The New Testament contains five different metaphors for the foundation of the Church (Matt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 3:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:5–6, Rev. 21:14). One metaphor that has been disputed is Jesus Christ’s calling the apostle Peter "rock": "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Some have tried to argue that Jesus did not mean that his Church would be built on Peter but on something else. [The controversy involves the meaning of "Peter" (Petros)].
These critics neglect the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and, as John 1:42 tells us, in everyday life he actually referred to Peter as Kepha or Cephas (depending on how it is transliterated). It is that term which is then translated into Greek as petros. Thus, what Jesus actually said to Peter in Aramaic was: "You are Kepha and on this very kepha I will build my Church."
- Peter...is called ‘the rock on which the Church would be built’ [Matt. 16:18] with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth’ [Matt. 16:19]." (Demurrer Against the Heretics 22 [A.D. 200]). [Binding and loosing, and forgiving sins, are awesome powers granted to the Church through Peter]... The shepherding role of the apostle Peter as episcopos was related by John (21:15-17): "When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep."
- It is not uncommon for enemies and non-believers of Roman Catholicism to argue against the succession and therefore validity of the Bishops of Rome as true successors to Peter by proffering the history of the "bad Popes." That argument arises from a basic misunderstanding of Sacred Scripture... Many men who held the position of Bishop of Rome were not holy men. Perhaps Peter was the best model for human failure in such a leadership role. He denied Jesus three times after being told he would do so... Some (Peter) repent and are saved. Others (Judas) reject that grace. It behooves us to remember that Jesus does not call saints, but sinners... We are reminded by the Lord even to the present day that the lifestyle of the messenger does not alter the validity of the message.
- [The lack of a central authority figure "feeding the sheep" explains] why there are literally thousands of different Protestant denominations. Without the influence of the patriarchs to hold things together, the Protestant communion has been fragmented even further into very small administrative units which, regrettably, are often in conflict with each other... That never happens in the Catholic Church because we have leaders with effective authority and they can prevent tiny matters from growing into huge crises... [The Pope] is the ecumenical center of the Church, the rallying point which holds it together and keeps it from breaking into pieces. And this only shows the wisdom of Christ in endowing the Church with such a leader to function in his absence.
- Infallibility: Roman Catholic Christians believe that Christ's teaching authority and truth charism continues in His Body the Church in the successors both of Peter and then the apostles, and then to their successors: the successor of Peter in the Bishop of Rome, and the successors of the apostles, the episcopoi or bishops from apostolic time to the present... [This is normally accomplished through] an ecumenical council. This is a biblical model following the holding of the Spirit-directed council of Acts 15, where it was decided that Gentiles could become Christians without having to keep the Mosaic Law... [But], when an ecumenical council is not practical, God has gifted the pope himself with the ability to definitively settle doctrinal conflicts. Thus he has given him the gift of papal infallibility.
- This gift is often misunderstood by people as thinking that the pope is supposed to be sinless, but that clearly wasn’t the case even for Peter himself as Scripture is quite frank about his sins... [It also does not mean that the Pope] is infallible in all he says... The object of the pope’s infallibility is matters of faith and morals. He cannot speak infallibly on anything else... And so, just as the pope is the chief shepherd of the Church–the focus of its pastoral authority–he is also the chief teacher of the Church–the focus of its doctrinal authority.