Matthew 16:13-28 Part 9

Before we go on to verses nineteen and beyond, it would be helpful to us all to spend a couple of minutes in review.  And I want to begin that review by saying that this chapter sixteen contains the highest doctrine in Scripture with regard to the Church.

And I think it not coincidence that Jesus has taken His twelve disciples to the pagan, Roman city of Paneas in order to present to them these glorious things concerning the New City of God!

In clear view of godless heathenism, and in the midst of Greek mythology, nature worship, hedonistic gratification and authoritarian statism, the Son of God breathes out upon the Twelve the Divine foundation, structure and operation of the Church.  And the contrast is so remarkable!

And, as you can see, our Lord has no hesitation whatever about explaining the nature of His victorious Kingdom (with its visible Church) while in full, visual contact with the pagan world-order!  And, without a doubt, there are lessons here that we must learn over and over again.  And those lessons are basically these: 

1)    The Son of God suffered Himself to be killed at the hands of an assemblage of the nations of the world (in the belly of the whore of the world), and He descended into sin and death and preached the Gospel there!  And He then was raised out of it – victorious over it – for it could not hold Him!  He was raised the Son of God with Power, with ascendant authority over all the nations of earth; and the Son of Man, with a new humanity – also having been victorious over death and Hades!

2)    The second thing we see is that this Jesus is the Corner Foundation Stone, which, with His twelve apostles, form the Rock foundation of a New Assembly (Ekklesia) made of Living Stones – given structure and order by its Corner.  And in this new Living Temple comes intrinsic building and maturing from its roots being sunk into the foundation with its living water.  And from this new Living Temple comes extrinsic progress through all the nations and peoples of the world – submitting them to the authority which has already been given to Christ!  And the portals of death cannot resist, because it could not hold the Second Adam within its midst!  He has already entered into – and exited out of – the realm of the dead, with the New Assembly in Him!  He is the Genesis of, and the New Representative Head of, a New Humanity which is in full assurance of its victory – although it still must suffer with Him and in Him until He becomes All In All.

3)    And, thirdly, we see that knowledge of, and faith in, these things isn’t achieved by flesh and blood – but it is given by the Father.  And twelve men personally chosen by, and trained by, Jesus Himself were the first-fruits of the Gospel – and they were also given to be the remainder of the foundation of the Church.  Their preaching and inspired writing concerning the resurrected Christ is the Revelation known as the New Testament.  The apostle Peter, the “leader” of the group with respect to the Jews (especially the finding of the Lost Sheep of the house of Israel), and the apostle Paul, the “leader” of the group with respect to the Gentile nations of the world, were given more comprehensive roles in the establishment of Church and Kingdom.

4)    And lastly, we now know that the Resurrected and Ascended Christ is the Ultimate Authority over all things.  And the Church is to be the Proclaiming Voice of that authority!  And the Church is to stand against, with the proclamation of the Gospel, anything which is in opposition to His authority – without compromise!


And it is with regard to this last point that I wish to refer you to Revelation chapter two where Christ writes letters to the Churches of Asia minor – which was a part of the Roman empire.  It is here that we have confirmed for us that the Church operates in poverty, tribulation and persecution as it suffers with, and in, its Lord Jesus Christ.  And that it is by that suffering in Him that we receive the victory of His resurrection!  For it is by the offense of the cross and the descent and exit from Hades that we become “more than conquerors”!

The Church at Pergamos, beginning at verse thirteen of that chapter, suffered greatly with Christ at the hands of the Roman Empire.  It was in a city which had, as its cult-god, a figure similar to that of the city of Pan.  It was Dionysius, the half bull/half goat god of fertility.

And along with this ecstatic, experiential nature worship the Roman state had set itself up as the savior and restorer of the earth!  The emperor of Rome, by Roman law, became the intermediary between man and the divine order!  So the primary function of religion was performed by the state, and all the subordinate religious functions were performed by the religious cults!

So the state itself, the emperor as its head, became the link between man and divinity.  And Caesar was the god-man whose function was messianic.  Through him man entered into peace and order, and participated in the intoxicating and ecstatic “good life” of hedonism and fertility!

The state, by its law, became the provider of salvation for all mankind, and all religious activities flowed from its divine/human order.  And it was against this statist law and order that the Church of Christ declared His Law and Authority!  And the Roman state declared war on the Church in order to annihilate this intrusion into its realm!  And although the Church at Pergamos had compromisers in its midst, it stood relatively strong against the Caesar worship and the fertility cults.  But Jesus wrote to them that there must be no compromise!  Not with the immorality of Jezebel on the inside; and not with the messianic Roman state on the outside.  The double-edged Sword of Christ the King is to be exhibited in the realm of the dead in order that His Divine Authority be established among men!

