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And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and Cæsarea upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of Philippi. hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter generally proved himself the chief speaker, and he con-
Among other of the Protestant writers who have strenuously
2 Sam. xxii. 32.
That our Lord really referred to this declaration of Peter, relating to his own divine dignity, as being the true rock, on which he would build his Church, is established beyond contradiction by our Lord himself, in the clear distinction which he maintained between the stone (Terpos, petros,) and the rock, (Terpa, petra,) by the accurate grammatical terms in which both these words are expressly recorded. For whatsoever may have been the language in which they were really spoken, perhaps in Chaldee or Syriac, yet in this point the Greek record is our only authoritative instructor. The first word, Terpos, being a masculine noun, signifies merely a stone; and the second word, werpa, though it is a feminine noun, cannot signify any thing of less magnitude and importance than a rock, or strong mountain of defence.
With respect to the first. The word Terpos, petros, in its highest figurative sense of a stone, when applied to Peter, can represent only one true believer, or faithful member of Christ's Church, that is, one out of the great multitude of true bes
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Cæsarea
lievers in Christ, who, as figurative stones, form altogether the
From this whole argument of St. Peter, it is manifest that
So that the appointment of any vicar on earth, to represent that rock, or eternal head of the Church, whose continual presence, even with the smallest congregations on earth, is so expressly promised, would be not only superfluous and vain, but must also be deemed a most ungrateful affront to the benevolent Promiser of his continual presence; such as must have been suggested by our spiritual enemies, to promote an apostacy from the only sure foundation, on which the faith, hope, and confidence of the true Catholic Church could be built and supported.
A due consideration also of the second noun, wɛrpa, a rock, will demonstrate that the supreme title of the rock, which, in other texts of Holy Scripture, is applied to Jehovah, or God, alone, most certainly was not intended by our Lord to be understood as applicable to his disciple Peter; but only to that true testimony which St. Peter had just before declared, concerning the divine dignity of the Messiah-" Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
I have already remarked, that werpa (a rock) is a feminine noun; and a clear distinction is maintained between wεrpos, tho masculine noun in this text, and the said feminine noun werpa,
Mat.xvi. 19. heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall Cæsares Philippi.
the rock, by the grammatical terms in which the latter, in its re-
And observe farther, that the application of this supreme title
And Christ was also the rock, even of the primitive Church of Israel; for St. Paul testifies, that "they (i. e. the hosts of Israel) did all drink of that spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ," 1 Cor. x. 4. And the apostle, in a preceding chapter (1 Cor. iii. 11.) says, "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
It would exceed all due limits to attempt to discuss at full length, the controversies which have divided Christians, when the peculiar passages of Scripture upon which each controversy principally depends, passes under consideration. The observations of Granville Sharp, which I have now extracted, appear to be deserving attention The various points which separate the Catholic and Protestant Church, will soon perhaps compel the more serious attention of the Protestant world, by the general revival and increase of Popery, and the re-action in its favour in a neighbouring country. And it may be considered
Mat.xvi.19. be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Cæsarea earth, shall be loosed in heaven 19. Philippi.
the bounden duty of every theological student to make himself
The political discussions respecting the extent of the privi-
(a) Vide Elsley in loc. who quotes Chrys. in Matt. xvi. 18. and Tom. 5. or, 163. (b) See on this subject the tracts of the Bishop of St. David's the tracts against Popery. The ninth volume of Bishop Hall's works. Bishop Bull's reply to the Bishop of Meaux. Barrow's Pope's Supremacy, and many others.
19 Lightfoot has given us abundant proofs of the manner in which this expression was understood among the Jews, and the manner in which it consequently ought to be understood among Christians. The phrase TD5" to bind and to loose," in the common language of the Jews, signified to prohibit, and to permit, or to teach what is prohibited or permitted, what is lawful or unlawful. Lightfoot then produces many instances, and goes on to observe-by this sense of the phrase the intention of Christ is easily ascertained, namely, he first confers on the apostles the ministerial power to teach what is to be done, and the contrary; he confers this power on them as ministers, and on all their successors to the end of the world. Their. power was more extensive than that of others, because they received authority to prohibit or to allow those things that were ordained in the law of Moses (a).
In his Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations on St. Matthew (b), Lightfoot produces many more instances where the words to loose and to bind are applied in this sense; and he shews that these words were first used in doctrine and in judgments; concerning things allowed or not allowed, in the law. Secondly, that to bind is the same with to forbid, or to declare forbidden. To think that Christ, (he continues) when he used the common phrase, was not understood by his hearers, in the common and vulgar sense, shall I call it a matter of laughter, or of madness?
To this, therefore, do these words amount: when the time was come wherein the Mosaic law, as to some part of it, was to be continued and to last for ever, he granted Peter here, and to the rest of the apostles. chap. xviii. 18. a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good; being taught this, and led by the Holy Spirit, as if he should say whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses that is forbid, it shall be forbidden, the divine authority confirming it; and whatsoever ye shall loose, that is, permit, or shall teach that it is permitted and lawful, shall be lawful and permitted. Hence they bound, that is forbad, circumcision to the believers; eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of blood for a time, to the Gentiles; and that which they bound on earth was confirmed in heaven. They loosed, that is, allowed purification to Paul, and to four other brethren, for the shunning of scandal, Acts xxi. 24. and, in a word, by these words of Christ it was com
mitted to them; the Holy Spirit directing, that they should
Let the words be applied, by way of paraphrase, to the matter that was transacted at present with Peter. "I am about to build a Gentile Church," saith Christ, “and to thee, O Peter, do I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that thou mayest first open the door of faith to them: but if thou askest by what rule that Church is to be governed when the Mosaic rule may seem so improper for it, thou shalt be so guided by the Holy Spirit, that whatsoever of the law of Moses thou shalt forbid them, shall be forbidden; whatsover thou grantest them, shall be granted, and that under a sanction made in heaven. Hence in that instant, when he should use his keys, that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of the Gospel to the Gentiles, Acts x. he was taught from heaven that the consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had been bound, was now loosed; and the eating of any creature conve nient for food, was now loosed, which before had heen bound; and he in like manner looses both these.
Those words of our Saviour, John xx. 23. Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted to them, for the most part are forced to the same sense with these before us, when they carry quite another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not of persons; there of persons, not of doctrine. Here of things lawful or unlawful in religion, to be determined by the apostles; there of persons obstinate, or not obstinate, to be punished by them, or not to be punished.
As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed. 1. So long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the evangelical doctrine.
2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine concerning the legal doctrine and practice, being completely instructed and enabled in both, by the Holy Spirit descending upon them. As to the persons, they were endowed with a peculiar gift, so that the same Spirit directing them if they would retain, and punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into their hands of delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases, plagues, yea, death itself, which Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira; Paul to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, &c.
Schoetgen (c) adds many instances to those collected by Lightfoot, that to loose and to bind signified to pronounce what was lawful and unlawful; clean and unclean; condemned or permitted in the Mosaical dispensation. From all which he infers, that among the Jews this power of binding and loosing was given to Rabbis, or Teachers, who were skilled in the law, and appointed to instruct the people, and that our Lord not only claimed to himself the same power which had hitherto been possessed by the Jewish teachers, but bestowed it upon his own disciples, and invested them in his new dispensation with the same authority as that which had been hitherto exerted only by the Jewish teachers.
The power of binding or loosing, of declaring what is lawful and what is unlawful, is evidently the highest power of governing; and of imposing laws for the guidance and direction of the spiritual society of the Church. It was the belief of the primitive Church, that this power was confided to the apostles;