Matthew 16:19
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
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(19) I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.—Two distinct trains of figurative thought are blended in the words that follow. (1.) The palace of a great king implied the presence of a chief officer, as treasurer or chamberlain, or to use the old Hebrew phrase, as “over the household.” And of this, as in the case of Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah (Isaiah 22:22), the key of office, the key of the gates and of the treasure, was the recognised symbol. In the highest sense that key of the house of David belonged to Christ Himself as the King. It was He who opened and none could shut, who shut and none could open (Revelation 3:7). But that power was now delegated to the servant whose very name, as an Apostle, marked him out as his Lord’s representative, and the after history of Peter’s work, when through him God “opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27; Acts 15:7), was the proof of his faithful discharge of the office thus assigned to him. (2.) With this there was another thought, which in the latter clause of the verse becomes the dominant one. The scribes of Israel were thought of as stewards of the treasures of divine wisdom (Matthew 13:52). When they were admitted to their office they received, as its symbol, the “key of knowledge” (Luke 11:52), which was to admit them to the treasure-chambers of the house of the interpreter, the Beth-Midrash of the Rabbis. For this work the Christ had been training His disciples, and Peter’s confession had shown that the training had so far done its work. He was qualified to be a “scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, and to bring forth out of its treasures things new and old” (Matthew 13:52); and now the “key” was given to him as the token of his admission to that office. It made him not a priest (that office lay altogether outside the range of the symbolism), but a teacher and interpreter. The words that follow as to “binding” and “loosing” were the formal confirmation in words of that symbolic act. For they, too, belong to the scribe’s office and not the priest’s, and express an entirely different thought from that of retaining and forgiving sins. That power was, it is true, afterwards bestowed on Peter and his brother-apostles (see Note on John 20:23), but it is not in question here. As interpreted by the language which was familiar to the Jews (see Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., on this verse), the words pointed primarily to legislative or interpretative functions, not to the judicial treatment of individual men. The school of Shammai, e.g., bound when it declared this or that act to be a transgression of the Sabbath law, or forbade divorce on any but the one ground of adultery; the school of Hillel loosed when it set men free from the obligations thus imposed. Here, too, the after-work of Peter was an illustration of the meaning of the words. When he resisted the attempt of the Judaisers to “put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples” (Acts 15:10), he was loosing what was also loosed in heaven. When he proclaimed, as in his Epistle, the eternal laws of righteousness, and holiness, and love, he was binding those laws on the conscience of Christendom. It must be remembered, lastly, that the power thus bestowed on him was conferred afterward (Matthew 18:18) on the whole company of the Apostles, or, more probably, on the whole body of the disciples in their collective unity, and there with an implied extension to partially judicial functions (see Note on Matthew 18:18).

A few words will, it is believed, be sufficient to set the claims and the controversies which have had their starting point in these words on their right footing. It may be briefly noted (1) that it is at least doubtful (not to claim too much for the interpretation given above) whether the man Peter was the rock on which the Church was to be built; (2) that it is doubtful (though this is not the place to discuss the question) whether Peter was ever in any real sense Bishop of the Church of Rome, or in any way connected with its foundation; (3) that there is not a syllable pointing to the transmission of the power conferred on him to his successors in that supposed Episcopate; (4) as just stated, that the power was not given to him alone, but equally to all the disciples; (5) that the power of the keys, no less than that of “binding” and “loosing,” was not sacerdotal, but belonged to the office of a scribe or teacher. As a matter of interpretation, the Romish argument from this verse stands on a level with that which sees the supremacy of the successors of St. Peter in the “two great lights” of Genesis 1:16, or the “two swords” of Luke 22:38. The claims of the Church of Rome rest, such as they are, on the greatness of her history, on her association with the imperial city, on the work done by her as the “light of the wide West” in ages of darkness, on the imposing aspect of her imagined unity; but to build them upon the promise to Peter is but the idlest of fantastic dreams, fit only to find its place in that Limbo of vanities which contains, among other abortive or morbid growths, the monstrosities of interpretation.

