It was only when I was distraught and overcome with challenges that I read and understood:
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?.”
- 1 Corinthians 3:16
“And I will give unto thee the keys of The Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” Matthew 16:19
Symbolism of the Keys of the Kingdom
In both the Old and New Testaments, keys symbolize power and authority. The nature of that power and authority varies depending on the context. Isaiah 22:22 refers to “the key of the house of David,” which in the context refers to the authority of the steward who manages the household of the king. That same imagery is applied to the risen Christ (Rev 3:7), who also has “the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:18). In Luke 11:52, Jesus claims that the experts in the Jewish Law “have taken away the key of knowledge.” In other words, through their hypocrisy they have not only failed to enter the kingdom of God themselves, but have prevented others from entering as well.
This reference to the key of knowledge sheds light on the expression “keys of the kingdom” here. Through Peter’s faithful proclamation of the gospel, Peter will open the door of The Kingdom to those who respond in faith, while at the same time keeping it shut from those who do not. Because the gospel determines what is bound and what is loosed, Peter’s actions of binding and loosing here on Earth express Heaven’s verdict itself.
While the focus in this passage is Peter, this same authority is extended to the entire church in Matthew 18:18. Jesus uses the same language of binding and loosing in the context of how the church should handle unrepentant sinners. When the church follows Jesus’ teaching, they can be confident that their actions of binding and loosing are an extension of God’s actions in Heaven.