"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven',"
What an amazing statement!
From time to time vague references are made to kingdom things (see The Kingdom of God Today on the Menu). Things like "the keys to kingdom leadership", etc. That's not so say that there's nothing helpful in these teachings. But are they really kingdom these keys?
It is a statement that raises questions. Such as, what exactly are the keys? Who are they for? And what is Jesus referring to? Well, any attempt at answering questions like this one usually requires noting some things and asking some questions, such as:
What is the context and what things are being referred to, who is being spoken to, what is their cultural setting and what would they understand Jesus to be saying?
The context of the keys, that Jesus was going to give, comes about by Jesus asking His disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
"Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'
Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Eklesia/Called-Out Ones, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven'", Matthew 16'13-19.
"Jesus said to him". Note that Jesus is speaking directly to Peter. Emphasising that the New Testament Greek word for "you" is singular throughout this conversation with him.
And these things emerge:
- Peter's answer to the Lord's question ("You are the Christ, the Son of the living God") was revealed to him by the Father.
- This revelation to Peter shows him to be disposed to God and willing to be used. Added to that, what he said would be the confession of all future Believers and the foundation on which the Lord would build His Called Out People (the Body of Christ).
- Jesus promised to give Peter "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven".
- The keys would carry the Lord's authority and power.
The keys of the Kingdom of God/Heaven, then, were given only to Peter and each was for a specific purpose.
At the time of this conversation, Peter and the Disciples could not have understood much about what Jesus was saying or the implications.
They had some time and some discipling to go before the keys would be revealed.