Gates also are opened and closed with a key. The second strand in the braided rope of Petrine authority is the image of steward. The steward in a royal household appears throughout the Old Testament record. The patriarch Joseph works with a steward in the palace in Egypt. King Saul has a steward, as does the prince Mephibosheth, but the most important image of steward in the Old Testament for understanding Matthew 16 is in Isaiah 22.
There the prophet foretells the fall of one royal steward and the succession of another. Shebna is being replaced by Eliakim, and the prophet says to the rejected Shebna, "I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open" (Is 22:21-22).
The true holder of the keys to the kingdom is the king himself, and in the Book of Revelation we see that the risen and glorified Christ holds the power of the keysthe power to bind and loose. John has a vision of Christ who says, "I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Rv 1:18).
So the king holds the keys of the kingdom, but he delegates his power to the steward, and the keys of the kingdom are the symbol of this delegated authority. The keys not only opened all the doors, but they provided access to the store houses and financial resources of the king. In addition, the keys of the kingdom were worn on a sash that was a ceremonial badge of office. The passage from Isaiah and the customs all reveal that the role of the royal steward was an office given by the king, and that it was a successive officethe keys being handed to the next steward as a sign of the continuing delegated authority of the king himself (See "A Successive Ministry," above).
Isaiah 22 provides the Old Testament context that Jesus disciples would have understood completely as he quoted this particular passage in Matthew 16. When Jesus said to Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven," his disciples would recognize the passage from Isaiah. They would understand that not only was Jesus calling himself the King of his kingdom, but that he was appointing Peter as his royal steward. That John in Revelation sees the ascended and glorified Christ holding the eternal keys only confirms the intention of Jesus to delegate that power to Peterthe foundation stone of his Church.
Catholic scholars are not alone in interpreting Matthew 16:17-19 as a direct quotation of Isaiah 22. Stephen Ray, in Upon This Rock, cites numerous Protestant biblical scholars who support this understanding and affirm that Jesus is delegating his authority over life and death, heaven and hell, to the founder of his Church on earth.
Nice story...And certainly a nice piece of history...But it had absolutely zilch to do with church prophecy or the Apostles...