Matthew 16:19. I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven — This expression is metaphorical. As stewards of great families, especially of the royal household, bore a key or keys in token of their office, the phrase of giving a person the keys naturally grew into use, as an expression significative of raising him to great authority and power. See note on Isaiah 22:22. The meaning of the promise here is, that Christ would give Peter, (but not to him alone, for similar promises are made to all the apostles,) power to open the gospel dispensation, (which he did, both to Jews and Gentiles; see Acts 3:14; Acts 10:34; being the first who preached the gospel to them;) and to declare authoritatively the laws thereof, and the terms of salvation, as also to exercise discipline in the Christian Church, namely, to refuse admission into it to all those who did not comply with those terms, and to exclude from it all such as should violate those laws. According to this sense of the words, the power of binding and loosing, added to the power of the keys, may be considered as partly explicatory thereof. “It can be no objection,” says Dr. Macknight, “against this interpretation, that it connects the idea of binding and loosing with that of the keys, contrary to the exact propriety of the two metaphors; for all who have studied the Scriptures know, that in many passages the ideas and expressions are accommodated to the subject matter, rather than to the precedent metaphor.” In further proof that the power of binding and loosing, now conferred on Peter, and afterward on all the apostles, chap. Matthew 18:18, included a power of declaring the laws of the gospel and the terms of salvation, as well as all those acts of discipline which Peter and his brethren performed as apostles, it may be observed, that “in the Jewish language, to bind and loose were words made use of by the doctors, to signify the unlawfulness or lawfulness of things, as Seldon, Buxtorf, and Lightfoot have proved. Wherefore our Lord’s meaning, at least in part, was, Whatever things thou shalt bind up from men, or declare to be forbidden to them, on earth, shall be forbidden by Heaven; and whatever things thou shalt loose to men, or permit to be done, shall be lawful and obligatory in the esteem of Heaven. Accordingly the gender made use of in both passages agrees to this interpretation.” There are some, however, who by the power of binding and loosing understand the power of actually remitting and retaining men’s sins; and in support of their opinion they quote John 20:22. But it may be justly doubted whether our Lord ever bestowed on his apostles, or any other of his ministers, any other power of remitting or retaining men’s sins, than, 1st, the power of declaring with authority the Christian terms of pardon, that is, whose sins are remitted and whose are retained; as is done in the form of absolution contained in the Liturgy: and, 2d, a power of inflicting and remitting ecclesiastical censures, that is, of excluding from and readmitting into a Christian congregation; together with a particular power of remitting and retaining, in certain instances, the temporal punishment of men’s sins, which it is evident from some passages of the Acts and the Epistles, the apostles occasionally exercised. “This high power of declaring the terms of salvation and precepts of the gospel, the apostles did not enjoy in its full extent till the memorable day of pentecost, when they received the Holy Ghost in the plenitude of his gifts. After this their decisions, in points of doctrine and duty, being all given by inspiration, were infallible definitions, and ratified in heaven. Here then was an immense honour conferred on the apostles, and what must yield great consolation to the pious. There is nothing doubtful in the gospel, much less false: but we may safely rest the salvation of our souls on the discoveries there made to us, since they have all come originally from God.”

16:13-20 Peter, for himself and his brethren, said that they were assured of our Lord's being the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. This showed that they believed Jesus to be more than man. Our Lord declared Peter to be blessed, as the teaching of God made him differ from his unbelieving countrymen. Christ added that he had named him Peter, in allusion to his stability or firmness in professing the truth. The word translated rock, is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning. Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rock as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived. Our Lord next declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. He spoke in the name of his brethren, and this related to them as well as to him. They had no certain knowledge of the characters of men, and were liable to mistakes and sins in their own conduct; but they were kept from error in stating the way of acceptance and salvation, the rule of obedience, the believer's character and experience, and the final doom of unbelievers and hypocrites. In such matters their decision was right, and it was confirmed in heaven. But all pretensions of any man, either to absolve or retain men's sins, are blasphemous and absurd. None can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or to teach what is lawful or unlawful.And I will give unto thee ... - A key is an instrument for opening a door.

He that is in possession of it has the power of access, and has a general care of a house. Hence, in the Bible, a key is used as a symbol of superintendence an emblem of power and authority. See the Isaiah 22:22 note; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 3:7 notes. The kingdom of heaven here means, doubtless, the church on earth. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. When the Saviour says, therefore, he will give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he means that he will make him the instrument of opening the door of faith to the world the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. This was done, Acts 2:14-36; 10. The "power of the keys" was given, on this occasion, to Peter alone, solely for this reason; the power of "binding and loosing" on earth was given to the other apostles with him. See Matthew 18:18. The only pre-eminence, then, that Peter had was the honor of first opening the doors of the gospel to the world.

Whatsoever thou shalt bind ... - The phrase "to bind" and "to loose" was often used by the Jews. It meant to prohibit and to permit. To bind a thing was to forbid it; to loose it, to allow it to be done. Thus, they said about gathering wood on the Sabbath day, "The school of Shammei binds it" - i. e., forbids it; "the school of Hillel looses it" - i. e., allows it. When Jesus gave this power to the apostles, he meant that whatsoever they forbade in the church should have divine authority; whatever they permitted, or commanded, should also have divine authority - that is, should be bound or loosed in heaven, or meet the approbation of God. They were to be guided infallibly in the organization of the church:

1. by the teaching of Christ, and,

2. by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

This does not refer to persons, but to things - "whatsoever," not whosoever. It refers to rites and ceremonies in the church. Such of the Jewish customs as they should forbid were to be forbidden, and such as they thought proper to permit were to be allowed. Such rites as they should appoint in the church were to have the force of divine authority. Accordingly, they commanded the Gentile converts to "abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood" Acts 15:20; and, in general, they organized the church, and directed what was to be observed and what was to be avoided. The rules laid down by them in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, in connection with the teachings of the Saviour as recorded in the evangelists, constitute the only law binding on Christians in regard to the order of the church, and the rites and ceremonies to be observed in it.

