The Patristic Exegesis of the Rock of Matthew 16:18
Compiled by William Webster
The Most Extensive Documentation of the Patristic Understanding of the Rock of Matthew 16 in the English Language, Spanning the Third to the Eighth Centuries Numerous Quotations
Given for the First Time from the Original Latin and Greek
Documentation from the writings of the following Church fathers and theologians:
Augustine, Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Aphraates, Apostolical Constitutions, Asterius, Athanasius, Basil the Great, Basil of Seleucia, Bede, Cassiodorus, Cassian (John), Chrysostom(John), Chrysologus (Peter), Cyprian, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Didymus the Blind, Epiphanius, Ephrem Syrus, Eusebius, Firmicus Maternus, Firmilian, Fulgentius, Gaudentius of Brescia, Gregory the Great, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, Hilary of Poitiers, Ignatius, Isidore of Pelusium, Isidore of Seville, James of Nisbis, Jerome, John of Damascus, Maximus of Turin, Nilus of Ancyra, Origen, Pacian, Palladius of Helenopolis, Paschasius Radbertus, Paul of Emessa, Paul Orosius, Paulinus of Nola, Prosper of Aquitaine, Tertullian, Theodoret, Comments of 6th Century Palestinian and Syriac Clergy from a Letter to Emperor Justin, Comments of Chrysostom, Cyril or Origen falsely attributed to Victor of Antioch.
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Remember, in this man Peter, the rock. He’s the one, you see, who on being questioned by the Lord about who the disciples said he was, replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On hearing this, Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you’…’You are Peter, Rocky, and on this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of the underworld will not conquer her. To you shall I give the keys of the kingdom. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall also be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 16:15-19). In Peter, Rocky, we see our attention drawn to the rock. Now the apostle Paul says about the former people, ‘They drank from the spiritual rock that was following them; but the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4). So this disciple is called Rocky from the rock, like Christian from Christ.
Why have I wanted to make this little introduction? In order to suggest to you that in Peter the Church is to be recognized. Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.1
You see, it was by this human form that the Lord-that is, the form of a servant: he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:7); so it was by this form of a servant that Peter’s affection was also held captive, when he was afraid of the one whom he loved so much having to die. He loved the Lord Jesus Christ, you see, as one human being loves another; as being of flesh loves a being of flesh, not as spiritual being loves the divine majesty. How can we be sure of this? Because when the Lord had been questioning his disciples about who he was said to be by the people, and they had given the opinions of others as they recalled them, that some said he was John, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets, he said to them, You, though, who do you say that I am? And Peter, one speaking for the rest of them, one for all, said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:15-16). Excellent, couldn’t be more true; rightly did he deserve to receive a reply like this: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, because you have told me; you have said something; hear something; you have made a confession, receive a blessing; so: And I tell you: you are Peter; because I am the rock, you are Rocky, Peter-I mean, rock doesn’t come from Rocky, but Rocky from rock, just as Christ doesn’t come from Christian, but Christian from Christ; and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt 16:17-18); not upon Peter, or Rocky, which is what you are, but upon the rock which you have confessed. I will build my Church though; I will build you, because in this answer of yours you represent the Church. 2
In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built.’…But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable. 3
But whom say ye that I am? Peter answered, ‘Thou art the Christ, The Son of the living God.’ One for many gave the answer, Unity in many. Then said the Lord to him, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.’ Then He added, ‘and I say unto thee.’ As if He had said, ‘Because thou hast said unto Me, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God;” I also say unto thee, “Thou art Peter.” For before he was called Simon. Now this name of Peter was given him by the Lord, and in a figure, that he should signify the Church. For seeing that Christ is the rock (Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original name. Therefore Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. ‘Therefore,’ he saith, ‘Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock’ which Thou hast confessed, upon this rock which Thou hast acknowledged, saying, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;’ that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, ‘will I build My Church.’ I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon Thee.
For men who wished to be built upon men, said, ‘I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,’ who is Peter. But others who did not wish to built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, ‘But I am of Christ.’ And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, ‘Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?’ And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter. This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced ‘blessed,’ bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship, a very little while after that he had heard that he was ‘Peter,’ a very little while after that he had heard that he was to be ‘built upon the Rock,’ displeased the Lord when he had heard of His future Passion, for he had foretold His disciples that it was soon to be. He feared lest he should by death, lose Him whom he had confessed as the fountain of life…Peter said to Christ, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die; but Christ far better said, I am willing to die for thee. And then He forthwith rebuked him, whom he had little before commended; and calleth him Satan, whom He had pronounced ‘blessed.’…Let us, looking at ourselves in this member of the Church, distinguish what is of God and what of ourselves. For then we shall not totter, then we shall be founded on the Rock, shall be fixed and firm against the winds, and storms, and streams and temptations, I mean, of this present world. You see this Peter, who was then our figure; now he trusts, and now he totters; now he confesses the Undying, and now he fears lest he should die. Wherefore? because the Church of Christ hath both strong and weak ones; and cannot be without either strong or weak; whence the Apostle Paul says, ‘Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.’ In that Peter said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ he represents the strong: but in that he totters, and would not that Christ should suffer, in fearing death for Him, and not acknowledging the Life, he represents the weak ones of the Church. In that one Apostle then, that is, Peter, in the order of Apostles first and chiefest, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be represented, that is, both the strong and weak; because the Church does not exist without them both.4
We recognize in heretics that baptism, which belongs not to the heretics but to Christ, in such sort as in fornicators, in unclean persons or effeminate, in idolators, in prisoners, in those who retain enmity, in those who are fond of contention, in the credulous, in the proud, given to seditions, in the envious, in drunkards, in revelers; and in men like these we hold valid the baptism which is not theirs but Christ’s. For of men like these, and among them are included heretics also, none, as the apostle says, shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Nor as they to be considered as being in the body of Christ, which is the Church, simply because they are materially partakers of the sacraments. For the sacraments indeed are holy, even in such men as these, and shall be of force in them to greater condemnation, because they handle and partake of them unworthily. But the men themselves are not within the constitution of the Church, which increases in the increase of God in its members through connection and contact with Christ. For that Church is founded on a rock, as the Lord says, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church.’ But they build on the sand, as the same Lord says, ‘Everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.’ But that you may not suppose that the Church which is upon a rock is one part only of the earth, and does not extend even to its furthest boundaries, hear her voice groaning from the psalm, amid the evils of her pilgrimage. For she says, ‘From the end of the earth have I cried unto Thee; when my heart was distressed Thou didst lift me up upon the rock; Thou hast led me, Thou, my hope, hast become a tower of courage from the face of the enemy.’ See how she cries from the end of the earth. She is not therefore in Africa alone, nor only among the Africans, who send a bishop from Africa to Rome to a few Montenses, and into Spain to the houses of one lady. See how she is exalted on a rock. All, therefore, are not to be deemed to be in her which build upon the sand, that is, which hear the words of Christ and do them not, even though both among us and among you they have and transmit the sacrament of baptism. See how her hope is in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, not in Peter or in Paul, still less in Donatus or Petilianus.5
But take Peter too, my brothers and sisters; from where did he get it that he could say out of love, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God? Where did he get it from? Really from his own resources? Perish the thought! Its just as well that this same passage of the gospel shows both things, what Peter got from God’s, what from his own resources. You’ve got them both there; read; there’s nothing you should be waiting to hear from me. I’ll just remind you of the gospel: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the Lord to him: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. Why? Blessed from your own resources? No. Because flesh and blood has not revealed it to you; that, after all, is what you are. Flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven (Mt 16:16-17). And he goes on to say more things which it would take too long to mention.
Shortly afterward, after these words of his in which he approved of Peter’s faith and showed that it was the rock, he began there and then to show his disciples that it would be necessary for him to come to Jerusalem, and suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the scribes and the priests, and be killed, and on the third day rise again.6
So the Lord will repay his faithful followers who are so lovingly, so cheerfully, so devotedly carrying out these works, to the effect that he includes them in the construction of his own building, into which they hasten to fit as living stones ( 1 Pt 2:5), fashioned by faith, made solidly firm by hope, cemented together by charity. This is the building in which that wise architect the apostle placed Christ Jesus as the foundation (1 Cor 3:10-11), also as the supreme cornerstone (Is 28:16); one which, as Peter also reminds us from the prophetic scripture, was rejected indeed by men, but chosen and honored by God (1 Pt 2:4; Ps 118:22). By adhering to this stone we are joined peaceably together; by resting on it we are fixed firmly in place. You see, he is at one and the same time the foundation stone, because he is the one who regulates us, and the cornerstone, because it is he that joins us together. He is the rock on which the wise man builds his house, and thus continues in utter security against all the trials and temptations of this world, neither collapsing when the rain pours down, nor being swept away when the river floods, nor overthrown when the winds blow.7
Peter then was true; or rather was Christ true in Peter? Now when the Lord Jesus Christ would, He abandoned Peter, and Peter was found a man; but when it so pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, He filled Peter, and Peter was found true. The Rock (Petra) made Peter true, for the Rock was Christ.8
Now then seeing it hath been set forth what we ought to do, let us see what we are to receive. For he hath appointed a work, and promised a reward. What is the work? ‘If ye shall continue in me.’ A short work; short in description, great in execution. ‘If ye shall continue.’ What is, ‘If ye shall continue’? ‘If ye shall build on the Rock.’ O how great a thing is this, Brethren, to build on the Rock, how great is it! ‘The floods came. The winds blew, the rain descended, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.’9
This then is the sight which ravishes every rational soul with desire for it, and of which the soul is the more ardent in its desire the purer it is; and it is the purer the more it rises again to the things of the spirit; and it rises the more to the things of the spirit, the more it dies to the material things of the flesh. But while we are away from the Lord and walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:6), we have to behold Christ’s back, that is his flesh, by this same faith; standing that is upon the solid foundation of faith, which is represented by the rock, and gazing at his flesh from the security of the lookout on the rock, namely the Catholic church, of which it is said, And upon this rock I will build my church (Mt. 16:18). All the surer is our love for the face of Christ which we long to see, the more clearly we recognize in his back how much Christ first loved us.10
And yet, while the issue about the Church is one thing, the issue about persons another, and they are quite distinct from each other, we aren’t afraid of facing the issue of persons either, whom they have accused, and been unable to convict. We know they were cleared, we have tread the documentation of their being cleared. Even if they hadn’t been cleared, I would never set up a Church because of them, and build one on sand, and pull down one built on rock; because on this rock, he said, I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not overcome it (Mt. 16:18). Now the rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Hold on to these texts, love these texts, repeat them in a fraternal and peaceful manner.11
And this Church, symbolized in its generality, was personified in the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his apostleship. For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven,’ he represented the universal Church, which in this world is shaken by divers temptations, that come upon it like torrents of rain, floods and tempests, and falleth not, because it is founded upon a rock (petra), from which Peter received his name. For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, ‘On this rock will I build my Church,’ because Peter had said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church.12
So what does all this symbolism mean? That receptacle signifies the Church; the four lines it was hanging from are the four quarters of the earth, through which the Catholic Church stretches, being spread out everywhere. So all those who wish to go apart into a party, and to cut themselves off from the whole, do not belong to the sacred reality signified by the four lines. But if they don’t belong to Peter’s vision, neither do they do so to the keys which were given to Peter. You see, God says his holy ones are to be gathered together at the end from the four winds, because now the gospel faith is being spread abroad through all those four cardinal points of the compass. So those animals are the nations. All the Gentile nations, after all, were unclean in their errors and superstitions and lusts before Christ came; but at his coming their sins were forgiven them and they were made clean. Therefore now, after the forgiveness of sins, why should they not be received into the body of Christ, which is the Church of God, which Peter was standing for?
Its clear, you see, from many places in scripture that Peter can stand for, or represent, the Church; above all from that place where it says, To you will I hand over the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt. 16:19). Did Peter receive these keys, and Paul not receive them? Did Peter receive them, and John and James and the other apostles not receive them? Or are the keys not to be found in the Church, where sins are being forgiven every day? But because Peter symbolically stood for the Church, what was given to him alone was given to the whole Church. So Peter represented the Church; the Church is the body of Christ.13
The blessed Peter, the first of the apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, ‘And I say to you, that you are Peter.’ He himself, you see, had just said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Christ said to him, ‘And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Mt. 16:16, 18). Upon this rock I will build the faith which you have just confessed. Upon what you have just said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter, Rocky, from rock, not rock from Rocky. Peter comes from ‘petra’, rock, in exactly the same way as Christian comes from Christ. Do you want to know what rock Peter is called after? Listen to Paul: ‘I would not have you ignorant, brothers,’ the apostle of Christ says; ‘I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the rock that was following them, and the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:1-4). There you have where Rocky, Peter, is from.
Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his, whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, ‘To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 16:19). After all, it isn’t just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, ‘To you I am entrusting,’ what has in fact been entrusted to all.
I mean, to show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit;’ and straightway, ‘Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained’ (Jn 20:22-23). This refers to the keys, about which it is said, ‘whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ (Mt 16:19). But that was said to Peter. To show you that Peter at that time stood for the universal Church, listen to what is said to him, what is said to all the faithful, the saints: ‘If your brother sins against you, correct him between you and himself alone. If he does not listen to you, bring with you one or two; for it is written, By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be settled. If he does not even listen to them, refer him to the Church; if he does not even listen to her, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax collector. Amen amen I tell you, that whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 16:18). It is the dove that binds, the dove that looses, the building built upon the rock that binds and looses.
Let those who are bound fear, those who are loosed fear. Let those who are loosed be afraid of being bound; those who are bound pray to be loosed. ‘Each one is tied up in the thread of his own sins’ (Prv 5:22). And apart from the Church, nothing is loosed. One four days dead is told, ‘Lazarus, come forth in the open’ (Jn 11:43), and he came forth from the tomb tied hand and foot with bandages. The Lord rouses him, so that the dead man may come forth from the tomb; this means he touches the heart, so that the confession of sin may come out in the open. But that’s not enough, he’s still bound. So after Lazarus had come out of the tomb, the Lord turned to his disciples, whom he had told, ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,’ and said, ‘Loose him, and let him go’ (Jn 11:44). He roused him by himself, he loosed him through the disciples.
Furthermore, the Church’s strength and courage is supremely presented to us in Peter; because he followed the Lord as he went to his passion; and also something of its weakness is to be observed there, since when he was questioned by a maid, he repudiated the Lord.14
We should each of us faithfully recall, too, an example offered us in that first people. The apostle says, you see, All these things were our models (1 Cor. 10:6), when he was talking about such things. I mean, what had he just said? For I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that all our fathers were under the cloud; and all were baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that was following them. Now the rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). The one who said that these things were our models, is one whom no believer has ever contradicted. And while he mentioned many things, he only explained one of them, saying, Now the rock was Christ. In explaining a single item, he left us the others to be inquired into; but to save inquirers from going astray by departing from Christ, and to enable them to seek surely, founded on the rock, The rock, he said, was Christ. He said those things were our models, and they are all obscure. Who could unpack these well wrapped models? Who could open them up, who would dare to shake them out? In these densest possible thickets, so to say, and these thick shadows he has hit a light: The rock, he says, was Christ.
I also want to say something about the doubts the servant of God, Moses, felt…In this case too, you see, he was representative of the saints of the Old Testament. Moses had his doubts about the water; when he struck the rock with his rod, so that water flowed out, he doubted…Moses doubted when the wood came into contact with the rock; the disciples doubted, when they saw the Lord crucified. Moses figuratively stood for them; he stood for that Peter with his threefold denial. Why did Peter doubt? Because the wood approached the rock. When the Lord himself was foretelling the kind of death he would die, that is his cross, Peter was horrified: Far be this from you, Lord; this shall not happen. You doubt, because you see the rod hanging over the rock. That’s why the disciples then lost the hope they had placed in the Lord; it had somehow been cut off when they saw him crucified, when they mourned him slain. He came upon them after his resurrection talking to one another about this matter, in sad conversation. He kept their eyes from recognizing him, not to remove himself from believers, but to put them off while they were still doubters, and he joined in their conversation as a third party, and asked them what they were talking about. They were astonished that he should be the only person not to know what had happened-to the very one, in fact, who was inquiring about it. Are you the only stranger, they said, in Jerusalem? And they went over all that had happened to Jesus. And straightway they proceed to open up all the depth of their despair, and albeit unwittingly they show the doctor their wounds: But we, they say, were hoping that with him there would be redemption for Israel (Lk 24:13-21). There you are, doubt arose, because wood had come into contact with the rock. What Moses figuratively stood for was fulfilled.
Let’s take a look at this text too: Climb the mountain and die (Dt 32:49-50). The bodily death of Moses stood for the death of his doubting, but on the mountain. What marvelous mysteries! When this had been definitely explained and understood, how much sweeter it is to the taste than manna! Doubting was born at the rock, died on the mountain. When Christ was humbled in his passion, he was like a rock lying on the ground before their eyes. It was natural to have doubts about him; that humility was not holding out hopes for anything very great. His very humiliation naturally made him into a stone of offense (Is 8:14; 1 Pt 2:8). But once glorified by his resurrection he was seen to be great, he is now a mountain. So now let that doubt, which was born at the rock, die on the mountain. Let the disciples recognize where their salvation lies, let them summon up their hope again. Notice how that doubting dies, notice how Moses dies on the mountain. Let him not enter the promised land; we don’t want any doubting there; let it die. Let Christ now show us how it dies. Peter trembled and denied three times. The rock you see was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). He rose again, he became a mountain; he even gave Peter courage.15
By loving the sheep, show the love you have for the shepherd; because the very sheep themselves are members of the shepherd. In order that the sheep might be his members, he was prepared to be a sheep; that the sheep might be his members, like a sheep that was led to the slaughter (Is 53:7); that the sheep might be his members, it was said of him, Behold the lamb of God, behold the one who takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29)…
So let us love him, let there be nothing dearer to us than he. So do you imagine that the Lord is not questioning us? Was Peter the only one who qualified to be questioned, and didn’t we? When that reading is read, every single Christian is being questioned in his heart. So when you hear the Lord saying ‘Peter, do you love me?’ think of it as a mirror, and observe yourself there. I mean, what else was Peter doing but standing for the Church? So when the Lord was questioning Peter, he was questioning us, he was questioning the Church. I mean, to show you that Peter stood for the Church, call to mind that place in the gospel, ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not conquer her; to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 16:18-19). One man receives them; you see, he explained himself what the keys of the kingdom mean: ‘What you all bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what you all loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 18:18). If it was said to Peter alone, Peter alone did this; he passed away, and went away; so who binds, who looses? I make bold to say, we too have these keys. And what am I to say? That it is only we who bind, only we who loose? No, you also bind, you also loose. Anybody who’s bound, you see, is barred from your society; and when he’s barred from your society, he’s bound by you; and when he’s reconciled he’s loosed by you, because you too plead with God for him.
We all love Christ, you see, we are his members; and when he entrusts the sheep to the shepherds, the whole number of shepherds is reduced to the body of one shepherd. Just to show you that the whole number of shepherds is reduced to the one body of the one shepherd, certainly Peter’s a shepherd, undoubtedly a pastor; Paul’s a shepherd, yes, clearly a pastor; John’s a shepherd, James a shepherd, Andrew a shepherd, and the other apostles are shepherds. All holy bishops are shepherds, pastors, yes, clearly so. And how can this be true: And there will be one flock and one shepherd (Jn 10:16)? Then if there will be one flock and one shepherd is true, the innumerable number of shepherds or pastors must be reduced to the body of the one shepherd or pastor.16
This gospel that has just been read about Christ the Lord, and how he walked over the surface of the sea, and about the apostle Peter, and how, by growing afraid as he walked, he staggered, and by losing confidence began to submerge, until by confessing he again emerged; this gospel is advising us to take the sea as meaning the present age and this world, and the apostle Peter as representing the one and only Church. Peter, you see, is first in the class of the apostles, and readiest in expressing love of Christ, and is often the one who answers for them all. Thus when the Lord Jesus Christ was inquiring who people said he was, and the disciples told him the various opinions people held, and the Lord again asked them, ‘But you, who do you say that I am?’-it was Peter who answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:15-16).
Then the Lord said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, because it is not flesh and blood that revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ Then he added, ‘And I say to you.’ As much as to say, Because you said to me, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ I in turn say to you, ‘You are Peter’ (Mt 16:7-18). Previously, of course, he was called Simon; this name of Peter was bestowed on him by the Lord, and that with the symbolic intention of his representing the Church. Because Christ, you see, is the petra or rock; Peter, or Rocky, is the Christian people.. I mean, the basic name is ‘rock.’ Therefore Rocky is so called from rock, not the rock from Rocky; just as Christ is not so called from Christian, but Christian from Christ. So, ‘You,’ he says, ‘are Peter, and on this rock,’ which you have acknowledged, ‘on this rock,’ which you recognized when you said ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church;’ that is, on myself, the Son of the living God, ‘I will build my Church’ (Mt 16:18). I will build you on me, not me on you.
There were people, you see, who wanted to build on human beings merely, and they would say, ‘I’m Paul’s man, I’m Apollo’s, I’m Kephas’-that’s Peter or Rocky…And others, who didn’t want to be built on Rocky, but on the rock, said, ‘But I’m Christ’s.’ When, however, the apostle Paul realized that he had been chosen and Christ had been ignored, he said, ‘Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you, Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?’ (1 Cor 1:12-13). Not in Paul’s name, nor in Rocky’s either, but in the name of Christ, so that Rocky might be built up on the rock, not the rock on Rocky.
