Matthew 16:19
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."
Binding and LoosingS. Cox, D. D.Matthew 16:19
Church DisciplineMatthew 16:19
I Will Give unto Thee the KeysJ. Morison, D. D.Matthew 16:19
Inspiration Carries the KeysDr. Parker.Matthew 16:19
The KeysD. Fraser, D. D.Matthew 16:19
The Keys of the KingdomS. Cox, D. D.Matthew 16:19
The Opening and Shutting Power of the Christian LifeH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:19
The Power of the KeysR. Tuck Matthew 16:19
The Responsibility of the Key-PowerH. W. Beecher.Matthew 16:19
Peter's ConfessionMarcus Dods Matthew 16:13-19
The True ConfessionJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 16:13-20

It is necessary to understand the Eastern associations which help to explain our Lord's figure of the "keys." The key in the East was a symbol of authority; it was made long, with a crook at one end, so that it could be worn round the neck as a badge of office. To "confer a key" was a phrase equivalent to bestowing a situation of great trust and distinction. The expressions "binding" and "loosing" are figurative expressions, which were in familiar use in the rabbinical schools. "The school of Shammai bound men when it declared this or that act to be a transgression of the sabbath law. The school of Hillel loosed when it set men free from the obligations thus imposed." It should be borne in mind that this passage is a part of Christ's private teaching of the apostles. He was feeling that his own active work was nearly done, and very soon the work of saving men would rest on them. He would prepare them to understand their coming responsibilities; and he would assure them of their competent endowment to meet those responsibilities.

I. THEY WOULD HAVE SERIOUS AND AUTHORITATIVE WORK TO DO. It is remarkable that Jesus never attempted any organization of those who professed to believe in him. But he contemplated that his apostles would have to organize the converts they made. They could not help occupying a position of authority. They would be consulted on doctrines; on the application of doctrines to practical life and conduct; they would have to deal with inconsistent disciples. What they would have to do was illustrated in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, and in the admission of Cornelius. Their Lord would prepare them for undertaking those responsibilities.

II. THEY WOULD HAVE SPECIAL ENDOWMENTS FOR THEIR SPECIAL WORK. That is God's law. He makes the gift fit the service that is called for. Among the gifts in the early Church one is named "governments." That is the gift with which they were endowed. And this distinction needs to be made clear. Their gift came, not because they were apostles, but because this particular work was entrusted to them. Gifts are not possessions or rights; they are trusts; and all the honour of them lies in being thus trusted.

III. THEY WOULD HAVE SPECIAL DIVINE RECOGNITION IN THEIR WORK. What they did, in the loyal and faithful use of their gifts of government, would be owned and sealed by God. Illustrate by the Divine judgment on Ananias, following on Peter's condemnation of him; and the Spirit following Cornelius' admission. - R.T.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
1. The kingdom of heaven does not mean heaven.

2. The kingdom of heaven does not mean the Church. It indicates power:



(D. Fraser, D. D.)

The Saviour had spoken of an edifice in which Peter was to be a conspicuous foundation-stone. The edifice was a temple. The scene was then varied a little; and the edifice was a city. The scene was varied again; the city is a kingdom. It is the kingdom of heaven. All the representations are significant. They are all appropriate aspects, though varied, of the grand reality. Our Lord promises to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. As the kingdom is a city, keys are needed for the gates. The city is a fortified place, a castle, the palatial residence of the Great King. A steward of the house is required, a major-domo, one who may take charge not only of the keys of the gates, but of the keys of the treasure-house too, and of all the storerooms of the establishment. Our Saviour intimates to Peter that he would be constituted such a steward of the house of God. He was to have great power and authority as the prime minister of the King. Acting according to the commands of his Sovereign, he would have authority to open the gates or to shut them; to open the storehouses or to close them. His power would be, relatively to the King, administrative only. And in discharge of the functions of his high office he would at once be instructed from above by the Divine Spirit, and be assisted from around by other high officials — the other apostles. He and they unitedly would constitute the King's ministry. He would be premier. Hence it was that on the Day of Pentecost he took the lead and opened the gates of the kingdom to the Jews. Hence too, when he was in Joppa, he was instructed by his Lord to open the gates of the kingdom to the Gentiles; and he did it. Hence also, in all the lists of the apostles, Peter is invariably mentioned first. He has, however, no successor in his premiership, just as he had no successor as a Foundation-Stone. The Foundation-Stone lasts for ever. So do all the living stones. They live for ever. And so the ministry of the apostles continues for ever. The laws of the King are communicated to us for ever through the ministry of his apostolic ministers.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

Every Jewish scribe, when fully trained and authorized to teach his brethren, received from his tutors and superiors a key, to symbolize the knowledge of the Divine will which he possessed, and was about to dedicate to the service of his brethren; many of them either carried a key at their girdle, or had it woven into their robe, as an open sign of the profession to which they had been set apart. When, therefore, Christ put " the keys of the kingdom of heaven " into the hands of His disciples, they would understand that they were to become scribes in His kingdom; teachers of the truth, expounders of the law they had learned from Him; witnesses and exemplars of the life they had seen Him live. These keys we have authority to use too — keys of righteousness and charity, i.e., keys of kindness and good living, as well as keys of wisdom and knowledge. By our daily conduct, and by the spirit of our whole conduct, no less than by our words, we are saying to our fellows, "This, so far as we understand Him, is how Christ would have men live; you have only to live so, and you will be in His kingdom, under His rule and benediction." By our good words, and our good works, we are to constitute ourselves door-keepers in the House of the Lord, and to open the doors to all who would enter in. It is, then, no merely personal salvation, no merely future and distant heaven, no merely selfish and ignoble task, for which we look and to which we are summoned. We are looking for the heaven of being now and always in tune with the will of God, and for a salvation which embraces the whole nature of man, and extends to every race and kindred and tribe.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