Now, in our own situation today, the modern Church has compromised with a state which has assumed the role of salvation and religion!  The state has moved far past the simple justice for which it was established, and it has taken on Messianic authority!  And it is looking more and more like the link between the divine and the human as was established in the Roman empire!

Now, most are not aware of the situation which we have here in Tyler, so I’m not going to elaborated on that; but suffice it to say that the state is challenging the authority of Christ the King all over this nation, and for the most part, the Churches are content to sit back and watch the state take on the role of ultimate authority – and just continue to perform the subsidiary functions of religious activity!  The Church has become subordinate!

Now, we are commanded in Scripture to obey and honor all authorities, for they are established by God.  That’s the reason for the obedience – not because they are “positions” of authority, and not because the persons are “persons” of authority; but simply because God has established them!  God has put them there, and they are His representatives.  Therefore they are to be honored.  And the Church has not been given the sword of justice with which to do battle.

What has been given to us is the double-edged Sword of Christ which is the sign of His Authority!  And we have been given to suffer in Christ and with Christ and for His sake!  Therefore, with the Church at Pergamos, we must cleanse ourselves of the immorality within, as the Church at Pergamos was commanded to do; and we are to continue to wield the Sword of Christ – refusing to worship at the altar of the savior-state.  While giving honor and obedience, we will not accept the salvation offered by the divine order of the state!

And should we have to suffer by the sword of the state – then we win!  For Jesus said that if we do suffer to the death, then He will give us the Crown of Life.  A two-fold promise is included in the Revelation passage:  “the hidden manna”, and “a white stone”.  The “hidden manna” is supernatural provision and deliverance; and the “white stone” is the building material of the New Temple of God.  And on it will be written the Imperial Name of Christ – Martur – martyr!  The Name of Christ is given to the triumphant believer, and it is his symbol of victory and his token of entrance into the Kingdom!

There is no greater victory than to have suffered for Christ’s sake.  And, with Him, we can laugh at the paltry attempts to invade the realm of the King.  You see, when the state (or any other institution of man) attempts to provide life to all mankind, instead it brings death.  And as the Church compromises with it, it enters into the realm of death instead of suffering in Christ!

Right now there is a religious fervor in this country, and it seems to be progressing very rapidly.  And the fervor is ecstatic and intoxicating.  It is a fervor for the divination of the state!  People everywhere are crying out for the state to provide – for the state to insure – for the state to open up its abundant coffers and give an abundance of the good life – for the state to protect… for the state to save!

Even the compromising Churches utter the same cry, for there is a desire in all men for salvation and safety.  And the more the state releases men from the constraints of morality, the more it tightens the bonds of subservience to itself as savior of mankind.  It provides laws of neutrality, putting the Church into a position of subservience, then it attempts to provide life in that neutrality!

It is asked, in this highly charged political fervor, “What is happening to this nation?”  The more the government takes upon itself to provide, the more enslaved to debt we become; the more the government frees men from morality, the more subservient to government we become; the more the state legislates its own law code, the more decadent we become!  And every year there is a religious fervor for more of the same!

Even talk show hosts are asking the reason for the mind-bending stampede to the saving graces of the state!  And no one seems to be able to answer.  But I’ll tell you what the answer is.  The doors, the portals, of death have been left open and unassailed by a leadership which has no Theological base – and therefore no Godly principles from which to operate!  From Jimmy Carter to the present, religion has been personal and separated from national interests.

There has been no attempt al all to stand against those who would continue the construction of a “savior state”; there has been no firmness at all, and no moral leadership against the assault on morality; there has been no executive order and a calling out the troops against the holocaust of thirty million babies being slaughtered in the last twenty years (as one example); there has been no abatement of compromise with death in this country’s leadership!

Therefore the portals have been left open (a vacuum) for a religious flight – a fervent flight – to the state in order to fix it!  And it is religious in nature!  The state is the Messianic hope, and the first one who comes along, who has some charisma about him and who says that the state can fix it, is the recipient of praise and glory!

And make no mistake about it, this religious fervor is real.  And if it continues the way it is going, there will be more intrusions into the Churches and families; more taxation and redistribution of wealth; more decadence; more slaughter of the defenseless; and more and more helpless hope for the Messianic state to provide salvation!  It is a plunge into the realm of death!

But our Lord Jesus Christ said,


“…hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the Name of My God – New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God; and I will write upon him My new Name.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”


While we obey and honor, there can be no compromise with the salvation offered by the state!  There can be no ultimate authority but One.  And even if we must suffer in Him and with Him by holding fast, then we not only participate in His suffering, but we also participate in His victory.  So hold fast to life – and do not compromise.

