"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven".
What an awe-inspiring statement this is. But what were/are these keys? And are they for Believers today?
To find out, it is necessary to ask a few questions, such as:
What is the straightforward reading of the context?
Who are the words addressed to?
What is being referred to?
What would those who heard them understand them to say?
What is their cultural setting?
Does anything in these words have any relevance for Believers today?
The context begins towards the end of a conversation in which that Jesus had asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
After a number of responses from the disciples then He asked,
"'But who do you say that I 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.
Apart from the question and Peter's answer, the whole context is what "Jesus answered and said to him". Further to that, the word "you" is the singular NT Greek word, not the plural.
But why Peter? Why not choose another disciple? The New Testament shows that the foremost of Peter's characteristics is that he speaks out!
And in this context what he spoke out had been revealed to him by the Father.
Little did he realise that, by having this charactistic of speaking out the first thing that came into his mind, he was showing himself to be the kind of man the Lord could use.
Jesus had history-changing things He wanted accomplished. The man He had chosen would need preparation.
One such preparation time was an occasion of strong challenge (John 21'15-21):
"Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonah, 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 said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of Jonah, 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 Jonah, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?'
And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep.
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished;
but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.'
This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, 'Follow Me.'
Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following (and) seeing him, said to Jesus, 'But Lord, what about this man?'
Jesus said to him, 'If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?'"
After three and a half years of intimate association with the Son of God, the Disciples' time of grappling with Kingdom teachings and challenges was about to enter a new phase.
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