In Matthew 16:13-19, we find Jesus giving the keys of the kingdom to Peter, after the latter got a revelation of who Jesus was. God gave Peter a revelation that contradicted the belief of the people of Israel about Christ. This revelation led to change of name for the disciple, as well. The purpose of this article is to examine what actually Jesus gave to this disciple.
Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16 what the people in Israel believed about him. To the people of Israel, he was one of the Old Testament prophets who had returned to life. Just then, God gave Peter the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah: the anointed one. This revelation made the Lord to give Peter the keys to the kingdom. In other words, he would have the responsibility of opening the door for the human race to enter into Messiah’s empire.
In spiritual matters, there are three groups of people, namely Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. Samaritans are a breed between Jews and Gentiles. For knowing Christ by revelation, it became Peter’s responsibility to open the door of life to these races.
What is the Kingdom?
In this case, it is not a political empire; rather it is a spiritual one. In Romans 14:17, the word declares that this empire is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The power of this empire is not carnal but spiritual. In John 18:36, Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. During the church age, Jesus would rule spiritually in his church; but during the millennial kingdom, he would rule the world physically under the title of son of David.
Those in the messianic empire rule over sin, sickness, and demon powers. It is invisible, but it is real. Messiah himself is head of this empire. Thus, the possession of the Holy Spirit in the individual’s heart ushers them in.
Door to the Jews
On the day of Pentecost, after the 120 disciples got the new birth, they went into the streets under spiritual power. The multitude of the people looked at them and wondered what the phenomenon meant. Scripture, in Acts 2:5, records that Jews from the Diaspora were in Jerusalem at the time. Peter preached what the phenomenon was, until in chapter 2:37, they sought salvation under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. These people, about 3000, (Acts 2:41) received the word, were baptized and received the Holy Spirit, which is the new birth. With this, the door for the Jews opened.
The book of Acts 8:5-12 records the ministry of Philip the evangelist in Samaria, where many received the gospel. Philip performed miracles and baptized those who believed, but he was not able to bring them to the baptism of the spiritual baptism, which puts one in God’s empire.
Peter and John went down to Samaria on hearing the work of Philip to lead them to the infilling of the Spirit. Upon arrival, they laid hands on the Samaritans and the latter received the Holy Spirit to seal them into Christ’s empire. Peter had to come to Samaria to usher in the second group of people, since he had the keys: the ministry of opening the door of salvation.
Finally, in Acts 10, the Spirit of God led Peter to the house of Cornelius, head of a company of 100 soldiers in the Roman army. Cornelius himself had received instructions from an angel of God in a vision to send for the apostle and receive salvation. While Peter began to speak, the Spirit of God filled Cornelius, his family and close friends just as it had filled the Jews. Peter himself remarked that the Gentiles had received the Spirit just as the Jews had done in the beginning.
This opened the door to salvation of the Gentiles, the third group of people. From then on, Paul could now labor among them as their apostle and teacher. Thus, the doors opened for races to come into God’s New Testament economy.
The keys of the kingdom that Jesus gave to Peter are the ministry of ushering the races of people into the messianic empire through the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is the new birth. It was after the revelation of the person of Jesus was that he received this position. Believers, too, receive the revelation of Christ when they believe the truth. Peter gave the original instructions necessary for the new birth: repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of sin and the infilling with the Holy Spirit would follow next.