So then, this self-same Peter, blessed by being surnamed Rocky from the rock, representing the person of the Church, holding chief place in the apostolic ranks, no sooner had he heard that he was blessed, no sooner had he heard that he was Rocky, no sooner had he heard that he was to be built on the rock, than on hearing also about the Lord’s coming passion, which the Lord said was going to happen pretty quickly, he expressed his displeasure. He was afraid of losing by death the one he had confessed to be the fountain of life. He was shocked, and said, ‘Far be it from you, Lord; this must not happen.’ Be easy on yourself, God; I don’t want you to die.
By observing this member of the Church ourselves, let us try and distinguish in our own lives what comes from God’s ideas, and what from our own. Then we shan’t stagger, then we shall be founded on the rock, then we shall be solid and steady against the winds, the storms of rain, the floods, namely the trials and temptations of this present age. However, notice that man Peter, who was the symbolic representative of us all; now he’s trusting, now he’s tottering; one moment he’s acknowledging Christ to be immortal, the next he’s afraid of his dying. Its because the Church of Christ in the same sort of way has strong members, and also has weak members. It can’t do without its strong members, nor without its weak ones. That’s why the apostle Paul says, ‘But we who are strong should bear the burdens of the weak’ (Rom 15:1). Now Peter, in saying ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:15), represents the strong. But in his being filled with alarm, and his staggering, and not wanting Christ to suffer because he was afraid of death and didn’t recognize life, he represents the weak members of the Church. So in that one apostle, that is, in Peter, first and chief in the ranks of the apostles, in whom the Church was symbolized, each kind of member had to be symbolized too, that is to say, the strong and the weak; because without the one or the other there is no Church.17
Peter had already said to him, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ He had already heard, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not conquer her’ (Mt 16:16-18). Such faith was drowned when the Lord was crucified. Peter, you see, only believed he was the Son of God up to the time he saw him hanging on the tree, the time he saw him fixed there with nails, the time he saw him dead, the time he saw him buried. Then he lost what he held. Where’s the rock? Where’s the immovable solidity of the rock? Christ himself was the rock, while Peter, Rocky, was only named from the rock. That’s why the rock rose again, to make Peter solid and strong; because Peter would have perished, if the rock hadn’t lived.18
When Christ said, Who do you say that I am? Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the Lord said to him: Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, as it has to those who call me a prophet, but my Father, who is in heaven; and I say to you, you are Peter (Mt. 16:15-18). You have said to me, let me say to you; you have made your confession of faith, now hear my blessing.
You see, the Lord had said about himself what was less important, and Peter had told him what was more important. In the Lord Jesus Christ, after all, what was less important was his being the Son of man; what was more important was his being the Son of God. He mentioned the less important thing, because he humbled himself; the one whom he exalted mentioned the more important one. Upon this rock, said the Lord, I will build my Church. Upon this confession, upon this that you said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer her (Mt. 16:18).19
For not without cause among all the Apostles doth Peter sustain the person of this Church Catholic; for unto this Church were the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven given, when they were given unto Peter: and when it is said unto him, it is said unto all, Lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep. Therefore the Church Catholic ought willingly to pardon her sons, upon their amendment, and confirmation in godliness; when we see that Peter himself, bearing her person, both when he had tottered on the sea, and when with carnal feeling he had sought to call back the Lord from suffering, and when he had cut off the ear of the servant with the sword, and when he had thrice denied the Lord Himself, and when afterwards he had fallen into superstitious dissembling, had pardon granted unto him, and after amendment and strengthening attained at last unto the glory of the Lord’s suffering.20
We know what rock is; and yet a hard and obstinate person is called a rock, and a solid, immovable person is called rock. In praise you take the rock’s solidity, in blame you take its hardness. We know the solidity of the rock, and we accept Christ as the rock: Now the rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4.21
One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.’ If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven-for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven-if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church.22
Coming now to what the Lord goes on to say to Moses: ‘You cannot see my face and live, for a man shall not see my face and live. And the Lord said Behold, there is a place beside me, and you shall stand upon the rock the moment my majesty passes, and I will set you at a look-out in the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed, and I will take away my hand, and then you shall see my back; for my face shall not appear to you’ (Ex 33:20). This is usually understood, not inappropriately, to prefigure the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, taking his ‘back’ to mean his flesh, in which he was born of the virgin, died and rose again…This then is the sight which ravishes every rational soul with desire for it, and of which the soul is more ardent in its desire the purer it is; and it is the purer the more it rises again to the things of the spirit; and it rises more to the things of the spirit, the more it dies to the material things of the flesh. But while ‘we are away from the Lord and walking by faith and not by sight’ (2 Cor 5:6), we have to behold Christ’s back, that is, his flesh, by this same faith; standing that is upon the solid foundation of faith, which is represented by the rock, and gazing at his flesh from the security of the lookout on the rock, namely the Catholic Church, of which it is said, ‘And upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Mt 16:18). All the surer is our love for the face of Christ which we long to see, the more clearly we recognize in his back how much Christ first loved us.
But as regards this flesh of his, it is faith in his resurrection that saves and justifies. ‘If you believe in your hearts,’ it says, ‘that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Rom 10:9); and again, ‘Who delivered himself up for our transgressions and rose again for our justification’ (Rom 4:25). So it is the resurrection of the Lord’s body that gives value to our faith.
Even his enemies believe that the body died on the cross of pain, but they do not believe that it rose again. We however believe it absolutely, observing it so to say from the firmness of the rock, from where ‘we await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies,’ in the certainty of hope (Rom 8:23)…’And you shall stand,’ it says, ‘upon the rock the moment my majesty passes’ (Ex 33:21). And in very truth, the moment the majesty of the Lord passed, in the glory of the Lord’s resurrection and ascension to the Father, we were firmly established upon the rock. It was then that Peter himself was firmly established, so that he could boldly preach Christ whom he had timorously thrice denied before he was firmly established.23
Some one, perhaps, may inquire what is signified by the division that was made of His garments into so many parts, and of the casting of lots for the coat. The raiment of the Lord Jesus Christ parted into four, symbolized His quadripartite Church, as spread abroad over the whole world, which consists of four quarters…But the coat, on which lots were cast, signifies the unity of all the parts, which is contained in the bond of charity…And it was without seam, that its sewing might never be separated; and came into the possession of one man, because He gathereth all into one. Just as in the case of the apostles, who formed the exact number of twelve, in other words, were divisible into four parts of three each, when the question was put to all of them, Peter was the only one that answered, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;’ and to whom it was said, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ as if he alone received the power of binding and loosing: seeing, then, that one spake in behalf of all, and received the latter along with all, as if personifying the unity itself; therefore one stands for all, because there is unity in all.24
The Creed of most holy martyrdom, which you received as a group and which you have recited today as individuals, contains the truths upon which the faith of Mother Church is solidly established as on a firm foundation, which is Christ Jesus the Lord. ‘For other foundation no one can lay, but that which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus’ (1 Cor. 3:11).25
So whoever builds him up like that is not building him on rock, but placing him on sand. ‘Now the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4).26
Well, when they had rushed for the stones, hard men for hard stones, they started hurling at him things just like themselves. He was being stoned with rocks, as he was dying for the Rock. Its what the apostle says: But the rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4).27
Peter too would walk. He as Head, Peter as Body: because, ‘Upon this rock,’ He saith, ‘ I will build My Church.’ He was bidden to walk, and he was walking by the Grace of Him bidding, not by his own strength.28
Thus Christ is also called the cornerstone who has made both one (Eph 2:20, 14). A corner joins two walls coming from different directions. What could be more different than circumcised and uncircumcised, meaning one wall from Judea and another wall from the Gentiles? But they are joined together by the cornerstone. For the stone which the builders rejected, this has become the head of the corner (Ps 118:22).29
None of us lacks Christ. He is complete in all of us, and still there is more of his body waiting for him. Those disciples believed, through them many inhabitants of Jerusalem came to believe, Judea came to believe, Samaria came to believe. Let the members join the body, the building attach itself to the foundation. For no other foundation can anyone lay, says the apostle, except what has been laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11).30
That Jerusalem of ours, though, still in exile, is being built in heaven. That’s why Christ, its foundation, preceded it into heaven. That, you see, is where our foundation is, and the head of the Church, because a foundation too is also called a head; and indeed that is what it is. Because the head of a building too is its foundation; its head isn’t where it is finished, but where it starts growing upward from. The tops of earthly buildings are raised up high; yet they set their head firmly in the solid ground. In the same sort of way the head of the Church has gone ahead into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Just as men go about their work, when for laying foundations they bring along suitable material to make a solid base, to ensure the security of the mass that is going to be placed on top of it in construction of the edifice to be; so in the same sort of way, by all those things that took place in Christ, being born, growing up, being arrested, enduring abuse, being scourged, crucified, killed, dying, being buried, it was like material being brought along for the heavenly foundations.
So now that our foundation has been laid in the heights, let us get ourselves built on it. Listen to the apostle: No other foundation, he says, can anyone lay, besides the one which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor 3:11). But what comes next? But let each of you see what you build on top of the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, stubble (1 Cor:10,12). Christ is indeed in heaven, but also in the hearts of believers. If Christ has the first place there, the foundation is rightly laid. So if you are building on it, you may build without a qualm, if you build, to match the worth of the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones. If however, by building wood, grass, stubble, you fail to match the worth of the foundation, at least stick to the foundation, and because of the dry and fragile things you have constructed on it, prepare yourself for the fire. But if the foundation is there, that is if Christ has obtained the first place in your heart, while the things of this world are loved in such a way that they are not put before Christ, but the Lord Christ is put before them, so that he is the foundation, that is holding the first place in your heart, then you will suffer loss, he says, but you yourself shall be saved, in such a way, though, as is by fire (1 Cor 3:15).31
If in Him tempted we have been, in Him we overcome the devil…’On the Rock Thou hast exalted me.’ Now therefore here we perceive who is crying from the ends of the earth. Let us call to mind the Gospel: ‘Upon this Rock I will build My Church.’ Therefore She crieth from the ends of the earth, whom He hath willed to build upon a Rock. But in order that the Church might be builded upon the Rock, who was made the Rock? Hear Paul saying: ‘But the Rock was Christ.’ On Him therefore builded we have been. For this reason that Rock whereon we have been builded, first hath been smitten with winds, flood, rain, when Christ of the devil was being tempted. Behold on what firmness He hath willed to stablish thee. With reason our voice is not in vain, but is hearkened unto: for on great hope we have been set: ‘On the Rock Thou hast exalted me.’32
For as some things are said which seem peculiarly to apply to the Apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning, unless when referred to the Church, whom he is acknowledged to have figuratively represented, on account of the primacy which he bore among the Disciples; as it is written, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ and other passages of like purport: so Judas doth represent those Jews who were enemies of Christ…33
One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.’ If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven, for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven: if, such, then is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church…34
So my life will depend on you, and my salvation be bound up with you? Have I forgotten my foundation all that much? Wasn’t Christ the rock? The one who builds on the rock, isn’t he the one whom neither wind nor rain nor rivers can overthrow? So come with me, if you will, onto the rock, and don’t aim at replacing the rock for me.35
How great a house is this! But when does it sing the new song? When it is in building. When is it dedicated? At the end of the world. Its foundation has already been dedicated, because He hath ascended into heaven, and dieth no more. When we too shall have risen to die no more, then shall we be dedicated.36
The Church of the Jews comes from the circumcision, the Church of the Gentiles comes from the uncircumcision. Coming from different directions, they are joined together in the Lord. That is why the Lord is called the cornerstone. Thus the psalm says: The stone which the builders rejected, this very one has become the head of the corner (Ps 118:22). And the apostle says: Christ Jesus being himself the cornerstone (Eph 2:20).37
So was there no point in the Lord saying, What you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 18:18; 16:19)? So were the keys given to the Church of God for nothing?38
Listen to the Lord, when He says, ‘I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not;’ that we may never think of our faith as so lying in our free will that it has no need of the divine assistance.39
Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith. Faith, I say, pours out prayer, the pouring out of prayer obtains strengthening even for faith itself. For that faith might not fail in temptations, therefore did the Lord say, ‘Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ What is to ‘enter into temptation,’ but to depart from faith? For so far temptation advances as faith gives way: and so far temptation gives way, as faith advances. For that you may know, Beloved, more plainly, that the Lord said, ‘Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation,’ as touching faith lest it should fail and perish; He said in the same place of the Gospel, ‘This night hath Satan desired to sift you as wheat, and I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not.’40
We have heard the Lord Jesus setting before us the whole office and duty of the good shepherd or pastor. In doing so, he was giving us clearly to understand that there are good shepherds. And yet, to prevent us drawing the wrong conclusions from the existence of many shepherds or pastors, I, he said, am the good shepherd. And then he went on to show what makes a good shepherd: The good shepherd, he says, lays down his life for the sheep. But the hired hand, and the one who is not the shepherd, sees the wolf coming, and runs away, because he does not care about the sheep; he is only a hired hand (Jn 10:11-13). So Christ is the good shepherd. What about Peter? Isn’t he a good shepherd? Didn’t he too lay down his life for the sheep? What about Paul? What about the other apostles? What about the blessed martyr bishops who came after their times? What indeed about this saint of ours, Cyprian? Weren’t they all good shepherds, and not hired hands, of whom it says, Amen I tell you, they have received their reward (Mt 6:2)? So all these were good shepherds…
Because you see, even among the heretics, who have endured a certain amount of harassment because of their iniquities and errors, there are those who boast of being martyrs, in order to steal all the more easily under this cloak of respectability; because in fact they are wolves. But if you really want to know in what class to count them, listen to that good shepherd the apostle Paul, saying that not all who hand over their bodies to the flames in martyrdom are to be considered as having shed their blood forthe sheep, but rather against the sheep…
But how can you have even the tiniest bit of charity, if even when you have been proved wrong, you don’t love unity? When the Lord was entrusting this unity to good shepherds, he didn’t wish to talk about many shepherds. As I said, it’s not that Peter was not a good shepherd, or Paul, or the rest of the apostles, or the holy bishops who came after them, or blessed Cyprian. All these were good shepherds; and yet he did not draw the attention of these good shepherds to good shepherds, but to the good shepherd. I, he said, am the good shepherd (Jn 10:11)…What was Peter? Was he either not a shepherd, not a pastor, or else a bad one? Let’s see if he’s not a shepherd. Do you love me? You said it to him, Lord. Do you love me? And he answered, I do. And you then said to him, Feed my sheep. You, Lord, you yourself, by your very questioning of him, by the formal decree of your own lips, made a lover a pastor.
So he is a pastor, a shepherd, to whom you entrusted your sheep, with the task of feeding them. You yourself appointed him, he’s a shepherd. Let’s see now if he’s a good one. We find out in this very exchange of question and answer. You inquired whether he loved you, he answered, I do. You saw into his heart, that he answered truthfully. So isn’t he good, seeing that he loves so great a good? …So he was both a shepherd and a good shepherd; nothing to compare, of course, with the authority and goodness of the shepherd of shepherds, the pastor of pastors; but all the same he too was both a pastor and a good one, and the others like him were good pastors.
So why is it that you draw the attention of good shepherds to the idea of one shepherd? For what other reason could it be, but that in the one shepherd you are teaching the lesson of unity? And the Lord explains the matter more clearly through my ministry, as he reminds your graces from the gospel and says, “Listen to what I have drawn attention to: I am the good shepherd, I said; because all the others, all the good shepherds are my members, parts of me; one head, one body, one Christ. So both the shepherd of the shepherds, and the shepherds of the shepherd, and the sheep with the shepherds under the shepherd, are one. All this is only what the apostle says: Just as the body is one and has many parts, but all the parts of the body, though they are many, form one body, so too is Christ (1 Cor 12:12). If, then, so too is Christ, it was quite right for Christ, who contains all the good shepherds in himself, to draw attention to one by saying, I am the good shepherd. I am, I am one person, with me all in the unity are one. Anyone who feeds the sheep outside me feeds them against me. Anyone who does not gather with me scatters.41
But first the Lord asks what He knew, and that not once, but a second and third time, whether Peter loved Him; and just as often he has the same answer, that He is loved, while just as often He gives Peter the same charge to feed His sheep. To the threefold denial there is now appended a threefold confession, that his tongue may not yield a feebler service to love than to fear, and imminent death may not appear to have elicited more from the lips than present life. Let it be the office of love to feed the Lord’s flock, if it was the signal of fear to deny the Shepherd. Those who have this purpose in feeding the flock of Christ, that they may have them as their own, and not as Christ’s, are convicted of loving themselves, and not Christ, from the desire either of boasting, or wielding power, or acquiring gain, and not from the love of obeying, serving and pleasing God. Against such, therefore, there stands as a wakeful sentinel this thrice inculcated utterance of Christ, of whom the apostle complains that they seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s. For what else mean the words, ‘Lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep,’ than if it were said, If thou lovest me, think not of feeding thyself, but feed my sheep as mine, and not as thine own; seek my glory in them, and not thine own; my dominion, and not thine; my gain, and not thine; lest thou be found in the fellowship of those who belong to the perilous times, lovers of their own selves, and all else that is joined on to this beginning of evils?…With great propriety, therefore, is Peter addressed, ‘Lovest thou Me:’ and the command applied to him, ‘Feed my lambs,’ and this a second and third time…Let us, then, love not ourselves, but Him; and in feeding His sheep, let us be seeking the things which are His, not the things which are our own.42
But what now? The Lord asketh him as ye heard when the Gospel was being read, and saith to him, Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these? He answered and said, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. And again the Lord asked this question, and a third time He asked it. And when he asserted in reply his love, He commended to him the flock. For each several time the Lord Jesus said to Peter, as he said, I love Thee: Feed My lambs, feed My little sheep. In this one Peter was figured the unity of all pastors, of good pastors, that is, who know that they feed Christ’s sheep for Christ, not for themselves.43
So when the Lord was speaking just now, he said he was a shepherd; he also said he was a gate. You’ve got each thing there; both I am the gate and I am the shepherd (Jn 10:9,11). He’s the gate in the head, the shepherd in the body. You see, he says to Peter, whom he singles out to represent the Church, Peter, do you love me? He answers, Lord, I do. And then a third time, Peter, do you love me? Peter was upset that he asked him a third time (Jn 21:15-17); as though the one could see his conscience when he was going to deny him could not see his faith when he wanted to confess him.44
Every time, though, every time, that is with each of his three questions, as Peter answers that he loves him, the Lord Jesus entrusts him with his lambs, and says, Feed my lambs, feed my sheep (Jn 21:15-17). What are you going to give me, since you love me? Show your love in my sheep. What are you bestowing on me by loving me, seeing that it was I who bestowed on you the ability to love me? But you do have the means of showing your love for me, you have the means of exercising it: Feed my sheep.
