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We have already emphasized that the keys of the kingdom of heaven which were to be given by the Lord to Peter were not the keys of heaven. The whole interpretation of this portion of Scripture by the Romish church is sheer perversion. The portion which I refer to is Matthew 16.17-19. First of all, Rome claims that Peter is the Rock, and not Christ, that Peter was first Pope, and all the Popes that have followed sit in Peter's chair. Alas, alas, what a fantasy! Some of the Popes were among the worst sinners that walked this earth. To talk of such a thing as apostolic succession, is a delusion with which they cheat themselves and their fellows. There never has been apostolic succession.

It is surprising that some protestant clergymen, men who occupy the position of being ministers of Christ, professedly, should be turning their eyes to Rome, and associating with her priests. They should know better in this land of an open Bible. They should know the history of this country, and of the martyrs who gave their lives that the people might be free to read the Bible and follow its teaching.

I believe the kingdom of heaven is the reign of heaven on this earth. As truly as this earth is ruled from heaven in a material and physical sense, so is it ruled in a moral and spiritual sense from heaven. As light and darkness fill the time of each day, so also do light and darkness in the sense of right and wrong, good and evil, find their place in this world. And this will go on till the day of judgement. Then He who was sent to be the Saviour of the world, and who by His death and resurrection has provided salvation for all on the ground of faith in Himself, will come to be the Judge, even as Paul said to the philosophers of Athens on Mars hill, "Now He (God) commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17.30,31). This day of judgement is referred to in Matthew 13.36-43, which is the parable of the Tares of the field (the field is the world), which is a picture of the kingdom of heaven.

Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that is, I understand, that he received the Lord's authority to open the door of grace to men in the preaching of Christ and Him crucified. This he did in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, when about 3,000 Jewish people accepted Christ by faith. He also preached the gospel to the Gentiles, as we read in Acts 10. The closing words of his address were, "To Him (Christ) bear all the prophets witness, that through His name every one that believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins" (verse 43). Then we read, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word".

Of Peter's work in preaching the gospel we read (and this would take place also in the case of others who preached it later on), "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). Dr. Marshall in his interlinear New Testament renders this, "Whatever thou bindest on the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou loosest on the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens". Dr. Young translated it similarly in his Bible years ago.

The word "church" is used in Matthew 16 and 18. The church of Matthew 16 is later called by Paul, "The Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1.22,23). This is the Church of the dispensation, the beginning of which was at Pentecost, when those who had believed on Christ as the Son of the living God were baptized in the Holy Spirit into the one Body (1 Corinthians 12.13). They were told, during the time of the forty days in which the Lord appeared to them, between His resurrection and ascension to heaven, "Ye shall be baptized with (in, R.V. marg.) the Holy Spirit not many days hence". That took place on the day of Pentecost.

The church of Matthew 18 is a local church, which is later called "the church of God" (1 Corinthians 1.2), such as the church of God in Jerusalem, Corinth, Ephesus, and so forth. We read of the churches of God, of which there were many in the days of the apostles. The Church which is Christ's Body is never local to a place, but the church of God is eve local. Sin can never enter the Church which is Christ's Body, but in the church of God a brother may sin against another brother, as here in Matthew 18.15-18. The Lord gave instructions how such cases were to be dealt with, and how the brother who was sinned against was to act. First he was to go and show his brother his fault, and if he heard him, he had gained his brother and so enriched himself. If he failed, he was to take one or two more, so that at the mouth of two or three every word might be established. If he refused to hear them also, then the church was to be told, and if he refused to hear the church, he was to be given the outside place, such as the Gentile and the publican were given. He could not be regarded as the Gentile or the publican until every effort is made to save the sinning brother, but when he adds rebellion by his refusal to hear the voice of the church there is no other course. These instructions could only be carried out by a local church, hence it is of great importance in regard to church truth to see the difference the Lord made between the uses of the word church in these two chapters.

Then we have words similar to those in Matthew 16, but with a very different meaning, because of the fact that we have "thou", referring to Peter, in Matthew 16, but we find "ye" used in Matthew 18. The "thou" refers to Peter in his preaching the gospel. There would be in that preaching a binding of sinners who refused to repent and to believe in Christ, and a loosing of believers who received Christ by faith. Such binding and loosing would be according to heaven's binding and loosing, for we have the future tense and the perfect participle, rendered literally by Drs. Marshall and Young, as "shall be having been". There is ever the action and joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15.7). There is the work of the Good Shepherd (and a great and good work it is), as well as that of the preacher in finding the lost sheep. What is done in heaven is likewise done on earth and ratified for ever in heaven. The perfect tense is that of permanence.

In the case of the church of Matthew 18 we have the church acting and binding a sinning brother who will not repent of what he has done, and the loosing of sinning ones who do repent so that they may have their place in the church where they can worship and serve God. What a blessed reality it is when sinners are loosed through believing the gospel, and what a blessed thing it is when a brother is loosed by the church and received thereinto so that he may serve God!