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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.: Chapter XI

Early Church Fathers  Index     

11.  The Promise Given to Peter Not Restricted to Him, But Applicable to All Disciples Like Him.

But if you suppose that upon that 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,” 5623 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”? 5624   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,” 5625 be common to the others, how shall not all the things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them?  For in this place these words seem to be addressed as to Peter only, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,” 5626 etc.; but in the Gospel of John the Saviour having given the Holy Spirit unto the disciples by breathing upon them said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” 5627 etc.  Many then will say to the Saviour, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;” but not all who say this will say it to Him, as not at all having learned it by the revelation of flesh and blood but by the Father in heaven Himself taking away the veil that lay upon their heart, in order that after this “with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord” 5628 they may speak through the Spirit of God saying concerning Him, “Lord Jesus,” and to Him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 5629   And if any one says this to Him, not by flesh and blood revealing it unto Him but through the Father in heaven, 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, 5630 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 taking occasion from these things you will say that the righteous bear the surname of Christ who is Righteousness, and the wise of Christ who is Wisdom. 5631   And so in regard to all His other names, you will apply them by way of surname to the saints; 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; just as the way of a serpent upon a rock, according to what is written in the Proverbs, 5632 cannot be found.  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 p. 457 Jesus upon the rock; for the rock is inaccessible to the serpent, and it is stronger than the gates of Hades which are opposing it, so that because of its strength the gates of Hades do not prevail against it; but the church, as a building of Christ who built His own house wisely upon the rock, 5633 is incapable of admitting the gates of Hades which prevail against every man who is outside the rock and the church, but have no power against it.



Matt. xvi. 18.


Matt. xvi. 18.


Matt. xvi. 19.


Matt. xvi. 19.


John xx. 22.


2 Cor. iii. 18.


Matt. xvi. 16.


1 Cor. x. 4.


1 Cor. i. 30.


Prov. xxx. l9.


Matt. vii. 24.

Next: Chapter XII

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