Comment to 'Preface from the KJV Translators'
  • Me, I'm dependent upon a good translation. I'm not a Greek or Hebrew scholar, you see

    Neither am I. In fact, I only cracked open an interlinear bible for the first time a few months ago. Yet I've found having access to the original Greek extremely useful so far. It's not so much that I'm answering questions as much as I'm learning how to frame them. For example, I find Peter's confession of Jesus as "the Son of the living God" in Matt 16:16 to be truly fascinating. First and foremost, just the idea that God would be made incarnate completely blows my mind. But in addition, it is Jesus' promise of building his assembly on "this rock" in verse 18 that becomes a real challenge for us. The King James Bible translates this verse, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of **** shall not prevail against it." Scores of Christian leaders, from Catholic to Orthodox and even to many Protestant traditions, will tell you that Jesus promised to build His assembly on the work of the person named Peter, and as spiritual descendants of Peter that their authority to govern the assembly comes through this promise. (Peter as the first Pope.) Yet reading this verse in the interlinear bible does not make that connection quite so obvious. One interlinear bible ( translates this passage as "I also now to you say that you are Peter and on this the rock I will build my church and [the] gates of hades not will prevail against it". The phrase "on this the rock" seems to open more possibilities than "upon this rock" as in the KJV since the original Greek contains a definite article not found in the English translation. Was Jesus really calling Peter "the rock"? Maybe yes, but maybe no. There are perhaps at least three possible explanations that we can explore:

    1. That Jesus did in fact see Peter, a fallible human being, as being worthy of building His assembly upon. I think that we can all agree that Peter had a pretty bad track record of being perfect both before and after Jesus' resurrection. He was more like the sand than as a rock
    2. That Jesus was referring to Himself the "the rock", which would be consistent with other descriptions of God as a rock and protector in both the Old and New Testaments
    3. That Jesus use of "the rock" ties immediately back to Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah. Consider the verses immediately preceding verse 18... "15 [Jesus] said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' 16 Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 17 And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of **** shall not prevail against it.'" Could not "the rock" in this case be the truth that God revealed to Peter and upon which Peter made his confession?

    I don't really know which, if any, of these items above is (are) the right answer(s). The Greek does not make it clear to me as I contemplate the question of what Jesus means when He speaks of "the rock". But what I am feeling is that the Greek is telling me that there may be more than meets the eye here when reading many English translations which omit the definite article "the"

    So let me encourage you to do what you can to dig deeper into Scripture in the original languages as you are able. You never know when you might discover a seemingly insignificant word that may change the meaning of a passage that you think that you already know