Was Peter the first Pope?
"What are the keys?"It has to be noted that the keys were not offered exclusively to Peter - if we look at Matthew 18:18 we see that they were also offered to the other disciples. Verse 1 shows that Jesus was talking to the disciples, and in v. 18 Jesus says:
Verily I say unto you, ' Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'
To bind means to forbid, to loose is to give permission and in the matter of the keys, Peter has no pre-eminence above the rest of the disciples.
The teaching of the Gospels is largely concerned with the theme of the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God on earth, and this same theme is to be found in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 22 we read of Eliakim - Eliakim means "God shall set up"; he foreshadows Jesus, whom God shall "set up" in His kingdom when he returns to the earth:
"And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house." (Isaiah 22:21-23)
This relates to the promise given to Mary before Jesus was born.(Luke 1:31-33).
Jesus also says:
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; '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.'" (Revelation 3:7)
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Revelation 1: 18)
In Jesus' time, a key was associated with doctrines and judgements as we can see from Luke 11:52
"Woe unto you , lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."
In Matthew 18, the Greek construction of the grammar implies that the disciples could only bind and loose on earth that which had already been bound or loosed in heaven, and this authority was given to them because they were privileged to have been taught, and had received, the will of God, and were empowered and privileged to make it known to others, i.e. to grant entrance to the kingdom of God through the knowledge of the Gospel preached to them.
C.B. Williams' translation reads:
"I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you forbid on earth must be whatever is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must be whatever is already permitted in heaven. I solemnly say to you, whatever you forbid on earth must be already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must be already permitted in heaven."