The Keys of the Kingdom

Question:

I have a little question concerning Matthew 16:19. What I’m especially after is what that issue is when after the Lord gives Peter the “keys of the kingdom,” He then tells him, “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” What is the issue of “loosening” and “binding”? Outside of saying that this is something of a legal nature that has to do with the business that Peter will carry out in the kingdom – I’m not sure that I can say any more than that. Could you help me understand and appreciate this a little better – and especially how heaven and earth are connected here?

Answer:

It’s good to hear from you again. I am currently taking the folks at our fellowship through the book of Matthew, however, given my track record it will probably be a decade or so before we get to chapter 16. 🙂 That said, I will attempt to address what I can in a brief manner. Simply put, it is the official recognition of transference of authority from the apostate nation and it’s leadership who were having the kingdom “taken” from them and given to the remnant (Matt. 21:43; Luke 12:32), the Lord’s “my church”, with its leadership (Matt. 19:28). This gets highlighted as you prepare to move into the 3rd section of Matthew (16:21-23:39) where Christ begins to shut down His public ministry, gets ready for “his hour” in the 4th section of Matthew and prepares His remnant for the rest of the program that they will have to respond to and function in.

In this context, it is specifically a confirmation of the law of “two or three witnesses”, specifically dealing with (but not limited to) the judicial issue of forgiveness among the remnant. This forms a huge issue for the life of the remnant, specifically concerning the details of provision in the Lord’s day to come and rewards in the kingdom (and by contrast lack thereof on both accounts). The foundation for this was set forth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:12-15), built upon throughout His ministry (Matt. 18:15-20; John 20:23) and applied at various times in the book of Acts as well as in the Lord’s Day (James 5:13-20). It is an affirmation of the authority that would be resident in the Lord’s “little flock” as they carried out the various aspects of the Holy Ghost’s program with them in the face of the apostate nation whom God would not hear (Isa. 1:15; Matt. 6:7; 7:7-11; James 4:3; I Pet. 3:12) which would also be true of the “foolish” members of the remnant as well who, while justified, could still suffer loss of provision and reward.

One of the most notable examples of the use of this heaven recognized authority (and it’s impact even on us) is the infamous meeting recounted by Paul in Galatians 2. The judicial “binding and loosening” decisions that were made in accordance with the law of “two or three” would be recognized, ratified and honored in heaven. Signed, sealed and delivered if you will. This will be carried out in a much larger way with the “two witnesses” that will show up in the Lord’s Day and in accordance with their calls for specific judgments, heaven will respond with an “amen” if you will and the specific curses will fall in accordance with their word (7 trumpets, etc). When the designated authorities in God’s program function in accordance with his will, their judicial rulings are in accordance with, recognized by and honored in heaven. This is quite unlike the ungodly “binding and loosening” (Matt. 23:4, 16) of the religious apostates which is not in accordance with God’s word (Matt. 15:3) and is of “none effect” as far as heaven is concerned and completely “vain” (Matt. 15:9). I hope this is of some help.

Seated in heavenly places with Him,

-DWB

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