Monday, November 28, 2016


Revelation 20:

v. 1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of  the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

v. 2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 

v. 3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The Bible refers to a specific 1000-year period that we call the Millennium.  This is a period of peace, tranquility and justice when Jesus Christ will rule and reign, when Satan will be bound and is no longer free to deceive the nations.

Present or Future? 

There are a number of different views on the Millennium, but the purpose of this article is not to address each one of those views.  We are only addressing the “amillenial” view.  The word “amillenial” actually means “no millenium” (the Greek prefix “a” meaning “no” or “not”).  Those people who hold this view do not actually say that there is no millenium, but rather that there is no future Millenium.  These believe that we are living in the Millennium NOW.  To them, the 1000 years is not literal, but only symbolic, and simply means “a long time,” or “an undetermined amount of time.”  They also believe that Jesus Christ is reigning on His throne now through the church.

This “amillennial” view is accepted not only by Catholics and Orthodox, but even by some Protestant groups, as well.  Nevertheless, we intend to demonstrate that it is an unbiblical and illogical view.

How Long is a Thousand Years?

First of all, is this 1000 years mentioned in Revelation literal?  If not, why not?  Catholics often tell us that this time frame is symbolic, and they will give other examples of “a thousand” in Scripture, like when it says that God owns “the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10).  Well, we know that God owns all the cattle on every hill, so this is obviously symbolic.   Or, they will point to 2 Peter 3:8, which says that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”  Again, symbolism.  But just because the term “thousand” is used figuratively in these places in the Bible, does not necessarily mean it has to be figurative in Revelation 20.

It is also quite interesting that Catholics emphasize the words of Jesus, “whoever eats My flesh” and “whoever drinks My blood” in John 6, in a literal sense.  They believe that His words are to be taken literally because of the fact that He is repeating them several times.  Yet, the term “thousand years” is mentioned six times in chapter 20 of Revelation, but they refuse to see this as literal.  We are not saying that repetition makes something literal, we’re saying that Catholics are inconsistent with their logic.

Ok, so suppose that it doesn’t really mean exactly 1000 years?  Suppose it is only symbolic of “a long time”?  So what?  That wouldn’t present a problem for the “Pre-millennial” crowd (those who believe that Jesus returns before the Millennium).  If the Millennium is only approximately a thousand years, then that’s still ok.  That doesn’t negate the “pre-millennial” view, nor does it necessarily support the amillennial view.  But we don’t see any reason to doubt that it is an actual 1000 years. 

But there is a more important issue in all this concerning the binding of Satan and his work on earth…

Imprisoned or Just “Limited”?

What does it mean for Satan to be “shut up” in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:3)?  Amillennialists believe that this simply means that he is now limited in his ability to deceive the nations.  They believe that before Jesus came, Satan had much more reign over the nations, but that now he is “bound” and therefore restricted in the sense that he cannot destroy the church, and he cannot stop the spread of the gospel.  In other words, there won’t be as much deception as there used to be.  But this is not what the passage says.  The text says nothing about a lesser degree of deception, or that Satan will merely be limited in his deceiving of the nations.  Revelation 20:3 specifically says “that he should deceive the nations NO MORE, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.”  

But Satan is still “the deceiver” in our modern world.  He didn’t just deceive the nations in the Old Testament, but he is also alive and well today.  Satan’s activity in the world is obvious.  

·      Revelation 12:9 – “Satan… which deceiveth the whole world…”

·      2 Corinthians 11:14 – How can Satan disguise himself as an angel of light if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?  

·      Matthew 13:19 – How can Satan “catcheth away that which was sown in his heart” if he is bound and locked up in the abyss? 
·      2 Timothy 2:26 – What “snare of the devil” is there if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?

·      1 Thessalonians 2:18 - “Satan hindered us” - How can Satan hinder someone if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?

Why Have Armor?

If Satan is bound, then why are we told to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17)?  If he is bound, he should not be able to attack… therefore, why are we “wrestling” at all?  And why is there a need for a shield to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”?  Someone who is imprisoned, bound by a chain, and sealed away in the abyss should be no threat to us, should he?  There seems to be a great contradiction here.

Alive and Well

If Satan is already bound, then why does the apostle Paul call Satan “the god of this world,” who is still blinding the minds of those who are not believing the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)?  Paul also said that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that NOW WORKETH in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
Furthermore, the apostle Peter tells us that Satan is free to roam about “as a roaring lion… seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  And again, the same John who wrote Revelation, says in his epistle (1 John 5:19) that the whole world “lieth in wickedness” (KJV)… “lies in the power of the evil one” (NASV)… “is under the control of the evil one” (NIV).  Why would these apostles, these trusted men of Jesus, say such things if Satan is indeed bound and we are living in the “golden age” today?  Does anyone really think that the nations are not deceived today?  Unfortunately, deception is everywhere.  Amillenialists want us to deny the obvious.

