The Meaning of the Keys

Matthew 16:19


The Key - Lock metaphor that Jesus used as Caesarea Philippi

How to explain the meaning of the Keys in Matthew 16.


Some Protestants who reject the Papacy will say that they all get the symbolic “Key”
that Jesus gave to Peter.  However, if that is what Jesus had intended then He used a metaphor that does not fit.  This is explained below.

They will also contend that the Key does not represent authority over others as vicar, or representative, of Christ.  Instead they will contend something like


“that Jesus gave Peter the keys to unlock the divine knowledge of God’s ways”


Now, if Jesus had intended what Protestants propose above it would have been much more fitting for Him to have used the metaphor of a “looking glass” rather than a “Key.”  There would be nothing inconsistent or out of place if Jesus had wanted to give everyone a looking glass.

Some of the text below might seem slow at first, but if one works logically and methodically, step-by-step, the meaning will be clear to all.


So, we have to ask, “What is the meaning of the Keys ?”

A key has no meaning or purpose without a lock.  So, we must also ask,
“What is the meaning and purpose of a lock ?”

A lock secures the contents of the thing being locked so that only the person who has the key designed for that lock can have access.  The key must be unique from all other keys.   Because, if everybody’s key fit that lock, then it would serve no purpose.  It would keep no one out.  A lock only has value because only one specially designed key works.  Only one particular key (or set of duplicate keys,) out of the whole range of different possibilities of possible keys, can work.

Similarly, if everyone had that unique key designed for that lock then the lock would also have no meaning and serve no purpose. 

However, every word that Jesus spoke had meaning and purpose.

Therefore, for the metaphor of the key that Jesus spoke of implies a power that is unique for the one individual Jesus gave it to. 

Notice that Jesus does not break or destroy the lock, so that everyone has access.  Rather Jesus gives to Peter singularly the Key. 

That is why Jesus switched from second person plural, “You” in Matthew 16:15, to second person singular in Matthew chapter 16 verses 17, 18, and 19.


The symbol below was written on Peter’s grave in Rome. The early Christians used this symbol to show the close connection between Jesus Christ, Peter, and the Keys Jesus gave to Peter.


See More Details on diagram above

Read more on what the Bible tells us about the Keys at

Part III - Keys of the Kingdom - Office and Succession

For another study of the meaning of the Keys and the Papacy see the following article: 

King  Hezekiah  And  Following  Jesus  Christ


Also see the following books for more information:

THE  KEYS  OF  THE  KINGDOM, A Tool’s Witness to Truth,  by Fr. Stanley Jaki, published by The Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, Illinois 60609.  Ph: 217-228-5670.  Also see

AND ON THIS ROCK, also by Fr. Stanley Jaki.  It is published by Christendom Press,  Front Royal, VA 22630.



Keys at Caesarea Philippi


Part I   –  Rock at Caesarea Philippi
Part II –  Near, not in Caesarea ??   Relevant ???
                 Seeing the Context at Caesarea Philippi
Part III - Keys of the Kingdom - Office and Succession
Part IV - Pagan god Pan Vs Jesus

Part V -  Christ Defeats Pan





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