19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven—the kingdom of God about to be set up on earth

and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven—Whatever this mean, it was soon expressly extended to all the apostles (Mt 18:18); so that the claim of supreme authority in the Church, made for Peter by the Church of Rome, and then arrogated to themselves by the popes as the legitimate successors of St. Peter, is baseless and impudent. As first in confessing Christ, Peter got this commission before the rest; and with these "keys," on the day of Pentecost, he first "opened the door of faith" to the Jews, and then, in the person of Cornelius, he was honored to do the same to the Gentiles. Hence, in the lists of the apostles, Peter is always first named. See on [1318]Mt 18:18. One thing is clear, that not in all the New Testament is there the vestige of any authority either claimed or exercised by Peter, or conceded to him, above the rest of the apostles—a thing conclusive against the Romish claims in behalf of that apostle.

And I will give unto thee; not unto thee exclusively, that is, to thee and no others; for as we no where read of any such power used by Peter, so our Saviour’s first question, Whom think you that I am? Letteth us know that his speech, though directed to Peter only, (who in the name of the rest first answered), concerned the rest of the apostles as well as Peter. Besides, as we know that the other apostles had as well as he the key of knowledge and doctrine, and by their preaching opened the kingdom of heaven to men; so the key of discipline also was committed to the rest as well as unto him: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained, John 20:22,23. The keys of the kingdom of heaven; the whole administration of the gospel, both with reference to the publication of the doctrine of it, and the dispensing out the ordinances of it. We read of the key of knowledge, which the scribes and Pharisees took away, Luke 11:52, and the key of government: The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder, Isaiah 22:21, I will commit thy government into his hand; which is applied to Christ, Revelation 3:7. The sense is, Peter, I will betrust thee, and the rest of my apostles, with the whole administration of my gospel; you shall lay the foundation of the Christian church, and administer all the affairs of it, opening the truths of my gospel to the world, and governing those who shall receive the faith of the gospel.

And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Some very learned interpreters think that our Saviour here speaketh according to the language then in use amongst the Jews; who by binding understood the determining and declaring a thing unlawful; and by loosing, declaring by doctrine, or determining by judgment, a thing unlawful, that is, such as no men’s consciences were bound to do or to avoid. So as by this text an authority was given to these first planters of the gospel, to determine (by virtue of their infallible Spirit, breathed upon them, John 20:21) concerning things to be done and to be avoided. Thus Acts 15:28,29, they loosed the Gentiles from the observation of the ceremonial law. Some think that by this phrase our Saviour gave to his apostles, and not to them only, but to the succeeding church, to the end of the world, a power of excommunication and absolution, to admit in and to cast out of the church, and promises to ratify what they do of this nature in heaven; and that this text is expounded by John 20:23, Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained; and that the power of the church, and of ministers in the church, as to this, is more than declarative. That the church hath a power in a due order and for just causes, to cast persons out of its communion, is plain enough from other texts; but that the church hath a power to remit sins committed against God more than declaratively, that is, declaring that upon men’s repentance and faith God hath remitted, I cannot see founded in this text. Certain it is, that Christ doth not here bind himself to confirm the erroneous actions of men, either in excommunications or absolutions; nor to authorize all such actions of this nature that they do. I do therefore rather incline to think that our Saviour by this promise declared his will, that his apostles should settle the affairs of the gospel church, determining what should be lawful and unlawful, and setting rules, according to which all succeeding ministers and officers in his church should act, which our Lord would confirm in heaven. And that the ordinary power of churches in censures is rather to be derived from other texts of Scripture than this, though I will not deny but that in the general it may be here included; but I cannot think that the sense of binding and loosing here is excommunicating and absolving, but a doctrinal or judicial determination of things lawful and unlawful granted to the apostles; the not obeying or living up to whose determinations and decisions may be indeed a just cause of casting persons out of the communion of the church, as the contrary obedience and conformity to them a good ground of receiving them in again. But whether in this text be not granted to the apostles a further power than agrees to any ministers since their age I much doubt, and am very prone to believe that there is.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,.... By the kingdom of heaven is meant the Gospel, which comes from heaven, declares the king Messiah to be come, speaks of things concerning his kingdom, is the means of setting it up, and enlarging it, displays the riches of his grace, and gives an account of the kingdom of heaven, and of persons' right unto it, and meetness for it. "The keys" of it are abilities to open and explain the Gospel truths, and a mission and commission from Christ to make use of them; and being said to be given to Peter particularly, denotes his after qualifications, commission, work, and usefulness in opening the door of faith, or preaching the Gospel first to the Jews, Acts 2:1 and then to the Gentiles, Acts 10:1 and who was the first that made use of the keys of evangelical knowledge with respect to both, after he, with the rest of the apostles, had received an enlarged commission to preach the Gospel to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Otherwise these keys belonged to them all alike; for to the same persons the keys, and the use of them, appertained, on whom the power of binding and loosing was bestowed; and this latter all the disciples had, as is manifest from Matthew 18:18 wherefore this does not serve to establish the primacy and power of Peter over the rest of the apostles; nor do keys design any lordly domination or authority; nor did Christ allow of any such among his apostles; nor is it his will that the ministers of his word should lord it over his heritage: he only is king of saints, and head of his church; he has the key of David, with which he opens, and no man shuts, and shuts, and no man opens; and this he keeps in his own hand, and gives it to none. Peter is not the door-keeper of heaven to let in, nor keep out, whom he pleases; nor has his pretended successor the keys of hell and death; these also are only in Christ's hands: though it has been said of the pope of Rome, that if he sends millions of men to hell, none should say to him, what dost thou? but the keys here mentioned are the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or of the Gospel, which was shut up in the Jewish nation, through the ignorance, malice, and calumnies of the Scribes and Pharisees, who would neither embrace it, or enter into the kingdom of God themselves, nor suffer others that were going to enter into it; and through their taking away the key of knowledge, or the right interpretation of the word of God; and through a judicial blindness, which that nation in general was given up to: and this was shut up to the Gentiles through the natural darkness that was spread over them, and through want of a divine revelation, and persons sent of God to instruct them: but now Christ was about, and in a little time he would (for these words, with what follow, are in the future tense) give his apostles both a commission and gifts, qualifying them to open the sealed book of the Gospel, and unlock the mysteries of it, both to Jews and Gentiles, especially the latter. Keys are the ensigns of treasurers, and of stewards, and such the ministers of the Gospel are; they have the rich treasure of the word under their care, put into their earthen vessels to open and lay before others; and they are stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, and of these things they have the keys. So that these words have nothing to do with church power and government in Peter, nor in the pope, nor in any other man, or set of men whatever; nor to be understood of church censures, excommunications, admissions, or exclusions of members: nor indeed are keys of any such similar use; they serve for locking and unlocking doors, and so for keeping out those that are without, and retaining those that are within, but not for the expulsion of any: but here they are used in a figurative sense, for the opening and explaining the truths of the Gospel, for which Peter had excellent gifts and abilities.

