God knows everything that is or will be. God started His Church and inspired the Apostolic men to write the Books of the Bible. And God knew that by the time the twenty-first century came along that there would be over 32,000 different denominations all contradicting each other on how to interpret the Bible. God wants us to know the truth with confident conviction, because only clear thinking will lead to that certainty of conviction that will enable a person to die to himself. No one dies to himself for just a fuzzy maybe. And only by dying to ourselves can we truly follow Jesus Christ and have true joy and everlasting life in Him. How can we know with absolute certainty what the correct interpretation of the Bible is ?
We read in Isaiah 22 how it is the transfer of the keys that designates Eliakim as the new master of the palace.
go to that official, Shebna, master of the palace,
It was the transferring of the keys that denoted the transfer of power to the new successor of this office as the kings representative, his regent, the master of the palace.
It was God the Father who had picked Peter to be the one to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. And it was upon hearing this that Jesus alludes to that passage in Isaiah 22 above and gives the keys to Saint Peter.
Matthew 16:13-19 "When Jesus went into
the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people
say that the Son of Man is ?’
The keys represent absolute power to rule. They are owned by the King of Israel who entrusts them to his representative the "master of the palace." Christ is the true King of Israel. Just as in Isaiah 22 above where the keys are handed down to the successors of the king’s prime minister we see Christ giving His keys to his designated "master of the palace," his chief minister, his vicar, St. Peter.
That the "gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it" also implies succession for Peter’s office. Peter died. Yet, Christ’s promise is true. Peter who became the Bishop of Rome has a successor. The future tense used in Matthew 16, "will build" and "will give you the keys," refers to what Christ will give to St. Peter after the Resurrection.
Jesus knew this teaching would be hard, that is to follow Him completely means to trust Him completely. Perhaps that is why Jesus gave his teaching about taking up our cross shortly after this revelation given near Caesarea Philippi, as we can see in the parallel passage in Luke.
Luke 9:20-25 "Then he said to them,
‘But who do you say that I am ?’ Peter said in reply,
‘The Messiah of God.’
God wants us to know the truth. Jesus knew when He started His Church that there would be confusion over how to interpret the Bible. That is why the institution of the Papacy is such a gift from God. The alternative is where each person is his own pope, and relying on the assumption that the Holy Spirit has guided his own judgment and his alone and to the contrary of over 20,000 different "Bible Alone" believing Churches as to how to interpret the Bible.
Peter is the Rock on which the Church is built. By himself, Peter is just a man, weak and a sinner. However, Christ is God and God is the Rock of our faith, (1 Cor. 10:14) it is the Rock of Christ that is working through Saint Peter that makes Peter’s Rock-ness faithful and sure. Peter is no longer just alone. It is the Holy Spirit that imparts to Peter the Rock-ness of Jesus Christ as he foretold in Matthew 16:19.
Peter, and his successors, and those in union with him give us infallible guidance as to how to follow our Lord Jesus Christ. We find true joy in knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ [according to His will.]
Luke 10:16 "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." NAB
Luke 22:29-32 " … and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.’ " RSV
The meaning of the original Greek reveals that Satan had
demanded to have "you -plural," - meaning all of the disciples -
but Christ says that He prayed for "you -singular" meaning Peter
uniquely. (see KJV)
John 21:15 "Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these ?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ " NAB
Jesus gave over to Saint Peter the care of all of His