Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Who Has the Keys?

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:17-18)

This is not the property of Peter alone, but it came about on behalf of every man.  Having said that his confession is a rock, he stated that upon this rock I will build my church.  This means that he will build his church upon this same confession and faith.  For this reason, addressing the one who first confessed him with this title, on account of his confession he applied to him this authority, too, as something that would become his, speaking of the common and special good of the church as pertaining to him alone.  It was for this confession, which was going to become the common property of all believers, that he bestowed upon him this name, the rock.  In the same way also Jesus attributes to him the special character of the church, as though it existed beforehand in him on account of his confession.  By this he shows, in consequence, that this is the common good of the church, since also the common element of the confession was to come to be first in Peter.  This then is what he says, that in the church would be the key of the kingdom of heaven.  If anyone holds the key to this, to the church, in the same way he will also hold it for all heavenly things.  He who is counted as belonging to the church and is recognized as its member is a partaker and an inheritor of heaven.  He who is a stranger to it, whatever his status may be, will have no communion in heavenly things.  To this very day the priests of the church have expelled those who are unworthy by this saying and admitted those who have become worthy by repentance.

Theodore of Mopsuestia

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