Not “Head” but “Rock,” Not Peter but Christ.

Epiphany 2 Saturday

John 1:40-42

“One of the two who heard John and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him: “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ), and brought him to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, he said: “You are Simon, Jonah’s son; you shall be called Cephas (rock).””

Andrew, one of John’s disciples, was the first who came to Christ and made his acquaintance. Then he leaves and talks to his brother Simon, as if to say: “Do you want me to tell you some strange news? John, our teacher, preached to us about this man that he is the Lamb of God and the Messiah.” Without a doubt, John preached this often with many words, because Andrew believes this and comes up to his brother and says: “We have found the Messiah,” to whom John
had pointed, saying that he is the Messiah. And this is how Andrew became the first preacher and witness that Christ is the Messiah. This he right away proclaims to his brother Peter when he meets him, that he found the one about whom the law of Moses and the prophets write. This took place in Bethsaida when Peter departs with Andrew to come to Christ. And this is the big news: They have the Messiah who was prophesied by the prophets. Now, when Andrew comes to Christ with Peter and tells Peter: “This is Christ,” the Lord acts in a very kind way and confirms Andrew’s words and shows that he is a Lord who knows all things. Christ had never seen him before and did not know his parents or friends, but he says to him, “Look, you are Simon, Jonah’s Son; you shall be called Cephas.” These are very kind and jovial words, as good friends might talk to one another at the table. Nothing is said here about St. Peter’s call or ordination to the apostolic office. Rather, when Peter is first called Simon, he is simply given a different name, telling him that he should be called Cephas…Now we have to say a few words on the meaning of the word “Cephas.” For under the pope we were such unreasonable, obnoxious fools who did not understand this text or knew what this word “Cephas” meant. “Kepha” is a Hebrew word which means “petra” in Greek and “rupes” in Latin, that is, a rock on which you may build a castle. But the fools in the papacy and the canon lawyers claimed that the name “Cephas” comes from the Greek word “kephali,” which means head, so that St. Peter was to be the head and overlord of the other apostles. And out of this text, they made the pope into the head of the church as St. Peter’s successor…But the text does not say “kephali,” but “kephas.” Thus, as Christ gives him a new name, he calls him a rock. Why does he call him a rock? This is seen in Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” But in John 1, Peter is not given an office, only a different name, Rock. When he was circumcised, he was called Simon, but in the future, he is to be called Cephas. When he says, “on this rock I will build my church,” Christ means himself. Thus, this text is unable to support the papists’ claim they sadly boast about all over the world, that the pope is to be the head of all Christendom; it is a shameful lie of theirs. For Christ here does not give him anything here but a different name.

St. Louis ed., 7:1743-1745.

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