Responding to “Meeting the Protestant Response,” #1: “Petros and Petra are two different words”

Today, we begin our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). Thanks for joining me and I hope to see you every Friday for the next seventy-seven weeks.


The first chapter of this book is titled, “Rock of the Church, Matthew 16:18,” and deals with the Catholic claim of Petrine primacy, i.e., that Peter was chief among the apostles and the first pope based upon Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter (Greek: petros, “small stone or pebble”), and on this rock (petra, “a large rock or rock mass; a solid rock formation”) I will build my church.” Roman Catholics interpret this verse to mean that Matthew, and hence, Jesus Christ, intended “Peter” and “rock” as one and the same. Connected to this claim of Petrine primacy is the Roman Catholic church’s assertion that its long line of popes are the divinely anointed successors of Peter and that it is therefore the only authorized and true church.

Broussard examines seven Protestant responses to Catholicism’s claim of Petrine primacy based upon Matthew 16:18. Please bear with me. As you will see, Broussard scrupulously builds his false case far beyond the point of mendacious overkill, but we will eventually get to the crux of the debate.

Let’s look at the first Protestant response along with Broussard’s attempted rebuttal.

Protestant response #1: “‘Petros’ and ‘Petra’ are two different words”

The implication is that two different and opposing words were used because two different meanings were intended.

Broussard’s reply

While Peter (petros) means “rock” it is spelled differently than the rock (petra) Jesus said He would build His church upon. Broussard will begin to focus on the difference in meaning between the two words next week, but for now he posits on why Matthew might have possibly used the two different Greek words for rock. He suggests,

A) Matthew’s Greek-reading audience was not as familiar with Peter/petros, so he resorted to the more familiar petra for the second noun.

B) Matthew used petra because he desired to make a connection to another passage in his gospel, Matthew 7:24-25:

24 “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock (petra); 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (petra).

C) Different words were used “to preserve the distinction between a proper noun (Petros as a proper name) and a common noun (in this case, petra as a metaphor)” (p. 20).

Broussard concludes, “Given that we can provide plausible reasons as to why there might be a difference in words without denying that the rock refers to Peter, the argument that Peter is not the rock, simply based on the use of petros and petra are different words, fails.”

My rebuttal

It’s difficult to address this “Why were two different words, petros and petra, used in Matthew 16:18?” question without also discussing the different meanings of the words, but as I mentioned, Broussard begins to introduce that argument next week. Suffice to say that Matthew’s Greek-reading audience would have immediately picked up on the starkly contrasting meanings of the two words. Matthew would not have used the two polar-opposite words if he intended the same meaning. While Broussard congratulates himself for presenting “plausible reasons” as to why Matthew used opposing words to allegedly intend the same meaning, I see Broussard’s efforts as Jesuitical sophistry and grasping at straws. Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, recorded Jesus Christ using two polar-contrasting words to convey that Peter and “this rock” were contrastingly different. That was the intention of Matthew and that would have been the interpretation of his 1st-century, Greek-reading audience.

Next week: Protestant response #2: “Petros and Petra mean different things.”

12 thoughts on “Responding to “Meeting the Protestant Response,” #1: “Petros and Petra are two different words”

  1. Good post Tom. Many people believe that “this rock” was referring to Peter’s proclamation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” the bedrock of our faith.
    Have a good weekend brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth. Yup, Broussard will eventually get to the Protestant argument of verse 18 being in context with verses 16-17, but we must suffer through his sophistry until then.
      Thanks and have a good weekend, too!


  2. The context of Scripture is always critical if we’re going to understand the meaning of the immediate words. Jesus sent his disciples out as a group of 70 in Luke and Matthew chapter 10. He didn’t give special qualifications or titles or positions to anyone because the disciples came asking for such and Christ said no such is not his role or place, and the new Jerusalem has 12 foundation stones with no special significance given to Peter. In Noplace is there a reference to Peter taking a primary role in any of the new testament scriptures. He appointed 12 apostles after a night of prayer, and they were all given the same work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jonathan. Amen to all of your comments. We will be covering those very points in the weeks ahead as Broussard continues to build his fallacious case.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I suppose if anyone is to claim the Catholic church is “the only authorized and true church” that Matthew’s word usage would be a problem.
    With all of the rotten theology that you have shared with us on this blog, Tom, there is no way that the “church of Rome” is the “only true church.” The term “just another false church” would be much more accurate.

    I will be interested to read the rest of these posts but this first one is already enough for me. Karlo Broussard is just as misled as the Catholic hierarchy who, sadly, attempts to share “knowledge” with the Catholic in the pew (Do they call it a pew in the Catholic church?)

    Hopefully, Broussard’s book does the opposite of his intended outcome. If this first response is any indication, other protestant objections in this book will probably have equal, if not more interesting, credibility. If I’m a Catholic reading this book, I am already beginning to question my “church.” That we have to go through six more of these on this same verse tells me that almost no Catholic, except for those desiring punishment, will get past the first part of this book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Chris, and Amen! to all of your comments. Yes, Catholics do have pews.
      Broussard is definitely work like a determined Jesuit in slow motion on this single verse. I’ve already completed the drafts for the next two weeks and it’s more of the same, like a very prolonged root canal. Catholic sophists worked hard to fabricate the papal system out of these few verses.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! Much more to follow on these exhausting extrapolations of Matthew 16:18.
      RE: mendacious overkill
      Thanks! That one just popped into my head while I was composing. I have no idea where that came from. I’m sure as a professional writer you’ve experienced the same many times?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post. I think this is a good example of how Greek is at times relevant to answering a doctrinal question and why it matters with counter-cult apologetics. Good start with this series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! Broussard drags out this Matthew 16:18 debate to an amazing degree. I’m looking forward to finally getting to the meat of the matter.

      Liked by 1 person

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