In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘take up your authority’.
Matthew 16:19 – “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.”
We have been given keys
Keys – we have been given keys. Not just any keys for any door. But the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. But Keys have to be used. They have to be put in the right door and have to be turned for that door to be opened. But Jesus also used the plural word – so we have a bunch of keys for a bunch of doors. What does all this truly mean?
The word ‘Key’ is mentioned eight times in the Bible. Isaiah 22:22 correlates exactly with Revelation 3:7 – an angel was speaking to the church in Philadelphia, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”.
A key signifies authority
Because David kept God’s law, God made a covenant with him, the Davidic covenant. The Bible is full of foreshadows and types. The reference in Isaiah was a foreshadow of Christ. A key signifies authority. The key of David representing control over the dominion of David which is the City of David, Jerusalem and the whole of Israel. In Rev 3, Jesus is holding this key, demonstrating that He is the ruler of this realm and a fulfilment of that covenant. But it shall not be restricted geographically, but shall spread, for we are told it is a kingdom without end.
Isaiah 9:7 – Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice. From that time forward, even forever. Jesus now gives these keys to His ministers – those who administer the gospel. The word ‘Minister’ in the Strong’s Greek means ‘attendant or waiter’. Those who serve to further the gospel.
Henry says, ‘A city without government is chaos.. the government of the church, is here expressed by the delivering of the keys, and, with them, a power to bind and loose. The keys were first put into Peter’s hand, because he was the first that opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, Acts 10:28.
I will give you the keys
‘I will give you the keys’. He does not say, “I have given them,” or “I do now;” but “I will do it,” meaning after his resurrection; when he ascended on high. Eph. 4:8 (When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men). This power was then given, not to Peter only, but to all the rest.
Matt 28:19 (Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit). John 20:21 (As the Father has sent Me, I also send you).
The power delegated is a spiritual power – pertaining to the kingdom of heaven. To those in the church and to the furtherance of the gospel.
We are to give spiritual food at the appointed time
As the master of the house gives the keys to his steward. He is given the keys of the stores where the provisions are kept, that he may give to everyone in the house his portion of meat in due season (Luke 12:42 – And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?). Ministers are stewards, 1 Cor. 4:1 (Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God). We are to give spiritual food at the appointed time.
It is a power to bind and loose, that is (following the metaphor of the keys), to shut and open… It is a power which Christ has promised the administration of, to approve according to the Word. That is, the word of the gospel, in the mouth of faithful ministers.
To teach or declare a thing
Now the keys of the kingdom of heaven are:
The key of doctrine, called the key of knowledge. “Your business shall be to explain to the world the will of God, both as to truth and duty; and for this you shall have your commissions, credentials, and full instructions to bind and loose:” This was in the common speech of the Jews, at that time. It signified to prohibit and permit. To teach or declare a thing to be unlawful was to bind; to be lawful, was to loose. The apostles had an extraordinary power of this kind; some things forbidden by the law of Moses were now to be allowed, as the eating of certain meats. Some things allowed there were now to be forbidden, such as divorce.
Preach the gospel
There is a directive for all ministers, to preach the gospel. To tell people, in God’s name, and according to the scriptures, what is good, and what the Lord requires of them. They who declare the whole counsel of God, use these keys well, Acts 20:27 (For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God).
Christ gives his apostles power to shut or open the book of the gospel to people, as the case required. Ministers are to preach pardon and peace to the contrite and wrath and the curse to the unrepentant. When so doing, in Christ’s name, they are acting in line with this authority of binding and loosing.
The key of discipline, Christ’s ministers have a power to admit people into the church; “Go, disciple all nations, baptizing them; those who profess faith in Christ, and obedience to him, admit them.” Ministers are to welcome to the wedding-feast those that are invited; and to keep out those who are apparently unfit for so holy a communion.
Power to restore
They have a power to restore and to receive in again, upon their repentance, such as had been thrown out. To set them loose, declaring to them, that, if their repentance be sincere, the promise of pardon belongs to them. The apostles had a miraculous gift of discerning spirits which ministers may still operate in, if they be skilful and faithful.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
A people under authority
The issue of binding and loosing is often taught as being solely over the issue of demonic powers. But here the issue of the keys is one of authority. It is of governance. It is in utilising the key of knowledge – of teaching others God’s standards. And of having the authority to welcome or expel those are fit or otherwise for the kingdom. But leading to repentance all who would come that many might be saved.
2 Cor 3:4 – And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
To have the keys, the authority in the kingdom, we need to be a people under the authority of God.
Under authority For I, myself am a man under authority – Luke 7:8 He had authority because he was under authority By the same principle that Jesus lived so live he. Jesus, Himself, said, “I came not to do My will But the will of Him that sent Me”. “I too am a man under authority” Were the actual words the soldier said. Under whose orders are you? Will you allow yourself to be led? To be a Christian means to be under the orders, Under the authority of the Son who Himself bore all your pain. When we call Him ‘Lord’ this is what we acknowledge; His right in our hearts to rule and reign. For many this comes as a crucial experience, A deliberate yielding of oneself to the Son And then every day seeking to live in a way that pleases Him Recognising that the victory is assured, the battle won. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your Word. For revealing to us new truths as we open our hearts to You. Give me the right perspective on authority and of the keys of Your Kingdom. May I be a faithful steward. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.