And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18‭-‬19 RSV

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.

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Matthew 18:18‭-‬20 RSV

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?”

“Bind” and “loose” refer to the power of deciding what was lawful or unlawful to be done in the church or what was orthodox or unorthodox to be believed.

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 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).

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28 RSV
  • (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).

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21:14 RSV
  • (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.

And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles),

Galatians 2:6‭-‬8 RSV

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