As heirs of the Protestant model, your group expects Christians to disregard the logic and structure of the passage, and instead, become distracted and preoccupied with a language that Jesus was not speaking: Greek. I referred to this distraction earlier in this chapter, and prefer to give it the near-footnote’s amount of attention that its red herring nature deserves, but for thoroughness and worthwhile comparative value I must illustrate how your group’s exegesis of Matthew 16:18 and its understanding of “rock” has little to do with the text, but agenda. The Greek does not harm the Catholic Church of Christ; it proves without a doubt the Church is built on St. Peter.
Within Protestantism, Greek is not a dead language—its words are often used as only props to provide an aura of antiquity to a relatively modern movement that defines itself as a non-something—non-Catholic—and distortions of the language are presented as ancient when they are truly not. As a result, Greek scholarship within your group is poisoned and greatly exaggerated, and its deficiencies are absorbed by its military in the mission field.
Pre-Protestant scholars (= Catholic scholars) have wrestled with the Scriptures for centuries, and we have such sacred libraries today—we call them Bibles, and they are now translated into every language. Your group, however, has never produced any raw material for a Bible, but relies on Catholic scholars, and then co-Protestant scholars in order for it to even begin its campaign and claim to be “true Bible Christians”. With this very real backstory, please consider your Johnny-come-lately status and acknowledge there has been centuries of labor your group disregards as yesterday’s garbage; proved every time your members assert that St. Peter was a “small stone”, and therefore, Jesus could not have given him any significant status. And this “small stone” assertion is your fourth objection, and it is flawed in several ways.
Our oldest copies of St. Matthew’s Gospel translate St. Matthew’s original Aramaic text into Koine Greek. The Greek words chosen for the passage at hand are: You are Peter (Πέτρος/Petros), and on this rock (τῇ πέτρᾳ/petra) I will build my church. In Aramaic, the words would read: You are Cephas (Rock), and on this cephas (rock). Appropriately, English translations treat the passage as Jesus spoke: You are Peter (Rock), and on this rock. Your argument is that Petros and petra are different things (small rock/large rock), and therefore, St. Peter cannot be this rock. Your adopted argument existed before your group existed—invented by early Protestant groups one and a half millennia after Jesus spoke the sentence, and whose scholars have since backtracked to a large degree and have come to admit that their forced interpretation was too far-reaching in its attempt to discredit the Catholic Church; those who cling to the theory tend to be part of less-educated Fundamentalist sects. Unfortunately, such Reformed thinkers who admit to their intentional error remain Protestant and continue to behave as though St. Peter is not this rock; or admit that he was this rock, but that the Petrine Ministry forfeited its stewardship at some contrived, arbitrary point in history. Your group, younger and more adamant in thinking that it can only be right, clings to the early Protestant theory, and ignores that the Greek use of Petrosand petra are renderings of the exact same word: rock.
Petros does not mean large rock, it does not mean small rock, it means rock; and petra does not mean large rock, it does not mean small rock, it means rock. Because the subject of St. Peter is masculine, the Greek word for rock was made masculine, and that is the reason why the words’ endings differ. Jesus was not using Greek to equate St. Peter with something little, as your group teaches, but rather, St. Matthew (or perhaps somebody other than St. Matthew who translated his Aramaic autograph into Greek) rightly recognized that St. Peter was a man, and assigned the masculine subject a masculine ending for a feminine Greek word. That is how language works.
Unlike Attic Greek (an older dialect), which was in use centuries before the time of Christ, Petros and petra in New Testament Koine Greek do not refer to “small” or “large” rocks, but mean the exact same thing. Any minister of your group who suggests otherwise is wrong, has probably never investigated the matter, is begging the question with preferred proof-text examples at the exclusion of other passages, or is simply parroting what he has been taught to believe by like-minded people who, like him, have never investigated the claim, yet fancy its conclusion for its anti-Catholic implication. For any truth-seeker can browse the New Testament for some sort of support for your group’s claim, but she will find herself searching in vain—it does not exist, nor has any legitimacy to your group’s objections ever existed. Does this very true background cause you to consider how your group’s interpretation of Matthew 16 is more about theological preference (agenda) than the meaning of the text?
Your group’s use of the argument is a reliance on what is easily proved as flawed early Protestant theory. In other words, it is easily proved Jesus did not say, “You are a small stone, and a different stone than the aforementioned larger rock of faith (which you have no reason to believe is rock), and I will build my church on that other rock.” Instead, what the facts suggest is exactly what the Catholic Church of Christ has known since Jesus said it, and what He said was, You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.
If the writer of St. Matthew’s Gospel were some sort of pre-Campbellite/Restorationist sympathizer, he did have at his disposal the proper Greek word for what is most commonly used for “small (movable) rock”, which was lithos. (There are only two occurrences of lithos that do not pertain to a “small” or “movable” rock in the Bible, and are found in 2 Maccabees—one of seven books Protestants removed from the Bible.) But he was not a member of your not-yet existing sect; he was Catholic, and chose to record Jesus’ words and also recognize St. Peter as the masculine subject of the sentence.
Instead of considering the actual language Jesus spoke (Aramaic), instead of considering the actual language used within the Bible (Koine, not Attic, Greek), and instead of recognizing the structure and logic of the passage as revealed in English, your group pretends to rely on the Sacred Scriptures, not its agenda, to form its theology—a theology that must always, by use of any of the above objections, demote St. Peter from being the rock Jesus built His Church upon.