To what extent, though, the lambs of the Lord were to be fed, with what love the sheep bought at such a price were to be fed, he indicated in what followed. I mean, after Peter, completing the just requirement of his threefold answer, had professed himself to be a lover of the Lord, and had his sheep entrusted to him, he heard about his own future martyrdom. Here the Lord indicated that his sheep are to be loved by those to whom he entrusts them, in such a way that they are ready to die for them. That’s what this same John writes in his letter: Just as Christ laid down his life for us, in the same way we too ought to lay down ours for the brethren (1 Jn. 3:16).45
Here I find all the good shepherds in the one shepherd. The good shepherds are not lacking after all, but they are in the one. Those who have broken away are many. Here one is being proclaimed because unity is being commended to us. It isn’t really because the Lord couldn’t find shepherds to commend his sheep to that here shepherds are not mentioned and the shepherd is. In that other text he found Peter to commend them to. Yes indeed, and in Peter himself he commended unity to us. There were several apostles, and only one was told, Feed my sheep (Jn 21:17). It is unthinkable that good shepherds should be lacking now; far be it from us that they should be lacking, far be it from his mercy not to produce them and establish them. Of course, if there are good sheep, there are also good shepherds, because good shepherds are made out of good sheep. But all the good shepherds are in the one, they are one. They feed the sheep, Christ feeds them…And with Peter too, when he was commending his sheep to him as one man to another, he wished to make him one with himself, and to commend his sheep to him in such a way that he himself would be the head and Peter would represent the body, that is to say the Church, and like husband and wife they would be two in one flesh. Well, what did he say to him first, in order to be able to commend his sheep to him, without simply commending them to him as one man to another? Peter, do you love me? And he answered, I do. And again, Do you love me? And he answered, I do. And a third time, Do you love me? And he answered, I do (Jn 21:15-17). He makes sure of love in order to consolidate unity.46
Quite rightly too did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It’s not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles.47
So the Lord entrusted his sheep to us bishops, because he entrusted them to Peter; if, that is, we are worthy with any part of us, even with the tips of our toes, to tread the dust of Peter’s footsteps, the Lord entrusted his sheep to us. You are his sheep, we are sheep along with you, because we are Christians. I have already said, we are fed and we feed.48
But when he declared his love once, and again, and a third time, the Lord entrusted him with his sheep. Do you love me? He said. Lord, you know that I love you. Feed my lambs. This once, and again, and a third time, as though the only way Peter could show his love for Christ would be by being a faithful shepherd and pastor under the prince of all pastors…Watch out, though, brothers and sisters, for men who are bad servants, who have carved out private herds for themselves out of the Lord’s flock, and divided up the estate they had not bought. Some unfaithful servants have sprung up, you see, and divided the flock of Christ, and by their thefts, as it were, from his flock have put together private herds for themselves, and you hear them saying, ‘These are my sheep’…Far be it from us to call you our sheep; that’s no Catholic way of speaking, it isn’t brotherly, it isn’t Peter’s because it is against the Rock. You are sheep, but those of the one who has bought both us and you. We have one and the same Lord; he is the real shepherd, not just hired for the job. 49
What now on this occasion? The Lord questions him, as you heard when the gospel was read, and says to him, Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? He answered and said, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. And again the Lord asked this question, and a third time he asked this question. And every time in reply he affirmed his love, he entrusted him with the care of his flock. Every time, you see, that Peter said I love you, the Lord Jesus said to him, Feed my lambs, feed my sheep (Jn 21:15-17). The one man Peter represents the unity of all the shepherds or pastors of the Church-but of the good ones, who know how to feed Christ’s flock for Christ, not for themselves.50
So, brothers and sisters, receive it in a spirit of obedience when you hear that you are Christ’s sheep; because we bishops too are filled with fear and trembling when we hear, Feed my sheep.51
He, then, who before was silent, to teach us that we ought not to repeat the words of the impious, this one, I say, when he heard: ‘But who do you say I am,’ immediately, not unmindful of his station, exercised his primacy, that is, the primacy of confession, not of honor; the primacy of belief, not of rank…This, then, is Peter who has replied for the rest of the Apostles; rather, before the rest of men. And so he is called the foundation, because he knows how to preserve not only his own but the common foundation. Christ agreed with him; the Father revealed it to him. For he who speaks of the true generation of the Father, received it from the Father, did not receive it from the flesh. Faith, then, is the foundation of the Church, for it was not said of Peter’s flesh, but of his faith, that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ But his confession of faith conquered hell. And this confession did not shut out one heresy, for, since the Church like a good ship is often buffeted by many waves, the foundation of the Church should prevail against all heresies. The day will fail me sooner than the names of heretics and the different sects, yet against all is this general faith-that Christ is the Son of God, and eternal from the Father, and born of the Virgin Mary.52
Jesus said to them: Who do men say that I am? Simon Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Lk. ix.20). If it is enough for Paul ‘to know nothing but Christ Jesus and Him crucified,’ (1 Cor. ii.2), what more is to be desired by me than to know Christ? For in this one name is the expression of His Divinity and Incarnation, and faith in His Passion. And accordingly though the other apostles knew, yet Peter answers before the rest, ‘Thou art the Christ the Son of God.’…Believe, therefore, as Peter believed, that thou also mayest be blessed, and that thou also mayest deserve to hear, ‘Because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father who is in heaven.’…Peter therefore did not wait for the opinion of the people, but produced his own, saying, ‘Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God’: Who ever is, began not to be, nor ceases to be. Great is the grace of Christ, who has imparted almost all His own names to His disciples. ‘I am,’ said He, ‘the light of the world,’ and yet with that very name in which He glories, He favoured His disciples, saying, ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ ‘I am the living bread;’ and ‘we all are one bread’ (1 Cor. x.17)…Christ is the rock, for ‘they drank of the same spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor. x.4); also He denied not to His disciple the grace of this name; that he should be Peter, because he has from the rock (petra) the solidity of constancy, the firmness of faith. Make an effort, therefore, to be a rock! Do not seek the rock outside of yourself, but within yourself! Your rock is your deed, your rock is your mind. Upon this rock your house is built. Your rock is your faith, and faith is the foundation of the Church. If you are a rock, you will be in the Church, because the Church is on a rock. If you are in the Church the gates of hell will not prevail against you…He who has conquered the flesh is a foundation of the Church; and if he cannot equal Peter, he can imitate him.53
Which of these three different causes of impossibility, think you, which we have enumerated (setting aside the fourth) can we meetly assign to the case of the Son of God? Is He naturally insensible and immovable, like a stone? He is indeed a stone of stumbling to the wicked, a cornerstone for the faithful; but He is not insensible, upon Whom the faithful affection of sentient people are stayed. He is not an immovable rock, ‘for they drank of a Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.’…Moreover, that thou mayest know that it is after His Manhood that He entreats, and in virtue of His Godhead that He commands, it is written for thee in the Gospel that He said to Peter: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ To the same Apostle, again, when on a former occasion he said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ He made answer: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock will I build My Church, and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ Could He not then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on His own authority, He gave the kingdom, whom He called the Rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church?54
It was not out of confusion that Peter said: ‘Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinner’ (Lk. 5.8); for Peter was a wise and judicious man-a man in whom were both the foundation of the Church and the authority to discipline; and he perceived that nothing could be more useful to him than that he should be exalted as a result of Christ’s ensuing act (of raising him).55
It is that same Peter to whom He said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.’ Therefore, where Peter is, there the Church is, there death is not, but life eternal. And therefore did He add, ‘and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,’ (or him). Blessed Peter, against whom ‘the gates of hell prevailed not,’ the gate of heaven closed not; but who, on the contrary, destroyed the porches of hell, and opened the heavenly vestibules; wherefore, though placed on earth, he opened heaven and closed hell.56
‘They sucked honey out of the firm rock,’ (Deut. xxxii.13): for the flesh of Christ is a rock, which redeemed heaven and the whole world (1 Cor. x.4).57
The Lord said to Peter: on this rock I will build My Church…On this catholic confession of faith he establishes the faithful in life.58
Nor Paul inferior to Peter, though the latter is the foundation of the Church, and the former, a wise architect, knew how to lay a foundation for the steps of believing people; nor was Paul, I say, unworthy of the college of apostles; and is easily to be compared even with the first, and second to none. For who knows not himself unequal, makes himself equal.59
By the apostles who were somewhat distinguished among their colleagues, whom also he, Paul, because of their constancy calls ‘pillars’, and who had always been intimate with the Lord, even beholding his glory on the mount, by them he (Paul) says the gift which he received from God was approved; so that he would be worthy to have primacy in preaching to the Gentiles, even as Peter had the primacy in preaching to the circumcision. And even as he gives colleagues to Peter, outstanding men among the apostles, so he also joins to himself Barnabas, who was associated with him by divine choice; yet he claims the privilege of primacy granted by God for himself alone, even as it was granted to Peter alone among the apostles, in such a way that the apostles of the circumcision stretched out their right hands to the apostles of the Gentiles to manifest a harmony of fellowship, that both parties, knowing that they had received from the Lord a spirit of completeness in the imparting of the gospel, might show that they were in no way appointing one another.60
(Verse 20). ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.’ The above puts together New and Old Testaments. For the apostles proclaimed what the prophets said would be, although Paul says to the Corinthians: ‘God placed the apostles first, the prophets second’ (1 Cor. 12.28). But this refers to other prophets, for in 1 Cor. Paul writes about ecclesiastical orders; here he is concerned with the foundation of the Church. The prophets prepared, the apostles laid the foundations. Wherefore the Lord says to Peter: ‘Upon this rock I shall build my Church,’ that is, upon this confession of the catholic faith I shall establish the faithful in life.61
Paul names Peter alone and compares him to himself since he had received the privilege of founding the Church; in like manner Paul had been chosen to have the privilege of founding the Churches of the Gentiles. It did nevertheless happen that Peter preached also to the Gentiles, if he had cause, and Paul to the Jews, for each is found to have done both. Still we find that full authority in preaching to Jews was given to Peter, and to Paul complete authority in preaching to Gentiles. Wherefore indeed he calls himself teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth…62
After the concord of fellowship and the honor which each accorded to the other in the matter of the privilege of founding churches, now, because some matter of neglect or error has intervened, the apostles seem to differ among themselves-not in a personal concern, but in a concern of the Church. ‘To his face,’ Paul says, ‘I opposed him.’ What does this mean, except that Paul contradicted Peter in his presence? And Paul has added the reason: ‘Because he stood condemned.’ Condemned assuredly by evangelical truth which Peter’s act (of separating himself from the circumcision) opposed. For who dared to contradict Peter, the chief apostle to whom the Lord had given the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, except such another who in the assurance of his election knew that he was not unequal, and so could firmly disavow what Peter had thoughtlessly done.63
Worthy it was that Paul desired to see Peter, since Peter was chief among the apostles, to whom the Savior had entrusted the care of the Church. Not, to be sure, that Paul could learn anything from him, since he had already been taught by that same authority by whom Peter himself had been instructed: but on account of the disposition of the apostolic office, so that Peter might know that this office which he himself had received had been given also to Paul. Coming, therefore, to Peter, Paul was warmly received, and he remained with Peter for 15 days, as co-apostle in harmony with him. Paul makes these things known, in order to show that he possessed the agreement of the apostles and that they in no way dissented, as certain pseudo-apostles were murmuring about him.64
‘For I am not at all inferior to these superlative apostles’ (2 Cor. 12.11)…He says this because he is inferior to his apostolic predecessors neither in preaching, nor in performing miracles, nor in worthiness, but only in time. But if we think that things must be ranked according to time, John began to preach before Christ, and Christ did not baptize John, but John Christ. Does God judge this? Moreover, Andrew followed the Savior before Peter; and yet Andrew did not receive the privilege (of founding the Church), but Peter. Why then did Paul not seem to be an apostle to certain persons when by the grace of God he was able to do the same things which the other apostles did? Thus he grieves and under compulsion shows what, according to the estimate of the Lord, he deserves…65
Luke 22:32: Clearly, in Peter all are contained: praying for Peter, (Jesus) is understood to have prayed for all. It is always the people who are rebuked or praised in a leader. This is why He also says elsewhere: ‘I pray for those whom you have given me’ (John 17:9).66
But before all things I desire that thou wouldst write and instruct me concerning this that straitens me, namely concerning our faith; how it is, and what its foundation is, and on what structure it rises, and on what it rests, and in what way is its fulfilment and consummation, and what are the works required for it.
Faith…is like a building that is built up of many pieces of workmanship and so its edifice rises to the top. And know, my beloved, that in the foundations of the building stones are laid, and so resting upon stones the whole edifice rises until it is perfected. Thus also the true Stone, our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of all faith. And on Him, on (this) Stone faith is based. And resting on faith all the structure rises until it is completed. For it is the foundation that is the beginning of all the building. For when anyone is brought nigh unto faith, it is laid for him upon the Stone, that is our Lord Jesus Christ. And His building cannot be shaken by the waves, nor can it be injured by the winds. By the stormy blasts it does not fall, because its structure is reared upon the rock of the true Stone. And in that I have called Christ the Stone, I have not spoken my own thought, but the Prophets beforehand called Him the Stone.
And now hear concerning faith that is based upon the Stone, and concerning the structure that is reared up upon the Stone…So also let the man, who becomes a house, yea, a dwelling place, for Christ take heed to what is needed for the service of Christ, Who lodges in him, and with what things he may please Him. For first he builds his building on the Stone, which is Christ. On Him, on the Stone, is faith built…All these things doth the faith demand that is based on the rock of the true Stone, that is Christ.
And if perchance thou shouldest say: If Christ is set for the foundation, how does Christ also dwell in the building when it is completed? For both these things did the blessed Apostle say. For he said: ‘I as a wise architect have laid the foundation.’ And there he defined the foundation and made it clear, for he said as follows: ‘No man can lay other foundation than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus’…And therefore that word is accomplished, that Christ dwells in men, namely, in those who believe on Him, and He is the foundation on which is reared up the whole building.
But I must proceed to my former statement that Christ is called the Stone in the Prophets. For in ancient times David said concerning Him: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the building.’ And how did the builders reject this Stone which is Christ? How else than that they so rejected Him before Pilate and said: ‘This man shall not be King over us’…By these things they rejected the Stone which is Christ.
And furthermore Isaiah also prophesied beforehand with regard to this stone. For he said: ‘Thus saith the Lord, Behold I lay in Zion a chosen stone in the precious corner, the head of the wall of the foundation.’ And he said again there: ‘Every one that believeth on it shall not fear. And whosoever falleth on that stone shall be broken, and everyone on whom it shall fall, it will crush. For the people of the house of Israel fell upon Him, and He became their destruction for ever.’ And again: ‘it shall fall on the image and crush it. And the Gentiles believed on it and do not fear.’ And he shows thus with regard to that stone that it was laid as head of the wall and foundation.
And again Daniel also spoke concerning this stone which is Christ. For he said: ‘The stone was cut out from the mountain, not by hands, and it smote the image, and the whole earth was filled with it.’ This he showed beforehand with regard to Christ that the whole earth shall be filled with Him. For lo! by the faith of Christ are all the ends of the earth filled, as David said: ‘The sound of the Gospel of Christ has gone forth into all the earth.’ And again when He sent forth His apostles He spake thus to them: ‘Go forth, make disciples of all nations and they will believe on Me.’ And again the Prophet Zechariah also prophesied about the stone which is Christ. For he said: ‘I saw a chief stone of equality and of love.’
And again the Apostle has commented for us upon this building and upon the foundation; for he said thus: ‘No man can lay another foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’…And he showed with regard to faith that first it is laid on a sure foundation…These then are the works of faith which is based on the true Stone which is Christ, on Whom the whole building is reared up.67
The Apostolical Constitutions
Luke 22:32: For on this account the devil himself is very angry at the holy Church of God: he is removed to you, and has raised against you adversities, seditions, and reproaches, schisms and heresies. For he had before subdued that people to himself, by their slaying of Christ. But you who have left his vanities, he tempts in different ways, as he did the blessed Job. For indeed he opposed that great high priest Joshua the son of Josedek; and he often times sought to sift us, that our faith might fail…He will say now, as He said formerly of us when we were assembled together, ‘I have prayed that your faith may not fail.’68
Aptly indeed Isaiah says prophetically that the Father was laying the Son as a cornerstone, doubtless signifying that the whole structure of the world was borne upon that foundation and base. No doubt at another time, as has been written in the holy books of the Gospel, the only Begotten calls Peter the foundation of the Church, saying: ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church.’ Now this chief, as it were, great and hard stone, Christ, was set into the excavated hollow of this world, into this vale of tears, as David says, in order that he might bear all Christians founded upon him aloft into the domicile of our hope. ‘For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.’ But our Saviour did give Peter a like appellation, thereby teaching that his chief disciple ought to be honored, calling him a rock of faith. Through Peter, therefore who was made a true and faithful teacher of piety, a stable and inflexible foundation for the Church exists. Moreover, having struck root in this foundation we stand complete, who are Christians all over the world. To be sure from the time of the announcement of the Gospel, many temptations have sprung up, and innumerable tyrants with their chief, the devil, have tried to destroy the foundations and to turn us from our moorings. Rivers have run like torrents, say the saving and holy Scriptures; the violent winds of diabolical spirits have rushed; the plentiful and harsh showers of persecution have poured down forcefully upon Christians. Yet nothing has proved more powerful than the divine ramparts, because doubtless the foundation of faith was raised by the holy hands of that chief apostles. These things, I think, needed to be said in response to that word of blessing from him who called the evangelist and holy preacher a rock. Moreover we may see, if we please, the method by which Peter built-not with stones and walls, or other earthly materials, but with words and deeds which he performed at the instigation of the Holy Spirit.69
Thus Peter calls Christ the Son of the living God. Peter and no other spoke carefully; and he confessed the right rule of faith which had no error in it. And having given to us all in this inviolable law a work of piety, he by no means departed without reward, since-blessed by him who is in the highest degree blessed-he was named a rock of faith, and the foundation and basis of God’s Church. Moreover by promise he received the keys of the kingdom and was made master of its gates, so that he might open to whomever he willed and might close the gates to whomever they must rightly be closed. By these last we understand those who are defiled and profane, and those who deny that confession on account of which Peter, like a sedulous and energetic guardian of the Church’s goods, was put in charge of the gates of the kingdom.70
I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you…But ye are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from Apostolic tradition, and frequently has accursed envy wished to unsettle it, but has not been able. On the contrary, they have rather been cut off from their attempts to do so. For thus it is written, ‘Thou art the Son of the Living God,’ Peter confessing it by revelation of the Father, and being told, ‘Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to thee, but My Father Who is in heaven,’ and the rest. No one therefore will ever prevail against your Faith, most beloved brethren.71
It is written, ‘The Lord in Wisdom founded the earth;’ if then by Wisdom the earth is founded, how can He who founds be founded? Nay, this too is said after the manner of proverbs, and we must in like manner investigate its sense; that we may know that, while by Wisdom the Father frames and founds the earth to be firm and steadfast, Wisdom Itself is founded for us, that It may become beginning and foundation of our new creation and renewal. Accordingly here as before, He says not, ‘Before the world He has made me Word or Son,’ lest there should be as it were a beginning of His making. For this we must seek before all things, whether He is Son, and on this point specially search the Scriptures;’ for this it was, when the Apostles were questioned that Peter answered, saying, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ This also the father of the Arian heresy asked as one of his first questions; ‘If Thou be the Son of God;’ for he knew that this is the truth and the sovereign principle of our faith; and that, if He were Himself the Son, the tyranny of the devil would have its end; but if He were a creature, He too was one of those descended from that Adam whom he deceived, and he had no cause for anxiety. For the same reason the Jews of the day were angered, because the Lord said that He was Son of God, and that God was His proper Father. For had He called Himself one of the creatures, or said, ‘I am a work,’ they had not been startled at the intelligence, nor thought such words blasphemy, knowing, as they did, that even Angels had come among their fathers; but since He called Himself Son, they perceived that such was not the note of a creature, but of God head and of the Father’s nature. The Arians then ought, even in imitation of their own father the devil, to take some special pains on this point; and if He has said, ‘He founded me to be Word or Son,’ then to think as they do; but if He has not so spoken, not to invent for themselves what is not.
For He says not, ‘Before the world He founded me as Word or Son,’ but simply, ‘He founded me,’ to shew again, as I have said, that not for His own sake but for those that are built upon Him does He here also speak, after the way of proverbs. For this knowing, the Apostle also writes, ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ; but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.’ And it must be that the foundation should be such as the things built on it, that they may admit of being well compacted together. Being then the Word, He has not, as Word, any such as Himself, who may be compacted with Him; for He is Only-begotten; but having become man, He has the like of Him, those namely the likeness of whose flesh He has put on. Therefore according to His manhood He is founded, that we, as precious stones, may admit of building upon Him, and may become a temple of the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in us. And as He is a foundation, and we stones built upon Him, so again He is a Vine and we knit to Him as branches, not according to the essence of the Godhead; for this surely is impossible; but according to His manhood, for the branches must be like the vine, since we are like Him according to the flesh.
Thus, He saith not, ‘He made me a foundation,’ lest He might seem to be made and to have a beginning of being, and they might thence find a shameless occasion of irreligion; but, ‘He founded Me.’ Now what is founded is founded for the sake of the stones which are raised upon it; it is not a random process, but a stone is first transported from the mountain and set down in the depth of the earth. And while a stone is in the mountain it is not yet founded; but when need demands, and it is transported, and laid in the depth of the earth, then forthwith if the stone could speak, it would say, ‘He now founded me, who brought me hither from the mountain.’ Therefore the Lord also did not when founded take a beginning of existence; for He was the Word before that; but when He put on our body, which He severed and took from Mary, then He says, ‘He hath founded me;’ as much as to say, ‘Me, being the Word, He hath enveloped in a body of earth.’ For so He is founded for our sakes, taking on Him what is ours, that we, as incorporated and compacted and bound together in Him through the likeness of the flesh, may attain unto a perfect man, and abide immortal and incorruptible.
