He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (footnote 1) Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood (footnote 2) has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, (footnote 3) and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. (footnote 4) Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (footnote 5) Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
The Faith of Peter: A Gift and Task - from 365 Days With The Lord, published by St Pauls Publishing
Speaking in behalf of the other disciples, Peter declares the transcendence of Jesus in his faith-confession. His answer differs radically from public opinion: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter has received the revelation of Jesus’ messiahship and become its spokesperson. Jesus recognises the confession and blesses its divine provenance. His words to Peter echo the privilege of the Son: “All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Mt 11:27)
Jesus then gives Peter a new name and mission. To his old name Simon is added : Peter (Greek Petros, Aramaic Kephas - for “rock”) He will be the rock-foundation of the new assembly of believers, the new people of God gathered by Jesus. By virtue of his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, Peter becomes the rock upon which Jesus builds his Church. He is the first to believe and he won’t be the last. Being first it is fitting that Jesus makes him the first of the building material for his Church: as rock, he insures the Church’s stability.
Aramaic was the language Jesus and the apostles and all the Jews in Palestine spoke. It was the common language of the place. We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because some of his words are preserved for us in the Gospels. Look at Matthew 27:46, where he says from the cross, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That isn’t Greek; it’s Aramaic, and it means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
"And what does Kepha mean? It means a rock, the same as petra. (It doesn’t mean a little stone or a pebble. What Jesus said to Simon in Matthew 16:18 was this: ‘You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church.’
Above excerpts taken from <
Peter likewise assumes the responsibility of the gatekeeper who opens or closes the gates of the heavenly city. With the keys, he is given the authority “to bind” and “to loose”, that is, to forbid and to permit.
Peter’s tremendous authority and responsibility are grasped by him only after a period of suffering, trials, failures-and recovery. Peter stands solid because Jesus prays for him. He stands firm after the Messiah, whom he confesses, undergoes his passion and death in Jerusalem, much to Peters consternation. Peter becomes a rock after he has experienced in himself the death and resurrection of Christ. He dies to his own weakness, and recovers to strengthen his brothers and sisters.
Additional commentary - from www.catholic.com/library/Peter_and_the_Papacy.asp
Two important things were told the apostle. "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). Here Peter was singled out for the authority that provides for the forgiveness of sins and the making of disciplinary rules. Later the apostles as a whole would be given similar power [Matt.18:18], but here Peter received it in a special sense.
Peter alone was promised something else also: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19). In ancient times, keys were the hallmark of authority. A walled city might have one great gate; and that gate had one great lock, worked by one great key. To be given the key to the city-an honour that exists even today, though its importance is lost-meant to be given free access to and authority over the city. The city to which Peter was given the keys was the heavenly city itself. This symbolism for authority is used elsewhere in the Bible (Is. 22:22, Rev. 1:18).
Jesus is installing Peter as a form of chief steward or prime minister under the King of Kings by giving him the keys to the kingdom. As can be seen in Isaiah 22:22, kings in the Old Testament appointed a chief steward to serve under them in a position of great authority to rule over the inhabitants of the kingdom. Jesus quotes almost verbatum from this passage in Isaiah, and so it is clear what he has in mind. He is raising Peter up as a father figure to the household of faith (Is. 22:21), to lead them and guide the flock (John 21:15-17). This authority of the prime minister under the king was passed on from one man to another down through the ages by the giving of the keys, which were worn on the shoulder as a sign of authority. Likewise, the authority of Peter has been passed down for 2000 years by means of the papacy. -this paragraph taken from www.catholic.com/library/Peter_the_Rock.asp
Finally, after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-17). In repentance for his threefold denial, Peter gave a threefold affirmation of love. Then Christ, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14), gave Peter the authority he earlier had promised: "Feed my sheep" (John 21:17). This specifically included the other apostles, since Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15), the word "these" referring to the other apostles who were present (John 21:2). Thus was completed the prediction made just before Jesus and his followers went for the last time to the Mount of Olives.
There is ample evidence in the New Testament that Peter was first in authority among the apostles.
• Whenever they were named, Peter headed the list (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13); sometimes the apostles were referred to as "Peter and those who were with him" (Luke 9:32).
• Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28).
• On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7).
• It is Peter’s faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and
• Peter is given Christ’s flock to shepherd (John 21:17).
• An angel was sent to announce the resurrection to Peter (Mark 16:7), and
• the risen Christ first appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).
• He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and
• Peter received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and
• Peter excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23).
• He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11).
• It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48).
Why The Name Change
The Jewish listeners would immediately understand the import of Jesus’ words, richly couched in their Jewish heritage. The parallels were drawn between Abraham and Peter: name changes to designate new statuses, the designations of both as “rock”, and both standing at the fountainhead of the two major covenants of God with his people. In each case God began with one person to achieve a much larger goal.
