In Matthew 16:19 The keys of the kingdom (tas kleidas tes basileias) here as in the previous verses we have the figure of a building with keys to open from the outside (not from within). The question is raised at once if Jesus does not mean here the same thing by “kingdom” that He did by “church” in verse 18. In Revelation 1:18; 3:7, Christ the risen Lord has “the keys of death and Hades”. He also has “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” which He here hands over to Peter as the “gatekeeper” or “Steward” (oikonomos) provided we do not understand it as a special and peculiar prerogative belonging to Peter alone. The same power here given to Peter belongs to every disciple of Jesus in all ages.
Advocates of papal supremacy insist on the primacy of Peter here and the power of Peter to pass on this supposed sovereignty to others (this will be discussed in the next segment). But this is all quite beside the point. We shall soon see the disciples actually disputing again (Mt. 18:1) as to which of them is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as they will again (20:21) and even on the night before Christ's death at the Last Supper. Clearly neither Peter nor the rest of the apostles understood Jesus to say here that Peter was to have some supreme authority or these disputes would have been senseless and meaningless. After all if Jesus has already established Peter as the supreme head of His earthly church why argue over who is the greatest, obviously Peter would be, but this was not the case in any of their minds. What is added shows that Peter held the keys precisely as every preacher and teacher does.
To bind (deseis) in Rabbinical language is to forbid and to loose, luseis is to permit. Peter would be like the Rabbi who passes on many points. Rabbi’s of the school of Hillel “loosed” (permitted) many things the school of Schammai “bound” (forbid). The teaching of Jesus is the standard for Peter and all preachers of Christ.
Note the future perfect indicative (estai dedemenon, estai lelumenon) a state of completion. All this assumes of course that Peter’s use of the keys will be in accord with the teaching and mind of Christ. The binding and loosing is repeated by Jesus to all the disciples (18:18). Later after the resurrection Christ will use this same language to all the disciples (John 20:23) showing that it was not the special prerogative of Peter. He is simply first among equals (primas inter pares) because on this occasion he was spokesman for the faith of all. It is a violent leap in logic to claim power to forgive sins, to promote absolution, by reason of the technical rabbinical language that Jesus employed about binding and loosing.
Peter on Pentecost used these keys to open (loose) the way for those listeners to enter the church (kingdom), He also in the case of Cornielus opened the way for the gentiles which then Paul by reason of a command of Jesus continued and built upon. Peter and James bound what would be required of the gentiles at the Jerusalem council. Paul loosed us from the binds of the Law in his Roman epistle. John binds those who say they are not sinners when he says then you do not know God. All based on Gods and not mans will as to what will be allowed and what will not.
Every preacher uses the keys of the kingdom when he proclaims the terms of salvation in Christ. The proclamation of these terms when accepted by faith in Christ has the sanction and approval of God the Father. The more personal we make these great words the nearer we come to the mind of Christ. The more ecclesiastical we make them the further we drift away from Him and towards some organization.
Let’s clear some things up here. Boards are like computers. Junk in – junk out. So lets get rid of the junk first.
Comments have been made concerning the apostle’s right or authority to appoint Matthias as a replacement for Judas. They did this through prayer first of all. Secondly they thanked God ahead of time for the results and “His” choice in the matter. And finally, Acts 1:26 says “and he was numbered with the eleven apostles”. Nowhere does the Holy Spirit through His word condemn this appointment, nowhere does Paul, James or any other church leader condemn or deny Matthias’ apostleship.
Then what do we say of the others named as apostles in the scriptures: Paul, Barnabas, James the Lord’s brother, Silas, Timothy, Andronicus and Junias. Are they likewise invalid apostles? To what extent were they apostles?
Isaiah 22:15-25 tells us that the keys to the house of David were given or would be given to Eliakim the son o Hilkiah to rule over God’s people. In this case it was the authority to rule over the people with God’s approval. However this was a temporary position. As we see in Revelation 3:7 in the letter to the church in Philadelphia it is Jesus who is described as having the key of David. And it is Jesus who opens and shuts.
