555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

267. What Was the Power Conferred on Peter by Christ's Commission of the Keys?

The keys and the power of binding and loosing referred to a common Jewish custom. When a man had passed his examinations for the high position of a doctor of the law, he received as his diploma, a key which was handed to him with the words, "Receive authority to bind and to loose," that is to permit or forbid. Having mastered the law, he could say whether some act was lawful or unlawful. Peter's declaration that Jesus was the Son of God was the evidence of his having reached a state of spiritual faith and perception which Christ recognized (Matt. 16:18, 19). The keys may also have had reference to Peter's opening the doors of Christ's kingdom to the multitude on the day of Pentecost and to the Gentiles by preaching to Cornelius. It is clear that the Apostles did not recognize Peter as superior to themselves. It was James who passed sentence in the council (Acts 15:13, 19) although Peter was present; and Paul "withstood Peter to the face." (Gal. 2:11.)