Q. Isn’t the problem, with the Catholic argument that Peter is the Rock of Matthew 16, that the Greek word used by Jesus for the Rock foundation of His Church is petra but the name He uses for Peter is Petros? Doesn’t Petra, meaning a BIG rock refer to Peter’s confession whereas, petros, Jesus’ name for Simon, means small stone.
A. This is a valiant attempt by non-Catholics to explain away Biblical evidence that Jesus founded His Church on Peter. However, it simply is not convincing when one looks at the facts.
First, most scholars believe that Jesus spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic there is only ONE word for rock. Kepha. So what Jesus actually said would have been:
You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church.
Jesus was not making any distinctions, after all, between Peter and the petra that Christ would build His Church upon. But obviously Peter comes from the Greek word petros. So, of course, one would tend to wonder about the strength of this argument since we now call Simon–Peter and not Kepha. The explanation is simple. There actually are several places in the New Testament where the Aramaic IS used for Simon.
And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas, which, when translated, is Peter.”
1 Corinthians 1:12
What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 3:22
whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,
1 Corinthians 9:5
Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?
Simon’s new name has come down to us as Peter because the Greek translation of the New Testament is the stronger traditional translation used by the Church when translating into Latin and English, and other vernacular languages.
Second-When the translation of the original Aramaic was made into Greek the word petra which denoted Peter was simply changed by the translator to petros because petra has a feminine ending and petros has the masculine ending. It would not be fitting to call the Prince of the Apostles by a girl’s name like Rockelle. In English we use the name Peter which is a Greek name but if we were to make a strict translation into English it would be Rock or Rocky. A man’s name.