“Dixit illis: Vos autem, quem vos dicitis de me, quis ego sum?
Respondit Simon Petros, et dixit: Tu es Christus, filius Dei vivi.
Respondit autem Dominus Jesus, et dixit ei: Beatus es Simon Bar Jona: quia caro et sanguis non revelavit tibi, sed Pater, qui in coelo.
Et etiam ego dico tibi, quia tu es Petros, et super hanc petram ego ædifico ecclesiam meam, et porta inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.”
Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
There are several things to note about Christ's answer:
- Christ declares Simon son of Jonah blessed.
- He points on Father's exclusive revelation to Simon as basis for this declaration.
- He declares Simon to be Peter (petros, Rocky).
- He declares that on this rock (petra, bedrock) He will build His Church.
- He declares that gates of hell will not overcome it.
Notice, that Christ declares Simon blessed not of Himself, as He does with 3-5 "and I tell you...", but because Simon did confess what Father revealed him, namely that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. And, based on this, He declares, explicitly of Himself ("and I tell you"), that Simon is Petros, and that on this petra He will build His Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. The fact that Father reveals something directly to someone, likens the one, to whom direct revelation is made, to the Son, to whom Father reveales everything and through whom everything is revealed. But if everything is revealed to and through Son, then direct revelation to someone else does not separate him from Christ nor sets him independent of Christ, but unites him to Christ in a special way. By this revelation he shares in mission of Christ.
And Jesus makes this clear by declaring Simon to be Petros, that which shares in quality of petra, albeit partially, not being petra himself. Petra is Father's full revelation, which is Christ Himself and what is revealed in Christ and through Christ and by Christ. But Petros, Rocky, has his share in this rockhood of Christ. Further, Christ's declaration makes him Petros. Christ, always fulfilling the will of the Father, by His declaration creates of Simon Petros, the one sharing in petra, based on Father's using him as petros and therefore revealing him as petros.
After declaring Simon to be Petros, He says "and on this petra I will build my church". There seems to be conflict between "this" and "petra", "this" pointing to just-referred-to Petros and "petra" being different from "petros". But in the light of what was said earlier, it is absolutely ingenious, truly divine formulation, living word of God, double-edged sword, cutting through every one-sided interpretation, e.g. that He is talking of Petros only, or that He is talking of Himself (petra) only, or that He is talking of faith only. In one simple declaration He is talking of all of this as intimately interrelated. Simon confessed his faith, revealed to him by Father; by this Father revealed him to be petros (sharing in Christ's mission) and Christ declared him to be Petros (made him to share in His mission); on this He builds His Church, i.e. on perpetuation of Simon's share in confession of faith revealed by Father in Christ; but He does not build it on Simon with nickname Rocky, but exactly on this sharing by Petros in petra, i.e. so far as Simon is indeed Petros, as Father has revealed him to be and Christ has declared him to be.
Given this connection of Petros to petra, layed down as foundation of His Church, Christ declares that gates of hell will not overcome it. "It" is obviously the Church, but Church based on the foundation-stone, Rocky, united intimately to the bedrock. He is made such by the Word of God for reckognizing and confessing the Word of God.
It should be stressed that this "sharing in the quality of petra" is not universal, i.e. by this "petra" is not substituted by "Petros". In contrary, Petros is Petros in so far only as he is united to petra. This does not elevate Simon somehow to impeccability or necessary sanctity or what else. This only confirms Petros to confess on request of Christ and in union with Him, what Father has revealed.