To the kingdom of heaven:

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 16:19

The meaning of this verse has been a subject of debate for centuries. Some say the keys represent the authority to carry out church discipline, legislation, and administration (18:15-18); while others say the keys give the authority to announce the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23).  Still others say the keys may be the opportunity to bring people to the kingdom of heaven by presenting them with the message of salvation found in God’s word (Acts 15:709).  The religious leaders thought they held the keys of the kingdom, and they tried to shut some people out.  We cannot decide to open or close the kingdom of heaven for others, but God uses us to help others find the way inside.  To all who believe in Christ and obey his words, the kingdom doors are swung wide open.


Jesus holds the keys to hell & death:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One: I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades. – – Revelation 1:17-18

Our sins have convicted and sentenced us, but Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades. He alone can free us from eternal bondage to Satan.  He alone has the power and authority to set us free from sin’s control.  Believers don’t have to fear Hades or death, because Christ holds the keys to both.  All we must do is turn from sin and turn to him in faith.  When we attempt to control our lives and disregard God, we set a course that leads directly to hell.  But when we place our lives in Christ’s hands, he restores us now and resurrects us later to an eternal peaceful relationship with him.

As the Roman government stepped up its persecution of Christians, John must have wondered if the church could survive and stand against the opposition. But Jesus appeared in glory and splendour, reassuring John that he and his fellow believers had access to God’s strength to face these trials.  If you are facing difficult problems, remember that the power available to John and the early church is also available to you (see 1 John 4:4).


©Kingsway “International” Church 1973.


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