1 Corinthians 3:11 Jesus Christ is the foundation whereon the church is built.

Ephesians 2:20 Both the Prophets and the Apostles are the foundation whereon the church is built.

Matthew 16:18 Simon Peter is the foundation whereon the church is built.

  • cf. Meta discussion.
    – user13992
    Dec 7, 2014 at 18:27
  • Please edit this to explain exactly what you're asking rather than just paraphrasing verses.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 8, 2014 at 10:25
  • Yes, this is a bit unclear. Perhaps a bit of background on what you think the "foundation of the church" is would help. A doctrinal scoping always helps.
    – user3961
    Dec 8, 2014 at 18:03

3 Answers 3


There are two main ways that Prophets and Apostles can be considered the foundation of the Church - their role in receiving and transmitting revelation (scripture) and their effectual ministry for Christ (service) - particularly in founding individual congregations. Christ's role in the foundation is unique - he is the chief cornerstone (cf Ephesians 2:20): ie he sets the pattern that the other 'stones' must follow and adapt to in order to fit correctly into the building.

Simon Peter's identification as 'the' foundation must be taken with a grain of salt - Jesus used this play on words after Simon had declared that Jesus was the Christ; immediately afterwards, Jesus rebukes him after he declares that he would never let Jesus be handed over to be crucified:

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” - Matthew 16:23 NIV

If we are too literal about this passage, then we'd have to conclude that Satan is the foundation on which the church would be built! While many Protestants do interpret Peter as being appointed as future leader of the Church in the prior verse (v18), many Evangelicals commonly point out that there is a distinction between the name applied to Simon - Petros (Πέτρος - a stone, pebble, a small rock found along a pathway) - and the word used for rock in the same verse (πέτρα - a mass of connected rock, solid or native rock rising up through the earth) and that it makes more sense that 'the rock' is actually not referring to the man himself, but the revelation given to him by the Father. In any event, there can be no denying that Peter did play a key role in helping to lay the foundation of the early church: his sermon given at Pentecost was actually the first public declaration of what he had privately declared and been commended for previously - Jesus is the Christ.

There is much more that could be said, but I believe this is the essence of the foundation that the Church is built on - Jesus is the Christ. The Prophets (of the Old Testament) prophesied concerning him; The Apostles bore witness to him and declared his gospel; but He himself provided the key, the pattern to what the Prophets of old were talking about and the message that went forth with the Apostles - the message is the foundation, and Jesus himself is that message.

  • @fms Since he received this foundational revelation and was the principal custodian of it - to transmit it to the early Church, it was entirely appropriate that he bear a name fitting that circumstance. Illustrative of this is Joshua of the OT - he was given a name that was actually appropriate for the role he would carry out: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu'a) meaning "YAHWEH is salvation". His role as general and leader of Israel was instrumental in accomplishing Israel's 'salvation', but it would be improper to fully identify Joshua with the meaning of his name and not ascribe that salvation to God. Sep 21, 2014 at 18:16
  • Thank you! I am thinking perhaps this could be tackled in another question re: how (and why) Evangelicals and Catholics + Other Protestants view Peter and his mission.
    – user13992
    Sep 21, 2014 at 23:41

"What are the differences between Apostles, Prophets, Peter and Jesus Christ in being the “foundation” whereon the church is built?"

I noticed in the book of Revelation, that Peter and the Apostles are listed and named as the foundation stones in the protective wall of the New Jerusalem. The first foundation stone in the protective wall is Jasper, which many Protestants attribute to Peter.

I also found Peter referred to as the first stone which is a Jasper stone on a Protestant web site, where they had a list of all the apostles and were putting them in order of the number of times they were mentioned in each bible book, and I think Peter was listed first, and they decided that he must be the Jasper stone because he was listed the most times and the most times first in 3 gospel books and in Acts.

Rev 21:

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

What does this passage in Revelation show? The apostles were definitely the foundation stones upon which Jesus built His New Jerusalem, they were the foundations of the wall of the city. A wall is a protection.

Even if Peter is the Jasper and he was 'laid ' down first, does this mean he is the single rock upon which the New Jerusalem is built? Not according to the text that states that all of the apostles were foundation stones in the wall of the city.

When Jesus said 'upon this rock I will build my church' if the rock He was speaking of in that example was Peter, Jesus' words prove correct in what we see in Revelation 21 where Peter is indeed named as a foundation rock in the wall of the church/New Jersalem.

Please see: 12 Foundations of the New Jerusalem And the 12 Apostles in Precious Stones in the New Jerusalem.

  • "on a Protestant web site" Which website?
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 22, 2014 at 2:53
  • @Hello Interesting and fascinating!
    – user13992
    Sep 22, 2014 at 19:44

Jesus is the chief of the corner--the cornerstone.

Any foundation is composed of many stones, but has only one corner. The corner determines the size and location of all other blocks.

The rest of the foundation is comprised of the apostles and prophets, in various arrangements (unspecified). The twelve apostles of the Lamb, the original twelve, are the primary ones, and the other apostles and prophets also comprise the foundation, but not as primary as the twelve. Many are called apostle and prophet in the New Testament, as well as today.

Peter, being some how singled out for his role, depending on how you interpret the "On this rock..." statement , can be considered, perhaps, one of the most important stone besides Christ Himself, but certainly, he no more replaces Christ as the corner than there can be more than one cornerstone in any building.

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