In the language of the Jewish schools, to "bind " and to " loose," meant to prohibit and to permit, to determine what was wrong and must not be done, and what was right and ought to be done. Rabbi Sham-mat, for instance, bound all heathen learning, i.e., he forbade his disciples to acquire it — declared what we should call "classical studies" to be wrong; while Rabbi Hillel loosed these studies — declared them to be right, that is, and encouraged his disciples to take them up. In addressing this promise to His first disciples, therefore, Christ meant to say that, humble and unlearned as they were, yet, in virtue of the new spiritual life and insight which He had conferred upon them, they should become "masters of sentences," and their decisions as to what was right and what wrong, should carry no less authority than they had once attached to the decisions of their rabbis and scribes. This promise also extends to us. We are authorized to make those practical applications of truth to the conditions and needs of the hour, by which the moral life and tone of men will be raised and purified. And we have made use of this power in the following, among other ways:

1. Abolishing slavery.

2. Raising the status of woman.

3. Securing the education of. children.

4. Advancing the cause of temperance, thrift, industry.

5. Promoting the growth of freedom, and the fraternity of men and nations.In these and similar ways, the general teaching of Christ has been applied to the social and moral conditions of men, bringing out new bearings of familiar principles on human conduct and duty.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Once from the pulpit, at an ordination of elders, the late Rev. M. M'Cheyne made the following declaration. "When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great, and almost only, work was to pray and preach. I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time and care and strength to labour in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether. But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God; that two keys are committed to us by Christ — the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible: the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith. Both are Christ's gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin."

Every praying man and every praying woman on the globe that lives in the intelligent knowledge of Christ, and employs the spirit and truth of Christ intelligently, just as much as councils, and synods, and conventions, and churches, has this power of the keys. God gives it to every one that desires to have the living nature of Christ in him. Ah! do you not suppose there have been thousands of men, who have gone down through life arrogating this claim, that never opened the door of heaven to one single soul? And yet there have been hundreds of poor bed-ridden Christians whose key was bright with perpetual using, and who, by faith, and example, and testimony, and clarity of teaching, did bind iniquity in the world, by the golden cords of truth, and did set loose, by the same truth, those that were bound, giving them power of spiritual insight, giving them emancipation, and bringing them into the large light and liberty of the children of God. Emancipators of the soul they were — humble, uncrowned, uncanonical, unordained, God-sanctified souls. They knew Christ, and loved Him, and poured out His spirit upon men. And every man that has that spirit has God's keys in his hands, and has authority to bind and loose — to bind lies and all iniquity, and to set loose all those that suffer oppression by reason of spiritual despotism. They go forth effulgent messengers of God's light and the emancipation that goes with it.

(H. W. Beecher.)

It is no mean prerogative; it is past all estimation, indeed, for honour and for dignity, to have the power to open heaven to any soul. If God were to give you the power to go forth, and, touching the earth, to open its fruitful bosom, so that where-ever you pressed your hand or your foot, out there should pour treasures of grain and treasures of fruit; if God were to give you that power which in ages gone by was attributed to Ceres, when it was supposed that she came to earth and taught men the arts of agriculture — what a power that would be. If God had given you power to touch the hidden treasures of metal; to know where iron lies buried; to know where all the veins of gold and silver are; to open up all the treasures beneath the surface of the earth, men would have supposed that that was a great and sovereign endowment — and it would have been great and sovereign in a lower sphere. But how much more noble is it that God has given men the power to develop, not gold and silver that perish, but riches that never fade, that moth and rust never corrupt, and that thieves do not break through to steal — eternal treasures — the immortal spirits of men. But this is the case. God has given authority to every man that lives in the higher realm of truth, to open the eternal realm to those around about him, as an inspired apostle. For you are a lineal successor of the apostle, every one of you that does the apostle's work. And God sends every man that goes forth to carry the Spirit of God to his fellow-men. And it is no small prerogative, no small honour, but a most responsible trust, to have committed to you the keys of life and death; to carry in yourself those influences that shall be a savour of life to some, and a savour of death to others — that shall be a buttress and a wall of defence to some, and a stumbling-stone and rock of offence and destruction to others. How solemn it is that God gives men to be parents in this life, to rear up congregations out of their own loins, to sit in the church of the family, and makes fathers and mothers to be apostles, and gives to them keys, saying, "What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." It is even so. You cannot free yourself from the obligation. You cannot help it. You are the key-keeper for your children. You are the door-keeper for your own offspring. Take heed, then, how you carry yourselves as parents in your own household — how you administer God's Word. It depends much upon you whether, at last, your children shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, or whether they shall rise to everlasting shame and contempt.

(H. W. Beecher.)

When you are inspired you have the keys. In your sublimest moods, when earth fades into a fleck hardly to be seen, and heaven crowds itself in noble fellowship upon your soul, the whole man is lifted up in an ecstasy Divine. In that hour the church holds the keys. You do not hold the keys because of hereditary descent, or ecclesiastical relationship, or mechanical contrivance, or superior patronage — you hold the keys only so long as you realize the inspiration. And no man can take those keys from you; everywhere the inspired man keeps the keys — in merchandise, in statesmanship, in philosophy, in adventure, in religious thinking, in Christian civilization, you cannot keep down the inspired man.

(Dr. Parker.)

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