I found a key with ‘J’ on it in my sleeveless vest pocket. I don’t remember acquiring it. It must have been after I helped set up the sound equipment for my church, but I can’t find the owner of the key. It’s funny because my initial is ‘J’ and I’d been reading in the Bible about the Keys of the Kingdom.
Where do these keys fit and what doors do they unlock? What did Jesus mean when he said He would give the keys to Peter, the apostle who declared he was the Messiah? The promise of authority came with a question; “Who do you say I AM?” Jesus asked. Simon Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16).
As servants, binding and loosing depends on the master’s will; as Jesus taught us to ask “Your Kingdom come, your will be done.”
Jesus still lends His authority to His true ministers today to do the same work. Sadly, many falsely claim this authority and misuse it.
The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the Keys of the Kingdom were handed to the Popes through Peter. The keys are on the Vatican coat of arms. That’s easily refuted. The early church began in Jerusalem, not Rome. It never had a Pope – from the early 3rd century the title was a general term used to refer to all bishops. The title “Pontiff” belonged to Rome and the old roman gods.
This argument is made for one purpose: to give credibility to the idea that Peter was the first Pope in Rome.
Let’s give the scripture some context – the who, what, where and why;
Who was Jesus asking about before he spoke of the rock?
Jesus asked “Who do you say I AM?” and Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God, ”
What did he say he would build on the rock?
Jesus said he would build His church upon that confession, and the Gates of Hell would not prevail against it.
The Gates of Hell at Caesarea Philippi. The niches in the wall held images of the gods Pan, Echo and Hermes.
Where was he when he said that?
He was at the Gates of Hell. They were in Caesarea Philippi, a city dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship. There was a huge rock there, at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon, with a grotto dedicated to the Greek god Pan. (Pan has horns and hairy legs like a goat). The locals called it “the Gates of Hell.”
Why did he go there?
Jesus made His declaration at Caesarea Philippi to declare war on the gates of hell. When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he said; “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
He did not mean a sword like Mohammed’s. The sword he spoke of is the Word of God. In Isaiah 49:2 we read, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword”. When Jesus returns to our world leading the armies of Heaven the sword will be in His mouth. (Revelation 19:15)
The Confession; The Rock; The Church
I recommend the page on this site: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-matthew-16-16-18.htm
For the question Jesus asked; “Who am I?“, the confession is all important.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
In fact, we know that the person who refuses to acknowledge this truth is refusing to be saved! Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24.
I hope you have made this confession. They are the most important words you will ever speak.
The declaration is “I will build my church on this rock.” Jesus did not have the Vatican or any other powerful religious structure in mind when he made that statement. He is the rock. Peter is simply named after him. Jesus is going to shake the world like he shook Hell.
The prophet Daniel had a vision of the end times, where he saw a rock not made by human hands knock the statue representing the final world empire off it’s feet. The New World Order was broken to pieces and swept away without a trace, but the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Daniel 2:34-35
God said there is no other rock beside him. He said it twice in Isaiah 44:8 and 45:5;
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
Ekklesia means “called out ones”, the Church. It is a nation of priests, of servants, built for faith, called out of darkness, wrested away from the Gates of Hell.
We become part of the Ekklesia when we confess Christ as our Lord. His Church is built on that confession.
We are fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:20).
We were not made to be cogs in the wheel of an authoritarian, man-made power structure.
Jesus hates that. He spoke against it twice in his letters to the seven churches;
“But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.“ Revelation 2:6, letter to the Church at Ephesus.
“Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Revelation 2:15, letter to the Church at Pergamum.
Who are the Nicolaitans? ‘Nico’ means rule and ‘laity‘ means clergy. Get it now?
The devil wants to render us powerless, but consider this; “everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5)
Jesus said “whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. And then He said, “The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:11-12.
They take it by force because they want to take the authority away from God.
Jesus delegates authority – just like He did with the twelve disciples, and He has given the Keys of the Kingdom to His Church, His called out ones.