And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. This also is not to be understood of binding, or loosing men's sins, by laying on, or taking off censures, and excommunications; but only of doctrines, or declarations of what is lawful and unlawful, free, or prohibited to be received, or practised; in which sense the words, , "bound and loosed", are used in the Talmudic writings, times without number, for that which is forbidden and declared to be unlawful, and for that which is free of use, and pronounced to be so: in multitudes of places we read of one Rabbi "binding", and of another "loosing"; thousands, and ten thousands of instances of this kind might be produced; a whole volume of extracts on this head might be compiled. Dr. Lightfoot has transcribed a great many, sufficient to satisfy any man, and give him the true sense of these phrases; and after him to mention any other is needless; yet give me leave to produce one, as it is short, and full, and explains these phrases, and points at the persons that had this power, explaining Ecclesiastes 12:11 and that clause in it, "masters of the assemblies".

"these (say they (t)) are the disciples of the wise men, who sit in different collections, and study in the law; these pronounce things or persons defiled, and these pronounce things or persons clean, "these bind, and these loose"; these reject, or pronounce persons or things profane, and these declare them right.''

And a little after,

"get thyself an heart to hear the words of them that pronounce unclean, and the words of them that pronounce clean; the words of them that "bind", and the words of them that "loose"; the words of them that reject, and the words of them that declare it right''

But Christ gave a greater power of binding and loosing, to his disciples, than these men had, and which they used to better purpose. The sense of the words is this, that Peter, and so the rest of the apostles, should be empowered with authority from him, and so directed by his Holy Spirit, that whatever they bound, that is, declared to be forbidden, and unlawful, should be so: and that whatever they loosed, that is, declared to be lawful, and free of use, should be so; and accordingly they bound some things which before were loosed, and loosed some things which before were bound; for instance, they bound, that is, prohibited, or declared unlawful, the use of circumcision, which before, and until the death of Christ, was enjoined the natural seed of Abraham; but that, and all ceremonies, being abolished by the death of Christ, they declared it to be nothing, and of no avail, yea, hurtful and pernicious; that whoever was circumcised, Christ profited him nothing, and that he was a debtor to do the whole law: they affirmed, that the believing Gentiles were not to be troubled with it; that it was a yoke not fit to be put upon their necks, which they, and their fathers, were not able to bear, Galatians 5:1. They bound, or forbid the observance of days, months, times, and years; the keeping holy days, new moons, and sabbaths, which had been used in the Jewish church for ages past; such as the first day of the new year, and of every month, the day of atonement, the feasts of the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, the jubilee year, the sabbatical year, and seventh day sabbath, Galatians 4:9. They loosed, or declared lawful and free, both civil and religious conversation between Jews and Gentiles; whereas, before, the Jews had no dealings with the Gentiles, nor would not enter into their houses, nor keep company with them, would have no conversation with them; neither eat, nor drink with them; but now it was determined and declared, that no man should be called common, or unclean; and that in Christ Jesus, and in his church, there is no distinction of Jew and Gentile, Acts 10:28. They also loosed, or pronounced lawful, the eating of any sort of food, without distinction, even that which was before counted common and unclean, being persuaded by the Lord Jesus Christ, by the words he said, Matthew 15:11. They asserted, that there is nothing unclean of itself; and that the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; or that true religion does not lie in the observance of those things; that every creature of God is good, and fit for food, and nothing to be refused, or abstained from, on a religious account, provided it be received with thanksgiving, Romans 14:14. And these things now being by them bound or loosed, pronounced unlawful or lawful, are confirmed as such by the authority of God, and are so to be considered by us.

