Great Bishop of Geneva! : 1) Makarios · 2) Once Saved, Always Saved - True for Church, Not True for All Christians Individually · 3) Protestants - Not - Getting Around Matthew 28 Last Three Verses: John Calvin's Attempt · 4) Barnes NOT getting around Matthew 28:20 ... · 5) Since St Francis of Sales had Real Objections to Calvinism ... 6) Contra Sproul 7) Barnes on Jewish Tradition 8) If Constantine had Founded the Catholic Church ... 9) Salvation and Schrödinger's Cat Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : 10) ... on Apostolic Succession, both as to Reasons and Answering an Objection or Two (quora)
First, a hat tip to Armstrong for citing Barnes on Matthew 16!
Peter the “Rock”: Protestant Contra-Catholic Exegetical Bias
October 20, 2016 by Dave Armstrong
Now to Barnes.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter - The word “Peter,” in Greek, means “a rock.” It was given to Simon by Christ when he called him to be a disciple, John 1:42
Cephas is a Syriac word, meaning the same as Peter - a rock, or stone. The meaning of this phrase may be thus expressed: “Thou, in saying that I am the Son of God, hast called me by a name expressive of my true character. I, also, have given to thee a name expressive of your character. I have called you Peter, a rock, denoting firmness, solidity, stability, and your confession has shown that the name is appropriate. I see that you are worthy of the name, and will be a distinguished support of my religion.”
And upon this rock … - This passage has given rise to many different interpretations. Some have supposed that the word “rock” refers to Peter‘s confession, and that Jesus meant to say, upon this rock, this truth that thou hast confessed, that I am the Messiah and upon confessions of this from all believers, I will build my church. Confessions like this shall be the test of piety, and in such confessions shall my church stand amid the flames of persecution, the fury of the gates of hell. Others have thought that Jesus referred to himself. Christ is called a rock, Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:8. And it has been thought that he turned from Peter to himself, and said, “Upon this rock, this truth that I am the Messiah - upon myself as the Messiah, I will build my church.” Both these interpretations, though plausible, seem forced upon the passage to avoid the main difficulty in it. Another interpretation is, that the word “rock” refers to Peter himself.
This is the obvious meaning of the passage; and had it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it, and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for. “Thou art a rock. Thou hast shown thyself firm, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon thee will I build it. Thou shalt be highly honored; thou shalt be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.” This was accomplished. See Galatians 2:9. But Christ did not mean, as the Roman Catholics say he did, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above all the other apostles, or to say that he was the only one upon whom he would rear his church. See Galatians 2:11, where Paul withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed - a thing which could not have happened if Christ (as the Roman Catholics say) meant that Peter was absolute and infallible. More than all, it is not said here, or anywhere else in the Bible, that Peter would have infallible successors who would be the vicegerents of Christ and the head of the church. The whole meaning of the passage is this: “I will make you the honored instrument of making known my gospel first to Jews and Gentiles, and I will make you a firm and distinguished preacher in building my church.”
Will build my church - This refers to the custom of building in Judea upon a rock or other very firm foundation. See the notes at Matthew 7:24. The word “church” literally means “those called out,” and often means an assembly or congregation. See Acts 19:32, Greek; Acts 7:38. It is applied to Christians as being “called out” from the world. It means sometimes the whole body of believers, Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 10:32. This is its meaning in this place. It means, also, a particular society of believers worshipping in one place, Acts 8:1; Acts 9:31; 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.; sometimes, also, a society in a single house, as Romans 16:5. In common language it means the church visible - i. e., all who profess religion; or invisible, i. e., all who are real Christians, professors or not.
And the gates of hell … - Ancient cities were surrounded by walls. In the gates by which they were entered were the principal places for holding courts, transacting business, and deliberating on public matters. See the notes at Matthew 7:13. Compare the notes at Job 29:7. See also Deuteronomy 22:4; 1 Samuel 4:18; Jeremiah 36:10; Genesis 19:1; Psalm 69:12; Psalm 9:14; Proverbs 1:21. The word “gates,” therefore, is used for counsels, designs, machinations, evil purposes.
“Hell” means, here, the place of departed spirits, particularly evil spirits; and the meaning of the passage is, that all the plots, stratagems, and machinations of the enemies of the church would not be able to overcome it a promise that has been remarkably fulfilled.
And I will give unto thee … - A key is an instrument for opening a door.