Matthew 16:19 tells us that Peter was given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This clearly has to be the same kingdom that Jesus later told Pilate “was not of this world”. So what kingdom did these keys open and where is it. First we must look at Peter’s ministry of presenting the first sermon, presenting the gospel for the first time and announcing that the way into the kingdom (heaven) was now open. Besides preaching the first sermon to the Jews and opening the way for them he also opened the door to the gentiles through his going to Cornelius. This privilege (not authority over the other apostles) was give to Peter based on his confession that Jesus was Lord and Son of God. The Church is not the kingdom, as is based on what Jesus said :"not of this world”. It is a spiritual realm entered in by the instructions given to the apostles as keys. And not to Peter only as in Matthew 16:19 but to all the disciples as shown in 18:18 as well. Peter through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit announced the way to salvation. The door was opened. The keys were used. Once a door is opened; one no longer needs keys.
There was and is no need to pass on the keys to anyone else unless you are going to change the opening procedure that Peter has already established by Spiritual inspiration. These were not physical keys. These were not transferable keys (no where in scripture are the keys seen as transferable) This was the information man needed to be saved and enter the kingdom “not of this world”. Just as Peter said how one could enter, throughout his ministry he also said what would keep people out. Thus the promise of what he opened and shut would remain, what he bound and loosed would hold true.
Luke 11:52 clarifies this even better when Jesus said “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter in yourself; and those who were entering in, you hindered”. This is a clear reference to the key being information as to how to “enter in” Gods kingdom or rest. The Jewish elders, and scribes had this information and the authority (keys) but they abused it and through their false teachings hindered those who followed Their teachings and examples.
Keys are something that opens something else. In the case of Eliakim it opened the way for his authority over Israel (albeit temporary). In the case of the lawyers it opened the information needed to please God and in the case of Peter it opened the information needed to enter salvation. The information since Peter has not changed, the way into salvation is the same today as it was then. It has even been written down (the scriptures) for any willing to read it. So what gets passed on? Where does it say it can be passed on? Actually the literal Greek shows keys as something that locks rather than opens but both opening and closing are implied here and in the three references in Revelation.
An interesting statement was made concerning the bishop of Rome. We were told that the French Popes did not have to reside in Rome to be their bishops and some secular example was given. We were also told that Peter was already the bishop of Rome while in Judea. This is interesting, because to follow their thinking, if Peter was the bishop of Rome since the beginning. He was bishop of a church that did not yet exist. So we are led to believe that the church being headquartered in Rome was somehow prophesied.
There is absolutely no evidence that Peter was ever a bishop in the Roman assembly. Tradition has it that he died there as did Paul and I will not debate this teaching. But evidence that he was bishop of Rome simply does not exist. The example of Paul’s writing has already been given Why would one apostle not address or even mention another apostle residing in the very assembly he was writing to? To examine the list of folks Paul mentions, we see church members both great and small, yet no Peter.
Paul stated it was not his practice to go where one had gone before, respecting the formers work and not wanting to interfere. Yet, Paul clearly states that he is coming to Rome, which would presume that no apostle had yet directly worked there. Given the date of the letter, the close proximity to the date of Paul’s death and the closer proximity to that of the death of Peter soon afterwards. There is no way Peter could have been established as supreme bishop of Rome.
For arguments sake, lets assume that he was in fact bishop of Rome. We have no evidence that this supreme authority could be passed on. Yes we have apostles appointing elders to lead the church for the time after the apostles are gone but not any supreme authority. The Roman church seemed to consider Paul and Peter equal in authority early on. Yet we see no passing of the authority of Paul onto a successor. I would almost agree that Peter was given some Primacy over the Jewish churches from some scripture reference. However, we see the same authority given to Paul as to the gentile world. We see that it is Paul who will stand before kings and governments, not Peter.
There is simply no evidence of Papal succession, or the passing on of authority or keys in the scriptures.