(t) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 3. 2.

{6} And I will give unto thee the {n} keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt {o} bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(6) The authority of the Church is from God.

(n) A metaphor taken from stewards who carry the keys: and here is set forth the power of the ministers of the word, as Isa 22:22 says, and that power is common to all ministers, as Mt 18:18 says, and therefore the ministry of the gospel may rightly be called the key of the kingdom of heaven.

(o) They are bound whose sins are retained; heaven is shut against them, because they do not receive Christ by faith: on the other hand, how happy are they to whom heaven is open, who embrace Christ and are delivered by him, and become fellow heirs with him!

Matthew 16:19. And I will give to thee the keys of the Messianic kingdom,[457] i.e. the power of deciding as to who are to be admitted into or excluded from the future kingdom of the Messiah. For the figurative expression, comp. Luke 11:52; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 10:1; Isaiah 22:22; Ascens. Isaiah 6:6.

δώσω] The future expresses the idea of a promise (the gift not being, as yet, actually conferred), as in the case of οἰκοδομήσω, pointing forward to the time when Christ will no longer administer the affairs of the church in a direct and personal manner. This future already shows that what was meant cannot have been the office of preaching the gospel, which preaching is supposed to lead to admission into the kingdom of heaven, wherever God has prepared men’s hearts for its reception (Düsterdieck, Julius Müller). The similitude of the keys corresponds to the figurative οἰκοδομ., Matthew 16:18, in so far as the ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑ, Matthew 16:18 (which is to be transformed into the ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑ Τ. ΟὐΡ. at the second coming), is conceived of as a house, the doors of which are opened and locked by means of keys (generally, not exactly by two of them). In regard to Peter, however, the figure undergoes some modification, inasmuch as it passes from that of the foundation of rock, not certainly into the lower one of a gate-keeper, but (comp. Luke 12:4; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Titus 1:7) into that of an οἰκονόμος (ΤΑΜΊΑς, Isaiah 22:15 ff.), from the ordinary relation of a disciple to the church to the place of authority hereafter to be assigned him in virtue of that relation. The authority in question is that of a house-steward, who is empowered to determine who are to belong and who are not to belong to the household over which his master has commissioned him to preside.[458] All this is expressed by means of an old and sacred symbol, according to which the keys of the house are promised to Peter, “that he may open and no man shut, that he may shut and no man open” (Isaiah as above).

For the forms κλεῖς and (as Tischendorf 8, on inadequate testimony) ΚΛΕῖΔΑς, see Kühner, I. p. 357.

ΚΑῚ Ὃ ἘᾺΝ ΔΉΣῌς Κ.Τ.Λ.] a necessary adjunct of this power: and whatsoever thou wilt have forbidden upon earth will he forbidden in heaven (by God), so that it will, in consequence, prevent admission into the Messianic kingdom; and whatsoever thou wilt have permitted upon earth (as not proving a hindrance in the way of admission to the future kingdom) will be permitted in heaven. It will depend on thy decision—which God will ratify—what things, as being forbidden, are to disqualify for the kingdom of the Messiah, and what things, as being allowed, are to be regarded as giving a claim to admission. δέειν and ΛΎΕΙΝ are to be traced to the use, so current among the Jews, of אסר and התיר, in the sense of to forbid and to allow. Lightfoot, p. 378 ff.; Schoettgen, II. p. 894 f., and Wetstein on this passage; Lengerke’s note on Daniel 6:8; Rosenmüller, Morgenl. V. 67; Steitz, p. 438 f. Following Lightfoot, Vitringa, Schoettgen, and others, Fritzsche, Ahrens, Steitz, Weizsäcker, Keim, Gess (I. p. 68), Gottschick in the Stud. u. Krit. 1873, also adopt this interpretation of those figurative expressions. In the face of this common usage, it would be arbitrary and absurd to think of any other explanation. The same may be said not only of the reference to the supreme administrative power in general (Arnoldi and the older Catholics), or to the treasures of grace in the church, which Peter is supposed to be able to withhold or bestow as he may deem proper (Schegg), but likewise of the view which represents the words as intended to indicate the power of admitting into and excluding from the church (Thaddaeus a S. Adamo, Commentat. 1789, Rosenmüller, Lange), and in support of which an appeal is made, notwithstanding the , to the ancient practice of tying or untying doors; as well as of that other view which has been so currently adopted, after Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Maldonatus, to the effect that what Jesus means is the remission and non-remission of sins.[459] So Grotius, Olshausen, de Wette, Bleek, Neander, Glöckler, Baumgarten-Crusius, Döllinger, Julius Müller, Düsterdieck. But to quote in connection with this the different and much later saying of Jesus, after His resurrection, John 20:23, is quite unwarranted; the idea of sin is a pure importation, and although λύειν ἁμαρτ. may properly enough be understood as meaning: to forgive sins (Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 3 Esdr. Matthew 9:13; Sir 28:8; and see Kypke on Matthew 18:18), yet the use of ΔΈΕΙΝ ἉΜΑΡΤ., in the sense of retaining them, is altogether without example. Exception has been taken to the idea involved in our interpretation; but considering that high degree of faith to which Peter, as their representative, here shows them to have attained, the apostles must be supposed to possess “the moral power of legislation” (objected to by de Wette) as well, if they are to determine the right of admission to the Messiah’s kingdom; see Steitz also, p. 458. This legislative authority, conferred upon Peter, can only wear an offensive aspect when it is conceived of as possessing an arbitrary character, and as being in no way determined by the ethical influences of the Holy Spirit, and when it is regarded as being of an absolute nature, as independent of any connection with the rest of the apostles (but see note on Matthew 18:18). Comp. Wieseler, Chronol. d. Ap. p. 587 f. Ahrens, likewise, correctly interprets the words in the sense of to forbid and to allow, but supposes the words themselves to be derived from the practice of fastening with a knot vessels containing anything of a valuable nature (Hom. Od. viii. 447). Artificial and far-fetched, but resulting from the reference of the keys to the ταμεῖον.

