The Faith of Peter Who Received the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven
Receiving the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, means that a person has the authority to open the gates of Heaven and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, those who have received the keys of the kingdom of Heaven are those who are guaranteed salvation. It was Apostle Peter who received the promise of the ‘keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’ from Jesus Christ. The faith of Apostle Peter is an important example of faith that those who have hope for Heaven must examine. Among numerous churches nowadays, which church resembles the faith of Peter who received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?
1. Peter Who Received the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven
2. Peter’s Faith
3. The Jews Who Rejected Jesus
4. Those Who Receive the Keys to Heaven and Those Who Do Not
5. Do Churches Today Resemble Peter’s Faith?
Peter Who Received the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, ··· 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 16:17-19)
This is the scene where Jesus Christ said that He would give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, who was born a fisherman 2,000 years ago. What is the reason Jesus said He would give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven especially to Peter?
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(Matthew 16:15-16)
The decisive reason Peter received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven was because he realized and confessed that Jesus was the Christ. The keys to the kingdom of Heaven are given to those who realize Christ. In actuality, the Bible says that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:2-3). Those who realize Christ will be able to have the treasures of Heaven through the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In this way recognizing Christ is as great a blessing as receiving the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, the Bible points out that Christ is the mystery of God that has been kept hidden for ages and generations (Colossians 1:26-27, 2:2-3). Because Almighty God came in human form just like us, it cannot be helped but be a secret that is difficult to understand.
Then, what did Peter see to realize that Jesus who came in human form?
Jesus said, “Believe me when I say that you must eat the body of the Son of Man, and you must drink his blood. If you don’t do this, you have no real life. Those who eat my body and drink my blood have eternal life. I will raise them up on the last day… After Jesus said these things, many of his followers left and stopped following him. Jesus asked the twelve apostles, “Do you want to leave too?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe in you. We know that you are the Holy One from God.”(ERV John 6:53-54, 66-69)
Peter and the apostles only focused on Jesus’ words of eternal life and realized that Jesus was the reality of Christ. Jesus also established the New Covenant; the promise of eternal life, for Peter and His disciples who followed Him only focusing on the word without looking at Jesus’ physical characteristics.
Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer ··· And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it ··· “This is my body given for you ··· In the same way ··· he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:8, 14-15, 19-20)
On the day of the Passover, Jesus promised eternal life to those who eat His flesh and blood, and put that guarantee in the Passover bread and wine and proclaimed it as the New Covenant. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” Peter’s confession of faith, who followed Jesus to the end, clearly shows what kind of faith we should have if we want to receive the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Jews Who Rejected Jesus
Jesus answered, ” ··· My sheep listen to my voice ··· and they follow me. I give them eternal life ··· I and the Father are one.”(John 10:25-27, 30)
These are the words Jesus said 2000 years ago in the temple courtyard in Solomon’s Colonnade (John 10:23). Jesus said to the people gathered in the temple, “I will give eternal life to those who hear and follow my voice,”. And He added, “I and the Father are one,” meaning, Jesus Himself was God Jehovah.
Most of the people gathered in the temple at that time believed in God Jehovah. How did they react? The Bible records that, “Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,···” (John 10:31). They were trying to kill Jesus. They were convinced that Jesus standing before their very eyes was not God (John 10:32-33).
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph, Judas and Simon ··· ?”(NRSV Mark 6:3)
··· “this man ··· never had the kind of teaching we had!”(ERV John 7:15)
The crowd responded and said: “You must have a demon ···”(CPDV John 7:20)
But they (teachers of the law and Pharisees) were saying this to test him, so that they might be able to accuse him ···(CPDV John 8:6)
The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon.”(NLT John 8:52)
These are the words that came out of the mouths of those who believed in God Jehovah at that time. Even though the Jews believed in God, they strongly denied the fact that God came in the flesh. Jesus who said, “I and the Father are one,” was ultimately accused of blasphemy and was hated on by the Jews, and in the end was sacrificed on the cross.
