“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my churchand the gates of Hades will not overcome it (emphasis added).

Matthew 16:15-18 (NIV)

When I consider Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:18, I cannot help but conclude that the rock Jesus is talking about here is the truth of Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah and the son of God. Although Peter’s name (Cephas) in Greek means rock, Jesus isn’t telling Peter that he’s building the church on Peter or upon any human. Instead, I see Jesus’ declaration, “that you are Peter,” as a fulfillment of Jesus’ changing Peter’s name from Simon to Peter.

Therefore, what we see is Jesus proclaiming two truths. Confirmation that He is the Messiah and the Son of the living God and that Peter, who once was called “Simon,” has now shed his former self by seeing the truth of what God has revealed to him. Hence, Jesus’ shift from “Simon son of Jonah” to “you are Peter.” 

Although I’m no Bible scholar or theologian, I’m puzzled about why these verses have so much controversy. How is it that some people cannot see the truth? Then again, that’s how it is with deception. When we are deceived, we are thoroughly deceived, and only God can open our eyes to see the truth and change our hearts to receive the truth.