ἔσται δεδεμ.] Observe how that is spoken of as already done, which is to take place and be realized immediately on the back of the ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς. Comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 267 [E. T. 311]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 35. To such a degree will the two things really harmonize with one another.

[457] See Ahrens, d. Amt. Schlüssel, 1864; Steitz in the Stud. u. Krit. 1866, p. 436 ff.; likewise the reviews of the first-mentioned work in the Erlang. Zeitschr. 1865, 3, p. 137 ff.; and that of Düsterdieck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1865, p. 743; Julius Müller, dogm. Abh. p. 496 ff.

[458] There is no force in the objection that this would be to confound the keys of the house-steward with those of the porter (Ahrens). The keys of the house are entrusted to the steward for the purpose of opening and locking it; this is all that the figure implies. Whether lie opens and locks in his own person, or has it done through the medium of a porter, is of no consequence whatever, and makes no difference as far as the thing intended to be symbolized is concerned. The power of the keys belongs, in any case, to the οἰκονόμος, and not to the θυρωρός. The view of Ahrens, that the keys are to be regarded as those of the rooms, and of the place in which the family provisions are stored, the ταμεῖον, the contents of which it is supposed to be the duty of the steward to distribute (so also Döllinger, Christenth. u. Kirche, p. 31), is in opposition to the fact that the thing which is to be opened and locked must be understood to be that which is expressed by the genitive immediately after κλείς (accordingly, in this instance, the kingdom, not the ταμεῖον), comp. note on Luke 11:52, likewise Isaiah as above. Moreover, according to the explanation of Ahrens, those, on whose behalf the ταμίας uses his keys, would have to be regarded as already within the kingdom and participating in its blessings, so that there would be no further room for the idea of exclusion, which is not in keeping with the contrast which follows.

[459] In which case the result of apostolic preaching generally, i.e. its efficacy in judging men by the spiritual power of the word (Julius Müller, comp. Neander and Düsterdieck), ceases to have any significance other than that of a vague abstraction, by no means in keeping with the specific expression of the text, and leaving no room for assigning to Peter any special prerogative. This also in answer to Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 99, 2d ed., who holds that, originally, the words were intended to indicate merely that general commission which was given to the apostles to publish among men the call to the kingdom of God.

19. the keys of the kingdom of heaven] This expression was not altogether new. To a Jew it would convey a definite meaning. He would think of the symbolic key given to a Scribe when admitted to his office, with which he was to open the treasury of the divine oracles. Peter was to be a Scribe in the kingdom of heaven. He has received authority to teach the truths of the kingdom.

whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven] To bind (cp. ch. Matthew 23:4) is to impose an obligation as binding; to loose is to declare a precept not binding. Such expressions as this were common: “The school of Shammai binds it, the school of Hillel looseth it.” The power is over things, not persons. The decisions of Peter as an authorized Scribe of the Kingdom of God will be ratified in heaven.

