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debate. Keeping these characteristics of the writers in mind, the special statements of each as to Peter, and those in which they unite, take their proper place in a general conclusion derived from all their many allusions.
Opening then the gospel narratives, and tracing their statements as to the apostle Peter, we find that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, agree in mentioning the call of Simon by Jesus at the Lake of Galilee; the healing of his wife's mother, an implied intimation that he was married; his appointment as the first on the list of the apostles; his special avowal of faith in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel; his choice as special witness with James, and John, of the transfiguration, and of the agony in Gethsemane; his ambitious inquiry, “Lo we have left all and followed thee; What shall we have therefore;" Christ's warning that he would thrice deny him; his following Jesus with John to the high priest's palace; and, finally, his persistent denial of his Master: all of which united statements indicate that while Peter was leader in thought and act among his fellows, he was equally prominent in the faults to which his impulsive nature led him. Matthew alone records Peter's walking on the water and loss of faith; his speaking for his brethren in asking an explanation of Christ's parables; his being singled out by Christ in the address, “Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church ;" his error as to the duty of tribute to the civil government enjoined by Christ; and his faulty view indicated by the question, “How shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?"
I Mark, again, alone mentions his intrusion on Christ's private devotions in the mountains; his taking the lead in pressing Christ to reveal when his coming should take place; and the angel's special message sent by the women at his sepulchre, “Go tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee.” Luke, yet again, reports that the boat from which Christ preached, nigh Capernaum, was Simon's; he records his exclamation as he fell down at Jesus' knees, “ Depart from me, for I am a sinful man;" he mentions his inquiry, “Lord speakest thou this parable unto us, or also to all,” and his almost rude rejoinder to Christ's question, "Who touched me?” in the words, “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, who touched me?” he singles out Peter in the mention that the three witnesses of the transfiguration were heavy with sleep; he names Peter and John as the two directed by Christ to prepare his last passover supper, and he alludes to Christ's appearance to Peter on the day of his resurrection. Finally, John alone mentions Andrew's bringing his brother to Jesus, nigh Bethabara, soon after his baptism; his question, “Lord to whom shall we
go ?” his remonstrating against Christ's washing his feet; his hint to John to ask from Jesus the name of the traitor; his drawing his sword and smiting off the ear of the high priest's servant; his hastening of Mary to him when she found not the body of Jesus; his running with John to the sepulchre; his proposal of a fishing excursion while waiting in Galilee for Christ's promised appearance after his resurrection; his haste to meet Jesus by swimming to the shore; Christ's thrice repeated question to him, “Lovest thou me?" and his prediction of the manner in which he should meet death as a witness for his Lord. It is deserving of notice that Matthew and Mark unite in mentioning Peter's rebuke of his Master when he first announced his death, and Christ's counter rebuke, “Get thee behind me Satan;" while Mark and Luke unite in the mention that Peter, James, and John alone were suffered to be present at the raising of the daughter of Jairus.
A careful review of the statements thus enumerated suggests some important inferences bearing on the relation claimed in modern days for Peter as special head of Christ's universal church. From the very nature of the inspired narratives we must seek both the meaning and design of each statement recorded by individual and associated narrators. The accordant facts dictated by the Divine Spirit to the three historians proper, call attention to two manifest deductions. The allusion of these three writers, addressing Jewish, Roman, and Greek disciples of Christ to the marriage of Peter, is directly opposed to the idea of celibacy as a qualification for the office of the Christian ministry. The mere hypothesis of subsequent times that both Joseph, after as well before the birth of Jesus, and Peter after his call to be an apostle, lived in perpetual separation from their wives, is both unnatural in itself and opposed to the positive statement of Scripture. As the very designation of Jesus as the “first born," and also the mention of his brethren and sisters, imply that Mary was subsequent to his birth the mother of children, so Paul's question, 1 Cor. ix. 5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas ?" united with the fact of his marriage, mentioned by all the evangelists at the late period in which they wrote, is manifest evidence that Peter remained during his apostleship a married man; a fact which in itself alone would exclude him from the position claimed for him by the celibates of modern days. Yet, again, while all these sacred writers name Peter first in the list of apostles, and mention his prominence in many worthy deeds and utterances, they make him also the leader in acts of questionable propriety, and in deeds and words of the highest criminality, as well as infidelity. If the disciple, then, is as the master, the successor as the leader, that branch of the Christian church which claims such a head must be supposed to witness the most palpable error and fault, as well as to attain prominence in some great virtues, and in truly Christian labors.
The special facts as to Peter mentioned by Mark, his pupil, by Luke, the companion of Paul, and by the bosom companion of Peter, as well as of Jesus, have a special significance for the thorough student. The constantly quoted words of Christ to Peter as the foundation of the special claim for superior authority in this apostle made by leaders in the Roman Church, deserve particular consideration. Both the words themselves used by Christ, the fact that Matthew alone is the narrator, and the parallel statements of the other historians, Matthew included, demand impartial notice.
