What actually were the keys given to Peter?


This post was moved here from another thread because it was off topic.


So, are you really saying that God gave the keys to [only] Peter?? And what actually were those keys?

God Bless,

Tell me, Rob? Who else was given the keys other than Peter? Clearly, Matthew 16:18 states that Jesus gave Peter the keys. Name an Apostle who was given the same keys.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . .”

The “power of the keys” has to do with ecclesiastical discipline and administrative authority with regard to the requirements of the faith, as in Isaiah 22:22 (cf. Is 9:6; Job 12:14; Rev 3:7). From this power flows the use of censures, excommunication, absolution, baptismal discipline, the imposition of penances, and legislative powers. In the Old Testament a steward, or prime minister is a man who is “over a house” (Gen 41:40; 43:19; 44:4; 1 Ki 4:6; 16:9; 18:3; 2 Ki 10:5; 15:5; 18:18; Is 22:15,20-21)


The keys of the kingdom were the symbol of the office of Chief Steward of the Davidic kingdom. I don’t know if there was an actual set of keys or not during the time of the kings (like there was an actual crown), or if they actually unlocked anything. My bet is that Jesus didn’t give Peter anything physical when he assigned him to that position of authority.


Jesus says they are the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” He then affirms that whatever Peter binds on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever he shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Later, Jesus gives the power of binding and loosing to *all *of the Apostles, but only to Peter does he promise the keys.

The contrast with Revelation 1:18 is interesting because there Jesus announces that he, himself, holds the keys to death and Hades.

Peter holds the keys of Heaven but Jesus holds the keys of death and hell.


This is nifty. Do you have a source for this anywhere in particular?


Isaiah 22:22.


That’s very interesting.

Does this mean that Eliakim son of Hilkiah was a prefigure of St Peter?

And continuing on in Isaiah 22, are verses 24-25 implying the Church will someday end? That worries me a little.

Or am I just looking to deeply into things?


The point of the connection is that the keys are given to the prime minister and passed on to the next guy. It’s not so much about the personalities of Shebna and Eliakim as it is about the principle of an officer who serves in the place of (and at the pleasure and authority of) the king, and that the office continues from one man to the next.

So in using the image of the keys, Jesus was saying that Peter and his successors would be the Prime Ministers of the Kingdom of Heaven.


What is the trouble here?

Jesus does many things people dont either understand or want to understand.

In which group are you?




The Church will end someday, no need to worry about that, especially if you are faithful to Christ’s teachings.

But it’s not like the Church will fall. It’s a matter of the Church no longer being necessary.

When Jesus comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead there will be no need for the Church. Until then we have his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it so that as many souls as possible can be saved when he returns.

We really do have our work cut out for us, though.


Power of the Keys

…The expression “power of the keys” is derived from Christ’s words to St. Peter (in Matthew 16:19). The promise there made finds its explanation in Isaias 22, in which “the key of the house of David” is conferred upon Eliacim, the son of Helcias, as the symbol of plenary authority in the Kingdom of Juda. Christ by employing this expression clearly designed to signify his intention to confer on St. Peter the supreme authority over His Church. For a consideration of the text in its dogmatic bearing, see POPE; PRIMACY. In the present article our sole purpose is to give a brief historical account of the meaning attached to the expression by ecclesiastical writers.



yes, much more:

  1. In the Fathers the references to the promise of Matthew 16:19, are of frequent occurrence. Almost invariably the words of Christ are cited in proof of the Church’s power to forgive sins…It is comparatively seldom that the Fathers, when speaking of the power of the keys, make any reference to the supremacy of St. Peter.


My late father used to say the keys were the Holy Mysteries–Sacraments. Every one of them is concerned with binding and loosing.


Isaiah 22:21 and I will cloth him with your robe, and strengthen him with your belt, and I will commit your government into his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 The key of the house of David will I lay on his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a throne of glory to his father’s house.

Note: Compare Isaiah 22:22 to Matthew 16:18-19, notice the similarity.

Isaiah 36:3 Then came forth to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder.

Isaiah 37:1 It happened, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of Yahweh. 37:2 He sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.

1Kings 4:6 and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor.

1 Kings 18:3 Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household.

2Chronicals 26:21 Uzziah the king was a leper to the day of his death, and lived in a separate house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of Yahweh: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

*“Over the household” was a term used to denote that the person was given special authority and is in charge of all of the domestic affairs of the King. The person is the steward of the King’s realm.

*The concept of steward was in use throughout the ancient world. Go back to Genesis where Joseph was given authority over all of Egypt by Pharaoh. *

Genesis 41:40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to my throne will I be greater than you.

When Jesus “gave the keys” to Peter, any first century Jew would know what Jesus meant by such an action.

The steward was an official governmental office in the ancient kingdoms. When the steward died, the office didn’t just abruptly end, a new steward was appointed to carry on the duties of the office – not the duties of the person. The same is true for Peter and the other Apostles. All of the Apostles were Bishops and the Pope is the Bishop of Rome. Peter was the first Bishop of Rome and since he was the “steward” appointed by Jesus, all of Peter’s successors, the Bishops of Rome, have held the position of steward (Pope), as they do even today, 2000 years after Jesus appointed Peter.

The power to bind and loose. This is a very Rabbinic concept, and first century Jews would have known exactly what Jesus meant when he said it. The religious authority/hierarchy was well structured in first century Israel, and as such, the terms bind and loose represented well known and often used terms for legislative and judicial powers of the Rabbis. By specifying who had the power to lose and bind, Jesus ensured that there would be no disagreements over who actually had the real authority to administrate over His Church on earth and who did not.*
Revelation 3:7 Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia and say, "Here is the message of the holy and true one who has the key of David, so that when he opens, no one will close, and when he closes, no one will open:

Stillkickin :thumbsup:


Interesting-if one takes the approach that the church is built upon the 'rock" that is Peter uttering his confession of Christ as Messiah, and also that the keys are Peter’s power to share with individuals how their sins may be forgiven and one looks at his actions in Acts 2-5, Acts 8 and Acts 10, it would seem that one would be very much in line with the early fathers regarding Peter and Christ’s role for him in founding the church.

In short Peter’s “reward” for confessing Christ in Matthew 16 is to confess him to the Jews and beyond to awake men to their need for salvation and then make it available to them. Very appropriate for one who had experienced the mercy of Christ himself.

Thanks for giving me something to consider.


If you really want to see the keys read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2


Thanks for saying what I did in a much more concise way. :smiley:


Why can’t both inerpretations be correct?


Well, at least the identification is present. Is there anyone pre-Great Schism who says the keys weren’t connected to Petrine supremacy?

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