He that is in possession of it has the power of access, and has a general care of a house. Hence, in the Bible, a key is used as a symbol of superintendence an emblem of power and authority. See the Isaiah 22:22 note; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 3:7 notes. The kingdom of heaven here means, doubtless, the church on earth. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. When the Saviour says, therefore, he will give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he means that he will make him the instrument of opening the door of faith to the world the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. This was done, Matthew 18:18. The only pre-eminence, then, that Peter had was the honor of first opening the doors of the gospel to the world.
Whatsoever thou shalt bind … - The phrase “to bind” and “to loose” was often used by the Jews. It meant to prohibit and to permit. To bind a thing was to forbid it; to loose it, to allow it to be done. Thus, they said about gathering wood on the Sabbath day, “The school of Shammei binds it” - i. e., forbids it; “the school of Hillel looses it” - i. e., allows it. When Jesus gave this power to the apostles, he meant that whatsoever they forbade in the church should have divine authority; whatever they permitted, or commanded, should also have divine authority - that is, should be bound or loosed in heaven, or meet the approbation of God. They were to be guided infallibly in the organization of the church:
- 1.by the teaching of Christ, and,
- 2.by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
This does not refer to persons, but to things - “whatsoever,” not whosoever. It refers to rites and ceremonies in the church. Such of the Jewish customs as they should forbid were to be forbidden, and such as they thought proper to permit were to be allowed. Such rites as they should appoint in the church were to have the force of divine authority. Accordingly, they commanded the Gentile converts to “abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” Acts 15:20; and, in general, they organized the church, and directed what was to be observed and what was to be avoided. The rules laid down by them in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, in connection with the teachings of the Saviour as recorded in the evangelists, constitute the only law binding on Christians in regard to the order of the church, and the rites and ceremonies to be observed in it.
Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible : Matthew 16
So, what does Barnes concede?
1) "Peter" means "rock" and "upon this rock" means "upon Peter previously called Simon Bar Jonah". 2) Church means here community of ALL faithful, so that anything pretending to be or be part of it, but not being built on Peter is not part of all faithful, especially not part of their ordinary and regular community. 3) Keys mean power to open gates, which includes-Barnes adds "is limited to" which I do not add-opening the gates of the Church to Gentiles. 4) Binding and loosing means ruling over - in this case, as per "whatever - acts, whether moral or ritual, as binding or as permissible.
What does he say to counter the Roman claim?
- 1) That we claim the Church was to be built solely on Peter - which is a strawman - which is contrary to other passages of Scripture, sth which we acknowledge.
- 2) That there is no set of successors to the end to time in this power of binding and loosing.
"The rules laid down by them in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, in connection with the teachings of the Saviour as recorded in the evangelists, constitute the only law binding on Christians in regard to the order of the church, and the rites and ceremonies to be observed in it."
No later binding, no later loosing allowed, then.
This is very interesting when we go to his exposition of Matthew 28:18-20.
- 3) Perhaps this is overreading, but since he explicitly mentions ... "This does not refer to persons, but to things - 'whatsoever,' not whosoever." ... perhaps one can infer he thought Peter and other apostles only had power over legal aspects of organisation, not over judicial aspects over persons.
This is of course counter to the express words of Acts where St Peter is judging Ananias and Sapphira, persons, not just things, and judging favourably over Cornelius, again, over a person, not just a thing, and also is an overreading - if Barnes intended it as I suspect - of the choice of words "whatsoever".
Elsewhere Jesus says sth about "whomsoever", namely in John 20, when He gives the apostles the keys of absolution which the Church uses in confession.
Now, I already dealt with "solely on Peter" as being a strawman, I also dealt with whatsoever and whomsoever as powers given at diverse occasions, remains the aspect of successors or no successors.
Here we go to Matthew 28:19 and 20.
Go ye therefore - “Because” all power is mine, go! I can defend you. The world is placed under my control. It is redeemed. It is given me in promise by my Father, as the purchase of my death. Though you are weak, yet I am strong! Though you will encounter many troubles and dangers, yet I can defend you! Though you die, yet I live, and the work shall be accomplished!
Teach all nations - The word rendered “teach,” here, is not the one that is usually so translated in the New Testament. This word properly means “to disciple, or to make disciples of.” This was to be done, however, by teaching, and by administering baptism.
