Matthew 16:19 —
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Some Protestant groups hold that according to this verse alone a special power is conferred on believers over demons. Then, Luke 10: 1,17, is cited for support.
After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come... And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
I Corinthians 12:9,10 does indicate that at least some believers receive from the Holy Spirit the gifts of healing and miracles. Then, does Matthew 16:19 refer only to a gift from the Spirit? Matthew 16:13-20 actually does not go into specific details on how the power of binding and loosing works.
Let's look at the entire passage for the verse and consider the context. Matthew 16:13-20 —
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
The emphasis of the passage is on the church being built on the belief in Christ as the son of God, the Messiah. The key to entering the kingdom of heaven is a faith in Christ. It looses believers from Satan's gripe and binds them to Christ. But before the crucifixion, Christ did not want known the significance of who he was.
However, after the crucifixion, Jesus said at Mark 16:15,16 —
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Compare to John 20:23).
Still, at Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples to wait on proclaiming the kingdom until they receive power from the Holy Ghost, which was a key to their work.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
(Compare to John 20:22). (See also — Is Peter the Rock of Matthew 16:18?).
Another key at work in the kingdom is agreement in prayer, which does bind and loose. Note Matthew 18:18,19 —
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Thus, the keys to the kingdom appear to refer to biblical principles the church utilizes to accomplish the work of God. Prayer in agreement is a key. Preaching the Gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit is a key. Seeking assistance from a believer with the gifts of spiritual discernment or miracles or healing is a key. Principles set out in Scripture for success in serving God all have great power. However, such an effect of binding and loosing only occurs when the keys are exercised properly.
M. Paul Webb