And on This Rock -- By: Douglas P. Baker
RAR 12:1 (Winter 2003) p. 35
And on This Rock
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
In considering Jesus’ words, we must understand that Jesus did not really say, “You are Peter,” as we understand those words in English, but rather said, “You are a rock.” I won’t get into a battle over whether Jesus was speaking in Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic, because in whatever language he was speaking, the text was written in Greek and it is that Greek text which God commended to us as his Word. In the Greek text which we are looking at today, Jesus said, “lego hoti su ei Petros, “ meaning literally, “I say that you are a rock.”
If I were to call you a rock, what would you think? Would you think that I meant that you were as strong, or as quiet, or as smart as a rock? Would you be pleased or insulted? Obviously, such a question cannot be answered without knowing the context in which I was speaking.
One often hears the comment, and it is quite true, “A text without a context is a pretext.” By ripping this verse out of the context of the Bible and assuming that Jesus was comparing
RAR 12:1 (Winter 2003) p. 36
Simon to rocks in general, some have made it to say all sorts of things that Jesus never intended. Much that Jesus said and did makes no sense if we ignore the context. He is a lamb only in the context of the sacrificial system. We do not say that Jesus has the attributes of a lamb, but that he fulfills the role of the Sacrificial Lamb. Jesus is the Bread that came down from heaven in the context of the manna that God sent to provide for his people in the desert. Even what Jesus did was done in the context of the Old Testament. He healed people’s diseases in the context of Isaiah 53. He spoke in parables in the context of Isaiah 6. He died on the cross in the context of Psalm 22. No other life has been so totally in a context as his. Everything that happened to him and everything that he did was done “so that Scripture might be fulfilled.” Therefore, it would be unwise to assume that Jesus spoke without any context when he said to Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, a rock.”
In the following pages, I will look at three different aspects of the context in which Jesus said to Simon, “You are a rock.” The first two have to do with the historic or cultural context of the word “rock,” and the last has to do with the imme...
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