Who Is the Foundation of the Church?
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)
“For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?” (Psalm 18:31)
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:20-21)
In the last text we see that the apostles were foundation stones. If we were required to interpret the “rock” in Matthew 16:18 as applying to Peter,1 there is yet nothing in such an application of the text that conflicts with the scriptures. The apostles all being foundations, of course Peter was one of them. Jesus would not have singled Peter out here because he had any preeminence over the rest, but because in conversing with him, his name, Cephas (a stone), called out the assertion. For evidence that all twelve were foundations, see Revelation 21:14.
[A more harmonious intepretation is that the “rock” of which Jesus is speaking is Peter’s confession of Christ, revealed to him only by the Father (Matthew 16:16-17). See also John 6:44,65; Romans 10:9; 1 John 4:2,15.]
Yet, Christ is the all-underlying foundation. The apostles, being first chosen and inspired to give us the New Testament, were foundation stones occupying a connecting position between Christ, the Rock, and the rest of the building. Christ is then the only Rock. “Other foundation can no man lay.” Only one structure can stand on one foundation. Christ built His church on Himself. All later organizations are without Christ as their foundation, and must perish.