Some linguistic insights about the Church.
The word church in the Peshitta, the Aramaic version of the Gospels, is ‘etò’ – from ‘adt, root ‘ad, “to celebrate, to have a party” – it is a word that refers to a large gathering, a huge reunion where there is music, plenty of food, fun for everyone, an event which the entire universe can enjoy. The first sign which indicates to us if the church is following God's inspiration and Jesus' word is its dimension of celebration and joy in its movement among the people of the world. Where there is no joy and celebration, no praise or banquet-sharing, there is no church of God. Church means transparency and sharing of joy. The meaning of the earthly church is enclosed in a word that refers to a giant, festive, endless banquet, exactly how the heavenly church is described (throughout the entire bible). There are two Hebraic words from which the Aramaic root 'etò’ is derived. The verb ia‘ad – root w(e)d – “indicate, establish, build, set, ” when said with reference to a woman, it means “to marry”; it also means “gather, convene, walk together toward someone.” Then there is the noun ‘edàh, which has two main meanings: the first is “gathering, assembly, congregation, crowd, family community;” and the second is “testimony.”
When Kefa/Kepa answered Jesus: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God, Jesus called him Simon, son of Jonah, (as if the underline that he was speaking precisely to that Simon and not another) because God the Father revealed a secret to him, his vision was opened, and he was revealed the truth. The church, though, is not founded on human discussions and reflections. In fact, it was immediately after that exchange that Jesus gave Simon a new name: Peter. Here Jesus used a play on words calling him by his nickname Kefa-rock-stone.
When the Semites ae talking about the truth, they use the metaphor of the stone, kepa; if a comparison is being made, those referring to the word stone or rock are telling the truth. The truth, like a rock, is so stationary and hard that it cannot be changed or altered. It is on this kepa, on this kepa-rock, it is on the truth ispired by God, that Jesus intends to build his church. Peter's pronouncement is the truth, as stationary and hard as a rock. Moreover the word kepa means and implies the idea of protection, refuge, support. The salmist says: God is my rock, my harbor, refuge, protection. Jesus was, then, asking Peter not only to be a rock, but also to be a support-refuge.
Jesus underlines that the church belongs to him, not to Peter, or to Rome, or to the Vatican, or to any man on earth, be he a holy man or a sinner. The church belongs to Jesus, it is his property but Jesus is not just referring to its ownership but is revealing where it came from. Simon, the foundation rock, has at the same time been founded as a source of strength, a refuge for his friends, especially after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Peter must prepare to help to strengthen his brothers in their faith and to help them create loving communities, built on sharing, free from every kind of ambition, power, human prestige or intention to conquer and prey, full of happy men and women, joyful communities in our Lord Jesus Christs. This is the church that the Evil's powers will never ever be able to conquer, because a church which does not prey and conquer will never have to be afraid of being preyed upon or conquered.