Wherefore also in the Judgment, when every one shall receive according to his conduct, He says, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ How then, or in whom, was it prepared before we came to be, save in the Lord who ‘before the world’ was founded for this purpose; that we, as built upon Him, might partake as well-compacted stones, the life and grace which is from Him?72
And so the works of the Jews are undone, for they were a shadow; but the Church is firmly established; it is founded on the rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Theirs it was to say, Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God? and their disciple is the Samosatene; whence to his followers with reason does he teach his heresy. But we have not so learned Christ, if so be that we have heard Him, and have learned from Him.73
But what is also to the point, let us note that the very tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian…And because this is the faith of the Church, let them somehow understand that the Lord sent out the Apostles and commanded them to make this the foundation of the Church…74
In Thy saints, who in every age have been well pleasing to Thee, is truly Thy faith; for Thou hast founded the world on Thy faith, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.75
Basil the Great
And the house of God, located on the peaks of the mountains, is the Church according to the opinion of the Apostle. For he says that one must know ‘how to behave in the household of God.’ Now the foundations of this Church are on the holy mountains, since it is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. One of these mountains was indeed Peter, upon which rock the Lord promised to build his Church. Truly indeed and by highest right are sublime and elevated souls, souls which raise themselves above earthly things, called ‘mountains.’ The soul of the blessed Peter was called a lofty rock because he had a strong mooring in the faith and bore constantly and bravely the blows inflicted by temptations. All, therefore, who have acquired an understanding of the godhead-on account of the breadth of mind and of those actions which proceed from it-are the peaks of mountains, and upon them the house of God is built.76
Basil of Seleucia
‘You, however, who do you say I am?’ And silence held them all suspended, for not all knew. But when Jesus asked, acknowledged ignorance in some divine way suggested a response to Peter, and towards a response he was spontaneously moved, like a lyre endowed with reason and roused by action of invisible hands. In obedience the tongue of Peter sought employment and though ignorant of doctrine, supplied a response: ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God.’ Jesus confirmed this statement with his approbation, thereby instructing all: ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.’ He called Peter blessed, so that Peter might join faith to his statement, just as he praised the response because of its meaning…Now Christ called this confession a rock, and he named the one who confessed it ‘Peter,’ perceiving the appellation which was suitable to the author of this confession. For this is the solemn rock of religion, this the basis of salvation, this the wall of faith and the foundation of truth: ‘For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.’ To whom be glory and power forever.77
Peter, the Coryphaeus of the apostles, the chief of the disciples of Christ, the accurate expositor of the revelations from the Father, he who walked on the sea, &c.78
He commends the great perfection of faith to us (Mt. 16.16), equally he demonstrates the great strength of this perfected and completed faith against all temptation (Mt. 16.18!).79
You are Peter and on this rock from which you have taken your name, that is, on myself, I will build my Church, upon that perfection of faith which you confessed I will build my Church by whose society of confession should anyone deviate although in himself he seems to do great things he does not belong to the building of my Church…Metaphorically it is said to him on this rock, that is, the Saviour which you confessed, the Church is to be built, who granted participation to the faithful confessor of his name.80
Moreover he is called Peter because of the vigour of his mind which clung fast to that most solid rock, Christ.81
Peter, who before was called Simon, received from the Lord the name ‘Peter’ because of the strength of his faith and the firmness of his confession; for Peter clung with a firm and sturdy heart to him about whom it is written: ‘the rock, moreover, was Christ.’82
And upon this rock, that is, upon the Lord and Saviour who gave participation in his name to the one who in faith recognized, loved, and confessed him, so that Peter might be called by the name of the rock: upon this rock the Church is built, so that one does not attain to eternal life and the share of the elect except by faith in and love of Christ, by partaking of Christ’s sacraments, and by observing his commandments.83
‘It will not be moved’ is said about the Church to which alone that promise has been given: ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.’ For the Church cannot be moved because it is known to have been founded on that most solid rock, namely, Christ the Lord…84
The Church’s foundation is Christ the Lord, who thus holds his Church together, so that it can by no shaking collapse, just as the Apostle says: ‘For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus’ (1 Cor. 3:11)…Moreover, the words ‘on the holy mountains’ signify the apostles and the prophets who are called mountains because of the firmness of their faith and the excellence of their righteousness. Deservedly have they been called by such a name upon whom the true Church of God has been established.85
Psalm 103.5: ‘Who established the earth on its foundation so that it will never be shaken.’ It does not seem this verse can be construed literally; for since we have read that the earth must be changed, how can it happen that it should never be shaken? But here when we read ‘established earth,’ let us rather understand the strengthened Church, which can be called ‘earth’ insofar as it is composed of earthly men, as we read in another place: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.’ From this ‘foundation,’ Christ is rightly inferred, who is an immovable foundation and an inviolable rock. Concerning this the Apostle says: ‘For no other foundation can any man lay than that which is already laid, which is Christ Jesus’ (1 Cor. 3.11). If we abide continually upon Christ we will in no way be shaken.86
But if you prefer the authority of a greater person…let us interrogate no beginner or untaught schoolboy, nor a woman whose faith might appear to be rudimentary; but that greatest of disciples among disciples, and of teachers among teachers, who presided and ruled over the Roman Church, and held the chief place in the priesthood as he did in the faith. Tell us then, tell us, we pray, O Peter, thou chief of the Apostles, tell us how the Churches ought to believe in God. For it is right that you should teach us, as you were taught by the Lord, and that you should open to us the gate, of which you received the key. Shut out all those who try to overthrow the heavenly house: and those who are endeavoring to enter by secret holes and unlawful approaches: as it is clear that none can enter the gate of the kingdom save one to whom the key bestowed on the Churches is revealed by you. Tell us then how we ought to believe in Jesus Christ and to confess our common Lord. You will surely reply without hesitation: ‘Why do you consult me as to the way in which the Lord should be confessed, when you have before you my own confession of Him? Read the gospel, and you will not want me myself, when you have got my confession. Nay, you have got me myself when you have my confession; for though I have no weight apart from my confession, yet the actual confession adds weight to my person.’
Tell us then, O Evangelist, tell us the confession: tell us the faith of the chief Apostle…’Thou art,’ he says, ‘the Christ the Son of the living God.’…Is there anything puzzling or obscure in this? It is nothing but a plain and open confession: he proclaims Christ to be the Son of God.
But what are the other words which follow that saying of the Lord’s, with which He commends Peter? ‘And I,’ said He, ‘say unto thee, that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church.’ Do you see how the saying of Peter is the faith of the Church? He then must of course be outside the Church, who does not hold the faith of the Church. ‘And to thee,’ saith the Lord, ‘I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ This faith deserved heaven: this faith received the keys of the heavenly kingdom. See what awaits you. You cannot enter the gate to which this key belongs, if you have denied the faith of this key. ‘And the gate,’ He adds, ‘of hell shall not prevail against thee.’ The gates of hell are the belief or rather the misbelief of heretics. For widely as hell is separated from heaven, so widely is he who denies from him who confessed that Christ is God. ‘Whatsoever,’ He proceeds, ‘thou shalt bind on earth, shalt be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shalt be loosed also in heaven.’ The perfect faith of the Apostle somehow is given the power of Deity, that what it should bind or loose on earth, might be bound or loosed in heaven. For you then, who come against the Apostle’s faith, as you see that already you are bound on earth, it only remains that you should know that you are bound also in heaven.87
‘But whom say ye that I am?’ that is, ‘ye that are with me always, and see me working miracles, and have yourselves done many mighty works by me.’ What then saith the mouth of the apostles, Peter, the ever fervent, the leader of the apostolic choir? When all are asked, he answers. And whereas when He asked the opinion of the people, all replied to the question; when He asked their own, Peter springs forward, and anticipates them, and saith, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ What then saith Christ? ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.’…Why then is this man blessed? Because he acknowledged Him very Son…What then saith Christ? ‘Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas.’ ‘Thus since thou hast proclaimed my Father, I too name him that begat thee;’ all but saying, ‘As thou art son of Jonas, even so am I of my Father.’
Therefore He added this, ‘And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd. ‘And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ And if not against it, much more not against Me. So be not troubled because thou art shortly to hear that I shall be betrayed and crucified.’ Then He mentions also another honor. ‘And I also will give thee the keys of the heavens.’ But what is this, ‘And I also will give thee?’ ‘As the Father hath given thee to know Me, so I also will give thee.’ And He said not, ‘I will entreat the Father’ (although the manifestation of his authority was great, and the largeness of the gift unspeakable), but, ‘I will give thee.’ What dost thou give? tell me. ‘The keys of the heavens, that whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven.’ How then is it not ‘His to give to sit on His right hand, and on His left,’ when He saith, ‘I will give thee?’
Seest thou how He, His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Sonof God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church incapable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than a rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father, speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as ‘a brazen pillar, and as a wall;’ but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world. I fain would inquire then of those who desire to lessen the dignity of the Son, which manner of gifts were greater, those which the Father gave to Peter, or those which the Son gave him? For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven.88
For Simon, saith He, ‘Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat;’ that is, that he may trouble, confound, tempt you; but ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ And why, if Satan desired all, did He not say concerning all, I have prayed for you? Is it not quite plain that it is this, which I have mentioned before, that it is as reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than the rest, that He directs His words to him? And wherefore said He not, But I did not suffer it, rather than, ‘I have prayed?’ He speaks from this time lowly things, on his way to His passion, that He might show His humanity. For He that hath built His church upon Peter’s confession, and has so fortified it, that ten thousand dangers and deaths are not to prevail over it; He that hath given him the keys of Heaven, and hath put him in possession of so much authority, and in no manner needed a prayer for these ends (for neither did He say, I have prayed, but with His own authority, ‘I will build My church, and I will give thee the keys of Heaven’), how should He need to pray, that He might brace up the shaken soul of a single man? Wherefore then did He speak in this way? For the cause which I mentioned, and because of their weakness, for they had not as yet the becoming view of Him.89
For when Nathaniel said, ‘Thou art the Son of God,’ Christ replies, ‘Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these.’ Now what is the question arising from this passage? It is this. Peter, when after so many miracles and such high doctrine he confessed that, ‘Thou art the Son of God’ (Matt. Xvi.16), is called ‘blessed,’ as having received the revelation from the Father; while Nathanael, though he said the very same thing before seeing or hearing either miracles or doctrine, had no such word addressed to him, but as though he had not said so much as he ought to have said, is brought to things greater still. What can be the reason for this? It is, that Peter and Nathanael both spoke the same words, but not both with the same intention. Peter confessed Him to be ‘The Son of God’ but as being very God; Nathanael, as being mere man. And whence does this appear? From what he said after these words; for after, ‘Thou art the Son of God,’ he adds, ‘Thou art the King of Israel.’ But the Son of God is not ‘King of Israel’ only, but of all the world. And what I say is clear, not from this only, but also from what follows. For Christ added nothing more to Peter, but as though his faith were perfect, said, upon this confession He would build the Church; but in the other case He did nothing like this, but the contrary.90
In speaking of S. Peter, the recollection of another Peter has come to me (St. Flavian, his bishop), the common father and teacher, who has inherited his prowess, and also obtained his chair. For this is the one great privilege of our city, Antioch, that it received the leader of the apostles as its teacher in the beginning. For it was right that she who was first adorned with the name of Christians, before the whole world, should receive the first of the apostles as her pastor. But though we received him as teacher, we did not retain him to the end, but gave him up to royal Rome. Or rather we did retain him to the end, for though we do not retain the body of Peter, we do retain the faith of Peter, and retaining the faith of Peter we have Peter.9191
He saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep’. And why, having passed over the others, doth He speak with Peter on these matters? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the leader of the band; on this account also Paul went up upon a time to enquire of him rather than the others. And at the same time to show him that he must now be of good cheer, since the denial was done away, Jesus putteth into his hands the chief authority among the brethren; and He bringeth not forward the denial, nor reproacheth him with what had taken place, but saith: ‘If thou lovest Me, preside over thy brethren, and the warm love which thou didst ever manifest, and in which thou didst rejoice, show thou now; and the life which thou saidst thou wouldest lay down for Me, now give for My sheep’…And if any should say ‘How then did James receive the chair at Jerusalem?’ I would make this reply, that He appointed Peter teacher not of the chair, but of the world…’Then Peter turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned on His breast at supper; and saith, Lord, and what shall this man do?’ Wherefore hath he reminded us of that reclining? Not without cause or in a chance way, but to show us what boldness Peter had after the denial. For he who then did not dare to question Jesus, but committed the office to another, was even entrusted with the chief authority over the brethren, and not only doth not commit to another what relates to himself, but himself now puts another question to his Master concerning another. John is silent but Peter speaks. He showeth also here the love which he bare towards him; for Peter greatly loved John as is clear from what followed, and their close union is shown through the whole Gospel, and in the Acts. When therefore Christ had foretold great things to him, and committed the world to him, and spake beforehand of his martyrdom, and testified that his love was greater than that of the others, desiring to have John also to share with him, he said, ‘And what shall this man do?’ ‘Shall he not come the same way with us?’ And as at that other time not being able himself to ask, he puts John forward, so now desiring to make him a return, and supposing that he would desire to ask about the matters pertaining to himself, but had not courage, he himself undertook the questioning. What then saith Christ? ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’ Since he spake from strong affection, and wishing not to be torn away from him, Christ, to show that however much he might love, he could not go beyond his love, saith, ‘If I will that he tarry-what is that to thee?’…And this He did to withdraw them (Peter and John) from their unseasonable sympathy for each other; for since they were about to receive the charge of the world, it was necessary that they should no longer be closely associated together, for assuredly this would have been a great loss to the world. Wherefore He saith unto him, ‘Thou hast a work entrusted unto thee, look to it, accomplish it, labor and struggle. What if I will that he tarry here? Look thou to and care for thine own matters.’92
For even if all were believers, still all were not alike, but were different in their merits. Wherefore to lead them all to greater emulation, he keeps no man’s ecomiums concealed. For when they who labor more, do not receive the greater reward also, many become more listless. On this ground even in the kingdom, the honors are not equal, nor among the disciples were all alike, but the three were preeminent among the rest. And among these three again there was a great difference. For this is a very exact method observed by God even to the last. Hence, ‘one star differeth from another star in glory,’ (1 Cor. xv.41), it says. And yet all were Apostles and all are to sit on twelve thrones, and all left their goods, and all companied with Him; still it was the three He took. And again, to these very three, He said it was possible that some might even be superior. ‘For to sit,’ He says, ‘on My right hand and on My left, is not mine to give, save to those for whom it is prepared’ (Mark x.40). And He sets Peter before them, when He says, ‘Lovest thou Me more than these’ (John 21:15)? And John too was loved even above the rest. For there shall be a strict examination of all, and if thou be but little better than thy neighbor, if it be even an atom, or anything ever so little, God will not overlook even this.93
On this wise again Paul saith, ‘I am not meet to be called an apostle;’ because of this he became even first of all. So likewise John: ‘I am not meet to loose the latchet of His shoe;’ because of this he was the ‘ friend of the Bridegroom,’ and the hand which he affirmed to be unworthy to touch his shoes, this did Christ draw unto His own head. So Peter too said, ‘Depart from me, for I ama sinful man;’ because of this he became a foundation of the Church. For nothing is so acceptable to God as to number one’s self with the last. This is a first principle of all practical wisdom.94
For the Son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master’s bosom, with much confidence, this man now comes forward to us now; not as an actor of a play, not as hiding his head with a mask, (for he hath another sort of words to speak), nor mounting a platform, nor striking the stage with his foot, nor dressed out with apparel of gold, but he enters wearing a robe of inconceivable beauty.95
The merciful God is wont to give this honour to his servants, that by their grace others may acquire salvation; as was agreed by the blessed Paul, that teacher of the world who emitted the rays of his teaching everywhere.96
Where the Cherubim sing the glory, where the Seraphim are flying, there shall we see Paul, with Peter, and as chief and leader of the choir of the saints, and shall enjoy his generous love. For if when here he loved men so, that when he had the choice of departing and being with Christ, he chose to be here, much more will he there display a warmer affection. .I love Rome even for this, although indeed one has other grounds for praising it, both for its greatness, and its antiquity, and its beauty, and its populousness, and for its power and its wealth, and for its success in war. But I let all this pass, and esteem it blessed on this account, that both in his lifetime he wrote to them, and loved them so, and talked with them whiles he was with us, and brought his life to a close there. Wherefore the city is more notable upon this ground, than upon all others together. And as a body great and strong, it hath as two glistening eyes the bodies of these Saints. Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From thence will Paul be caught up, thence Peter. Just bethink you, and shudder, at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul ariseth suddenly from that deposit, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord. What a rose will Rome send up to Christ!…what two crowns will the city have about it! what golden chains will she be girded with! what fountains possess! Therefore I admire the city, not for the much gold, nor for the columns, not for the other display there, but for these pillars of the Church (1 Cor. 15:38).97
‘For He that wrought for Peter unto the Apostleship of the Circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles.’ He calls the Gentiles the Uncircumcised and the Jews the Circumcision, and declares his own rank to be equal to that of the Apostles; and, by comparing himself with their Leader not with others, he shows that the dignity of each was the same. After he had established the proof of their unanimity, he takes courage, and proceeds confidently in his argument, not stopping at the Apostles, but advances to Christ Himself, and to the grace which He had conferred upon him…98
‘And wherefore,’ saith one, ‘doth he not punish here?’ That He may display that longsuffering of His, and may offer to us the salvation that cometh by repentance, and not make our race to be swept away, nor pluck away those who by an excellent change are able to be saved, before that salvation. For if He instantly punished upon the commission of sins, and destroyed, how should Paul have been saved, how should Peter, the chief teachers of the world? How should David have reaped the salvation that came by his repentance?99
This (James) was bishop, as they say, and therefore he speaks last, and herein is fulfilled that saying, ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (Deut. Xvii.6; Matt. xviii.16)…’Then all the multitude kept silence,’ etc. (v. 12). There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently; not starts up (for the next word). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part.100
Peter, that chief of the apostles, first in the Church, the friend of Christ who did not receive revelation from man but from the Father, as the Lord bore witness to him saying: ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven’: this same Peter (when I say ‘Peter,’ I name an unbreakable rock, an immovable ridge, a great apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called and the first obeying), this same Peter, I say, did not perpetrate a minor misdeed but a very great one. He denied the Lord. I say this, not accusing a just man, but offering to you the opportunity of repentance. Peter denied the Lord and governor of the world himself, the savior of all…101101
Since then it was likely that he would be lifted up to folly by his practice of contradiction, Jesus next teacheth him not to oppose Him. This too Luke implies, when he telleth us that Christ said, ‘And I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not’ (Luke 22:32); that is, ‘that thou be not finally lost.’ In every way teaching him humility, and proving that human nature by itself is nothing. But, since great love made him apt for contradiction, He now so ordereth him, that he might not in after times be subject to this, when he should have received the stewardship of the world, but remembering what he had suffered, might know himself. And look at the violence of his fall; it did not happen to him once or twice, but he was so beside himself, that in a short time thrice did he utter the words of denial, that he might learn that he did not so love as he was loved. And yet, to one who had so fallen He saith again, ‘Lovest thou Me more than these?’ So that the denial was caused not by the cooling of his love, but from his having been stripped of aid from above. He accepteth then Peter’s love, but cutteth off the spirit of contradiction engendered by it…For if the leader of their band, one so entirely fervent, was told that before the cock crew he should thrice deny his Master, it was likely that they would expect to have to undergo some great reverse, sufficient to bend even souls of the adamant. Since then it was probable that they considering these things would be astounded, see how He comforteth them, saying, ‘Let not your heart be troubled.’102
‘For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ I say, no man can lay it so long as he is a master-builder; but if he lay it…he ceases to be a master-builder. See how even from men’s common notions he proves the whole of his proposition. His meaning is this: ‘I have preached Christ, I have delivered unto you the foundation. Take heed how you build thereon, lest haply it be in vainglory, lest haply so as to draw away the disciples unto men.’ Let us not then give heed unto the heresies. ‘For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid.’ Upon this then let us build, and as a foundation let us cleave to it, as a branch to a vine; and let there be no interval between us and Christ…For the branch by its adherence draws in the fatness, and the building stands because it is cemented together. Since, if it stand apart it perishes, having nothing whereon to support itself. Let us not then merely keep hold of Christ, but let us be cemented to Him, for if we stand apart, we perish…And accordingly, there are many images whereby He brings us into union. Thus, if you mark it, He is the ‘Head’, we are ‘the body’: can there be any empty interval between the head and the body? He is a ‘Foundation’, we are a ‘building’: He a ‘Vine’, we ‘branches’: He the ‘Bridegroom’, we the ‘bride’: He is the ‘Shepherd’, we the ‘sheep’: He is the ‘Way’, we ‘they who walk therein.’ Again, we are a ‘temple,’ He the ‘Indweller’: He the ‘First-Begotten,’ we the ‘brethren’: He the ‘Heir,’ we the ‘heirs together with Him’: He the ‘Life,’ we the ‘living’: He the ‘Resurrection,’ we ‘those who rise again’: He the ‘Light,’ we the ‘enlightened.’ All these things indicate unity; and they allow no void interval, not even the smallest.103
Peter, the coryphaeus of the choir of apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the foundation of the faith, the base of the confession, the fisherman of the world, who brought back our race from the depth of error to heaven, he who is everywhere fervent and full of boldness, or rather of love than boldness.104
He took the coryphaei and led them up into a high mountain apart…Why does He take these three alone? Because they excelled the others. Peter showed his excellence by his great love of Him, John by being greatly loved, James by the answer…’We are able to drink the chalice.’105…Do you not see that the headship was in the hands of these three, especially of Peter and James? This was the chief cause of their condemnation by Herod.106…The coryphaei, Peter the foundation of the Church, Paul the vessel of election.107
Christ foretold many things….He said, ‘in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John xvi.33), that is, no man shall get the better of you. And this we see by the events has come to pass. He said that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church’ (Matt. xvi.18), even though persecuted, and that no one shall quench the preaching of the Gospel: and the experience of events bears witness to this prediction also: and yet when He said these things it was very hard to believe Him.108
And besides, the prophecies are of such a kind, as that even until now time has been unable to force aside the predicted course of things…for the destruction indeed of Jerusalem took place many years ago; but there are also other predictions which extend along from that time until His coming; which examine as you please: for instance, this, ‘I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matt. xxviii.20) and, ‘Upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matt. xvi.18) and, ‘This Gospel shall be preached unto all nations’ (Matt. xxiv.14)…109
He spake some things to them about Himself, and about the churches, and about the things to come; and as He spake, He wrought mighty works. By the fulfillment therefore of what He said, it is plain that both the wonders wrought were real, and the future and promised things also. But that my meaning may be plainer, let me illustrate it from the actual case. He raised up Lazarus by a single word merely, and showing him alive. Again, He said, ‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church (Matt. xvi.18)…110
