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Eternity 128 - The Keys Of The Kingdom

The following Scriptures refer to the "keys" and their function of opening and shutting, bindng and loosing and the proper use of spiritual authority.

Matthew 16:17-19 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to 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 also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. {19 } "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

(Matthew 18:18-19 NKJV) "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. {19 } "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

(Luke 11:52 NKJV) "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."

(Luke 13:12 NKJV) But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity."

(John 11:44 NKJV) And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."

(Acts 2:23-24 NKJV) "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; {24 } "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

(Revelation 1:18 NKJV) "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

(Revelation 3:7-8 NKJV) "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": {8 } "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

(Revelation 9:1-2 NKJV) Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. {2 } And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.

(Revelation 20:1-3 NKJV) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. {2 } He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; {3 } and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.


Keys represent the ability to lock up (to bind) and the ability to let out (to loose) . If I have the keys to a jail I can use them to lock up a dangerous prisoner or to release a pardoned inmate. The key to the bottomless pit is used twice, once to release demonic horde of locusts, and secondly to confine Satan for one thousand years.

Also keys denote access and control. With the keys one can control movement, times of access and who and what goes in and out. This then controls other activities. The keys to a bank vault with a time lock means that at certain seasons the bank manager can unlock the cash and the tellers will have something to give customers. This is the "key of David" in the sense of the Davidic dynasty, which was something that God opened that no man could shut. This is the key to opportunity, times and seasons.

Keys also denote power an authority. The one with the keys has control. Jesus has the keys of Hades and of Death. He has complete authority over who goes in and out. Death has been taken out of the Devil's control and is now in Jesus power and its captives have been set free. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NKJV) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, {15 } and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Keys also denote our ability to explore and discover, to find a treasure or to leave it unaccessed. It is this sense that Jesus uses when He speaks of "the keys of knowledge" that the scribes took away, thus not entering themselves and hindering others. (Luke 11:52 NKJV) "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered." By discarding the real spiritual truths and teaching the "doctrines of men" they left their audience without the keys to the spiritual life and its treasures.

Now we come to one of the most disputed verses in Scripture - Matthew 16: 19 where Jesus gives Peter the "keys of the Kingdom" with the clear implication that Peter's earthly actions would somehow either lock up heaven or release things from Heaven. When Peter allowed the Gentiles into the Church on an equal footing with Jews (Acts 10,11 and 15) he was using His keys to let people into the Kingdom. On the other hand Peter's stern judgment on Annanias and Sapphira seems to have been using the keys to bind up a spirit of greed, lying and deception that had started to creep in. (Acts 5:1-11)

Another use of the keys was during the Samaritan revival the Holy Spirit was only released after Peter's arrival: line (Acts 8:14-17 NKJV) Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, {15 } who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. {16 } For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. {17 } Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The keys here are in the context of "upon this rock I will build my church" and seem to involve the setting of precedents for the Church as a whole. It was Peter who released the Holy Spirit in Judea at Pentecost, in Samaria during the revival and to the Gentiles with Cornelius's household. Peter then confirmed these precedents at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) freeing the other apostles and the Church to act in similar fashion. These "precedent-setting keys" also were used to "unlock" the issue of permissible foods...permitting the consumption of all foods. (Acts 10)

Have these keys been passed on? No. They were used by Peter to set spiritual precedents and define many liberating issues in the early Church. The realms have been opened up and now we minister within those areas bound and loosed by Peter, we can see the Holy Spirit coming on the Samaritans and the Gentiles, we can eat unclean foods, we have been released from the burden of the law. (Romans 7:1-6).

d But did Peter release us from the Law or did Christ? Christ's work on the cross released us - it did the work in the heavenlies, then Peter with his decisions on earth loosed on earth what had already been loosed in Heaven. Similarly Christ released the Holy Spirit from Heaven but Peter then released it to others. The literal version translates the verse thus: cf1 Matthew 16:19 LITV cf0 And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven. And whatever you may loose on the earth shall be, having been loosed in Heaven.

Finally we need to consider our own "binding and loosing" where corporate decisions of the "two or three" have some sort of authority in Heaven. We cannot bind or lose anything we can like, we can only operate within the context of the finished work of Christ. We can release spiritual gifts into someone's life through the laying on of hands such as Paul did with Timothy: line (1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV) Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

In Paul's own life he was released from blindness and into Christian service through a similar procedure: (Acts 9:17-18 NKJV) And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." {18 } Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

The laying on of hands seems to loose people from illness and infirmity (Mark 6:5, 8:23, 16:18 Acts 28:8) fill them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:7,8 19:6 and impart spiritual gifts (1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6) and ordination for ministry (Acts 6:6, 13;3). All of these bindings and loosings are of the finished work of Christ - His healing ministry, His Holy Spirit, His gifts and His call to ministry. We can also bind sin and forgive (loose) the penitent and set limits on church behavior, which is the major context of Matthew 18 and is seen in operation in Acts 5 and 1 Corinthians 5.

To summarize - all spiritual keys are aspects of the work of Jesus Christ that we are given some power to release or bind here on earth. There is not an apostolic succession but there is a "Christological succession" as Christians release that which Christ has done. Peter had a unique role in setting spiritual precedents for the Church. That role is finished. We now operate within the confines of the apostolic faith. We are to use our keys wisely and judiciously and not as the lawyers did who "took away" the keys in the name of spiritual control and safety.