8/04/10 No. 4846
Foundation Of The Church
The erroneous doctrine of the Trinity came about because Christians became confused over who Jesus was. The reason why the Roman Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD was to force the Church to decide who Jesus was, because he wanted a united Church in order to help unite the Roman Empire (he had made Christianity the religion of state two years earlier). After two months of debate the bishops could not agree, so the emperor, who was not a Christian and had little knowledge of the Scriptures, proposed that they consider Jesus to be “of one substance with the Father”. The bishops reluctantly agreed (mainly out of fear of the emperor; it was only 14 years earlier that Galerius issued an Edict tolerating Christianity and ending persecution of Christians, and 12 years earlier that Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, granting freedom of religious worship and restoring Christians’ property), but debates on the subject continued for decades until another Roman emperor, Theodosious, decided to establish the creed of the Council of Nicaea as the standard, and convened the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD to clarify the formula. It was this council that agreed to place the Holy Spirit on the same level as God and Christ, and so the Trinity creed began to become established, although it was opposed by many (this Council also established the worship of Mary as the mother of God). It was in later centuries that the Trinity was formulated into set creeds.
However, in order to find out who Jesus truly was they only had to consider Matthew 16:13-18:
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 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.
Here Jesus is confirming that God had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the messiah (which means anointed) and that Jesus was the Son of God. This was the first time that Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah, and to be the Son of God (he mostly used the term “Son of man”, as in verse 13, which was used by Daniel in his description of his vision, where he described the Messiah as being like a son of man – Daniel 7:13). However, Peter, and all of the disciples already suspected he was the Son of God, as evidenced by Matthew 14:33 – “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God”. They may have first realised the truth when the demons that Jesus cast out refered to Jesus as the Son of God in Matthew 8:29, “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time”.
The "Thou art Peter" phrase in verse 18 doesn't make much sense until you realise that Jesus is making a play on two words for rock. Peter, or petros in Greek, means stone - essentially a small rock. (John 1:42 has Jesus naming Peter as Cephas, which is a Hebrew name of Aramaic origin meaning stone - the verse says "thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone". The Greek translation of Cephas is petros, which gets translated to Peter in the KJV translation of the bible). The Greek word that’s translated as rock in this verse is petra, which means a large rock, cliff or ledge.
To paraphrase, Jesus says “thou art a small rock, and upon this large rock I will build my church”. He is saying that the foundation upon which he builds his church is upon the truth that Peter had just declared, that Jesus is the promised messiah, anointed by God to be the saviour of mankind, and that he is the son of God. The Trinity teaching is in conflict with what Jesus declared to be the very foundation of his church, that Jesus is the son of God. He is not “of one substance with the Father” or part of some man made idea that God is made up of three persons. He is, as is simply and plainly stated, the son of God. This is confirmed many times in the New Testament. Even demons believed this truth, as mentioned above (Matthew 8:29).
The Church fell away from the truth and began to believe the error of the Trinity teaching, but we should believe the true gospel delivered to the Church by the Apostles, because the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph 2:20). All of the Apostles taught this truth, that Jesus was the son of God, e.g. John 20:30,31 “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” and 1 John 5:5 “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
The corrupt Roman church even used this passage in Matthew 16 to grab power for themselves by claiming that Peter had been to Rome (it’s not clear how long Peter spent in Rome, other than he was executed there) and could therefore be considered to be the bishop of Rome (although Peter went to many other places too!), and that they had somehow inherited his authority over the church. They claimed that verse 19 (“I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven”) meant that Peter had authority over the whole Church, and that they had inherited this authority (but such inheritance of authority over the church is not scriptural). However, Jesus didn’t give authority to just Peter, but to all of the disciples. This is confirmed just two chapters later in Matthew 18:18 when Jesus said to all his disciples, respecting authority in the church, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (“bind and loose” was an expression meaning to forbid and permit). In fact, taken in context, this is seen to be applicable to the whole Church.
Peter could also be considered to have used the keys that Jesus gave him to open the way to heaven. Note it’s not one key but two; one to open the way for the Jews on the day of Pentecost, when about three thousand became Christians after Peter’s preaching, and the second key was to open up the path for the gentiles when Peter went to Cornelius - Acts 10.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:11).