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."
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.)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.)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.)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.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
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