Matthew 16:19. Δώσω σοὶ,[746] I will give thee) The future tense. Christ Himself, after His glorification, received the keys economically.[747] See Revelation 1:18, and German exposition of the Apocalypse. Our Lord afterwards gave the keys, which He here promised, to Peter, not alone, but first in order of time (cf. Luke 5:10); since Peter was the first who, after the resurrection of Christ, exercised the apostolical office; see Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14. If the keys had been given exclusively to Peter, and the Bishop of Rome after him, and not to the other apostles also, even after the death of Peter, the Bishop of Rome should have acted as pastor to the other apostles.—ΤᾺς ΚΛΕῖς, the keys) Keys denote authority. Tertullian, in his work on fasting, ch. 15, says, Apostolus claves macelli tibi tradidit: the apostle[748] has given thee the keys of the meat market, where he alludes to 1 Corinthians 10:25. The keys are available for two purposes, to close and to open; the keys themselves are not said to be two.[749] One and the same key closes and opens in Revelation 3:7. The Jews declare that a thousand keys were given to Enoch. See James Alting’s Hist. promot. acad. Hebr. p. 107.—τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, of the kingdom of heaven) He does not say of the Church, nor of the kingdoms of the world.—δήσης, λύσης, thou shalt bind—thou shalt loose) The keys denote the whole office of Peter. By the expressions, therefore, of binding and loosing,[750] are comprehended all those things which Peter performed in virtue of the name of Jesus Christ, and through faith in that name, by his apostolic authority, by teaching, convincing, exhorting, forbidding, permitting (see Tertullian, already quoted), consoling, remitting (see Matthew 18:18; Matthew 18:15; John 20:23); by healing, as in Acts 3:7; Acts 9:34; by raising from the dead, as in Acts 9:41 (cf. ibid. Acts 2:24); by punishing, ibid. Matthew 5:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5; he himself records, in Acts 15:8, an instance of a matter performed on earth and sanctioned in heaven. It is advisable to compare with this passage that in Matthew 18:18, and with both of them the third in John 20:23. In this passage, to Peter alone, after uttering his confession concerning Jesus Christ, the authority is promised, first of binding, and secondly of loosing sins, and whatsoever is included under that authority; and this is done as it were enigmatically, it not being expressed what things were to be bound and loosed, because the disciples were not yet capable of understanding so wonderful a matter; see Luke 9:54. In chapter 18, after our Lord’s transfiguration, the disciples, who had made some progress in faith, are invested in common with the authority, first of binding, and secondly of loosing, the offences of their brethren, but most especially of loosing them by prayers in the name of Christ. In John 20, after His resurrection, our Lord having breathed upon His disciples, gives them the authority, firstly of remitting, and secondly of retaining sins; for thus are the words and their order[751] changed after the opening of the gate of salvation. The greatest part of the apostolic authority regards sins (cf. Hosea 13:12). The remaining particulars are contained in this discourse by synecdoche. It is not foreign to our present purpose to compare a passage of Aristophanes as to the use of the verb λύειν—Frogs; Act ii. scene 6, Epirrhema[752] [Ed. Dindorf, 691],—αἰτίαν ἐκθεῖσι, ΛΥΣΑΙ τὰς πρότερον ἁμαρτίας (χρή)—i.e.” we ought to forgive (or remit) the faults of those who explain the cause of them.”

[746] The margin of Ed. 2 makes the reading σοὶ δώσω equal in authority to δώσω σοί.—E. B.

[747] i.e. As Christ, without any derogation to His proper Divinity.—(I. B.)

[748] Sc. St Paul.—(I. B.)

[749] More keys, in fact, may be accounted to have been delivered to Peter. Hence it was that with so great efficacy he opened the entrance into the kingdom of heaven to the Jews and Gentiles. Comp. the opposite case [of the Pharisees, who shut up the kingdom of heaven against men], ch. Matthew 23:4; Matthew 23:13; Luke 11:52.—V. g.

[750] These words as to binding and loosing do not properly apply to the keys, but yet have a close connection with the use of the keys.—V. g.

[751] The order before had been—1. Binding (answering to retaining); 2. Loosing (answering to remitting). The order is now reversed.—ED.

[752] In old comedy, a speech, usually of Trochaic tetrameters, spoken by the Coryphæus after the Parabasis. Liddell and Scott, q. v.—(I. B.)

“The keys of the market,” i.e. the free use of authority to buy and eat whatever meat is sold in it.—ED.

‘Œconomice,’ in conformity with the Mediatorial economy, which appertains to Him.—ED.

Ba, Rec. Text, Origen 3,525a, 529d, 530a, support δώσω σοί. Dbc Vulg. Cypr. support σοὶ δώσω—ED.