All nations - This gracious commission was the foundation of their authority to go to the Gentiles. The Jews had expected that the offers of life under the Messiah would be confined to their own nation. Jesus broke down the partition wall, and commissioned his disciples to go everywhere, and bring the “world” to the knowledge of himself.
Baptizing them - as an emblem of the purifying influences of the Christian religion through the Holy Spirit, and solemnly devoting them to God.
In the name … - This phrase does not mean, here, “by the authority” of the Father, etc. To be baptized in the name of the Father, etc., is the same as to be baptized “unto” the Father; as to believe on the “name” of Christ is the same as to believe “on Christ,” John 1:12; John 2:23; John 3:18; 1 Corinthians 1:13. To be baptized “unto” anyone is publicly to receive and adopt him as a religious teacher or lawgiver; to receive his system of religion. Thus, the Jews were baptized “unto Moses,” 1 Corinthians 10:2. That is, they received the system that he taught; they acknowledged him as their lawgiver and teacher. So Paul asks 1 Corinthians 1:13, “Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” - that is, Were you devoted to Paul by this rite? Did you bind yourselves to “him,” and give yourselves away to “him,” or to God? So to be baptized in the name of the Father, or unto the Father, means publicly, by a significant rite, to receive his system of religion; to bind the soul to obey his laws; to be devoted to him; to receive, as the guide and comforter of the life, his instructions, and to trust to his promises. To be baptized unto the Son, in like manner, is to receive him as the Messiah - our Prophet, Priest, and King - to submit to his laws, and to receive him as a Saviour. To be baptized unto the Holy Spirit is to receive him publicly as the Sanctifier, Comforter, and Guide of the soul. The meaning, then, may be thus expressed: Baptizing them unto the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by a solemn profession of the only true religion, and by a solemn consecration to the service of the sacred Trinity.
The union of these three names in the form of baptism proves that the Son and Holy Spirit are equal with the Father. Nothing would be more absurd or blasphemous than to unite the name of a creature - a man or an angel - with the name of the ever-living God in this solemn rite. If Jesus was a mere man or an angel, as is held by many who deny his divinity, and if the Holy Spirit was a mere “attribute” of God, then it would have been the height of absurdity to use a form like this, or to direct the apostles to baptize people under them. How absurd would be the direction - nay, how blasphemous - to have said, “Baptize them unto God, and unto Paul, and unto the “wisdom or power” of God!” Can we believe that our Saviour would have given a direction so absurd as this? Yet, unless he himself is divine, and the Holy Spirit is divine, Jesus gave a direction substantially the same as this. The form of baptism, therefore, has been always regarded as an unbreakable argument for the doctrine of the Trinity, or that the Son and Holy Spirit are equal with the Father.
Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible : Matthew 28
A great plus that he refutes JW in this passage, precisely as do the Haydock commenters! Only, I can just now not find where ...
What is Barnes omitting? He is omitting first part of next verse "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:" where Christ is using the same "whatsoever" as in Matthew 16:19.
Back to Barnes:
Lo, I am with you - That is, by my Spirit, my providence, my attending counsel and guidance. I will strengthen, assist, and direct you. This also proves that Christ is divine. If he is a mere man, or a creature, though of the highest order, how could he promise to be “with” his disciples “always,” or at all? They would be scattered far and wide. His disciples would greatly increase. If he was “with them” always, he was God; for no finite creature could thus be present with many people scattered in different parts of the world.
Unto the end of the world - The word rendered “world,” here, sometimes means “age or state” and by some it has been supposed to mean, I will be with you until the end of this “age,” or during the continuance of the Jewish state, to the destruction of Jerusalem. But as the presence of Christ was no less necessary after that than before, there seems to be no propriety in limiting the promise to his own age. It may therefore be considered as a gracious assurance that he would aid, strengthen, guide, and defend all his disciples, but more especially his ministers, to the end of time.
Here he is admitting ministers up to the end of time - rather than, as some, limiting this promise to the age up to destruction of Jerusalem (which would leave St John without this assistance when writing Apocalypse and Gospel, at least!).
But he is a little less eager to admit that the ministers are successors of precisely the eleven to which Christ adressed the words (verses 16-18a :  And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them.  And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.  And Jesus coming, spoke to them,)
He has also omitted to comment on the fact that they are given as teachers of ALL Christian specifically moral and ritual, but by extension also explanatory doctrine. That is, that there is a Church with teaching authority extending from Apostles to us and beyond.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St Victoria of Rome