If Satan is still the god of this world, and still blinding unbelievers, and is now working in those unsaved people, and this world lies in his power and people are in his control today, then it is utterly foolish to think that we are now living in the glorious Millennium.  Just watch the evening news any day of the week.  We are flooded with stories of war, terrorism, persecution of Christians, violence and death worldwide.  We are also seeing the rise of atheism, false religions and apostasy within the church. 

An honest person would conclude that this is proof that Satan is extremely busy and influential in the world today.  His continual deception and activity is seen throughout the New Testament.  Furthermore, 2 Timothy 3:1, 13 warns us that the world is getting worse and worse, not better.  One has to ask, how can there be a falling away from the faith if Satan is “bound”?  We clearly see him working throughout the church age.  The truth is, Satan is far from “chained,” isolated, and “sealed” in the abyss today.  

The Overall Picture

If the apostle John wanted to portray the absolute disabling of Satan and his influence, making him completely inactive, he could not have described it in a better way than in Revelation 20!

This passage, whether symbolic or not, is NOT a picture of Satan merely being “hindered” or “on probation,” but totally paralyzed and isolated.  To say that he is merely “limited” in Revelation 20 is a gross (and unbiblical) understatement!  Rather, this prophetic imprisonment will be a complete and abrupt ending of his influence (at least during the Millenium).  All this points to the fact that we are NOT living in that special time of calm, peace and harmony today.  

The Real Millennium

If the Millennium is happening today, then one is forced to ask, where is the worldwide peace and righteousness promised during this period (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Isaiah 9:6-7)?  Where today can you find the wolf that dwells together with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6)?  Or the bear and the cow happily feeding together (Isaiah 11:7)?  Or has anyone casually allowed their children to play near the hole of the poisonous snake lately (Isaiah 11:8)?  Do we see everyone in the Middle East beating their swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4)?  Not hardly.  These things will happen during the Millennium, the 1000 years of peace, tranquility and justice that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we know for a fact that we are not yet in the Millennium.  

Scriptures Amillennialists Use

Catholics and other amillennialists will use certain Bible passages to try and prove that Satan is bound today.  Many will try to say that Jesus has already bound Satan through His work on the cross, and they will try to apply verses like Matthew 12:29 (where Jesus is casting out demons by “binding the strong man”), or John 12:31-32 (where Jesus says that the devil is “cast out”), or 1 John 3:8 (where the works of the devil are destroyed), along with many other similar passages.  They will try to equate these types of verses with Revelation 20:1-3 and its binding of Satan, saying that this is happening today, putting us in the Millennium now.  But none of these passages clearly refer to the event in Revelation 20. 

But a much greater problem arises here when you equate these passages with Revelation 20.  If the binding of Satan in Revelation 20 is simply referring to Jesus’ work on the cross, then what does the release of Satan in that same passage point to?  Does this mean that the work on the cross will be reversed or will somehow be incomplete at that time?  God forbid!

If verses like Matthew 12:29 , John 12:31-32, and 1 John 3:8 (above) really do apply to the devil’s binding in Revelation 20, then they must also necessarily connect to his release, as well.  In other words, whatever is accomplished in Satan’s imprisonment, must necessarily be UNDONE when he is released!  If we are going to be true to the comparison, then you would have to say that Jesus’ finished work on the cross becomes unfinished after Satan is loosed (even if temporarily)!  No real Christian would want to say that.  So, we cannot equate these verses with Revelation 20:1-3.  They are two different situations.

Yes, Satan was defeated and bound legally at the cross, but he is bound literally in this pit in Revelation 20:1-3.  We must distinguish between the spiritual accomplishment at the cross and its outworking in the physical and spiritual realms.  It will be in the future, but one day, we will see the full realization of Satan’s defeat.  Although Satan legally still has access to mankind today, he will have access to no one during his imprisonment in the pit.

If it can be demonstrated that Satan is NOT BOUND today (and we believe that this is obviously the case), then this is proof that we are not now in the Millennium.  Therefore, the amillennial position is false.

