Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard continues with his arguments that Matthew 16:18 is a proof-text for Petrine primacy, the papacy, and the authority of the Roman Catholic church.
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 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. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 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.” – Matthew 16:13-19
Protestant response #6: “All the apostles are the foundation, not just Peter.”
Broussard claims that some Protestants “concede” that Peter is the rock referenced in Matthew 16:18, “but reject the inference that Peter is therefore somehow unique in the role he plays as the foundation of the Church” (p. 31). These Protestants, continues Broussard, cite Ephesians 2:19-21:
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. – Ephesians 2:19-21
From this Scriptural passage we learn that the church is built upon the apostles and prophets, who themselves are all secondary stones built upon Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone, the Foundation (petra). In this passage, Peter is not distinguished apart from the other apostles as being preeminent.
Broussard argues that just because the same metaphor is used for multiple people, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the people are equal. He uses the example of Jesus Christ being called “Shepherd” (Greek, poimena) in Scripture (1 Peter 2:25), while pastors are also identified as shepherds (poimenas) (Ephesians 4:11). Broussard continues with his argument, stating, “Paul’s focus (in Ephesians 2:19-21) is on the Ephesians and their relation to the apostles and Jesus as pieces that make up the edifice of the Church, which Paul calls a ‘holy temple’…Since Paul’s concern is not the order among the apostles as the foundation of the Church, but simply the order that exists between the Ephesians, the apostles and prophets, and Jesus as pieces that make up the edifice of the Church, we shouldn’t expect Paul to highlight Peter’s unique status as the rock of the Church” (p. 33).
While a very small number of evangelicals (D.A. Carson being the most quoted by Catholics) “concede” that Peter is the rock referred to in Matthew 16:18, that is not the historical or predominant contemporary evangelical Protestant understanding/interpretation. Yes, Protestants often use Ephesians 2:19-21 as a proof-text to demonstrate that Peter is not uniquely singled-out among the apostles as preeminent. Broussard off-handedly dismisses the argument by claiming that Paul didn’t single-out Peter in the passage because of the context, yet Broussard knows full well it is irreverentially unthinkable in Roman Catholic ecclesiastical protocol to group the pope together with his subordinate bishops.
Broussard focuses on one passage, Ephesians 2:19-21, but what he guilefully fails to mention to the reader is that nowhere in Paul’s thirteen epistles does the apostle identify Peter as preeminent. Rather, in stark contradiction of the Roman Catholic claim of Petrine primacy, Paul states that he is equal to all of the apostles:
6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. – Galatians 2:6
Likewise, nowhere in the eight epistles that follow Paul’s, including the two written by Peter himself, is it suggested that Peter is preeminent and the first pope. Roman Catholicism’s self-serving misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18 is nowhere corroborated by other Scriptures.
Next week: Protestant response #7: Peter is only a pillar, not the pillar”