The Signs of the Times


October 28, 1913

Peter's Confession of Christ


Before His crucifixion, Jesus made use of the few hours of seclusion with His disciples in praying with them, and teaching them more definitely concerning the nature of His kingdom. He saw that in their human weakness, they were inclined to desire that His reign should be a temporal one. Their earthly ambition had caused them to become confused as to the real mission of Christ. He now reproved them for their misconception, and taught them that instead of worldly honor, it was shame that awaited Him, and instead of a throne, the pitiless cross. He taught them that for His sake, and to win salvation, they must also be willing to endure reproach and contumely. ST October 28, 1913, par. 1

The time drew near when Jesus was to die, and leave His disciples to face the cold and cruel world alone. He knew how bitter hate and unbelief would persecute them, and He wished to encourage and strengthen them for their trials. He accordingly went away by Himself and prayed for them, interceding with the Father, that in the time of that fearful test which awaited them, their faith would prove steadfast, and His sufferings and death might not utterly overwhelm them with despair. What tender love was this, that, in view of His own approaching agony, reached forward to shield His companions from danger! ST October 28, 1913, par. 2

When He again joined His disciples, He asked them: “Whom do men that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Questioning still closer, He inquired, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter, ever ready to speak, answered for himself and his brethren: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” ST October 28, 1913, par. 3

Notwithstanding the faith of many had utterly failed, and the power of the priests and rulers was mighty against them, the brave disciple thus boldly declared his belief. Jesus saw, in this acknowledgment, the living principle that would animate the hearts of His believers in coming ages. It is the mysterious working of God's Spirit upon the human heart, that elevates the humblest mind to a knowledge above all earthly wisdom, and acquaintance with the sacred truths of God. Ah, indeed, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.” ST October 28, 1913, par. 4

Jesus continued: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The word “Peter” signifies a loose stone. Christ did not refer to Peter as being the rock upon which He would found His church. His expression “this rock,” applied to Himself as the foundation of the Christian church. In Isaiah 28:16 the same reference is made: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation.” It is the same stone to which reference is made in Luke 20:17, 18: “And He beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Also in Mark 12:10, 11: “And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” ST October 28, 1913, par. 5

These texts prove conclusively that Christ is the rock upon which the church is built, and in His address to Peter, He referred to Himself as the rock which is the foundation of the church. He continues: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall he bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” ST October 28, 1913, par. 6

The Roman church makes a wrong application of these words of Christ. They claim that He addressed them specially to Peter. Hence he is represented in works of art as carrying a bunch of keys, which is a symbol of trust and authority given to ambassadors and others in high positions. The words of Christ, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” were not addressed to Peter alone, but to the disciples, including those who compose the Christian church in all ages. Peter was given no preference nor power above that of the other disciples. Had Jesus delegated any special authority to one of them, we would not find them so frequently contending among themselves as to who should be greatest. They would have at once submitted to the wish of their Master, and paid honor to the one whom He had selected as their head. ST October 28, 1913, par. 7

But the Roman Catholic Church claims Christ invested Peter with supreme power over the Christian church, and that his successors are divinely authorized to rule the Christian world. In still another place, Jesus acknowledges the same power to exist in all the church, that is claimed to have been given to Peter alone, upon the authority of the text previously quoted: “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” ST October 28, 1913, par. 8