Yet they frequently are seen to act confidently; as when John lay upon His bosom, when they came to Him and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ (Matt. xviii.1), when the sons of Zebedee entreated Him to set one of them on His right hand and the other on His left. Why then did they not here question Him? Because since all those instances related to themselves, they had need to enquire into them, while what here took place was of no such great importance to them. And indeed John did that a long time after towards the very end, when he enjoyed greater confidence, and was bold in the love of Christ; for he it was, he saith, ‘whom Jesus loved.’ What could equal such blessedness? But, beloved, let us not stop at this, the calling the Apostle blessed, but let us do all things that we also may be of the blessed, let us imitate the Evangelist, and see what it was that caused such great love. What then was it? He left his father, his ship, and his net, and followed Jesus. Yet this he did in common with his brother, and Peter, and Andrew, and the rest of the Apostles. What then was the special thing which caused this great love? Shall we discover it? He saith nothing of this kind about himself, but only that he was beloved; as to the righteous acts for which he was beloved he has modestly been silent. That Jesus loved him with an especial love was clear to every one; yet John doth not appear conversing with or questioning Jesus privately, as Peter often did, and Philip, and Judas, and Thomas, except only when he desired to show kindness and compliance to his fellow Apostle; for when the chief of the Apostles by beckoning constrained him, then he asked. For these two had great love each for the other. Thus, for instance, they are seen going up together into the Temple and speaking in common to the people. Yet Peter in many places is moved, and speaks more warmly than John. And at the end he hears Christ say, ‘Peter, lovest thou Me more than these?’ (John xxi.15). Now it is clear that he who loved ‘more than these’ was also beloved. But this in his case was shown by loving Jesus, in the case of the other by being beloved by Jesus. What then was it which caused this especial love? To my thinking, it was that the man displayed great gentleness and meekness, for which reason he doth not appear in many places speaking openly. And how great a thing this is, is plain also from the case of Moses. It was this which made him such and so great as he was. There is nothing equal to lowliness of mind. For which cause Jesus with this began the Beatitudes, and when about to lay as it were the foundation of a mighty building, He placed first lowliness of mind. Without this a man cannot possibly be saved; though he fast, though he pray, though he give alms, if it be with a proud spirit, these things are abominable, if humility be not there…111
‘And when Jesus beheld him,’ saith the Evangelist, ‘He said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone.’ He begins from this time forth to reveal things belonging to His Divinity, and to open it out by little predictions…But Peter makes no reply to these words; as yet he knew nothing clearly, but was still learning. And observe, that not even the prediction is fully set forth; for Jesus did not say, ‘I will change thy name to Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,’ but, ‘Thou shalt be called Cephas.’ The former speech would have expressed too great authority and power; for Christ does not immediately nor at first declare all His power, but speaks for awhile in a humbler tone; and so, when He had given the proof of His Divinity, He puts it more authoritatively, saying, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon, because My Father hath revealed it to thee’; and again, ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church’ (Matt. xvi.17,18). Him therefore He so named, and James and his brother He called ‘sons of thunder’ (Mark iii.17). Why then doth He this? To show that it was He who gave the old covenant, that it was He that altered names, who called Abram ‘Abraham,’ and Sarai ‘Sarah,’ and Jacob ‘Israel.’ To many He assigned names even from their birth, as to Isaac, and Samson, and to those in Isaiah and Hosea (Isa. viii.3; His. I.4,6,9); but to others He gave them after they had been named by their parents, as to those we have mentioned, and to ‘Joshua the son of Nun.’…But then they received each a different name, we now have all one name, that which is greater than any, being called ‘Christians,’ and ‘sons of God,’ and (His) ‘friends,’ and (His) ‘Body.’ For the very term itself is able more than all those others to rouse us, and make us more zealous for the practice of virtue. Let us not then act unworthily of the honor belonging to the title, considering the excess of our dignity, we who are called Christ’s; for so Paul hath named us. Let us bear in mind and respect the grandeur of the appellation (1 Cor. iii.23). For if one who is said to be descended from some famous general, or one otherwise distinguished, is proud to be called this or that man’s son, and deems the name a great honor, and strives in every way so as not to affix, by remissness of his own, reproach to him after whom he is called; shall not we who are called after the name, not of a general, nor any of the princes upon earth, nor Angel, nor Archangel, nor Seraphim, but of the King of these Himself, shall not we freely give our very life, so as not to insult Him who has honored us?…So let us who have been deemed worthy to be near Him, and much closer, and as much nearer than those just named, as the body is closer to the head than they, let us, I say, use every means to be imitators of Christ.112
And that thou mayest learn, that this denial (arose) not so much from sloth, as from his being forsaken of God, who was teaching him to know the measures of man and not to contradict the sayings of the Master, nor to be more high-minded than the rest, but to know that nothing can be done without God, and that ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it’ (Ps. cxxvii.1): therefore also Christ said to him alone, ‘Satan desired to sift thee as wheat,’ and I allowed it not, ‘that thy faith may not fail’ (Luke xxii.31, 32). For since it was likely that he would be high-minded, being conscious to himself that he loved Christ more than they all, therefore ‘he wept bitterly’…113
What sayest thou, O Peter? the prophet said, ‘The sheep shall be scattered;’ Christ hath confirmed the saying, and sayest thou, No? Is not what passed before enough, when Thou saidst, ‘Far be it from Thee,’ and thy mouth was stopped? For this then He suffers him to fall, teaching him thereby to believe Christ in all things, and to account His own declaration more trustworthy than one’s own conscience. And the rest too reaped no small benefit from his denial, having come to know man’s weakness, and God’s truth…For where he should have prayed, and have said, Help us, that we be not cut off, he is confident in himself and saith, ‘Though all men should be offended in Thee, yet will I never;’ though all should undergo this, I shall never undergo it, which led him on little and little to self-confidence. Christ, then, out of a desire to put down this, permitted his denial. For since he neither submitted to Him nor the prophet…since he submitted not to His words, he is instructed by deeds. For in proof that for this intent He permitted it, that He might amend this in him, hear what He saith, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ For this He said sharply reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than the rest, and needed more help. For the matters of blame were two; both that he gainsaid; and, that he set himself before the other; or rather a third too, namely, that he attributed all to himself. To cure these things, He suffered the fall to take place…How then was it that He denied? he said not, that thou mayest not deny, but that thy faith fail not, that thou perish not utterly. For this came from His care.114
And that thou mayest learn, that this denial (arose) not so much from sloth, as from his being forsaken of God, who was teaching him to know the measures of man and not to contradict the sayings of the Master, nor to be more high-minded than the rest, but to know that nothing can be done without God, and that ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it’ (Ps. cxxvii.1): therefore also Christ said to him alone, ‘Satan desired to sift thee as wheat,’ and I allowed it not, ‘that thy faith may not fail’ (Luke xxii.31, 32). For since it was likely that he would be high-minded, being conscious to himself that he loved Christ more than they all, therefore ‘he wept bitterly’…115
What sayest thou, O Peter? the prophet said, ‘The sheep shall be scattered;’ Christ hath confirmed the saying, and sayest thou, No? Is not what passed before enough, when Thou saidst, ‘Far be it from Thee,’ and thy mouth was stopped? For this then He suffers him to fall, teaching him thereby to believe Christ in all things, and to account His own declaration more trustworthy than one’s own conscience. And the rest too reaped no small benefit from his denial, having come to know man’s weakness, and God’s truth…For where he should have prayed, and have said, Help us, that we be not cut off, he is confident in himself and saith, ‘Though all men should be offended in Thee, yet will I never;’ though all should undergo this, I shall never undergo it, which led him on little and little to self-confidence. Christ, then, out of a desire to put down this, permitted his denial. For since he neither submitted to Him nor the prophet…since he submitted not to His words, he is instructed by deeds. For in proof that for this intent He permitted it, that He might amend this in him, hear what He saith, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ For this He said sharply reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than the rest, and needed more help. For the matters of blame were two; both that he gainsaid; and, that he set himself before the other; or rather a third too, namely, that he attributed all to himself. To cure these things, He suffered the fall to take place…How then was it that He denied? he said not, that thou mayest not deny, but that thy faith fail not, that thou perish not utterly. For this came from His care.116
For though to be called Peter is elsewhere merely to receive a name, in this place (the Church) it is a sign of strength. Truly, blessed Peter, that immovable foundation of salvation, showed himself to be such in the priestly office as they who desire the priesthood would wish to see…Peter is the guardian of the faith, the rock of the Church, and the gate keeper of heaven. He was chosen to be an apostolic fisher and with the hook of sanctity he brought to himself crowds submerged in waves of error, while by the nets of his teaching he brought from the multitude an abundance of men. Moreover, he was a most blessed and apostolic bird catcher, who reached the souls of youths flying through the air with the rod of the divine word.117
Just as Peter received his name from the rock, because he was the first to deserve to establish the Church, by reason of his steadfastness of faith, so also Stephen was named from a crown…the first who deserved to bear witness with his blood. Let Peter hold his ancient primacy of the apostolic choir. Let him open to those who enter the kingdom of heaven. Let him bind the guilty with his power and absolve the penitent in kindness.118
The Lord saith unto Peter, I say unto thee, (saith He,) that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19). To him again, after His resurrection, He says, Feed My sheep. Upon him being one He builds His Church; and although He gives to all the Apostles an equal power, and says, As My Father sent Me, even so I send you; receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted to him, and whosoever sins ye shall retain, they shall be retained (John 20:21);-yet in order to manifest unity, He has by His own authority so placed the source of the same unity, as to begin from one. Certainly the other Apostles also were what Peter was, endued with an equal fellowship both of honour and power; but a commencement is made from unity, that the Church may be set before as one; which one Church, in the Son of Songs, doth the Holy Spirit design and name in the Person of our Lord: My dove, My spotless one, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her (Cant. 9:6).
He who holds not this unity of the Church, does he think that he holds the faith? He who strives against and resists the Church, is he assured that he is in the Church? For the blessed Apostle Paul teaches this same thing, and manifests the sacrament of unity thus speaking, There is One Body, and One Spirit, even as ye are called in One Hope of your calling; One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God (Eph. 4:4). This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we Bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the Episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the Brotherhood by falsehood; no one corrupt the truth of our faith, by a faithless treachery. The Episcopate is one; it is a whole, in which each enjoys full possession. The Church is likewise one, though she be spread abroad, and multiplies with the increase of her progeny: even as the sun has rays many yet one light; and the tree boughs many, yet its strength is one, seated in the deep-lodged root; and as, when many streams flow down from one source, though a multiplicity of waters seems to be diffused from the bountifulness of the overflowing abundance, unity is preserved in the source itself. Part a ray of the sun from its orb, and its unity forbids this division of light; break a branch from the tree, once broken it can bud no more; cut the stream from its fountain, the remnant will be dried up. Thus the Church, flooded with the light of the Lord, puts forth her rays through the whole world, with yet one light, which is spread upon all places, while its unity of body is not infringed. She stretches forth her branches over the universal earth, in the riches of plenty, and pours abroad her bountiful and onward streams; yet is there one head, one source, one Mother, abundant in the results of her fruitfulness.
It is of her womb that we are born; our nourishing is from her milk, our quickening from her breath. The spouse of Christ cannot become adulterate, she is undefiled and chaste; owning but one home, and guarding with virtuous modesty the sanctity of one chamber. She it is who keeps for God, and appoints unto the kingdom the sons she has borne. Whosoever parts company with the Church, and joins himself to an adulteress, is estranged from the promises of the Church. He who leaves the Church of Christ, attains not to Christ’s rewards. He can no longer have God for a Father, who has not the Church for a Mother. If any man was able to escape, who remained without the ark of Noah, then will that man escape who is out of doors beyond the Church. The Lord warns us and says, He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who gathereth not with Me, scattereth. He who breaks the peace and concord of Christ, sets himself against Christ. He who gathers elsewhere but in the Church, scatters the Church of Christ.119
Our Lord, whose precepts and warnings we ought to observe, determining the honour of a Bishop and to the ordering of His own Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter, I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19). Thence the ordination of Bishops, and the ordering of the Church, runs down along the course of time and line of succession, so that the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates.120
For Apostolic men also ceased not to pray day and night; and our Lord Himself also, the Author of our rule of life, and the Way of our example, prayed often and with watching, as we read in the Gospel, He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God: and we may be assured that when he prayed, He prayed for us, since He Himself was not a sinner, but bore the sins of others. But so truly did He pray for us, that we read in another place, And the Lord said to Peter, Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.121
The Lord offered petition, not for Himself (for what should He, the Innocent, ask for on His own account?) But for our sins, as Himself makes known when He says to Peter, Behold, Satan hath desired that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. And afterwards He entreats the Father for all, saying, Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also that shall believe on Me, through their word; that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.122
Cyril of Alexandria
But why do we say that they are ‘foundations of the earth’? For Christ is the foundation and unshakable base of all things-Christ who restrains and holds together all things, that they may be very firm. Upon him also we all are built, a spiritual household, put together by the Holy Spirit into a holy temple in which he himself dwells; for by our faith he lives in our hearts. But the next foundations, those nearer to us, can be understood to be the apostles and evangelists, those eyewitnesses and ministers of the word who have arisen for the strengthening of the faith. For when we recognize that their own traditions must be followed, we serve a faith which is true and does not deviate from Christ. For when he wisely and blamelessly confessed his faith to Jesus saying, ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God,’ Jesus said to divine Peter: ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ Now by the word ‘rock’, Jesus indicated, I think, the immoveable faith of the disciple. Likewise, the psalmist says: ‘Its foundations are the holy mountains.’ Very truly should the holy apostles and evangelists be compared to holy mountains for their understanding was laid down like a foundation for posterity, so that those who had been caught in their nets would not fall into a false faith.123
‘Upon this rock I shall build my Church. And I shall give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ Observe how he declares himself to be Lord of both heaven and earth. For he promises things which are beyond the capacity of our nature, nay, even beyond the condition of angels-things which all should fittingly ascribe to a unique and surpassing nature and majesty. In the first place he says that the Church is under his own authority, but Scripture elsewhere affirms that the Church is subject to God rather than to any man. For Paul says that Christ has prepared the Church for himself to be without any wrinkle or blemish-the Church which he has founded, the foundation itself being predicated of him, since he is the Lord of strength. And of this Church he puts Peter the shepherd in charge. Then he adds: ‘And to you I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ This word no angel nor any other rational power can speak. It is proper only to God, Lord of all, who holds power in heaven and earth. Moreover the time of the gift was the hour of the resurrection when he said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.’124
For that reason divine Scripture says that Peter, that exceptional figure among the apostles, was called blessed. For when the Savior was in that part of Caesarea which is called Philippi, he asked who the people thought he was, or what rumor about him had been spread throughout Judea and the town bordering Judea. And in response Peter, having abandoned the childish and abused opinions of the people, wisely and expertly exclaimed: ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God.’ Now when Christ heard this true opinion of him, he repaid Peter by saying: ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ The surname, I believe, calls nothing other than the unshakable and very firm faith of the disciple ‘a rock,’ upon which the Church was founded and made firm and remains continually impregnable even with respect to the very gates of Hell. But Peter’s faith in the Son was not easily attained, nor did it flow from human apprehension; rather it was derived from the ineffable instruction from above; since God the Father clearly shows his own Son and causes a sure persuasion of him in the minds of his people. For Christ was in no way deceptive when he said, ‘Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.’ If, therefore, blessed Peter, having confessed Christ to be the Son of the living God, are those not very wretched and abandoned who rashly rail at the will and undoubtedly true teaching of God, who drag down the one who proceeds from God’s own substance and make him a creature, who foolishly reckon the coeternal author of life to be among those things which have derived their life from another source? Are such people not at any rate very ignorant?125
But allusively to the name from the rock (petra), He changes his name to Peter (petros), for on him was He about to found His Church.126
The Church is unshaken, and ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,’ according to the voice of the Saviour, for it has Him for a foundation.127
It is likely that by these words (Is. 33:16) our Lord Jesus Christ is called a rock, in Whom, as some cave or sheepfold, the Church is conceived as having a safe and unshaken abiding place for its well-being; ‘For thou art Peter,’ the Saviour says, ‘and upon this rock I will build My Church.’128
There is then one Christ and Son and Lord, not as though he were a man connected with God simply by a unity of dignity or authority, for equality of honour does not unite natures: Peter and John are equal in honour in that they are apostles and holy disciples, but the two are not one.129
If anyone asks for what cause he asked Simon only, though the other disciples were present, and what he means by ‘Feed my lambs,’ and the like, we answer that St. Peter, with the other disciples, had been already chosen to the Apostleship, but because meanwhile Peter had fallen (for under great fear he had thrice denied the Lord), he now heals him that was sick, and exacts a threefold confession in place of triple denial, contrasting the former with the latter, and compensating the fault with the correction…By the triple confession Peter abrogates the sin contracted in his triple denial. For from what our Lord says, ‘Feed my lambs,’ a renewal of the Apostolate already delivered to him is considered to have been made which presently absolves the disgrace of his sin and blots out the perplexity of his human infirmity.’130
Cyril of Jerusalem
As the delusion was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right…131
Didymus the Blind
How powerful is Peter’s faith and his confession that Christ is the only-begotten God, the word, the true Son of God, and not merely a creature. Though he saw God on earth clothed in flesh and blood, Peter did not doubt, for he was willing to receive what ‘flesh and blood have not revealed to you.’ Moreover he recognized the consubstantial and coeternal branch of God, thereby glorifying that uncreated root, that root without beginning which had revealed the truth to him. Peter believedthat Christ was one and the same deity with the Father; and so he was called blessed by him who alone is the blessed Lord. Upon this rock the Church was built, the Church which the gates of hell-that is, the arguments of heretics-will not overcome. The keys to the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter in order that, ‘baptizing them in the name of the Father, and Son, and the Holy Spirit,’ he might open the gates of God’s kingdom to those whose faith agreed both with his own confession and with those things which he and the other apostles heard from Christ. To those, however, who do not, by like confession, offer a hymn of praise, Peter shuts the most blessed and hoped for entrance.132
Those too who have fallen away through persecution, if they show full repentance, sit in sackcloth and ashes and weep before the Lord – the Benefactor has the power to show mercy even to them. No ill can come of repentance. Thus the Lord and his church accept the penitent, as Manasseh the son of Hezekiah returned and was accepted by the Lord-and the chief of the apostles, St. Peter, who denied for a time and still became our truly solid rock which supports the Lord’s faith, and on which the church is in every way founded. This is, forst of all, because he confessed that ‘Christ’ is ‘the Son of the living God,’ and was told, ‘On this rock of sure faith will I build my church’-for he plainly confessed that Christ is true Son. For when he said, ‘Son of the living God,’ with the additional phrase, ‘the living,’ he showed that Christ is God’s true Son, as I have said in nearly every Sect. Peter also makes us certain of the Holy Spirit by saying to Ananias, ‘Why hast Satan tempted you to lie to the holy Ghost? Ye have not lied unto man, but unto God,’ for the Spirit is of God and not different from God. And Peter also became the solid rock of the building and foundation of God’s house, because, after denying, turning again, and being found by the Lord, he was privileged to hear, ‘Feed my lambs and feed my sheep.’ For with these words Christ led us to the turning of repentance, so that our well founded faith might be rebuilt in him-a faith that forbids the salvation of no one alive who truly repents, and amends his faults in this world.133
The first of the Apostles, that firm rock upon which the church of God is built, so that the gates of hell, that is to say the heresies and heresiarchs, will not prevail against it. For in every way was the faith confirmed in him who received the key of heaven, in him who looses on earth and binds in heaven. For in him are found all the subtle questions of faith.134
In the tenth year let Mount Sinai give glory, which melted-before its Lord! It saw against its Lord-stones taken up: but He took stones-to build the Church upon the Rock; blessed be His building!135
Shadowed forth in thy beauty is the beauty of the Son, Who clothed Himself with suffering when the nails passed through Him. The awl passed in thee since they handled thee roughly, as they did His hands; and because He suffered He reigned, as by thy sufferings thy beauty increased. And if they showed no pity upon thee, neither did they love thee: still suffer as thou mightest, thou hast come to reign! Simon Peter showed pity on the Rock; whoso hath smitten it, is himself thereby overcome; it is by reason of Its suffering that Its beauty hath adorned the height and the depth.136
Hail, O Peter: gate of sinners, firm trust of penitents, encouragement of converts, recalling those who deny, consolation of the lapsed. Hail, O Peter: tongue of the disciples, voice of the heralds, eye of the apostles, keeper of the heavens, firstborn of the key-bearers. Hail, O Peter: who plays out the devil’s contest, and after injury brings back victory with violence, who overthrows the greatest enemy, who after being wounded brought back honour and after a fall erected a trophy and ripped off the crown from the head of the adversary.137
‘And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bear, at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of thy nostrils’ (Ps. 18.14)…By ‘the foundations of the world,’ we shall understand the strength of God’s wisdom, by which, first, the order of the universe was established, and then, the world itself was founded-a world which will not be shaken. Yet you will not in any way err from the scope of the truth if you suppose that ‘the world’ is actually the Church of God, and that its ‘foundation’ is in the first place, that unspeakably solid rock on which it is founded, as Scripture says: ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’; and elsewhere: ‘The rock, moreover, was Christ.’ For, as the Apostle indicates with these words: ‘No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.’ Then, too, after the Savior himself, you may rightly judge the foundations of the Church to be the words of the prophets and apostles, in accordance with the statement of the Apostle: ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.’ These foundations of the world have been laid bare because the enemies of God, who once darkened the eyes of our mind, lest we gaze upon divine things, have been routed and put to flight-scattered by the arrows sent from God and put to flight by the rebuke of the Lord and by the blast from his nostrils. As a result, having been saved from these enemies and having received the use of our eyes, we have seen the channels of the sea and have looked upon the foundations of the world. This has happened in our lifetime in many parts of the world.138
The Savior prophesied that His doctrine would be preached over the whole world, wherever man was, as a testimony to all nations; and, by a divine foreknowledge predicted that the Church, too, which, during the years of His sojourning amongst men, was not seen nor established, should be invincible, incapable of being overthrown, and never to be overcome by death; but should, according to His declaration, stand and continue immoveable, as being, by His power, firmly established and embedded on a rock that could not be moved, nor broken. Better than all reasoning, with good cause should the accomplishment of this prophecy put to silence the unbridled tongues of all who, unchecked by shame, are ever ready to give proof of their audacity. For the fame of His Gospel has filled every country which the sun illumines. Nor has it in any way yielded to its enemies, or even to the gates of death; and this because of that word which He uttered, ‘I will build My Church upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’139
Peter, on whom is built Christ’s Church, against which (Church) the gates of hell shall not prevail…140
Another pagan sacrament has the key word, theos ek patras, ‘god from a rock.’ Why do you adulterate the faith and transfer this holy and worshipful mystery to pagan doings? Different is the stone which God promised He would lay in making strong the foundations of the promised Jerusalem. What the symbol of the worshipful stone means to us is Christ. Why do you with the knavery of a thief transfer to foul superstitions the dignity of a worshipful name? Your stone is one that ruin follows and the disastrous collapse of tumbling towers; but our stone, laid by the hand of God, builds up, strengthens, lifts, fortifies, and adorns the grace of the restored work with the splendor of everlasting immortality.
