The Keys of Christ

Matthew 28:18; Rev. 1:18; Rev. 3:7

IN Matthew 28:18 the Lord Jesus Christ says, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” With all that authority back of Him, it is interesting to notice the keys which God’s Word says are His.

In Revelation 3:7 we read: “These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” The reference to the key of David carries us back to Isaiah 22:22 where the Lord declares through Isaiah that Shebna, an unworthy court favorite and treasurer, shall be displaced by God’s servant Eliakim, who shall bear the key of the house of David upon his shoulder. The prophecy is prophetic of Christ, who is the true heir to the house of David and will one day reign over a redeemed and restored Israel. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that the government shall be upon His shoulder.

The Lord Jesus Christ also, in this connection, carries the keys to the storehouse of Divine truth. “All things are delivered unto Me of My Father” (Matt. 11:27). God’s riches in glory are by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19), and only through Christ can we lay hold upon them.

Our Lord also carries the key to doors of Christian service. Paul spoke of opportunities for service as open doors (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12). When Christ opens a door and calls us to go in, no man can shut that door, no one can prevent us. Men discouraged D. L. Moody, but God had set before him an open door, and he went in. Conversely, we must be careful not to try to open doors God has shut and force ourselves where He does not direct. Paul knew the experience of shut doors also, as in Acts 16:7.

In Matthew 16:19 the Lord Jesus Christ tells Peter: “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 lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Not the keys to the church, nor the keys to eternity, but the privilege of opening the door of the kingdom to the world is here meant. Peter exercised this privilege by opening the door to the Jews at Pentecost and to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. The “binding and loosing” in this passage, combined with Matthew 18:15-19, is simply the delegation to the disciples of the powers of church discipline and does not mean authority to decide upon any soul’s salvation. See also John 20:23.

In Revelation 1:18 our Lord declares that He has the keys of hell and death. He has conquered death and will eventually destroy it (1 Cor. 15:26). Death and hell ultimately are to be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). The lake of fire is the final hell for sinners, the Gehenna of Jesus’ messages (Matt. 11:23, etc.).

Hell in Revelation 1:18 refers to Hades, the place where the spirits of the dead go. Hades is not to be identified with the final hell, for then Christ would have been in that hell before His resurrection (Acts 2:25-31). Death is the condition of the body without the spirit. Hades is the condition of the spirit without the body. The keys of both are with Him. He has the power to join body and spirit for their final destiny, which He will exercise in the resurrection of the righteous (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and at the judgment of the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15).
Reflections on the Gospels.

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