Those Who Receive the Keys to Heaven and Those Who Do Not
2000 years ago, Jewish society was divided into two groups over the question of ‘Was Jesus God Jehovah, that is, the Christ?’ The ruling class of Jewish society would never tolerate identifying Jesus as Jehovah (John 5:18, Acts 4:18, 29, 5:27-28, 33, 40). On the other hand, a small number of Jews such as Peter and the apostles of the early church, recognized Jesus as Jehovah, and praised and preached His name (Acts 5:41-42, 21:13, 22:15-16).
Then, which of the two groups of people had the right faith? At the time, the Jews’ standard of life was the Torah and the Old Testament. When the Jews encountered problems in their daily life, they asked their religious leaders, and they made changes to their lifestyle according to the leaders’ judgment. Religious leaders always studied and researched the Bible in their spare time. Jesus also said, “You are studying the Bible diligently because you think you can get eternal life from the Bible, but the Bible testifies about Me” (John 5:39). The Bible Jesus spoke of refers to the Old Testament. Let us take a look at the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given ··· And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.(Isaiah 9:6)
··· the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.(Isaiah 7:14)
The Bible refers to a “child” to be born in the future as a Wonderful Counselor. According to the Christian Bible Dictionary, Wonderful Counselor is another name for the manifestation of God, whom people will not be able to accept by human wisdom. Counselor refers to a resourceful counselor or advisor. The Old Testament prophets said that the greatest Counselor is Jehovah (Psalms 32:8, 73:24). In other words, the Bible tells us that a child will be born in Israel in the future, and it will be made known that He is Almighty God Jehovah in nature.
However, Jesus said that many people persecuted Him because they did not believe in the records of the Old Testament (John 5:46-47). Even though they read the Bible, those who did not realize the Christ that the Bible testified about were not given the opportunity to receive the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Early Church was a history of confrontations between the minority of Christians who believed in God who came in the flesh according to the prophecies of the Bible, and the majority of Jews who denied that God could come as a man. Judaism, which was the ruling class at that time, regarded the few Christians (Church of God) who believed in God (Jesus) who came in the flesh, as heretical, persecuted them, and even killed them (Galatians 1:13).
Do Churches Today Resemble Peter’s Faith?
Christianity today has grown to such a large size it cannot be compared to what it was 2000 years ago. According to data published in January 2021, 32.3% or 2.5 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people, are Christians who believe in Jesus.
Christians nowadays acknowledge that Jesus is the only measure and standard of faith. Jesus, who is the standard of Christianity, said to the churches:
The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them ··· my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear ···(Revelation 3:12-13).
Whoever has ears, let them hear what ··· says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna ··· a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.(Revelation 2:17)
The Bible prophesied that “my new name” will appear in the future. Here, “my” indicates Christ Jesus (Revelation 1:1). That is, the Bible prophesies that Jesus Christ will return to the earth with the hidden manna, and with a new name (Hebrews 9:28). At that time, a person who has ears, who believes in the words of the Bible, and who receives Christ who comes with a new name is called ‘one who is victorious. In other translations, it is written that the one who is victorious, is the one who is victorious in faith.
The words of this prophecy are recorded in a book that Christian pastors and believers see today. However, not all churches believe in these words. While a small minority of people accept the new name of Jesus who brought the hidden manna and are preaching it, on the other hand, the majority of people say that they will never regard Jesus who came with a new name and with the hidden manna as Jesus who came 2,000 years ago. It is like how the ruling class of Jewish society in the past would never regard Jesus as Jehovah.
It is God who said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear,” and that He will come again with a new name. Then, among those who believe in the new name and those who do not, who can be said to have a true faith? And who can be said to resemble Peter’s faith, who received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?
- The Torah, Religions, BBC.
- Michael J. Cook, Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity: From the Pharisees to the Rabbis, Sage Journals.
- 6382. pele, Bible Hub.
- 6381. pala, Bible Hub.
- 3289. yaats, Bible Hub.
- World Christianity and Mission 2021: Questions about the Future, International Bulletin of Mission Research 2021, Vol. 45(1) 15–25.