This promise, emphatically delivered to Peter here, was also the property of the Twelve and not Peter’s exclusively. See also Matthew 18:18.
All of the apostles, not merely Peter alone, were included in this promise.
Its mention in this context appears to make the action of a church in the rejection of an offending member a matter of the utmost consequences, now and eternally.
Origen, under the sub-title, “The promise given to Peter, not restricted to him, but applicable to all disciples like him,” asked, “But if you suppose that upon one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the apostles?”
That power was (and is) exercised by all the apostles, and the New Testament is the instrument by which that binding and loosing are effected.
The objection may be raised that if all the apostles exercised that authority, the words lose their meaning as applied by Christ to Peter in the instance before us. This is not the case.
A Certain Preeminence DID Pertain to Peter:
- (1) He preached the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:14ff).
- (2) He unlocked the secret of the Davidic kingdom (Acts 2:31).
- (3) He unlocked the secret of HOW people enter the kingdom (Acts 2:38).
- (4) He unlocked the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1ff).
- (5) He unlocked the door of return for backsliders (Acts 8:13,22).
- (6) He unlocked the mystery of the new name (1 Peter 4:16).
- (7) He expounded the mystery of the new birth (1 Peter 3:21).
- (8) He revealed the ultimate fate of the earth (2 Peter 3:11-13).
These remarkable options exercised by Peter might be said to be his use of the keys, solving, unlocking, and revealing great mysteries of the kingdom of heaven in those important aspects.
Surely such does constitute great honor and dignity conferred upon Peter by our Lord by reason of his having been the first to ascertain the holy truth of God in Christ, and then confess it.
The distinctions noted herewith are far more than enough to fulfill Jesus’ words without resort to the monstrous notion that Peter was to be made, in any sense, the head of the church, which by its very nature can have only one head – CHRIST!
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF PETER
The Scriptures make it clear that, whatever preeminence was enjoyed by Peter, it was well within the framework of his stature as a fellow apostle, and not, as some affirm, as a president over the apostles.
- (1) There is not one throne in Christ’s kingdom, but twelve thrones (Matthew 19:28).
- (2) The Holy City that comes down out of heaven does not have merely one foundation, engraved with Peter’s name, but twelve foundations, engraved with the names of the Twelve (Revelation 21:14).
- (3) Peter himself included the rest of the apostles when he admonished men to heed the commandment of Christ, “through your apostles” (2 Peter 3:2).
- (4) Even when Peter opened the gates of the kingdom of heaven on the day of Pentecost, he did so, not alone, but “standing up with the eleven” (Acts 2:14).
- (5) When the Jewish high priest moved against the church, he moved not against Peter only, but against the Twelve (Acts 5:17-19).
- (6) Peter’s authority was actually equaled by that of Paul (Galatians 2:7,8).
- (7) Peter’s dignity was, on occasion, made secondary to that of the Twelve, as when, for instance, he was “sent” by the Twelve as a messenger (Acts 8:14).
- (8) Peter’s dignity was no greater than that of James (Galatians 2:9); and, in fact, James is mentioned first.
All of the plain words and necessary inferences of the New Testament are at variance with any supposition that Peter’s preeminence contained the slightest vestiges of any authority not conferred upon the other apostles also.