-taken from Is Peter the Rock, or is the Rock only his Confession of Faith?
What do the Bible and the Early Fathers Teach?
Steve Ray’s Response to an Eastern Orthodox Christian <
The startling thing was that-aside from the single time that Abraham is called a "rock" (Hebrew: Tsur; Aramaic: Kepha) in Isaiah 51:1-2-in the Old Testament only God was called a rock. The word rock was not used as a proper name in the ancient world. If you were to turn to a companion and say, "From now on your name is Asparagus," people would wonder: Why Asparagus? What is the meaning of it? What does it signify? Indeed, why call Simon the fisherman "Rock"? Christ was not given to meaningless gestures, and neither were the Jews as a whole when it came to names. Giving a new name meant that the status of the person was changed, as when Abram’s name was changed to Abraham (Gen.17:5), Jacob’s to Israel (Gen. 32:28), Eliakim’s to Joakim (2 Kgs. 23:34), or the names of the four Hebrew youths-Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 1:6-7). But no Jew had ever been called "Rock." The Jews would give other names taken from nature, such as Barak "lightning," (Judg. 4:6), Deborah ("bee," Gen. 35:8), and Rachel ("ewe," Gen. 29:16), but never "Rock." In the New Testament James and John were nicknamed Boanerges, meaning "Sons of Thunder," by Christ, but that was never regularly used in place of their original names, and it certainly was not given as a new name. But in the case of Simon-bar-Jonah, his new name Kephas (Greek: Petros) definitely replaced the old.
Taken from www.catholic.com/library/Peter_and_the_Papacy.asp
1. Can you perceive the presence of God in your heart and mind, in your life and in the lives of people around you, in the midst of the suffering and pain of a loved one?
2. Do you believe Jesus wanted to create a leader for His Church on Earth?
Footnotes - from the New American Bible
1. The Son of the living God: see Matthew 2:15; 3:17. The addition of this exalted title to the Marcan confession eliminates whatever ambiguity was attached to the title Messiah. This, among other things, supports the view proposed by many scholars that Matthew has here combined his source's confession with a post-resurrectional confession of faith in Jesus as Son of the living God that belonged to the appearance of the risen Jesus to Peter; cf 1 Cor 15:5; Luke 24:34.
2. Flesh and blood: a Semitic expression for human beings, especially in their weakness. Has not revealed this . . . but my heavenly Father: that Peter's faith is spoken of as coming not through human means but through a revelation from God is similar to Paul's description of his recognition of who Jesus was; see Gal 1:15-16, ". . . when he [God] . . . was pleased to reveal his Son to me. . . ."
3. You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: the Aramaic word kepa - meaning rock and transliterated into Greek as Kephas is the name by which Peter is called in the Pauline letters (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:4; Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) except in Gal 2:7-8 ("Peter"). It is translated as Petros ("Peter") in John 1:42. The presumed original Aramaic of Jesus' statement would have been, in English, "You are the Rock (Kepa) and upon this rock (kepa) I will build my church." The Greek text probably means the same, for the difference in gender between the masculine noun petros, the disciple's new name, and the feminine noun petra (rock) may be due simply to the unsuitability of using a feminine noun as the proper name of a male. Although the two words were generally used with slightly different nuances, they were also used interchangeably with the same meaning, "rock." Church: this word (Greek ekklesia) occurs in the gospels only here and in Matthew 18:17 (twice). There are several possibilities for an Aramaic original. Jesus' church means the community that he will gather and that, like a building, will have Peter as its solid foundation. That function of Peter consists in his being witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it: the netherworld (Greek Hades, the abode of the dead) is conceived of as a walled city whose gates will not close in upon the church of Jesus, i.e., it will not be overcome by the power of death.
4. The keys to the kingdom of heaven: the image of the keys is probably drawn from Isaiah 22:15-25 where Eliakim, who succeeds Shebnah as master of the palace, is given "the key of the house of David," which he authoritatively "opens" and "shuts" (Isaiah 22:22). Whatever you bind . . . loosed in heaven: there are many instances in rabbinic literature of the binding-loosing imagery. Of the several meanings given there to the metaphor, two are of special importance here: the giving of authoritative teaching, and the lifting or imposing of the ban of excommunication. It is disputed whether the image of the keys and that of binding and loosing are different metaphors meaning the same thing. In any case, the promise of the keys is given to Peter alone. In Matthew 18:18 all the disciples are given the power of binding and loosing, but the context of that verse suggests that there the power of excommunication alone is intended. That the keys are those to the kingdom of heaven and that Peter's exercise of authority in the church on earth will be confirmed in heaven show an intimate connection between, but not an identification of, the church and the kingdom of heaven.
5. Cf Mark 8:30. Matthew makes explicit that the prohibition has to do with speaking of Jesus as the Messiah; see the note on Mark 8:27-30.