Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven :: By Charles Gray Adams Jr


Matthew 16:19

“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.” (Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.)

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

When combined and understood, these two passages reveal a truth that, if applied, can set many free from one of the greatest deceptions known to man. This deception has plagued mankind since the very first couple walked the earth. Indeed, succumbing to this deception has caused many to stray from the straight and narrow way, which leads to life (Matt 7:13-14). [1] Unfortunately, this deception is also responsible for the loss of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Simply put, this deception is the idea that man can be as god and act accordingly, in their own volition. So, how do we get the keys back?

How Do We Obtain the Keys?

Like so many other portions of Scripture, men have twisted the idea of the keys of the kingdom beyond what is included in the Bible. The truth is, Jesus demonstrated exactly how we are to obtain the keys of the kingdom, and that is simply by seeking and obeying the Father’s will. The following will explain.

Jesus asked His disciples who men said He was. They replied with various answers: John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. In response to the next question, Jesus asked, Whom do you say I am? Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:13-16). Jesus then informed Peter that God had revealed this to him, and next comes the part that confuses many. Jesus goes on to say:

Matthew 16:17-19

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 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.” (emphasis mine)

Here is the sticky wicket. At first glance, this passage seems to indicate that Peter is the rock upon which the church will be built. However, close examination reveals that even though Jesus gave Peter a new name which means a stone (John 1:42), He is not referring to Peter as the rock in this passage. Entire false religious systems have been built around this misconception. No, the true purpose of this passage is much simpler than most make it out to be.

Peter is confessing that Jesus is the Christ, which means He is the Savior they have been awaiting. This is true, and Jesus affirms it by saying that Peter has heard this from the Father in heaven. The fact that Jesus is the awaited Savior confirms that Jesus is the rock upon which the church will be built.

However, take another look at the emphasized text in the above passage. Jesus explains that the binding and loosing involved are actually the aforementioned keys of the kingdom of heaven. Say what? This will help.

Jesus came to do the will of the Father. He did so, even to the death. He ‘finished it all’ on the cross. He then commissioned men to go forth and do that which He had done. What was that exactly? The will of the Father. This is what binding and loosing is all about. You see, Jesus affirmed Peter by saying the revelation he had received was from God the Father, not flesh and blood.

Following the example of Jesus, the church is a group of called-out ones who simply seek the Father’s will and do it, forever, even unto death. This means that each and every day, this group, now called Christians, takes up their own cross, which means to die to self-will, and lives to do the Father’s will. This is why the text about binding and loosing is so important.

When read correctly, this message actually says that whatsoever is bound in heaven shall be bound on earth, and whatsoever is loosed in heaven shall be loosed on earth as men seek and follow the Father’s will. This means that God is in control, and men are subject to His will. He binds and loosens in heaven, and Christians on earth reciprocate. Ultimately, the authority to bind or loosen comes from God in heaven. Continually seeking His will is then paramount. The New American Standard Bible clears this up nicely:

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19, NASB). (emphasis mine)

Sadly, many have tried to apply this text to authority granted to man on earth, in which man can bind or loosen something on earth, and whatever this is must then be bound or loosened in heaven. Twisting this passage in this fashion smacks of the great deception which causes men to believe they are god, and thereby, the God of heaven is subject to man’s will.

This is why Jesus will tell many who say they did many wonderful works in His name to depart from Him because He never knew them. They were only using His name to further their will; they were not actually using His name to fulfill the Father’s will (Matt 7:22-23).

Notice what Jesus said in the last part of Matthew 7:21-23, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Another word for iniquity is disobedience. Disobedience is part and parcel of what these are accused of; they simply did their own will in the name of Jesus. This implies that even though we may desire to do wonderful works for God, in the name of Jesus, if it is not God’s will, it is done in disobedience.

This may help: imagine for a second that God is leading someone through a particularly difficult circumstance for a reason we cannot see. Human intervention could alleviate the momentary discomfort, but it could also thwart that which God is doing in the person’s life. What we cannot see is the fact that God has a purpose for this difficulty, and that is bringing the individual to greater maturity in Christ, which will invariably bring greater faith. This will then cause this person to rely on God even more. Not to mention, their testimony of God’s grace will help many who are dealing with the same type of circumstance.

Whose Kingdom is it?

The kingdom of God is just that, His kingdom. Many have attempted to bring the kingdom of God to earth to no avail, at least not in the physical sense. This is because His kingdom is in heaven; on earth it is only in the hearts of men that do His will. Look at the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus taught it:

Matthew 6:9-13

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (emphasis mine)

The highlighted text tells us how the kingdom of God does manifest on earth. It comes by way of man seeking and following the will of God who is in heaven. This is how His spiritual kingdom manifests on earth. Sadly, Satan also knows this, and his main weapon is deception which usually manifests in men who decide to turn from following God’s will to fulfill their own. When this happens, the kingdom of God departs from those who forsake their King, and they suffer loss.

With this in mind, it is crucial for all of us to remember that God is in control. As we embrace this truth, He will use us mightily to show others that He loves them while sharing the gospel with them. After all, Jesus said, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:28-29).


God’s kingdom can only be entered into by way of the keys given us by Jesus the Christ. We simply must do what Jesus did and follow the will of the Father. This is why the Apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Other translations use the term imitate rather than follow. This indicates that Paul was so successful in his life of ministry because He did what Jesus did, who did what the Father did. This is a perfect example of how we should operate in the spiritual kingdom of God while we await our soon departure for the heavenly kingdom.

Therefore, let us all strive to do the Father’s will in all things, at all cost.

Colossians 3:17

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

Website: In His Commission

May 14th, 2022

[1] For greater understanding, see the article, “The Greatest Lie Ever Told: The Origin of All Lies.