Christ is building His Church on the Rock foundation, and the portals of death – Hades – shall not prevail against it! (verse eighteen)  And Jesus then says, verse nineteen:


“I will give to you the keys to the Kingdom of the Heavens, and whatever you shall bind upon the earth shall be as having been bound in the heavens; and whatever you shall loose upon the earth shall be as having been loosed in the heavens.”


Now, having already done the review and the context, let’s spend just a minute on the grammar; and then we’ll look at the words themselves.  And the first thing of interest is the fact that whatever He’s giving to His apostles is to be in the future.  He says, “I will give to you….”  And we know that Jesus was given to be the Son of God with Power upon His resurrection from the realm of the dead.  All authority is summed up in Him as He received Power and Glory from His Father.

The second grammatical instance of interest is the identical verbal structure of the two words “binding” and “loosing”.  The translation is “… as having been bound”, and “…as having been loosed”.  Both of these words are structured as “perfect passives”.  And the perfect passive is not a common structure in the Scriptures.  So when it comes up it’s like an alarm going off – “look at this closely!”

If you’re reading from the King James or one of the other versions, you’ll not find a translation of the perfect passive.  Instead, they retain the future tense of the giving of the keys to the apostles, and the future tense of the usage of the keys to bind and to loose.  But these two words, as I said, are not future tense!  They are perfect passive.  And the translation into English must be in accord with the Greek!

And the perfect passive tense means that whatever the action is must be in a state resulting from something that already happened!  As an example of that, let me use a military analogy.  Our nation’s military readiness is, at least to some degree, a result of the Soviet Union’s breaking apart and standing down from its aggressive posture!  Our reduced posture, in other words, is a result of their less threatening posture.

So what Jesus says here is that sometime in the future He will give the apostles the keys to the Kingdom of the Heavens; and in that future time they will bind and loose with the keys; and whatever they bind and loose will be as a result of it having been already bound and loosed in the Heavens!  To say it another way, whatever Christ the King has bound and loosed in the Heavens where He reigns as universal Lord, the apostles will participate in, for they are to be given the keys to the Kingdom!

Now, the keys to something means ultimate authority over whatever it is, doesn’t it?  In this passage, Who has the keys?  Christ does!  And by giving the keys to the apostles, He passes on a degree of authority!

But let’s stop for a minute and notice some passages of Scripture having to do with the keys.  In the first chapter of John’s Revelation, the apostle hears a trumpeting voice saying, “I am Alpha and Omega….”  And he looked up and saw the glory of Christ with the seven stars in His hand and the two-edged sword coming from His mouth.  And Christ said,


 “Fear not, I Am the first and the last; I Am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I Am alive for evermore, Amen; and I have the keys of Hades and of death!”


Christ had entered Hades, and, with authority over it, He has exited it.  And in Revelation chapter twenty, the angel of the Lord came down from the Heavens with the key to the pit; and He grabbed hold of Satan, put him in the pit and chained him there for a thousand years!  The key is the symbol of the authority Christ has over Satan.

As recorded by Luke in chapter four, Jesus makes reference there to the time of Elijah when the heavens were “locked up” for three and a half years.  And there came a great famine over the land.  It was then that Elijah passed over all the widows of Israel – but was sent to the widow of Zarepath, a Gentile!  The indication is that Jesus, with the keys to the Kingdom, locked it up to the rebellious nation of Israel and opened it to the Gentile nations.

Also in Luke, in chapter eleven, the Scribes and Pharisees have taken away the key of knowledge to those entering.  Jesus makes it clear in Matthew twenty-three that that was the key to the Kingdom.  The Pharisees don’t enter themselves, and they lock it up against men!  The Pharisees were the leaders in Israel, and they were to open the locked doors of the people.  But they didn’t.  But Peter did!  His mission was to the Jews, and he opened the portals of the Kingdom for them at Pentecost by preaching the Gospel that had been revealed to him by the Father!  And the lost sheep of the house of Israel believed, and their hearts were crushed at their sin.  Peter had been given the keys to the Kingdom for the Jews whom God had reserved for Himself.

So the authority belongs to Christ; He has the keys which symbolize that Authority; He has come out of the Heavens, He has entered Hades and exited it, and He has entered back in the Heavens.  He had the authority to do all that.  And He has given this authority, in some way and to some degree, to His apostles.  And we have now seen that the apostle Peter, on the very day of the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ, preached the Gospel and unlocked the portals of the Heavens to the ones to whom it had previously been locked!  What had been given to Peter by the Father was now given to others to whom he preached!

That’s all we have time for this morning.  We’ll come to binding and loosing next Lord’s Day.  But for now, should we have to suffer at the hands of a savior/state, then count it all joy.  For we suffer in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ’s sake.  The messianic state cannot win, for it has already lost.  Be comforted in that.  We are in Christ and there is the power which overcomes the portals of Hades.