other’s foundation (Ro 15:20; 1 Cor 3:10-12) [possibly similar to when the Word says foundation of the world partly meaning Christ as the cornerstone and partly the beginning, in one sense Peter’s confession is the beginning of the gospel confession of the church, but I don’t believe Matt 16:18 refers to the cornerstone/physical weight bearing foundation of the church. I believe that is faith in Jesus and Jesus Christ Himself.] He is calling Peter to be the steward of the kingdom.
Regarding the “keys to the kingdom” William Barclay has a pretty good description of my view:
“In actual usage in the New Testament, this phrase is regularly attached to Jesus. It is in His hands, and in no one else’s, that the keys are. In Revelation I:8 the risen Christ says: ‘I am He that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the the keys of Hades and of death.” Again in Revelation 3:7 the Risen Christ is described as, ‘He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth.’ It is clear that this phrase must be interpreted as indicating a certain divine right, and whatever the promise made to Peter was, that promise cannot be taken as annulling, or infringing, a right which belongs alone to God and to the Son of God.
All these New Testament pictures and usages go back to a picture in Isaiah (Isaiah 22:22). In that picture Isaiah describes Eliakim, who will have the key of the house of David on his shoulder, and who alone will open and shut. Now the duty of Eliakim was to be the faithful steward of the house. It is the steward who carries the keys of the house, who in the morning opens the door, and in the evening shuts it, and through whom visitors gain access to the royal presence. So then what Jesus is saying to Peter is that in the days to come, Peter will be the steward of the Kingdom. And in the case of Peter the whole idea is that of opening, not shutting, the door of the Kingdom. And indeed that came abundantly true (then he cites Acts 2:41, Acts 10, 15:14) . . . The promise that Peter would have the keys to the Kingdom was the promise that Peter would be the means of opening the door of God for thousands upon thousands of people in the days to come. The plain fact is that it is not only Peter who has the keys of the Kingdom; every Christian has; for it is open to every one of us to open the door of the Kingdom to some one, and to enter into the great promise of Jesus Christ.” [pp. 155-156 of William Barclay's commentary on Matthew Vol. 2 of the Daily Bible Study Series]
Also, if Peter is the cornerstone of the church the other synoptic gospels don’t speak to this citing the same confession of Peter [Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20]. I believe the whole counsel of God [particularly Eph 2:19-20] must be taken into account regarding this “foundation” of the church the “household of God”.
Regarding your citing of Tertullian in church history . . . I’m afraid that argument is not a very good one. Tertullian’s dates are approximately 160-230 A.D. I believe you may have stated his view correctly, but what are we to make of an earlier writing of Ignatius of Antioch approximately 35-107 A.D regarding this text. I will quote early church fathers' views that John Owen cites earlier on pgs. 6-7 of his preface to the book I quoted in the last post:
Ignatius (35-107 A.D.)“‘He’ (that is, Christ) ‘is the way leading unto the Father, the rock, the key, the shepherd.’”
Origen (185-254 A.D.)“If you shall think that the whole church was built on Peter alone, what shall we say of John, and each of the apostles? What! [S]hall we dare say that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Peter only?”
Eusebius (c. 275-5/30/339 A.D.)“ Praeparat. Evang., lib.i. cap. 3 . . . He proves the verity of divine predictions from the glorious accomplishment of that word, and the promise of our Saviour, that he would build his church on the rock, (that is, himself,) so as that the gates of hell should not prevail against it.”
Hilary de Trin. (I don’t know his dates)“This is the only immovable foundation, this is the blessed rock of faith, confessed by Peter, Thou are the Son of the living God.”
Epahianius (I don’t know his dates)“Upon this rock” of assured faith “I will build my church.”
Augustine (354-430 A.D.)“He (Christ) meant the universal church, which in this world is shaken with divers temptations, as with showers, floods, and tempests, yet falleth not, because it is build on the rock (Petra) from whence Peter took his name. For the rock is not called Petra from Peter, but Peter is so called from Petra the rock; as Christ is not so called from Christian, but Christian from Christ. Therefore, said the Lord, ‘Upon this rock will I build my church;’ because Peter had said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Upon this rock, which thou hast confessed, will I build my church. For Christ himself was the rock on which foundation Peter himself was built. For other foundation can no man lay, save that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Unfortunately, your argument that the “true historic Christian interpretation” is not the same as the “400 year-old post-Reformation Protestant interpretation” doesn’t completely hold up. Besides the interpretation of Scripture is not substantiated by the interpretation of man, rather through the commentary of the entire counsel of God. Unfortunately, I don’t see your interpretation being confirmed by the rest of the Word. Therefore, I don’t think it would be wise to base the foundation of the church on a man other than the God-Man Jesus Christ.
I believe this is the truth.
Soli Deo Gloria