For Isaias says of this at the behest of the Holy Spirit: Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I lay a stone for the foundations of Sion, a precious stone, elect, a chief cornerstone, honored, and he that shall believe in it shall not be confounded. Also in the Psalms there is a similar declaration, for the Holy Spirit says in the 117th Psalm: The stone which the builders rejected: the same is become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing: and it is wonderful in our eyes. Through many prophets the Holy Spirit shows us the meaning of that name, for the prophet Zacharias says: Behold, I bring my servant, the Orient is his name; for the stone that I have laid before the face of Jesus; upon the stone there are seven eyes.
Now that through this ‘stone,’ that is, through our Lord Jesus Christ, both these gods will fall and the multitudinous temples with them, is clearly explained by Daniel in worshipful prophesies…What oracular utterance of the prophets issues any statement concerning the stone of the idolaters, whereof people say ‘god from a rock’? And for whom has the stone been an obstacle, for whom a help? But this holy stone (that is, Christ) either supports the foundations of faith or, being set in the corner, unites with balanced control the two lines of the wall (that is, it gathers into one the strength of the Old and New Testament), or at any rate brings into accord the disparity of body and soul by conferring immortality upon man, or promulgates the law, or gives testimony against sinners, or, what is better, smites the statue of the devil, so that when he is overcome and prostrate and turned into ashes and cinders, Christ may lift up His sublime head and attain the pure realm of His sovereignty.141
But how great his error, how exceeding his blindness, who says, that remission of sins can be given in the synagogues of heretics, and abideth not on the foundation of the one Church which was once fixed by Christ on a rock, may be hence learnt, that Christ said to Peter alone, Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19): and again in the Gospel, when Christ breathed on the Apostles only, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whoso ever sins ye retain, they are retained (John 20:22-23). The power then of remitting sins was given to the Apostles, and to the Churches which they, sent by Christ, established, and to the Bishops who succeeded them vicarious ordination.
And herein I am justly indignant at such open and manifest folly in Stephen, that he who boasts of the seat of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid, introduces many other rocks, and buildeth anew many Churches, in that by his authority he maintains baptism among them. For they who are baptized, without doubt fill up the number of the Church. But whoso approves their baptism, must needs also maintain of those baptized, that the Church also is with them. Nor does he perceive that he who thus betrays and abandons unity, casts into the shade, and in a manner effaces, the truth of the Christian Rock…Stephen, who proclaims that he occupies by succession the chair of Peter, is roused by no zeal against heretics, conceding to them no small but the very greatest power of grace, so far as to say and assert that through the Sacrament of Baptism they wash off the defilement of the old man, pardon the old deadly sins, make sons to God by heavenly regeneration, renew to eternal life by the sanctification of the Divine laver. He who concedes and assigns heretics such great and heavenly privileges of the Church, what else does he than hold communion with them, for whom he maintains and claims so much grace.142142
For the Saviour and judge of men has ordained, that only in this life would anyone’s sins be remitted by him…Wherefore human vanity should not pointlessly hope to hear (at some future time after death) what divine truth has or has not promised. It is for this reason that Christ has assigned on earth the power of binding and loosing to Peter-that is, to his Church-in order that we may recognise during this life the free mercy offered in the forgiveness of sins and in the future the just wages which are repaid to all for the quality of their deeds.143
Supplication for the pardon of one’s sins would never have been ordained for the sinner, if forgiveness were not truly offered to the suppliant. But repentance will indeed benefit the sinner, provided the catholic Church oversees it. For God ascribed to the Church in the person of blessed Peter the power to bind and to loose, saying: ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt. 16.19). At whatever age, therefore, a man should make true repentance of his sins and by the direction of God should correct his life, he will not be deprived of the reward of forgiveness, since God, as he says through the prophet, does not wish the death of a sinner; but let the sinner turn from his way and let his soul live (Ez. 33.11).144
Gaudentius of Brescia
I beseech our common father Ambrose, that, after the scanty dew of my discourse, he may pour abundantly into your hearts the mysteries of the divine writings. Let him speak from that Holy Spirit with which he is filled, and ‘from his belly shall flow rivers of living water;’ and, as a successor of Peter, he shall be the mouth of all the surrounding priests. For when the Lord Jesus asked of the apostles, ‘Whom do you say that I am?’ Peter alone replies, with the mouth of all believers, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ What reward did that confession at once receive? Blessedness indeed, and the most glorious power of the heavenly kingdom. Now when Peter alone speaks, the faith of the other belivers is not excluded; but a fitting order is observed; whilst to the prince of the apostles the first place of speaking is justly deferred, lest there might seem to be confusion rather than reply, if all emulously and together had answered on that occasion. And it is to be considered how that Judas Iscariot could not have confessed with the mouth and with the heart he believed not…But later, when Judas had been condemned for the crime that he had committed; all the apostles, when Christ had risen, receive the keys in Peter; yea, rather, with Peter receive the keys of the heavenly kingdom from the Lord Himself, when He says, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven;’ and again, ‘Going,’ He says, ‘teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ For the gate of the kingdom of heaven is not opened save by this key of the spiritual sacraments.145
Gregory the Great
For since the truth shines forth from the Church Catholic alone, the Lord says that there is a place by Him, from which He is to be seen. Moses is placed on a rock, to behold the form of God, because if any one maintains not the firmness of Faith, he discerns not the Divine presence. Of which firmness the Lord says, ‘Upon this rock I shall build my Church.’146
Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople: At the time when your Fraternity was advanced to Sacredotal dignity, you remember what peace and concord of the churches you found. But, with what daring or with what swelling of pride I know not, you have attempted to seize upon a new name, whereby the hearts of all your brethren might have come to take offence. I wonder exceedingly at this, since I remember how thou wouldest fain have fled from the episcopal office rather than attain it. And yet, now that thou hast got it, thou desirest so to exercise it as if thou hadst run to it with ambitious intent. For, having confessed thyself unworthy to be called a bishop, thou hast at length been brought to such a pass as, despising thy brethren, to covet to be named the only bishop…I have taken care to address your Fraternity, not indeed in writing, but by word of mouth, desiring you to restrain yourself from such presumption…I beg you, I beseech you, and with all the sweetness in my power demand of you, that your Fraternity gainsay all who flatter you and offer you this name of error, nor foolishly consent to be called by the proud title. Consider, I pray thee, that in this rash presumption the peace of the whole Church is disturbed, and that it is in contradiction to the grace that is poured out on all in common…And thou wilt become by so much the greater as thou restrainest thyself from the usurpation of a proud and foolish title: and thou wilt make advance in proportion as thou art not bent on arrogation by derogation of thy brethren. Wherefore, dearest brother, with all thy heart love humility, through which the concord of all the brethren and the unity of the holy universal Church may be preserved.
Certainly the apostle Paul, when he heard some say, I am of Paul, I of Apollos, but I of Christ (1 Cor. 1:13), regarded with the utmost horror such dilaceration of the Lord’s body, whereby they were joining themselves, as it were, to other heads, and exclaimed, saying, Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul (ib.)? If then he shunned the subjecting of the members of Christ partially to certain heads, as if beside Christ, though this were to the apostles themselves, what wilt thou say to Christ, who is the Head of the universal Church, in the scrutiny of the last judgment, having attempted to put all his members under thyself by the appellation of Universal? Who, I ask, is proposed for imitation in his wrongful title but he who, despising the legions of angels constituted socially with himself, attempted to start up to an eminence of singularity, that he might seem to be under none and to be alone above all? Who even said, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will sit upon the mount of the testament, in the sides of the North: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High (Isai. xiv.13).
For what are all thy brethren, the bishops of the universal Church, but stars of heaven, whose life and discourse shine together amid the sins and errors of men, as if amid the shades of night? And when thou desirest to put thyself above them by this proud title, and to tread down their name in comparison with thine, what else dost thou say but I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven? Are not all the bishops together clouds, who both rain in the words of preaching, and glitter in the light of good works? And when your Fraternity despises them, and you would fain press them down under yourself, what else say you but what is said by the ancient foe, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds?
This most holy man the lord John, of so great abstinence and humility, has, through the seduction of familiar tongues, broken out into such a pitch of pride as to attempt, in his coveting of that wrongful name, to be like him who, while proudly wishing to be like God, lost even the grace of the likeness granted him, and because he sought false glory, thereby forfeited true blessedness.
Certainly Peter, the first of the apostles, himself a member of the holy and universal Church, Paul, Andrew, John-what were they but heads of particular communities? And yet all were members under one Head. And (to bind all together in a short girth of speech) the saints before the law, the saints under the law, the saints under grace, all these making up the Lord’s Body, were constituted as members of the Church, and not one of them has wished himself to be called universal. Now let your Holiness acknowledge to what extent you swell within yourself in desiring to be called by that name by which no one presumed to be called who was truly holy.
Was it not the case, as your Fraternity knows, that the prelates of this Apostolic See, which by the providence of God I serve, had the honour offered them of being called universal by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But yet not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of the pontificate, he took to himself the glory of singularity, he might seem to have denied it to all his brethren…What, then, can we bishops say for ourselves, who have received a place of honour from the humility of our Redeemer, and yet imitate the pride of the enemy himself?…What, then, dearest brother, wilt thou say in that terrible scrutiny of the coming judgment, if thou covetest to be called in the world not only father, but even general father?…Lo, by reason of this execrable title of pride the Church is rent asunder, the hearts of all the brethren are provoked to offence…And thou attemptest to take the honour away from all which thou desirest unlawfully to usurp to thyself singularly.
I therefore have once and again through my representatives taken care to reprove in humble words this sin against the whole Church; and now I write myself.147
To Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria: In position you are my brethren…And lo, in the preface of the epistle which you have addressed to myself who forbade it, you have thought it fit to make use of a proud appellation, calling me Universal Pope. But I beg your most sweet Holiness to do this no more, since what is given to another beyond what reason demands is subtracted from yourself. For as for me, I do not seek to be prospered by words but by my conduct. Nor do I regard that as an honour whereby I know that my brethren lose their honour. For my honour is the honour of the universal Church…Then am I truly honoured when the honour due to all and each is not denied them. For if your Holiness calls me Universal Pope, you deny that you are yourself what you call me universally. But far be this from us. Away with words that inflate vanity and wound charity.148
To Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria: Your most sweet Holiness has spoken much in your letter to me about the chair of Saint Peter, Prince of the apostles, saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons of his successors…He has spoken to me about Peter’s chair who occupies Peter’s chair…I greatly rejoiced because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves what you have bestowed upon me. For who can be ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the solidity of the Prince of the apostles, who derived his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be called Petrus from petra. And to him it is said by the voice of Truth, To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. xvi.19). And again it is said to him, And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (xxii.32). And once more, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep (Joh. xxi.17). Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself of the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself stablished the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself…We are one in Him…149
Shall I bring forth another and laudable example of order and discipline-one great and laudable, especially worthy of our present commemoration and calling to mind? Notice how out of the disciples of Christ-all great and lofty, all worthy of Christ’s selection-only one is called a rock and receives for his faith the founding of the Church. And another is loved more earnestly, and rests upon the breast of Jesus; yet the other disciples accept it with a calm spirit that these should be preferred to themselves. Now when Christ made his ascent up the mountain to be transfigured and to lay open his divinity and to lay that bare which was covered by the flesh, who, pray, went up together with him-for not all were admitted to the sight of this miracle? Peter, James and John who were esteemed above the others.150
Gregory of Nyssa
These men (i.e., Peter, James, & John) are the foundations of the Church, and the pillars and mainstays of truth. They are the perpetual founts of salvation, from whom the copious waters of divine doctrine flow. The prophet bids us go to them when he writes: ‘With joy you will draw water from the founts of the Saviour.’ We celebrate the memory of Peter, who is the chief of the apostles, and together with him the other members of the Church are glorified; for upon him the Church of God is established. Indeed this man, in accordance with the title conferred upon him by the Lord, is the firm and very solid rock upon which the Saviour has built his Church. Finally we celebrate the memory of James and John.
But what effort is required of us to exert ourselves in such a way that our commemoration may be worthy of the virtue of the apostles? The warmth of our praises does not extend to Simon insofar as he was a catcher of fish; rather it extends to his firm faith, which is at the same time the foundation of the whole Church.151
Hilary of Poitiers
A belief that the Son of God is Son in name only, and not in nature, is not the faith of the Gospels and of the Apostles…whence I ask, was it that the blessed Simon Bar-Jona confessed to Him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God?…And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built…that Christ must be not only named, but believed, the Son of God.
This faith is that which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven…The very reason why he is blessed is that he confessed the Son of God. This is the Father’s revelation, this the foundation of the Church, this the assurance of her permanence. Hence has she the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hence judgment in heaven and judgment on earth….Thus our one immovable foundation, our one blissful rock of faith, is the confession from Peter’s mouth, Thou art the Son of the living God.152
Matthew also, chosen to proclaim the whole mystery of the Gospel, first a publican, then an Apostle, and John, the Lord’s familiar friend, and therefore worthy to reveal the deepest secrets of heaven, and blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and all his companions who spoke by the Holy Ghost, and Paul, the chosen vessel, changed from persecutor into Apostle, who, as a living man, abode under the deep sea and ascended into the third heaven, who was in paradise before his martyrdom, whose martyrdom was the perfect offering of a flawless faith…153
Luke 22:32: They are ashamed of the cross; they mock at the passion; they make a jest of the resurrection. They are the offspring of that spirit who is the author of all evil, who led Adam, by means of his wife, to transgress the commandment, who slew Abel by the hands of Cain, who fought against Job, who was the accuser of Joshua, the son of Josedech, who sought to ‘sift the faith’ of the apostles, who stirred up the multitude of the Jews against the Lord, who also now ‘worketh in the children of disobedience;’ from whom the Lord Jesus Christ will deliver us, who prayed that the faith of the apostles might not fail, not because He was not able of Himself to preserve it, but because He rejoiced in the pre-eminence of the Father.154
Isidore of Pelusium
Christ, who searcheth the hearts, did not ask His disciples, ‘Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ Because He did not know the varying opinion of men concerning Himself, but was desirous, of teaching all that same confession which Peter, inspired by Him, laid as the basis and foundation, on which the Lord built His Church.155
Christ is the Rock, abiding unshaken, when He was incarnate.156
Isidore of Seville
Peter bears the character of the Church, which has the power to forgive sins and to lead men from Hades to the heavenly kingdom…All the apostles also bear the type of the whole Church, since they also have received a like power of forgiving sins. They bear also the character of the patriarchs, who by the word of preaching spiritually brought forth God’s people in the whole world…The wise man who built his house upon the rock signifies the faithful teacher, who has established the foundations of his doctrine and life upon Christ.157
Moreover, Christ is called a ‘foundation’ because faith is established in him, and because the catholic Church is built upon him.158
Thus far we have spoken of priestly origins in the Old Testament. But in the New Testament after Christ the priestly order arises from Peter; for to him the first priestly office in the Church of Christ was given. Thus the Lord says to him: ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it; and I shall give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.’ So Peter first received the power of binding and loosing, and he first led people to faith by the power of his preaching. Still, the other apostles have been made equal with Peter in a fellowship of honor and power. They also, having been sent out into all the world, preached the Gospel. Having descended from these apostles, the bishops have succeeded them, and through all the world they have been established in the seats of the apostles.159
James of Nisbis
Faith is composed and compacted of many things. It is like a building, because it is constructed and completed in much hope. You are not ignorant that large stones are placed in the foundations of a building, and then all that is built thereon has the stones joined together, and so raised till the completion of the work. So, of all our faith, our Lord Jesus Christ is the firm and true foundation; and upon this rock our faith is established. Therefore, when any one has come to faith, he is set upon a firm rock, which is our Lord Jesus Christ. And, calling Christ a rock, I say nothing of my own, for the prophets have before called Him a rock…And our Lord, the bestower of life, to all those who come to Him to be healed, said, ‘Be it done unto thee according to thy faith.’ Thus, when the blind man came to Jesus, He says to him, ‘Dost thou believe that I can cure thee?’ And he answered, ‘Yea, Lord, I believe.’ (Matt. ix.28)…And Simon, who was called a rock, was deservedly called a rock because of his faith.160
And Simon, the head of the apostles, who denied Christ, saying, ‘I saw Him not,’ and cursed and swore that ‘he knew Him not,’ as soon as he offered unto God contrition and penitence, and washed his sins in the tears of his sorrow, our Lord received him, and made him the foundation, and called him a rock, of the building of His Church.161
Josue arranged and set stones as a testimony to Israel; and Jesus, our Saviour, called Simon the rock of faith, and placed him as a faithful testimony amongst the Gentiles.162
The one foundation which the apostolic architect laid is our Lord Jesus Christ. Upon this stable and firm foundation, which has itself been laid on solid ground, the Church of Christ is built…For the Church was founded upon a rock…upon this rock the Lord established his Church; and the apostle Peter received his name from this rock (Mt. 16.18).163
She, that with a firm root is founded upon the rock, Christ, the Catholic Church, is the one dove; she stands the perfect one, and near to His right hand, and has nothing sinister in her.164
This mountain is in the house of the Lord, which the prophet sighs after, saying, ‘One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,’ (Ps. xxvii.4), and concerning which Paul writes to Timothy, ‘But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Tim. iii.15). This house is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, as imitators of Christ. Of this house, Jerusalem, the Psalmist cries out saying, ‘They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion; he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in Jerusalem. Mountains are round about it; and the Lord is round about His people’ (Ps. cxxiv.1). Whence also upon one of the mountains Christ founds the Church, and says to him, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’165
The rock is Christ, Who gave to His apostles, that they also should be called rocks, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.’166
‘You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church.’ Just as Christ himself gave light to the apostles, in order that they might be called the light of the world, so other names were derived from the Lord: for example, Simon, who believed in the rock, Christ, was given the name ‘Peter.’ And in accordance with the metaphor of the rock, Jesus rightly said to him: ‘I shall build my Church upon you. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’167
‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.’…For if those who are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household have been built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ himself being the cornerstone-in whom the whole building has been joined together into a temple holy in the Lord, in whom the Ephesians are built into a temple of God in the spirit: if this is so, then there is one God of one building and temple which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Now if a universal building is joined together and is growing into a temple holy in the Lord, then we must strive with every effort to become the sorts of stones about which it is written: ‘holy stones are rolled upon the earth.’168
Though, he says, the Lord had with Him the apostles Peter and John; and they saw Him transfigured on the mount, and upon them the foundation of the Church is placed…169
Was there no other province in the whole world to receive the gospel of pleasure, and into which the serpent might insinuate itself, except that which was founded by the teaching of Peter upon the rock Christ.170
When subsequently one presbyter was chosen to preside over the rest, this was done to remedy schism and to prevent each individual from rending the church of Christ by drawing it to himself. For even at Alexandria from the time of Mark the Evangelist until the episcopates of Heraclas and Dionysius the presbyters always named as bishop one of their own number chosen by themselves…For what function, excepting ordination, belongs to a bishop that does not also belong to a presbyter? It is not the case that there is one church at Rome and another in all the world beside. Gaul and Britain, Africac and Persia, India and the East all worship one Christ and observe one rule of truth. If you ask for authority, the world outweighs its capital. Wherever there is a bishop, whether it be at Rome or at Engubium, whether it be at Constantinople or at Rhegium, whether it be at Alexandria or at Zoan, his dignity is one and his priesthood is one. Neither the command of wealth nor the lowliness of poverty makes him more of a bishop or less a bishop. All alike are successors of the apostles.171
But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism.172
I have all but passed over the most important point of all. While you were still quite small, bishop Anastasius of holy and blessed memory ruled the Roman church.173
Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter. For this I know, is the rock on which the church is built!174
John of Damascus
At Caeserea Philippi…where his disciples were assembled, on the spur of the moment the Rock of Life himself excavated a seat from a certain rock. Then he asked his disciples who the people were saying the Son of Man was. He did not seek this information because he was unaware of the ignorance of men; for Jesus requires no investigation. But he wanted to dispel by the light of knowledge the fog which lay upon the disciple’s spiritual eyes. The disciples responded that some called Jesus John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets…In order to erase this suspicion and to give to the ignorant the most excellent gift possible, namely, a true confession, what did Jesus do, he for whom nothing was impossible? As a man he posed a probing question, but as God he brought him out of the dark who first had been called and first had followed. This was the man whom Christ in his foreknowledge had predestined to be a worthy overseer of the Church. As God, Jesus inspired this man and spoke through him. What was the question? ‘But who do you say I am?’ And Peter, fired by a burning zeal and prompted by the Holy Spirit replied: ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God.’ Oh blessed mouth! Perfectly, blessed lips! Oh theological soul! Mind filled by God and made worthy by divine instruction! Oh divine organ through which Peter spoke! Rightly are you blessed, Simon son of Jonah…because neither flesh nor blood nor human mind, but my Father in heaven has revealed this divine and mysterious truth to you. For no one knows the Son, save he who is known by him…This is that firm and immovable faith upon which, as upon the rock whose surname you bear, the Church is founded. Against this the gates of hell, the mouths of heretics, the machines of demons-for they will attack-will not prevail. They will take up arms but they will not conquer.175
This rock was Christ, the incarnate Word of God, the Lord, for Paul clearly teaches us: ‘The rock was Christ’ (1 Cor. 10.4).176
Moreover, that Christ is one-one person and hypostasis-is evident. He asks: ‘Who do people say that I am?’…Peter replied, saying: ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God.’…Wherefore, indeed, he heard: ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah since neither flesh nor blood has revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are Peter’-and upon this rock the Church was firmly established-‘and the gates of hell’-that is, the mouths of heretics-‘shall not prevail against it.’177
Maximus of Turin
This is Peter to whom Christ the Lord freely conceded participation in his name. For as the Apostle teaches, Christ is the rock; and by Christ Peter was made a rock when the Lord said to him: ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church.’ For just as water flowed from the rock when God’s people were thirsting in the desert, so when the whole world was languishing in drought the spring of a saving confession flowed from the mouth of Peter. This is Peter to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of his sheep and lambs just before he ascended to the Father. As Christ had redeemed these by the compassion of his obedient service, so Peter served them by virtue of his faith. And rightly did that witness of mysteries, the Son of God, commit the feeding and tending of sheep to Peter whom he knew would not desist in his enthusiasm and faithfulness in nourishing the Lord’s flock…178
