2023 December – Keys to the Kingdom


While keys are mentioned in other parts of Scripture, I think Matthew 16 is the only place where Jesus mentions keys and, more specifically, keys of the kingdom of heaven. Think spiritual keys to  spiritual kingdom… the church.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 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.” (Matthew 16:13-19).

As a side note, the “rock” in verse 18 does not mean that Peter is the rock, but that his confession that Jesus is the Messiah is the rock on which the church is built. Speaking of the Israelites, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,

“They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food  and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:2-4).

So, getting back to the first question, what do keys signify? In a broader sense, there are three things that keys signify:

1 – Keys open something…  giving access to that something. For example, I have a key to my car, my house, my friends’ house when they are away, my safe deposit box, which gives me access to all those somethings, but I do not have a key to my next door neighbor’s back yard pool area, so I don’t have access to that something.

2 – Keys belong to the owner of the something to be opened… which signifies authority. The owner can give others the authority to use them, according to the agreement made between the owner and others. Under the agreed-upon conditions, their keys can be used by others to open their something.

3 – The third thing that keys signify is understanding or insight. This is a little bit different than the first two. It is an intangible something. Keys can mean information that we have that can help ourselves or someone else. You have probably heard terms like the “key to success” or the “key to accomplishing or doing something.” In this instance, the key becomes a source of understanding and knowledge that will help you achieve something you may not have been able to do without those keys.

The keys that give us access to the kingdom of heaven is recognizing and understanding that Jesus is the Messiah. The word Messiah here means the anointed one who came to redeem the world. When we recognize that Jesus is the one anointed to redeem us from our sins, and we put our complete trust in him, then we gain access to the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is open to us because Jesus is the key to entering the kingdom of heaven, as he said:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6).

With access to the kingdom, there also comes access to the kingdom’s advantages and resources that are available to address our earthly situations. This means the kingdom of heaven is ready to assist in every aspect of our lives, and we have been granted access to this because of Jesus Christ. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

When we access the kingdom of God with the keys he has given us, then we also unlock the wisdom and insight of God. With this understanding, we can see life from God’s perspective because this is not understanding that comes from earth, but divine understanding that comes from heaven through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The final question is what we do with these keys. There is just one answer, use them.