The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven

January 20, 2023

Mathew 16:13-20 (NASB) Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

What are the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?

The image of “keys” is rooted firmly in the culture contemporary with our Lord and the Disciples and in the Old Testament as well. Consider Isaiah 22:15-23. There, God says to “this steward, to Shebna, who is over the [royal] house” that he is about to be replaced with a new steward, Eliakim.

Now, a “steward” is one who “wards” (guards) the “stead” (place, position and authority) of the master of the house.

The “stead-ward” was a servant, oftentimes a slave, who administered the affairs and assets of a wealthy family’s household. As we see even on episodes of Downton Abbey, it is the butler and the housekeeper, exactly like the ancient stewards, who have charge of all the keys for all the doors and every room in the house. And in a royal or noble household, the steward not only carried they keys but also admitted visitors into the royal/noble presence.

Hence, in Isaiah 22:22 God says of Eliakim, “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.”

A)    The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven is the confession the Jesus Christ is THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.

-          Heavenly beings are called sons of God -Job 1:6;2:1; Genesis 6:2

-          Jesus is THE SON of GOD Heb 1:4-8

-          Jesus is THE Son of GOD and HE IS THE MAN of Psalm 1

-          Jesus is THE ONLY BEGGOTTEN SON OF GOD- uniquely sharing HIS NATURE and being as much God as God the Father is God.

-          Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the    Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made

How important are the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven

A)    The Key of David is the power to open the understanding of the scriptures. Revelations 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens..”

Luke 24:45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures  

B)    Without the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven people cannot understand the scriptures. Acts 8:30-31 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him

C)    The Scribes had the Keys and didn’t let anyone in- they didn’t even enter themselves. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.” Luke 11:52

D)    I will give you the keys …

Catholic theologians have historically believed this passage proves Peter was intended to be the head of the Christian church. But, if we look at the early church, it was both Peter and James, the relative of Jesus, who will lead the church then centered in Jerusalem.

Certainly, Peter exercised a crucial role in opening the door to the Kingdom of God. On the day of Pentecost, through his preaching 3000 souls entered the Kingdom (Acts 2:41); God used Peter to open the door for the Gentile centurion Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:1-48); and Peter’s testimony at the Council of Jerusalem helped open the door for the Church to all Gentiles (Acts 15:6ff).

The power of the keys is not unique to Peter.

But Peter was not the only Apostle to exercise that power of the keys. Certainly Paul was the “Apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13) and admitted them to the Church even when Peter— the incident with Cornelius notwithstanding—started waffling, such that Paul publicly rebuked Peter: Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (cf. Galatians 2:11)

And note that Paul began admitting Gentiles to the Church as Gentiles without first “consulting with flesh and blood,” without getting permission from “those who were apostles before me,” much less from Peter in particular (Galatians 1:16-17).

What happened to those in hell when Jesus showed up with the Keys?

Caesarea Philippi, then known as Panias, sat at the base of Mount Hermon. The early Canaanites worshiped Baal at Panias,

The Cave of Pan known as “The Gates of Hell” was at the foot of a cliff where spring water flowed directly from the cave’s mouth. This fast-moving stream, the beginning of the Jordan River, was created by seventy-two springs originating in the bowels of the mountain. The waters were so deep that ancients were unable to plumb the depths and therefore considered it bottomless.

Prisoners were thrown into the “Gates of Hell, to determine guilt for a crime. Ferocious waters gushed from a very large spring of this limestone cave. In ancient times, the water was fast-moving and would have propelled the bodies over the rocks, and death was guaranteed. The waters filled with human or animal corpses must have been a frightening sight.

A)    In the ancient world, gates were defensive structures to keep the enemy out, but Jesus doesn’t want us cowering behind them.

When he stated, “and the Gates of Hell will not prevail,” Jesus was suggesting those gates should be attacked.

His followers were challenged to not hide from evil and would be commanded to storm the Gates of Hell, which would not hold up under the triumphant forces of Jesus’ church.

B)    Jesus himself attacked the Gates of Hell –

*Jesus death was a fish-hook and trojan horse to destroy hell from within 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 1 Corinthians 2:8

*Jesus descended into hell- For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1 Peter 3:18-20

*He liberated with all the OT saints

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says:

“When He ascended on high,

He led captivity captive,

And gave gifts to men.”

9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:7-10 (KJV)

*He attacked the Gates of Hell with the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Revelation 1:17-18

As He was descending He found John the Baptist and told him, John what are you doing here…get the HELL OUT OF HERE

He Found Elisha- What are you doing here Elisha- GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE

He found Abraham- GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE


Why is this message important:

Jesus will attack your hell with His Keys

You can attack people’s hell with the Keys he has granted you

Next Blog: Jesus Clears the Temple