Question: I would like for you to explain Matthew 16:19.
Answer: Matthew 16:19 reads thus: “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. “From verse 15 through verse 19 is recorded a personal conversation between Peter and Jesus. It was not necessarily intended to be that way. Jesus had asked the entire company of His apostles, “…Whom say ye that I am?” Peter was quicker in answering than were the others and consequently Jesus directed His remarks to him personally. But actually His remarks would apply to all of the company as well as Peter because He had directed His question to the entire company. His remarks did apply to all of them and not to them only but also to their successors clear on down through the generations of mankind even unto us and beyond us if time continues and other generations follow us. This will be clearly evident from other scriptures which we will pick up as we go along. Therefore we can safely conclude with certainty that this text does not teach what some try to make it teach; that Peter is to be considered the head of the Church and as having personal and exclusive rights to the keys of the kingdom. The remarks made here by Jesus apply to all of them, even though they are directed to Peter, but only because he was the first to speak up in response to Jesus’ question.
Then we must endeavor first of all to establish what the keys of the kingdom are. A key is something that opens up or unlocks and provides an entrance or access to a building, house, or situation. In the fourth chapter of Zechariah is recorded a vision that the prophet Zechariah had and the principal objects of it were a golden candlestick and two olive trees, one on either side of the candlestick. First we will consider the candlestick and what it represented. In the first chapter of Revelation is recorded a vision that John had of Jesus Christ as the high priest of God in the Church or kingdom of God (verses 10 through 20). In verse 12 he saw seven golden candlesticks. And in verse 13 he saw one like unto the Son of man (Jesus). In verse 20 Jesus explained that the seven golden candlesticks were the seven churches (named in verse 11). Then it is clear that a candlestick was used to represent a church. In Revelation, chapter one, seven candlesticks were used to represent the seven churches of Asia to which the book of Revelation was sent. Then we conclude that the single candlestick in Zechariah 4:2 represented the one entire universal Church of God or Kingdom of God. In Zechariah 4:6 these two olive trees are declared to be the Word of the Lord, saying, “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Then it is clear that the two olive trees represent the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Again these two olive trees are further identified in Zechariah 4:14 where it is said, “…These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” In Revelation 11:3-4 it is said, “And I will give power unto my TWO WITNESSES, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” The emphasis here is on the two witnesses.
Now let us see what are the two principal witnesses of God in the earth. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit,…” Hebrews 10:15 says, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us:…” These texts establish the fact that the Holy Spirit is one of God’s principal witnesses in the earth. In John 5:39 Jesus said, “Search the scriptures;…they are they which testify of me.” Also Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” There are other scriptures confirming the Spirit and the Word to be God’s two witnesses. But in Revelation 11:3-4 it refers to the two witnesses being the two olive trees standing before the God of the earth which refers us right back to Zechariah 4:3 and verse 14 says, “…These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” And verse 6 declares them to be the Word of God by the Spirit of God. But verse 12 presents the two olive trees (Word and Spirit) through two golden pipes emptying the golden oil out of themselves into the candlestick. Thus we see that the Word and the Spirit of God are the two agents of God to pour their essence, grace, power and strength into the Church to make it the light of the world, a city set on an hill which cannot be hid; an all-conquering, all-triumphant, all-victorious, all-glorious entity in the world. It is these two agents that open the door and provide a means of access into the kingdom of God (salvation). These also provide the necessary ingredients to sustain and maintain the soul in the kingdom of God after it has been guided into salvation. Then it is clear that these two agents (God’s Word and God’s Spirit) are the keys of the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus promised to Peter and to all the other apostles when He charged them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15.)
But he did not send them forth half-equipped. He gave them the WORD and commanded them to preach it just as He had given it to them. (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20, II Timothy 4:2.) But He told them to tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49.) Again in Acts 1:4 Jesus told these men to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father and in verse 5 He declares this to be the Holy Ghost. The Word alone was not sufficient. They had to be filled with the Holy Spirit to give anointing, power and conviction to the Word. In Zechariah’s vision (Zechariah 4:6) the two olive trees were declared to be the WORD by the SPIRIT. These two agents govern, control and direct all the operations and activities of the Church of God. I know of no record anywhere in the Bible, where God ever gave anything more than the Word and the Spirit of God to any minister to carry on His work, and He certainly has never given any God-called minister less. But He gave to Peter, to all the apostles, to their successors, to every God-called minister throughout the generations of mankind, and every God-called minister living in the world today, these two keys to the kingdom of God (God’s Word and God’s Spirit) and sent them forth to do their job. In I Peter 1:12 Peter referred to “…them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven;…” This is the way God’s work has always been carried on; God’s Word by His Spirit; and by these the kingdom of heaven has always been opened to men who would obey it and closed to men who would not obey it.