It is necessary, however, to inquire how closed heavens are to be opened. I think that they cannot be opened otherwise than by taking up the keys of the apostle Peter-the keys which the Lord bestowed on him when he said: ‘To you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ Indeed let us ask Peter, that as a good gate keeper of the heavenly palace, he may open to us. Moreover, let us diligently ask what these keys may be. I say that Peter’s key is Peter’s faith, by which he opened heaven, by which, secure, he penetrated hades, by which, fearless, he walked on water. For so great is the power of apostolic faith, that all elements lie open to it: the angelic gates are not closed to it, nor do the gates of Hell prevail against it, nor do floods of water sink it. That key itself, which we call faith, let us see how firm and solid it is. I judge that it was produced by the work of 12 artisans; for the holy faith was comprehended in the creed of the 12 apostles, who, like skilled artisans working in concert, produced the key by their understanding. For I call the creed itself the key, which causes the shades of the devil to draw back, that the light of Christ may come. The hidden sins of conscience are brought into the open so that the clear works of justification may shine. Therefore this key must be shown to our brothers in order that they also as followers of Peter may learn to unlock hades and to open heaven.179
We have frequently said that Peter was called a rock by the Lord. Thus: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ If, then, Peter is the rock upon whom the Church is built, rightly does he first heal feet, so that as he maintains the foundations of the Church’s faith he also strengthens the foundations of a person’s limbs. Rightly, I say, does he first heal a Christian’s feet so that he can walk upon the rock of the Church not as one who is fearful and weak but as one who is robust and strong. And where are the words of Paul the apostle not read? Where are they not written down, kept in the heart, and preserved in speech? This Paul was called a vessel of election by the Lord. A good vessel, in which the precious precepts of Christ’s commandments are treasured! A good vessel, from whose fulness the substance of life is always poured forth for the peoples, and still it is full. Rock and vessel-most appropriate names for the apostles, and necessary instruments for the house of the Savior! For a strong house is built of rock and rendered useful by vessels. A rock provides the peoples with something firm lest they waver, while a vessel shelters Christians lest they be tempted.180
Last Sunday we showed that Saint Peter proceeded along his erring ways during the Savior’s suffering and that after he denied the Lord he was better. For he became more faithful after he wept over the faith that he had lost, and for that reason he gained back a greater grace than he lost: like a good shepherd he accepted the charge of protecting the sheep, so that he who had previously been weak to himself would now become the foundation for all, and the very person who had faltered when tested by questioning would strengthen others with the unwavering character of his faith. On account of the firmness of his faithfulness he is called the rock of the churches, as the Lord says: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. He is called a rock because he will be the first to lay the foundations of faith among the nations and so that, like an immovable stone, he might hold fast the fabric and structure of the whole Christian endeavor. Because of his faithfulness, therefore, Peter is called a rock, as the apostle says: And they drank from the spiritual rock, and the rock was Christ. Rightly does he who merits fellowship in deed merit fellowship also in name, for in the same house Peter laid the foundation and Peter does the planting, and the Lord gives the increase and the Lord provides the watering.181
On account of his faithfulness Peter is told: Blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah, because flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. Although he used to be called Simon, then, he is named Peter on account of his faithfulness. We read what the Apostle says of the Lord Himself: They drank from the spiritual rock, but the rock was Christ. Rightly, then, inasmuch as Christ is a rock, is Simon named Peter, in order that he who shared with the Lord in faith might be at one with the Lord as well in the Lord’s name-that just as a Christian is so called from Christ, the apostle Peter would similarly receive his name from Christ the rock.182
But let us see what Simon Peter’s boat is, which the Lord judged the more fitting of the two to teach from and which keeps the Savior safe from harm and brings the words of faith to the people. For we have discovered that the Lord previously set sail in another boat and was provoked by serious wrongs. For He sailed with Moses in the Red Sea when he led the people of Israel through the waters, but He was hurt by serious wrongs, as He himself says to the Jews in the Gospel: If you believe Moses you would also believe Me. The wrong inflicted upon the Savior is the Synagogue’s disbelief. Therefore He chooses Pater’s boat and forsakes Moses’; that is to say, He spurns the faithless Synagogue and takes the faithful Church. For the two were appointed by God as boats, so to speak, which would fish for the salvation of humankind in this world as in a sea, as the Lord says to the apostles: Come, I will make you fishers of men.
Of these two boats, then, one is left useless and empty on the shore, while the other is led out heavily laden and full to the deep. It is the Synagogue that is left empty at the shore because it has rejected Christ as well as the oracles of the prophets, but it is the Church that is taken heavily laden out to the deep because it has received Christ with the teaching of the apostles. The Synagogue, I say, stays close to the land as if clinging to earthly deeds. The Church, however, is called out into the deep, delving, as it were, into the profound mysteries of the heavens, into that depth concerning which the Apostle says: O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. For this reason it is said to Peter: Put out into the deep – that is to say, into the depths of reflection upon the divine generation. For what is so profound as what Peter said to the Lord: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God? What is so trivial as what the Jews said about the Lord: Is this not the son of Joseph the carpenter? For the one, by a higher counsel, assented in divine fashion to the birth of Christ, while the others, with a viper’s mind, considered His heavenly generation in fleshly wise. Hence the Savior says to Peter: because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. But to the Pharisees he says: How are you able to speak good things when you are evil?
The Lord, then, gets only into this boat of the Church, in which Peter has been proclaimed pilot by the Lord’s own words: Upon this rock I will build my Church. This boat so sails upon the deeps of this world that, when the earth is destroyed, it will preserve unharmed all whom it has taken in. Its forshadowing we see already in the Old Testament. For as Noah’s ark preserved alive everyone whom it had taken in when the world was going under, so also Peter’s Church will bring back unhurt everyone whom it embraces when the world goes up in flames. And as a dove brought the sign of peace to Noah’s ark when the flood was over, so also Christ will bring the joy of peace to Peter’s Church when the judgment is over, since He Himself is dove and peace, as He promised when He said: I shall see you again and your heart will rejoice.
But since we read in Matthew that this same boat of Peter, from which the Lord is now drawing forth the sacraments of His heavenly teaching, was so shaken about by violent winds as the Lord was sleeping in it that all the apostles feared for their lives, let us see why in one and the same boat at one time He teaches the people in tranquility and at another He inflicts the fear of death upon the disciples in stormy weather, especially inasmuch as Simon Peter was there with the other apostles. This was the reason for the danger: Simon Peter was there, but the betrayer Judas was also there. For although the faith of the one was the foundation of the boat, still the faithlessness of the other shook it. Tranquility exists when Peter alone pilots, stormy weather when Judas comes aboard.183
Nilus of Ancyra
If, moreover, a man of the Lord is meant, the first to be compared to gold would be Cephas, whose name is interpreted ‘rock.’ This is the highest of the apostles, Peter, also called Cephas, who furnished in his confession of faith the foundation for the building of the Church.184
And if we too have said like Peter, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, ‘Thou art Peter,’ etc. For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.
But if you suppose that upon the one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, ‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,’ hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, ‘Upon this rock I will build My church’? Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? But if this promise, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ be common to others, how shall not all things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them?
‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ If any one says this to Him…he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches, to every one who becomes such as that Peter was. For all bear the surname of ‘rock’ who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of the rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters…And to all such the saying of the Saviour might be spoken, ‘Thou art Peter’ etc., down to the words, ‘prevail against it.’ But what is the ‘it’? Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the church, or is it the church? For the phrase is ambiguous. Or is it as if the rock and the church were one and the same? This I think to be true; for neither against the rock on which Christ builds the church, nor against the church will the gates of Hades prevail. Now, if the gates of Hades prevail against any one, such an one cannot be a rock upon which Christ builds the church, nor the church built by Jesus upon the rock.185
Look at the great foundation of that Church and at the very solid rock upon which Christ has founded the Church. Wherefore the Lord says: ‘Ye of little faith, why have you doubted?’186
Moreover in the law this (love) is said to be the first commandment, and in the Gospels one is taught above all other things about love. Although the highest calling of feeding the sheep was communicated to Peter, and though the Church was established upon him as upon a solid ground, the confession of no other virtue is required of him, save that of love…187
But if she (the soul) does contrive to get through these unscathed, then the winter is past, and spring has come to her. For spring for her is when repose is given to her soul and calmness to her mind. Then the Word of God comes to her, then He calls her to Himself, and bids her come forth, not only from the house, but from the city itself-in other words, she must forsake not only fleshly vices, but also everything bodily and visible that the world contains. For we have already demonstrated plainly that the city is a figure for the world. The soul, therefore, is summoned forth outside the wall, and is brought to the outwork, when, forsaking and leaving things seen and temporal, she hastens towards those that are unseen and eternal. She is shown, however, that the way thereto must be followed beneath the cover of the rock, and not out in the open. And that she may not suffer the sun’s heat and perhaps become tanned again and say once more: ‘The sun hath looked askance at me,’ therefore she takes the way beneath the cover of the rock.
But He will not have this covering made for her of branches, or canvas, or skins; He will have her covering made of rock-that is, the firm and solid teachings of Christ. For Him St. Paul declares to be a rock when he says: And the rock was Christ.
If, then, the soul be shielded and covered with the doctrine and the faith of Christ, she can come safely to that secret place wherein she may behold the glory of the Lord with open face. We may well believe that covering of the rock is safe, since Solomon also says of it in Proverbs that the tracks of the serpent cannot be detected on the rock…For no tracks of the serpent-that is, no marks of sin-can be found in this rock which is Christ, for it is He alone who did no sin. Having therefore availed herself of the covering of this rock, the soul comes safely to the place on the outwork-that is, to the contemplation of things incorporeal and eternal. David speaks of this same rock under another metaphor in Psalm Seventeen: And He set my feet upon a rock and ordered my paths. Do not be surprised if with David this rock is as it were the ground and basis upon which a soul goes to God, while with Solomon it is the covering of the soul that is set upon reaching the mystical secrets of wisdom; seeing that Christ Himself is at one time called the Way by which believers go, and again the Forerunner, as when Paul says: Into which the forerunner Jesus entered for us.
Like to these is the saying of God to Moses: Lo, I have set thee in a cleft of the rock, and thou shalt see my back parts. That Rock which is Christ is, therefore, not completely closed, but has clefts. But the cleft of the rock is He who reveals God to men, and makes Him known to them; for no one knoweth the Father, save the Son. So no one sees the back parts of God-that is to say, the things that are come to pass in the latter times, unless he be placed in the cleft of the rock, that is to say, when he is taught them by Christ’s own revealing.188
But who is thus blessed, who so throws off the burden of temptations that no thought of ambiguity creeps up on his mind? See what was said by the Lord to the great foundation of the church and very solid rock, upon which Christ founded the church: ‘O you of little faith he says, why have you doubted?’189
All you seek then, you have in Matthew. Why did not you, whoteach a bishop, read it all? Look at the opening words of that precept. As Matthew himself reports, the Lord spoke to Peter a little earlier; he spoke to one, that from one he might found unity, soon delivering the same to all. Yet he still begins just as to Peter: ‘And I say also unto thee’, he says ‘that thou art Peter…’190
Palladius of Helenopolis
‘You, however, who do you say I am?’ Not all responded, but Peter only, interpreting the mind of all: ‘You are Christ, Son of the living God.’ The Saviour, approving the correctness of this response, spoke, saying: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock’-that is, upon this confession-‘I shall build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.’ Now with respect to this confession you will find…among all men both censure and praise. Thus at one time the Ephesians spoke ill of Christ and the apostles, crying: ‘They turn the world upside down’ (Acts 17.6). Now, however, they have ceased speaking ill, they themselves having been glorified…They are swine and dogs who say, ‘He deceived the world’; but they are disciples who seek after him, saying: ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God.’191
By the permission of the Lord, these things were in the beginning for the discipline of the saints, the devil seeking to have them, as the saving Word says, ‘Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ And not solely did Jesus pray for Peter, but for all who have the faith of Peter.192
There is one response of all upon which the Church is founded and against which the gates of hell will not prevail…Such a great faith does not arise except from the revelation of God the Father and inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that anyone that has faith, like firm stone, is called Peter…It should be noted that anyone of the faithful is rock as far as he is an imitator of Christ and is light as far as he is illuminated by light and by this the Church of Christ is founded upon those as far as they are strengthened by Christ. So not on Peter alone but on all the apostles and the successors of the apostles the Church of God is built. But these mountains are first built on the mountain Christ is elevated above all mountains and hills.193
One heavenly house in the heavens has been established, through the foundation of faith, upon him who is rightly called ‘a rock.’194
For the name, derived equally in Latin from the ‘rock’ (petra) which is Christ, designates the firmness of his faith.195
This is indeed the true and inviolable faith given to Peter from God the Father, which affirms that if there had not always been a son there would not always have been a Father, upon which faith the whole Church is both founded and remains firm, believing that God is the Son of God.196
Paul of Emessa
Upon this faith the Church of God has been founded. With this expectation, upon this rock the Lord God placed the foundations of the Church. When then the Lord Christ was going to Jerusalem, He asked the disciples, saying, ‘Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?’ The apostles say, ‘Some Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.’ And He says, but you, that is, My elect, you who have followed Me for three years, and have seen My power, and miracles, and beheld Me walking on the sea, who have shared My table, ‘Whom do you say that I am?’ Instantly, the Coryphaeus of the apostles, the mouth of the disciples, Peter, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’197
Oh Peter, upon whom Christ founded his Church, and oh Paul, who laid a foundation besides which no one can place another, namely, Christ: blessed apostles, pillars and mainstays of the truth…198
Peter loved Christ and he never departed from that love; and as a testimony of his love for the Lord, he is at one moment established as the rock of the Church’s foundation; yet in the next moment he is seduced by the word of Satan.199
Paulinus of Nola
Likewise He shares His glory with His people, giving us a participation in almost everything, even in His names. Just as He is called the Strength of God, so He deigns to be our strength, too: God is our Refuge and our Strength. As we are His heirs, so He is ours, for you read in the book of Moses: The people of Jacob are become the Lord’s portion; and again in the Psalms: The Lord is my portion. Just as He called Himself the Light of this world, so He said to His own: You are the light of this world. Again, He says: I am the living bread; and: We are all one bread. Elsewhere He states: I am the true Vine; and to you He says: I planted thee a fruitful vine, all true. Christ is the mountain of God, in which God is well pleased to dwell, and His saints are the mountains of God, fruitful mountains, from which He enlighteneth us wonderfully from the everlasting mountains. Christ is the rock, for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. The favour of this name, too, He did not refuse to His disciple; He says to him: Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. But why are we surprised that He granted His names to His servants, when He shares even His Father and His kingship with them? For to those who received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God.200
Prosper of Aquitaine
In the same sense He said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and thou, being converted in the end, confirm thy brethren. And pray lest ye enter into temptation. When the faith of so great an Apostle was going to give way unless Christ prayed for him, this was a sure sign that he, too, was subject to unsteadiness which could falter in temptation; and he was not so confirmed with the strength to persevere, that he was not liable to any weakness. For, indeed, even after all this, trepidation was to shake him so badly that in the house of Caiaphas, frightened by the questions of some servant girl, his constancy was to give way, and that to the extent of disowning Christ three times, after he had promised to die for Him…The Lord could also have given the chief of His disciples such firmness of soul that, as He Himself was not to be deterred from the resolve to undergo His Passion, so Saint Peter also on that occasion would not have been overcome by fear. But such steadfastness belonged only to Him who alone could say in truth and reality, I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again. In all other men, as long as the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and as long as the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak, immovable strength of soul is not to be found, because the perfect and undisturbed happiness of peace is not our lot in this life, but in the next only. But in the uncertainty of the present struggle, when the whole of life is a trial and when victory itself is not shielded from the Waylayer’s pride, the danger of inconstancy is ever present…The most blessed Peter himself passed through this conflict at the very moment when he was about to crown all his victories…Who, then, would doubt, who would fail to see that this strongest of rocks, who shared in the strength and the name of the first Rock, had always nourished the wish to be given the strength of dying for Christ?201
Again, He changes the name of Simon to Peter, inasmuch as the Creator also altered the names of Abram, Sarai, and Oshea, by calling the latter Joshua, and adding a syllable to each of the former. But why Peter? If it was because of the vigour of his faith, there were many solid materials which might lend a name from their strength. Was it because Christ was both a rock and a stone? For we read of his being placed ‘for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence.’ I omit the rest of the passage. Therefore He would fain impart to the dearest of His disciples a name which was suggested by one of His own especial designations in figure; because it was, I suppose, more peculiarly fit than a name which might have been derived from no figurative description of Himself.202
For though you think heaven still shut, remember that the Lord left here to Peter and through him to the Church, the keys of it, which every one who has been here put to the question, and also made confession, will carry with him.203
If, because the Lord has said to Peter, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church,’ ‘to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom;’ or, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,’ you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? ‘On thee,’ He says, ‘will I build My Church;’ and, ‘I will give to thee the keys,’ not to the Church; and, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt have loosed or bound,’ not what ‘they shall have loosed or bound.’ For so withal the result teaches. In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what (key): ‘Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you,’ and so forth. (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ’s baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which (kingdom) are ‘loosed’ the sins that were beforetime ‘bound;’ and those which have not been ‘loosed’ are ‘bound,’ in accordance with true salvation…204
Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the church should be built, ‘who also obtained ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?’205
For because Jesus Christ was to introduce the second people (which is composed of us nations, lingering deserted in the world aforetime)into the land of promise, ‘flowing with milk and honey’ (that is, into the possession of eternal life, than which nought is sweeter); this had to come about, not through Moses (that is, not through the Law’s discipline), but through Joshua (that is, through the new law’s grace), after our circumcision with ‘a knife of rock’ (that is, with Christ’s precepts, for Christ is in many ways and figures predicted as a rock); therefore the man who was being prepared to act as images of this sacrament was inaugurated under the figure of the Lord’s name, even so as to be named Jesus.206
Let no one then foolishly suppose that the Christ is any other than the only begotten Son. Let us not imagine ourselves wiser than the gift of the Spirit. Let us hear the words of the great Peter, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Let us hear the Lord Christ confirming this confession, for ‘On this rock,’ He says, ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.’ Wherefore too the wise Paul, most excellent master builder of the churches, fixed no other foundation than this. ‘I,’ he says, ‘as a wise master builder have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ How then can they think of any other foundation, when they are bidden not to fix a foundation, but to build on that which is laid? The divine writer recognises Christ as the foundation, and glories in this title.207
Other foundation no man can lay but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. iii.11). It is necessary to build upon, not to lay foundations. For it is impossible for him who wishes to build wisely to lay another foundation. The blessed Peter also laid this foundation, or rather the Lord Himself. For Peter having said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;’ the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church.’ Therefore call not yourselves after men’s names, for Christ is the foundation.208
Wherefore our Lord Jesus Christ permitted the first of the apostles, whose confession He had fixed as a kind of groundwork and foundation of the Church, to waver to and fro, and to deny Him, and then raised him up again.209
Surely he is calling pious faith and true confession a ‘rock.’ For when the Lord asked his disciples who the people said he was, blessed Peter spoke up, saying ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God.’ To which the Lord answered: ‘Truly, truly I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’210
‘Its foundations are on the holy mountains.’ The ‘foundations’ of piety are divine precepts, while the ‘holy mountains’ upon which these foundations are laid are the apostles of our Saviour. Blessed Paul says concerning these foundations: ‘You have been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus.’ And again he says: ‘Peter, James and John who are perceived to be pillars.’ And after Peter had made that true and divine confession, Christ said to him: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ And elsewhere Christ says: ‘You are the light of the world, and a city set on a hill cannot be hid.’ Upon these holy mountains Christ the Lord laid the foundations of piety.211
Dioscurus, however, refuses to abide by these decisions; he is turning the see of the blessed Mark upside down; and these things he does though he perfectly well knows that the Antiochean metropolis possesses the throne of the great Peter, who was the teacher of the blessed Mark, and first and coryphaeus of the apostles.212
Let us inquire who is he that is called a stone; and at which appearing small, later became very great, and covered the earth. Let us, therefore, hearken to God Himself saying by the prophet Isaias, ‘Behold I lay in Sion a stone costly, a corner stone, precious, elect, into the foundations thereof, and everyone that believeth in it shall not be confounded’ (Is. xxviii.16)…Let us also listen to the blessed David prophecying and crying out, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?’ (Matt. xxi.42). And the blessed apostle Peter teaching among the Jews, and bringing before them the prophecy of the Lord, says, ‘This is the stone which, rejected by you the builders, is become the head of the corner’ (Acts iv.11). And the blessed apostle says, ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone’ (Eph. ii.20); and elsewhere he says, ‘Other foundation no man can lay but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus,’ (1 Cor. iii.11); and again, ‘They drank,’ he says, ‘of the spiritual rock which followed them, but the rock was Christ'(1 Cor. x.4).Wherefore we are taught by the Old and New Testament, that our Lord Jesus Christ is called a stone.213
For if they say that these things happened before baptism, let them learn that the great foundation of the Church was shaken, and confirmed by divine grace. For the great Peter, having denied thrice, remained first; cured by his own tears. And the Lord commanded him to apply the same cure to the brethren, ‘And thou,’ He says, ‘converted, confirm thy brethren’ (Luke xxii.32).214
The Comments of 6th Century Palestinian and Syriac Clergy from a Letter to the Emperor Justin
With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation (Isa. 12). Springs of salvation, says the prophet, meaning obviously the preaching of evangelical truth, from which spring the blessed apostles and their followers who were disciples through ordination and the wise teachers of the Church drew the saving water of faith, then irrigated the holy Church of God which, fixed on the rock of that greatest of apostles, defends the true and inflexible confession, and faithfully in every age exclaims with him (i.e. Peter) to the only Son of God: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Receiving this saving confession from the four holy synods which are honored for their evangelical teachings, we have never, by the grace of Christ, deviated from the true dogmas handed down to us; as an examination of the matter proves and as the constancy of our faith in times of necessity demonstrates. Since, therefore, as Christians we share in the doctrines of faith, and since, most reverend lord (i.e. Justin), we press for common peace and unity, we hereby make the faith, which we have acknowledged, from the beginning, open to your goodness through this our apology.215
The Comments of Origen, Chrysostom or Cyril of Alexandria Falsely Attributed to Victor of Antioch
And to Simon He gave the name Peter (Mark iii.16). Lest any may think the apostles were chosen by chance or at random, the Evangelist gives the names of each in order. And he says that ‘to Simon He gave the name Peter,’ that the name may anticipate the event itself; because as Christ the Lord was about to build His Church on Peter, that is, on the unbroken and sound doctrine of Peter, and his unshaken faith, therefore in prophetic spirit does He call him Peter.216
- John Rotelle, O.S.A., Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 270.2, p. 289.