In the Greek of the inspired narrative the gender is changed in the second of the two clauses, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock," etc.,
“, from the masculine to the feminine, the words being in the original, Συ ει Ρετρος, και επι ταυτη τη πετρα, etc. This change of gender in the ancient Greek, as in the modern French, indicates a transition from a person to an idea. The feminine expresses the abstract, or a general object, principle, or truth; while the masculine represents the concrete, or an individual of a class of objects, a principle in its embodied illustration, a truth in its manifested application. This distinction of meaning is indicated by the best lexicographers in the words here used by Matthew, as quoted from Christ's lips. Thus Liddell and Scott, under the word petros, say: "A piece of rock, a stone, and thus distinguished from petra ;” and after citations from Homer, the dramatists and earlier writers, its later synonym lithos is mentioned. Under the Greek word petra, on the other hand, the definitions are "rock generally, whether peaked or ridged, ledge or shelf of rock;” and, after citations, the statement is added : “There is no example in good authors of petra in the signification of petros for a single stone." The Latin derivative is petra. In the Latin Vulgate, the authority of the Roman Church, the version reads: “Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram," etc.; upon which, as we shall see, Jerome, the leading translator and commentator regarded as authoritative in the Roman Church, makes a comment which must be recognized by Roman as well as by other biblical scholars. Christ merely makes the name he had himself given to Peter the figure through which to set forth the sentiment just uttered by Peter as the fundamental truth on which his church was to rest. That this was the intended teaching of the inspired writer is manifest from the connection and parallel statements illustrative of its meaning, as well as by the history of its interpretation.
Christ immediately added, Matthew states, these words, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” As Matthew in his gospel, James in his general epistle, and Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, are alike inspired to present the New Testament truth in a light adapted to reach those minds already prepossessed by trust in the Old Testament, so it was manifestly a part of Matthew's mission to make Peter prominent in his narrative of Jesus' life, written for the Jews at the time when Peter had, as we shall see, become universally recognized as "the apostle of the circumcision."
That no superiority over his brother apostles was thereby intended by Christ is manifest from several facts. Matthew is the very one inspired to record a statement of Christ to all his apostles, shortly after the the declaration before made to Peter, in these words, chap. xviii. 18: '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;" a declaration whose meaning is indicated by the binding authority which is implied in the action of a church in receiving or excluding its own members. In confirmation of this view John is inspired to record a declaration of Christ made after his resurrection, chap. xx. 23, to his apostles: “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained;" a declaration explained by Christ's statement shortly previous that the Spirit, by whose teaching the world should be convinced of sin, would lead them into all truth; their inspired writings for all time laying down the principles on which sin is remitted or retained. To add yet farther testimony to the general application and the spiritual meaning of this quoted declaration, Matthew is inspired to quote a little farther on, chap. xix. 28, Christ's declaration to the twelve: “Ye which have followed me in the
regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel;" which declaration Luke also, chap. xxii. 30, is inspired to record; and which evidently indicates the same general truth that the principles of inspired apostolic teaching were to judge the ancient people of God. Yet once more to illustrate and confirm this one general statement, Matthew again, a little farther on still, records, chap. xx. 21, that the mother of James and John came to Jesus urging that her two sons should sit the one on his right and the other on his left in the kingdom of which he had spoken; when in clear language Christ unfolds the spiritual nature of his kingdom and the impossibility that
any earthly or human headship could exist in it. And finally, as if to put the question forever at rest as to any superiority over his brethren given to Peter, Matthew records, and Mark, Peter's son in the Christian faith, joins in the statement, that immediately after the declaration made by Christ to Peter, as if to test his incapacity even to understand his own declaration of the sentiment which was to be the rock of truth on which his church should rest, Jesus began to speak plainly of his early death by crucifixion. The impulse that prompted Peter's claim to faith leads him now to deny and discard the very doctrine of Christ's atoning sacrifice on which, as the only foundation stone, the temple of his truth, the building not made with hands, in which each of his disciples was to be a living stone, must be reared; and so warmly does Peter rebuke his Master for such a degrading idea that Jesus is forced to turn and sternly repulse him, saying: “Get thee behind me Satan, for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” And yet, lest this should not entirely remove all misapprehension of his meaning, Christ inspired this same Matthew, and with him he joined Mark, whose gospel was written from Peter's lips, to go beyond the other writers in giving the full pictures of Peter's weakness and guilt in denying his Master; they two telling of the maid that kept the door before whom Peter quailed; they two repeating how one of the men that was in the company that seized Jesus charged Peter in the hall of justice with being a follower of Jesus, and how Peter then began to curse and to swear that he never knew the man. Could inspiration have gone farther in the gospel narratives in placing Peter among his fallible brethren?
Turning now to the later New Testament records, we find in Luke's history of the apostles that Peter has special prominence for a period of nine years, from A. D. 33, to A. D. 42; when he disappears entirely, except that in the Council at Jerusalem, A. D. 50, he occupies a subordinate place in the discussion. He is leader in the selection of a new apostle, in preaching at Jerusalem, in miraculous powers, in the first apostolic mission to the Samaritans, and to the sea-coast towns of Lydda and Joppa, all of which are recorded in the first eight chapters of Luke's narrative. After a full statement of the conversion of Saul, afterwards called Paul, special prominence is given to the fact that the first Roman convert was instructed and baptized by Peter. This, as the chronology now fixed indicates, occurred A. D. 42; and, as we shall see, it is the beginning of the twenty-five years said by Jerome to have been the period of Peter's prominence at Rome, his death there occurring