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Let’s begin by reading Matthew 16:15-18, “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Earlier in this chapter, the Lord asked His disciples who other people thought He, the Son of man was.  Some thought that He was John the Baptist; some thought he was Elijah; some thought he was Jeremiah; while some thought He was some other prophet.

When the Lord asked the disciples who they thought He was, Peter boldly declared, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  What a declaration…Simon Peter knew exactly who the Lord was, for the Father had revealed this marvelous truth to him.  The Lord told Peter that upon this rock, this profession that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, He would build His church.  Notice that the church had not been established at the point, the Lord said, “I WILL build my church.”  The church began on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended and indwelt every believer.  We then see the Lord adding new believers to the church as we read in Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

Now let’s read Matthew 16:19 where Christ says to Peter, “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.”  It was to Peter, after his confession of Christ as the Son of the living God, that the Lord gives these keys to the kingdom of heaven.  We first notice, that there is more than one key, there are at least two.  Then, we notice that these keys are to the kingdom of heaven; there are not keys to heaven, itself.

What is a key typically used for?  It is used for unlocking and opening a door.  To Peter was given keys to unlock the door so that access can be given to enter the kingdom of heaven.  It was Peter’s special privilege to offer the kingdom of heaven to others on the basis of faith in the risen savior.  From looking at God’s Word, we see there were two actual keys that Peter used.  He used one key to offer salvation to the nation of Israel that had just refused, rejected, and crucified the Lord of Glory.  I encourage you to read Acts 2:22-47 to read this excellent word that Peter gave to Israel on the day of Pentecost.  Let’s look at a few verses within that portion.  Acts 2:38-41 says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”  This nation that had rejected the Lord was being offered access to the kingdom of heaven to all who would receive the remission of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Next we find Peter offering access to the kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles.  I encourage you to read Acts, chapter 10 where we have the account of Peter preaching the Gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile, an Italian, in fact.  From that chapter, let’s read Acts 10:43, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”  Peter was telling this Gentile man, and all his household, that salvation was indeed available to more than just the Jewish nation.  Salvation was offered to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read in Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

The Lord gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter.  He used these keys to open the way of salvation through faith in the risen savior to the Jews and to the Gentiles.  The Lord’s desire is that everyone come to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and receive eternal life.  Acts 17:30 says, “…Godcommandeth all men every where to repent.”  (123.1)