"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.
Jesus had told the Disciples that their foremost purpose was: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature," Mark 16'15.
This meant preaching the Good News of Jesus the Christ and the Kingdom of God. But when and where did Peter use the keys? And what were the spiritual "doors"? To find out it's necessary to track him.
Peter's path of Kingdom ministry began, together with the other apostles, with some primary preparation.
First of all Jesus "... breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20'22). He did this so that they could receive His Kingdom teachings.
Acts 1'3 indicates that:
"He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God".
Straight after the ascension of Jesus but before the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost the first "door" that would require unlocking faced Peter.
KEY 1. ELDERSHIP (Acts 15-17,21-26)
The occasion for the first key to be used, then, came like this. As soon as Jesus had ascended to heaven Peter realised that a replacement had to be found for Judas. The apostolic number had to be restored.
So, "... in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,
'Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.
Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.
And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
And they prayed and said, 'You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.'
And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles," Acts 15-17,21-26.
Peter used Kingdom Key #1. He had opened the door to New Covenant Kingdom Eldership. It was the door into a new way of thinking, the Jesus' way, the way of the Word of the Kingdom.
KEY 2. SALVATION TO THE JEWS
Having done the Lord's will and made up the number of Apostles the Disciples were settled. Jesus had told them to "wait for the promise of the Father".
"They were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance".
The Lord had told them they would receive the Holy Spirit. It was the Spirit who inspired him to stand up and who gave him the ability to preach and unlock the door that stood in front of him.
Here are excerpts from the report:
5. "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven".
14."... Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words'".
36-40. “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?'
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation".
By the time he had finished, the key had been fully turned and the result was that -
40. "Those who gladly received his word were immersed and that day about three thousand souls were added to them".
KEY 3. PHYSICAL HEALING
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;
who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”
So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.
And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.
Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.
There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.
And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.
So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
KEY 4. SPEAKING TO RULERS
And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
“If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
“let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
“This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
KEY 5. IMMERSION IN THE HOLY SPIRIT TO SAMARITANS, Acts 8'14-17
14 ¶ Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
KEY 6. RAISING THE DEAD, Acts 9'36-41
36 ¶ At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.
37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
KEY 7. SALVATION TO GENTILES, Acts 10'1-48
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,
2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.
5 “Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
6 “He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.
8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.
18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.
20 “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”
23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”
27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.
28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
29 “Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”
30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
31 “and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.
32 ‘Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’
33 “So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
35 “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
36 “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all —
37 “that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
39 “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.
40 “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,
41 “not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
42 “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.
43 “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days
KEY 8. SPEAKING OUT - FOR THE WORD OF CHRIST, Acts 15'1-14
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.
4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.
5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
8 “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,
9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.
13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me:
14 “Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.
To read or hear that the Keys of the Kingdom are for all Believers today may sound exciting. But it's not true.
The really exciting news is that, having been used by Peter, all the Kingdom doors have been opened. And what's more, they remain open. Believers can simply enter, in Jesus' name.
But, above all The Door is always open. Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture," John 10'9.
In brief, the Kingdom Keys are:
1. Eldership, Acts 15-17,21-26
2. Salvation to Jews, Acts 2'14-41
3. Physical Healing, Acts 3'4, 5'15, 9'34
4. Speaking to Rulers, Acts 4'8
5. Immersion in the Holy Spirit to Samaritans, Acts 8'14
6. Raising the dead, Acts 9'40
7. Salvation to Gentiles, Acts 10'1-41
8. Speaking out - for the Word of Christ, Acts 15'7
Prayer. Thank you, Father, that all the Kingdom doors that Peter opened through the Holy Spirit are still wide open today.
In Jesus' name. Amen.