By Robert Veil Jr..
Question: Does the Bible say that the Church was founded on the apostle Peter?
Answer: No, the church of Christ was founded on Jesus Christ. “For other foundation can no man lay save that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). Jesus is the founder of his church; the head of the body, (Eph. 1:22-23); and the purchaser of the church with his own blood, (Acts 20:28).
The passage oft-quoted in an attempt to prove that the Church was founded on Peter is found in Mt. 16, where Jesus asks his disciples an interesting question about what people were saying about him. “Now when Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do they say that the Son of man is? (Mt 16:13). Notice that the focus of this discussion is entirely on Jesus, and who the multitudes said he was. The answers varied: “And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (16:14).
Jesus then gave his disciples an important test. He asked them, “But who do you say I am (16:15)? The apostle Peter, in his typical mansion, was quick to express himself: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16). In making this statement, Peter was making the great confession, the very foundation of the church itself, namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus went on to commend Peter for recognizing this important fact and told him that upon this “rock” Jesus would build his church, “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (16:18).
Jesus emphasized this important lesson with a play on words, which is recorded by Matthew in the original Greek. “And I also tell you that you are Peter [a masculine name meaning “stone”]and on this rock [a feminine word] I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not prevail against him” (16:18). The truth that Peter had just spoken would be the foundation on which the whole church would be built.
The Lord’s Church is not built or founded on a man. It is built on Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God. Men, like Peter, are imperfect and fallible. But our savior is divine, infallible, the very author of our salvation. “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13). It would behoove us all to forsake the ways of men and return to Jesus and his church.
Robert Veil, Jr. has been a gospel preacher for over 45 years. He is currently a pulpit minister at the Central Church of Christ in Martinsburg, WV. Submit your Bible questions to him at Central Church of Christ, 90 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25403.