- The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The Retractations Chapter 20.1.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VI, St. Augustin, Sermon 26.1-4, pp. 340-341.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1887), Volume IV, St. Augustin, Against the Donatists, Book II, Chap. 109, p. 595.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/5, Sermon 183.14, p. 343.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1994), Sermons, Volume III/9, Sermon 337.1, p. 271.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1845), Volume 20, Sermon 97.3, p. 686, (Sermon 147, Benedictine Edition).
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VI, St. Augustin, Sermons on New-Testament Lessons, Sermon LXXXIV.2, p. 510.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991), Volume I/5, The Trinity, Book II.28, p. 119.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1995), Sermons, Volume III/10, Sermon 358.5, p. 193.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, On the Gospel of John, Tractate 124.5.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1992), Sermons, III/5, Sermon 149.6-7, p. 21.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Hyde Park: New City, 1994), Sermons, III/8 (273-305A), On the Saints, Sermon 295.1-3, pp. 197-198.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Hyde Park: New City, 1995), Sermons, Volume III/10, Sermon 352.3-5, pp. 138-143.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/6, Sermon 229N.1-3, pp. 320-321.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New City: Brooklyn, 1991), Sermons, Volume III/3, Sermon 76.1-4, pp. 311-313.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 244.1, pp. 95-96.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 236A.3, p. 48.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1847), Seventeen Short Treatises of S. Augustine, De Agone Christiano (The Christian Conflict) 32, p. 184.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City, 1990), Sermons, Volume III/1, Sermon 4.22, p. 197.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustine, On The Gospel of St. John, Tractate 50.12, p. 282.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City, 1991), Part I – Books, Volume V, The Trinity, Book II.6.28-30, pp. 117-119.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, Tractate 118.4, p. 431.
- The Fathers of the Church (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1959), Volume 38, Saint Augustine, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons, Sermon 215.1, p. 142.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City, 1990), Sermons, Volume III/2, Sermon 46.10, p. 269.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Hyde Park: New City, 1994), Sermons, Volume III/9, Sermon 317.5, p. 144.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VIII, Saint Augustin, Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm LV.5, p. 211.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City, 1991), Sermons, Volume III/3, Sermon 88.10, p. 426.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 116.6, p. 206.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/10, Sermon 362.8-9, p. 246.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VIII, Saint Augustin, Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm LXI.3, p. 249.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VIII, Saint Augustin, Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm CIX.1, p. 536.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Tractate 50.12, p. 282.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 129.8, p. 307.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1845), Volume 16, Sermon 66.7, p. 485, (Sermon 116, Benedictine Edition).
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1990), Sermons, Volume III/1, Sermon 4.18, p. 195.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), Sermons, Volume III/10, Sermon 392.3, p. 422.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Tractate 53.8, p. 294.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VI, St. Augustin, Sermon LXV. 1, p. 454.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 138.2-5, pp. 385-387.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Tractate 123.5, pp. 445-446.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1845), Volume 20, Sermon 97.2, p. 685, (Sermon 147, Benedictine Edition).
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 137.3, p. 373.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 253.2, pp. 148-149.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1990), Sermons, Volume III/2, Sermon 46.30, pp. 282-283.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1994), Sermons, Volume III/8, Sermon 295.4, p. 199.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1994), Sermons, Volume III/8, Sermon 296.13, p. 211.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 147A.1-2, pp. 451-452.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 147.2, p. 448.
- John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 146.1, p. 445.
- The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C.: Catholic University, 1963), Saint Ambrose, The Sacrament of the Incarnation of Our Lord 4.32-5.35, pp. 230-1.
- Commentary in Luke VI.98, CSEL 32.4, Cited by Karlfreid Froehlich, Formen der Auslegung von Matthaus 16:13-18 im lateinischen Mittelater, Dissertation, Tubingen, 1963.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), Volume X, St. Ambrose, On Christian Faith 4.5.53, p. 268-9.
- De Virginitate XVI.105, M.P.L. Vol 16, Col 292.
- Commentary on Psalm 40.30. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 69.
- Epistle 43.9. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 76.
- Unde dicit Dominus ad Petrum: Super istam petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, hoc est, in hac catholicae fidei confessione statuam fideles ad vitam (Commentary on Ephesians 2:20. M.P.L. 17.380D).
- De S. Sancto, Book 2, Chapter 13. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 75.
- Commentaria in XIII Epistolas Beati Pauli, on Gal. 2.9,10. Taken from Documents Illustrating Papal Authority by E. Giles, pp. 122-123.
- Commentary on Ephesians, M.P.L., Vol. 17, Col. 380.
- Commentary on Galatians, M.P.L., Vol. 17, Col. 349.
- Commentary on Galatians, M.P.L., Vol. 17, Col. 350.
- Commentary on Galatians, M.P.L., Vol. 17, Col. 344.
- Commentary on 2 Corinthians, M.P.L., Vol. 17, Col. 332.
- Ambrosiaster, Quaestiones in Novum Testamentum, no. 75 (PL 35:2273A). Cited by Karlfreid Froehlich, St. Peter, Papal Primacy, and the Exegetical Tradition, 1150-1300, in The Religious Roles of the Papacy; Ideals and Realities 1150-1300 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute, 1989), Christopher Ryan, Ed., p. 22
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Vol XIII, Aphrahat, Select Demonstrations, Demonstration I.2-6,13,19.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1885), Volume VII, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Book VI, Chapter V, p. 452.
- Homily VIII, On Saints Peter and Paul, M.P.G., Vol. 40, Col. 268-269.
- Homily VIII, On Saints Peter and Paul, M.P.G., Vol. 40, Col. 280-281.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), Volume IV, St. Athanasius, Letters of Athanasius, Letter 29, p. 551.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), Volume IV, St. Athanasius, Four Discources Against the Arians, Discourse II, Chapter XXII.73, 74, 76; pp. 388-389.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1844), Select Treatises of S. Athanasius, Discourse IV, Subject IX.11.
- Four Letters to Serapion of Thmuis 1.28. Cited by William Jurgens, The faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1970), Volume I, p. 336.
- Psalm 11. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London:Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 50.
- Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, Cap. II.66, M.P.G., Vol. 30, Col. 233.
- Oratio XXV.4, M.P.G., Vol. 85, Col. 296-297.
- Or. 16. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 168.
- Homily 2.16, M.P.L., Vol. 94, Col. 94. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #140, p. 134.
- Homily 23, M.P.L., Vol. 94, Col. 260. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #204, p. 156.
- Homily 23, M.S.L., Vol. 186, Col. 108. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #124.
- Homily 16, M.S.L., Vol. 94, Col. 222. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #125.
- Homily 16, M.S.L., Vol. 94, Col. 222. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #138.
- Expositions in the Psalms, Psalm 45.5, M.P.L., Vol. 70, Col. 330.
- Expositions in the Psalms, Psalm 86.1, M.P.L., Vol. 70, Col. 618.
- Expositions in the Psalms, Psalm 103.5, M.P.L., Vol. 70, Col. 729-730.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XI, The Seven Books of John Cassian, Book III, Chapter 12, 14.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 54.2-3; pp. 332-334.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 82.3, p. 494.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily XXI.1, pp. 72-73.
- On the Inscription of the Acts, II. Taken from Documents Illustrating Papal Authority (London: SPCK, 1952), E. Giles, Ed., p. 168. Cf. Chapman, Studies on the Early Papacy, p. 96.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily 88.1-2, pp. 331-332.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XI, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 31, ver. 16, p. 557.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily III.8, p. 19.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily 1.1, p. 1.
- Homily 24, On Genesis.Taken from Documents Illustrating Papal Authority (London: SPCK, 1952), E. Giles, Ed.; p. 165.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XI, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans, Homily 32, Ver. 24, pp. 561-562.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIII, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Galatians, Chapter II, ver. 8, p. 17.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIII, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Homily IX.4, p. 324.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XI, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 33, pp. 205, 207.
- De Eleemos III.4, M.P.G., Vol. 49, Col. 298.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily LXXIII.1, pp. 267-268.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XII, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians, Homily VIII.7, p. 47.
- Hom. de decem mille talentis 3, PG III, 20. Cited by Dom Chapman, Studies in the Early Papacy (London: Sheed & Ward, 1928), p. 74.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 56.2; p. 345.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XI, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily XXVI, p. 169.
- Contra ludos et theatra 1, PG VI, 265. Cited by Dom Chapman, Studies on the Early Papacy (London: Sheed & Ward, 1928), p. 76.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily XXI.5, p. 463.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XII, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians, Homily VI.7, p. 32.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XII, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians, Homily VII.19, p. 42.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily XXXIII.3, p. 117.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily IX.1-3, pp. 67-69.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily XXXI.4, p. 507.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily LXXXII.3, pp. 493-494.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIV, Saint Chrysostom, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily XXXI.4, p. 507.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume X, Saint Chrysostom, The Gospel of St. Matthew, Homily LXXXII.3, pp. 493-494.
- Sermon 107, M.P.L., Vol. 57, Col. 498.
- Sermon 154, P.L., Vol. 52, Col. 608. Cited by E. Giles, Sermon 154, P.L., Vol. 52, Col. 608. Cited by E. Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority (London: SPCK, 1952),p. 283.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1842), Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church 3-4, pp. 133-135.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1842), The Epistles of S. Cyprian, Epistle 33.1.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1844), The Epistles of S. Cyprian, Epistle, XI.5, p. 27.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1839), The Treatises of S. Caecilius Cyprian, Treatise VII, On the Lord’s Prayer 19, pp. 193-194.
- Commentary on Isaiah IV.2, M.P.G., Vol. 70, Col. 940.
- Commentary on Matthew, M.P.G., Vol. 72, Col. 421, 424.
- Dialogue on the Trinity IV, M.P.G., Vol. 75, Col. 866.
- Commentary on John. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 145.
- Commentary on Zacharias. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 143.
- Commentary on Isaiah 3.iii, on Isaiah 28:16. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 142.
- Epistle 17.5, P.G., Vol. 77, Col. 108. Cited by E. Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority (London: SPCK, 1952), pp. 242-243.
- Cited by George Salmon, The Infallibility of the Church (London: John Murray, 1914), pp. 345-346.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), Volume VII, The Catechetical Lectures 6.15.
- Trinitate, Liber Primus I.30, M.P.G., Vol. 39, col. 416.
- The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis (Leiden: Brill, 1994), Books II and III, Haer. 59.7,6-8,3, p. 108-109.
- Ancoratus 9.6. G.C.S., Epiphanius, Vol. I, p. 16.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIII, Hymns for the Feast of the Epiphany II.14, p. 267.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XIII, The Pearl, Hymn 2.2.
- Eulogy on Peter, Paul, Andrew, etc., Works, Class 5, Sermon 11. Collectio Ecclesiae Patrum 37.446. Cited by E. Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority (London: SPCK, 1952), p. 116.
- on the Psalms, M.P.G., Vol. 23, Col. 173, 176.
- Prep. Ev. I.3. Cited by J. Waterworth, A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 34-35.
- Ecclesiastical History vi.25.
- Johannes Quasten, Ancient Christian Writers (New York: Newman, 1970), Firmicus Maternus, The Error of the Pagan Religions, Chapter 20.1-2, 4-6, pp. 87-89.
- Insert your note here
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1844), The Epistles of S. Cyprian, Epistle 75.17-18.
- De Fide III.37, M.P.L., Vol. 65, Col. 690.
- Tract. 16, De Ordin. Ipsius. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 105-107.
- A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1850), Volume 31, S. Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, Book XXXV.13, p. 670. M.S.L., Vol. 94, Col. 222.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1956), Volume XII, Epistles of Gregory the Great, Book V, Epistle XVIII.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XII, Epistles of Gregory the Great, Book VIII, Epistle 30, p. 241.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XII, Epistles of Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle 40, p. 228-229.
- Discourse 32.18, M.P.G., Vol. 36, Col. 193-194.
- Panegyric on St. Stephen, M.P.G., Vol. 46, Col. 733.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), On The Trinity, Book VI.36,37; Book II.23.
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- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1885), Volume I, Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyraeans, Chapter VII, p. 89.
- Epistle 235. Cited by C. DeLisle Shortt, Who Was the First Bishop of Rome (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1935), p. 110.
- Epistle 416. Cited by C. DeLisle Shortt, Who Was the First Bishop of Rome (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1935), p. 110.
- Allegories in the New Testament, M.P.L., Vol. 83, Col. 117-118, Numbers 135, 136, 148.
- Etym. VII.2, M.P.L., Vol. 82, Col. 267.41.
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- Sermon 1 de Fide i.13. Cited by J. Waterworth, A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 39-40.
- Sermon vii., de Poeniten. 6, Cited by J. Waterworth, A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 40.
- Sermon xi, Cited by J. Waterworth, A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 40.
- Commentary on Matthew 7.25, M.P.L., Vol. 26, Col. 51. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen der Auslegung von Matthaus 16,13-18 im lateinischen Mittelalter, Dissertation (Tubingen, 1963), Footnote #200, p. 49.
- Epistle 65.15, Ad Principiam. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 109.
- Commentary on Isaiah ii.2. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 111-112.
- Commentary on Amos vi.12-13. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 112-113.
- Commentary on Matthew III, 16:18, M.P.L., Vol. 26, Col. 121-122.
- Commentary on Ephesians II.20, M.P.L., Vol. 26, Col. 506-507.
- Commentary on Galatians I.11. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 116-117.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), Volume VI, St. Jerome, Against Jovinanius, Book 2.37.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), Volume VI, St. Jerome, Epistle 146.1, To Evangelus, pp. 288-289.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), Volume VI, St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus 1.26, p. 366.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), Volume VI, St. Jerome, Epistle 130.16, p. 269.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), Volume VI, St. Jerome, Epistle 15.2, To Pope Damasus, p. 18.
- Homily on the Transfiguration, M.P.G., Vol. 96, Col. 554-555.
- Homily on the Transfiguration, M.P.G., Vol. 96, Col. 548.
- Liber de Recta Sententia, M.P.G., Vol. 94, Col. 1429.
- Homily LXVIII, In Nativitate Petri et Pauli, M.P.L., Vol. 57, Col. 394.
- Sermon XXVIII, M.P.L., Vol. 57, Col. 587-588.
- Ancient Christian Writers (New York: Newman, 1989), The Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin, Sermon 9.1, p. 27. M.S.L., Vol. 39, Col. 2119.
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- Commentary in Canticle of Canticles, M.P.G., Vol. 87 (ii), Col. 1693.
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- Exodus, Homily 5.4. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen der Auslegung von Matthaus 16,13-18 im lateinischen Mittelaiter, Dissertation (Tubingen, 1963), p. 100.
- Commentary on Romans, Romans 5:10, M.P.G., Vol. 14, Col. 1053. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, p. 100.
- Johannes Quasten, Ed., Ancient Christian Writers (London: Longmans, Green, 1957), Origen, The Song of Songs, Book Three, pp. 248-250.
- Johannes Quasten, Ed., Ancient Christian Writers (London: Longmans, Green, 1957), Origen, The Song of Songs, Book Three, pp. 248-250.
- Epistle 3, to Sympronianus. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 123.
- Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom, M.P.G., Vol. 47, Col. 68.
- Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom, Ch. 20.
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- Commentary on Matthew, M.S.L., Vol. 120, Col. 329. Cited by Froehlich, Formen,Footnote #211.
- Commentary on Matthew 10.4, M.S.L., Vol. 120, Col. 404. Cited by Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #129.
- Commentary on Matthew, M.S.L., Vol. 120, Col. 555f. Cited by Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #162.
- Homily of the Nativity. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 148.
- Liber Apologeticus Contra Pelagium 27.3, CSEL, Vol. 5, p. 647.
- Liber Apologeticus Contra Pelagium 23.5, CSEL, Vol. 5, p. 641.
- Johannes Quasten, Ed., Ancient Christian Writers (London: Longmans, Green, 1968), Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, Volume II, Letter 23.43-44, p. 46.
- Johannes Quasten, Ed., Ancient Christian Writers (London: Longmans, Green, 1952), St. Prosper of Aquitaine, The Call of All Nations, Book II, Chapter 28, pp. 138-140.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Volume III, Tertullian, Against Marcion IV.13, p. 365.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Volume III, Tertullian, Scorpiace X., p. 643.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Volume IV, Tertullian, On Modesty 21, p. 99.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Vol. III, Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 22.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Volume III, Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews, Chapter ix, p. 163.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume III, Theodoret, Epistle 146, To John the Economus, p. 318.
- Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1,12. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 149.
- Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume III, Theodoret, Epistle 77, To Eulalius, p. 273.
- Commentary on Canticle of Canticles II.14, M.P.G., Vol. 81, Col. 108.
- Commentary on Psalms 86.1, M.P.G., Vol. 80, Col. 1561.
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- Commentary on Daniel ii.34. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 153.
- Haeret. Fab., Book 5, Chapter 28. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), p. 152.
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- In Ev. Marc. chap. 3. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 133-134.