Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Peter, and the Keys

Matthew 16:13-20 (ESV)
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" [14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." [15] He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" [16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." [20] Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
There is a lot to chew on in this segment, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ, notice there is only one Christ here. Jesus praising Peter, actually giving him the name Peter, and then promising to build his church on this confession, this rock, the confession Peter just made. And the Church is built on that confession to this day. The confession and not Peter himself, as the Roman Catholics like to do with this passage, making Peter the first pope. And so what if he was…. But then Jesus promises Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Many look at this passage and deduce from this wording that Peter was the first to be given the keys. I don’t see it. Peter isn’t given the keys here. He is promised the keys, but he is not given the keys. When Jesus does get around to giving the keys later, he gives them to all the disciples at the same time. He does give them to peter, but he also gives them to Barnabus, and Matthew, and John, and… you get the picture. But the kesy are given, that upon which the church is built the ability to forgive and retain sins in the name of jesus. That is indisputable. Jesus gives this authority to men.

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