Verse 19. - I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The metaphor of a house or castle, with its gates that must be opened with keys, is still maintained; or else the idea is of the exercise of a stewardship in a household. But the latter seems unnecessarily to introduce a new notion, and to mar the concinnity of the passage. In Isaiah 22:22 we read, "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open" - where the figure is similar. The delivery of the keys of a city, etc., to a person, symbolizes the handing over of the authority to that person. "The kingdom of heaven" means here the visible Church of Christ in its most extended form. In this Church, hereafter to be constituted, Peter personally is promised a certain authority. This is a personal reward for his good confession, and a prediction of the way in which he was to exercise it. At the same time, there is a change in the figure used. He who was the foundation of the Church is now its overseer, and may open or shut its doors, may admit or exclude whomsoever he will, always following the guidance of the inspiring Spirit. This promise was fulfilled after the Day of Pentecost. It seems to have been at this time only promised, not conferred upon Peter. The actual gift of the power to him and his brother apostles took place after the Resurrection, as we read in John 20:22. The "power of the keys," as it is called, is considered to have two branches - a legislative power and an absolving power. The former Peter exercised when he took the lead after the effusion of the Spirit, and opened the door to the Jews. It was his action that admitted the Gentiles, without compliance with the distinctive rites of Judaism, to all the privileges of the gospel (see Acts 15:7). This most momentous precedent he established and made good for all time. These were legislative acts which he had the honour of introducing, and which, thus inaugurated, upheld, and defended by him, tended to advance that unity which the Lord held so dear. As an instance of his shutting the door of the kingdom in the face of an impious intruder, we may notice his rebuke to Simon Magus (Acts 8:21), "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter." The absolving power, supposed to be contained in the gift of the keys, seems rather to belong to the terms of the succeeding promise. We conceive that this power was first given to St. Peter in acknowledgment of his good confession, and as an emblem of unity, and was afterwards bestowed on all the apostles. That the Fathers did not regard it as limited exclusively to Peter, may he seen by quotations gathered by Wordsworth and other commentators. Thus Tertullian, 'Scorpiac.,' 10, "Memento claves hic Dominum Petro, et per illum Ecclesiae reliquisse;" St. Cyprian, 'De Unit.,' p. 107, "Apostolis omnibus post resurrectionem suam parem potestatem tribuit;" St. Augustine, 'Serm.,' 295, "Has claves non homo unus, sed unitas accepit Ecclcsiae." Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, etc. "Binding" and "loosing" has been explained in various ways. Some say the terms mean admitting or debarring from the Church, which would make them identical with the power of the keys, and would give no additional privilege; whereas it is plain that further honour is intended to be bestowed. Others affirm that the expression is to be understood of absolution from sin. They take the metaphor to be derived from a prisoner and his chain. Sinners are tied and bound with the chain of their sins; they are released on repentance by the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19); they are bound, when the means of grace are withheld from them, owing to the absence of tokens of' sincerity and faith. This is the view taken in the Anglican Ordinal, where to the priest it is solemnly said, "Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained." But this was no special gift to Peter; it was bestowed not long after upon all the apostolic body in the very same terms (Matthew 18:18), and was indeed inherent in the ministry. This interpretation also introduces a new element into the promise, which does not agree with the context. There is nothing to lead one to expect such an item, and to supply "sins" to the general term "whatsoever" twice repeated, is harsh and unnatural. A more reasonable explanation of the phrase is derived from the use of the terms among the Jews themselves. In their Talmudic glosses we find equivalent expressions. "To bind" is to forbid, to pronounce unlawful; "to loose" is to allow, to declare lawful. And the Lord here promises Peter a certain pre-eminence in the government and organization of the Church, and that the rules which he ordained and the sentences which he should pass in the due exercise of his apostolical authority, should be ratified and confirmed in heaven (Burgon). The phrase is found in Josephus, expressive of the possession, of unrestricted authority. Thus he speaks of the Pharisees as having power to loose and bind (λύειν τε καὶ δεῖν) whom they would ('Bell. Jud.,' 1:05. 2). And it is noted that an inscription upon a statue of Isis reads, "I am the queen of the country, and whatsoever I bind no man can loose" (Diod. Sic., 1:27). This is a personal distinction conferred on St. Peter in the exercise of an office common to all the apostles, it was needful, in the early Church, that one should be chosen, primus inter pares, to be the chief office bearer and leader of the body of believers. Not that he conceived himself to be, or was recognized by others as, infallible, or as an irresponsible despot; many events before and after Pentecost forbid such an assumption; but his faith, character, and zeal pointed him out as well constituted to regulate and order the infant community, and to take the first part in maintaining that unity which was essential to the new kingdom. This personal primacy may justly be conceded, even by those who are most inimical to the arrogant claims of the papacy; for it carries not with it the consequences which have been appended. Precedence in rank does not of necessity involve supreme or even superior authority. A duke has no authority over a baron, though he has precedence. The fuller consideration of this sphere of the subject belongs rather to the historian and the polemist than to the expositor, and to such we leave it, only adding that, in his peculiar privilege, Peter stands alone, and that in his extraordinary power he had, and was intended to have, no successors. Matthew 16:19Keys (κλεῖδας)

The similitude corresponding to build. The church or kingdom is conceived as a house, of which Peter is to be the steward, bearing the keys. "Even as he had been the first to utter the confession of the church, so was he also privileged to be the first to open its hitherto closed gates to the Gentiles, when God made choice of him, that, through his mouth, the Gentiles should first hear the words of the Gospel, and at his bidding first be baptized" (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus").

Bind - loose (δήσῃς - λύσῃς)

In a sense common among the Jews, of forbidding or allowing. No other terms were in more constant use in Rabbinic canon-law than those of binding and loosing. They represented the legislative and judicial powers of the Rabbinic office. These powers Christ now transferred, and that not in their pretension, but in their reality, to his apostles; the first, here, to Peter, as their representative, the second, after his resurrection, to the church (John 20:23, Edersheim). "This legislative authority conferred upon Peter can only wear an offensive aspect when it is conceived of as possessing an arbitrary character, and as being in no way determined by the ethical influences of the Holy Spirit, and when it is regarded as being of an absolute nature, as independent of any connection with the rest of the apostles. Since the power of binding and loosing, which is here conferred upon Peter, is ascribed (Matthew 18:18) to the apostles generally, the power conferred upon the former is set in its proper light, and shown to be of necessity a power of a collegiate nature, so that Peter is not to be regarded as exclusively endowed with it, either in whole or in part, but is simply to be looked upon as first among his equals" (Meyer on Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18).

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