Part three of Matt 16:15-19. Working through passages dealing with the topic of the kingdom, I come to this passage which is too complex to deal with in one post.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”Gates of Hades?
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 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.”
To understand what Gates of Hades could mean we should look at other passages that use a similar phrase. Job 17:16, Job 38:17, Psalm 9:13, Psalm 107:18, and Isaiah 38:10 make reference to the gates of death. It seems they refer to points where someone nears the passage from life to death.
Hades was the ancient Greek God of the underworld, but the term was commonly used to refer to the abode of the dead. Here in Acts 2:27 speaking about Jesus, 'realm of the dead' is the same term translated as Hades elsewhere.
Acts 2:27 (NIV)
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.Here is another verse that speaks of keys related to death and Hades.
Rev 1:18 (NIV)
I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?
I'm going to make a leap that the keys in this verse should go with the gates in the previous sentence. I know there are other ways to read this passage, but this seems to make the most sense to me.
When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven, he was typically speaking about the reign and rule of God - the kingdom of light - the way of life. The kingdom of heaven has a present reality, as well as a future phase.
What sort of keys could there be that can open the gates that separate the realm of death with the realm of life?
Jesus is the keys. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life...
Jesus is the way to defeat and/or resist the powers of darkness, and live under the powers of life.
Bound in heaven?
The HCSB translation may do a better job on vs 19.
Matthew 16:19 (HCSB)
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven."Peter isn't so much deciding what will be bound, and what will be loosed. The stuff that is already bound and loosed in heaven, that is the stuff Peter is binding and releasing here on earth.
In some mysterious way, Peter played a role in participating in the work that God in heaven had set in motion. We also are in a sense God's hands and feet as we work for the kingdom of God.
I know there are other ways to view this passage. I welcome your thoughts on this.