In Matthew 16, Jesus famously told Peter, “Upon this rock, I will build My church.” Yet people act as if Jesus had said, “You will build My church.” Why do people take it upon themselves to build something that God says He will build? I don’t know, but it’s been a recurring challenge for God.
Unlike the aforementioned people, Peter did not misunderstand Jesus’ words and did not take it upon himself to become a church administrator. Instead, he preached the gospel and let Jesus do the building.
Another great source of misunderstanding has been the very next verse where Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Note that Jesus did not say He would give to Peter the keys to the church, but rather to the kingdom. The church lived in anticipation of the kingdom. It, of course, was not the kingdom. It was God’s means of preparing people for the kingdom.
Peter was not going to be able to use those keys himself because John 21 prophesied that he would not live until the coming of the kingdom and he affirmed this in 2 Peter 1. This was all the more reason, however, for him to make sure that he handed off those keys properly lest they be lost. The handoff had nothing to do with church administration. It had to do with the practice of moral excellence. He explained that this meant that individuals needed to grow in knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Practicing these things, Peter assured his readers, would guarantee entrance into the kingdom. Therefore, in Peter’s mind, the keys of the kingdom were qualities we associate with the nature of Jesus. Becoming like the Savior opened access to the kingdom.
The keys remain for us to use today because the kingdom came not too long after Peter’s death. It’s been here ever since. If we want to be inside the kingdom instead of outside it, we must practice those qualities that Peter counseled.
Let the church administrators argue among themselves about what these verses mean for governing the churches that they manage. (In other words, let the dead bury the dead.) You can see clearly that these verses show a path to the kingdom. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness. Seek, and ye shall find.
The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.