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Who Has the Keys to Heaven and Hell? Christ or Peter?

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“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.” (Matthew 16:19, KJAV)

The above verse in the KJAV is contradicted by the corrupt NIV and the New Living Translation, which says that Peter determines what will happen. That is, whatever Peter binds or looses on earth will then be done in Heaven. Though itself corrupt, the NAS reverses this order:

"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."

In this version whatever Peter looses will merely be what Heaven has planned and done anyway. The Holy Spirit will therefore guide Peter to do what he does. The KJAV should be interpreted in this way. The Holman Christian Standard Bible makes this even more clear:

“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."

This correct interpretation is repeated in the International Standard Version as well as in the NET Bible. The Aramaic Bible in Plain English has the same correct version, whereas the God’s Word Translation does not, following in the erroneous path of the NIV, the NLT, and the Jubilee Bible of 2000. The King James 2000 Bible gives the correct translation, but the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible does not, nor does the Darby translation. The Young’s Literal Translation has a grammatical structure very close to the original.

Then we have other texts that show that Peter was only an agent of Christ, doing whatever He wished to do... Peter did not simply loose or initiate anything, and Heaven just rubber-stamped it! This is made very clear in Revelation 1:18, which says quite plainly that Christ, not Peter, is the real key-holder:

“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.”

Isaiah 22:22 prophesied that Christ, not Peter held the keys:

“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

Revelation 3:7 made it very explicit – ‘him’ referring to Christ:

"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

Throughout scripture, Christ holds the keys. In the New Testament this order remains, though it is not fully interpreted properly by many. The idea that Peter was given the power of Christ to save or not to save, to cause people to enter Heaven or enter Hell, is Roman Catholic in origin, and proclaimed so as to give great authority to Peter as so-called first pope and ‘head’ of the Church, and to those supposedly following in his footsteps, the priests and the popes. It is then used to ‘prove’ that all popes are in direct succession to Peter, who supposedly was in direct succession to Christ! (Also see article on the Chair of Peter, O-214).

The Greek is shown in more modern terms in the Holman and Young’s translations, but the KJAV, when examined in the Greek, says the same things. Thus, the KJAV, though less explicit (to modern eyes) gives the correct translation from the Greek, but in a slightly different form. (Readers are still warned not to use modern, corrupt versions, but to remain with the KJAV).

Along similar lines, Peter was NOT the Rock of Ages, but was a lesser rock or stone, if not a pebble. Again, throughout scripture, it is Christ Who is the Rock on Whom the Church is built, not Peter. To claim that the Rock was Peter is to give him equal status to Christ/God, and misinterprets who really has the keys to heaven and hell.

© May 2015

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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom