Keys of the Kingdom

April 19, 2021

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).

These verses are some of the most controversial in the Bible. They are controversial because they are misunderstood. Much of the misunderstanding comes from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Because the Roman church interprets vv. 16-17 as referring the papacy under the authority of the Apostle Peter, they also interpret v. 19 as referring to the authority of the papacy to administer or withhold God’s grace via the sacraments. This is not what Jesus said or meant.

Keys lock and unlock doors. The ‘keys of the Kingdom of heaven’ have to do with divine authority that is to be restrained or released. Jesus gave this authority to Peter and through Peter to the other Apostles and to the Christian church. But these keys and the authority that goes with them does not mean the church is given the right to usurp divine authority or to manipulate it to suit its own ends.

What it does mean is that the Christian and the Christian church has the authority to apply what God has declared. For instance, if a person confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and says he/she believes that God has raise Him from the dead, we have the authority to apply the truth of Scripture (Romans 10:9-10) and say, “If that’s what you truly believe, God’s Word says you are saved.” And, if a person says he/she does not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the Lord and Savior, or died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have the authority to apply the truth of Scripture (John 3:18-19) and say, “If that’s what you believe, God’s Word says you are not saved.”

Down through history the church, in its various forms, have assumed and/or claimed spiritual authority to condemn people who didn’t agree them or ‘save’ people who did agree with them. This is not the authority Jesus gave us. Christians and Christian churches do not have the power or authority to save anyone from sin or condemn anyone in sin. We do have the authority to declare and apply the truth of God’s Word. It’s not our truth, it’s God’s truth. It’s not our word, it’s God’s Word. We have the authority to unlock and apply His truth to a situation.

“Father, help me to continue to focus on the truth of Your Word and to help people apply it into their lives. Don’t allow me to slip into the trap of being spiritually judgmental, no matter a person’s situation. May whatever authority You have given me affirm Your truth and not my own thoughts or opinions. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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