A Real Abyss

Some amillennialists maintain that the “abyss” in Revelation 20 is not literal, but only symbolic of the spiritual sphere or dimension in which Satan and his demons function.  They don’t believe that it is an actual location.  But if this is true, then why did the demons in Luke 8:31 beg not to be sent there?  Why would they fear being “sent” to the spiritual realm in which they already live?  Furthermore, how could Satan be captured and “cast into” the place where he normally functions anyway?  This makes no sense at all.  Thus, we see that this same abyss in Revelation 20:1-3 (although not physical) is a real and literal place. 
But the fact is, amillennialists seem to overlook such verses as Luke 8:31 above.  This is the case of the Gadarene demoniac, where the demons in the man begged Jesus not to send them into “the deep” (“bottomless pit” or “abyss” – the same Greek word used in Revelation 20).  They were speaking of a specific place which terrified them.  This abyss is not just a “symbol” or “metaphor.”  It is an actual place.  It is a prison for evil spirits, and it is the same place spoken of in Revelation 20:1-3.  Demons are not physical, but they are real.  The same can be said of the abyss.

A Strange Hermeneutic

A strange thing happens in the amillennial camp when dealing with prophecy.  They seem to interpret all of the prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus literally.  Yet, when interpreting the prophecies of His Second Coming, they are buried in allegory and symbolism.  They will only interpret these in a figurative way.  But why should anyone think that the prophecies about His Second Coming should be interpreted any differently than those of His First?  This is a poor and inconsistent hermeneutic (principle of Bible interpretation).  No wonder there are so many people that are confused on this topic.  But such is the result when there is too much emphasis on allegorizing or “spiritualizing” God’s Word.

Israel in Prophecy

Amillenialism is also an attack on Israel, at least indirectly, although perhaps not intentionally.  But this teaching has contributed to much of the anti-semitism (discrimination against Jews) existing today.  The biblical role of Israel in these last days is often missed altogether by such groups.  Many amillennialists say that the church is now the true Israel, and because of the Jews’ denial of Jesus Christ, their Messiah, the church is now receiving what was meant to be for the Jews.  Many believe that Israel has been rejected and the Jews have actually been permanently replaced by the church.  But this is not so (Romans chapters 9, 10, 11).

There are many unconditional promises to the nation of Israel and to its people.  In other words, they are going to receive ALL that God promised, sooner or later.  In many of the Old Testament prophets, major and minor, we see an abundance of promises concerning Israel in the Millennium.  Here is just a sampling:

  • Promises concerning a supernatural change in nature – Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1-2, 6-7; 62:4; 65:25

  • Promises concerning the Jews returning to Israel – Isaiah 11:11-12; Amos 9:15; Zephaniah 3:19-20

  • Promises with specific geographical references – Zechariah 14:4, 10

  • Promises of righteousness – Isaiah 9:7; 11:4-5; 35:8; 60:21; 62:1-2; Jeremiah 23:5-6

  • Promises of peace – Isaiah 2:4; 9:7; 60:18; Zechariah 14:11

  • Promises of overall blessings – Isaiah 35:10; 62:8-9; 65:19, 22-23; Amos 9:13-15

  • Promises of the rest of the world finally embracing Israel – Isaiah 2:2-3; 62:7, 12; Jeremiah 3:17; Zephaniah 3:19-20; Zechariah 14:16

Was God only trying to take up space in these Old Testament books?  Are all these promises just meaningless verbiage to be spiritualized away?  Not if God is faithful to His Word!  These promises make sense because the physical and geographical land of Israel was NEVER promised to the church, but to the Jews.  So these promises are indeed relevant for future Israel.

Why Does it Matter?

So what if a person believes in the amillennial view?  Does that mean he is a bad person, or that he can’t be saved?  No, that’s not what it means.  So why then should it matter which end-time view a person holds? 

Because truth matters.
If we think that this really is the Millennium we’re living in today, then we’re all living in a fantasy land… we’re living a lie.  God specifically said that the nations would NO LONGER be deceived during the Millennium, yet we are seeing more deception than ever today, even in our “enlightened” society.  If this is God’s Millennium, then this is a poor excuse of a “golden age,” and a terrible reflection on God’s idea of “peace, tranquility and justice.”  The amillennialists are truly insulting God in this.

Attacking God’s character even further, amillennialism is a view that paints God as One who makes empty promises of land and blessings; promises that are meaningless.  Worse yet, these promises were made to people who are called “His own” (John 1:10-11), even those He has called the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).  What kind of God does this?  After making such wonderful promises to His children, is He now admitting it all as a cruel hoax?  No, but this is the result of too much allegorizing of the Scriptures.

Since there are no hard and fast rules when interpreting prophecy in the way they do, amillennialism is a deceptive teaching, and its illogical, subjective, and unbiblical nature opens the door to greater deception.

See also these excellent articles:

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Matthew 16

v. 13) 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?”

v. 14) And they said, “Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets.”

v. 15) He said unto them, “But whom say you that I am?”

v. 16) And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

v. 17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood have not revealed it unto you, but My Father which is in Heaven.”

v. 18) And I say also unto you, “That you are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

v. 19) “And I will give unto you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”

This is the third and final article in this series on Matthew 16 and we are seeing the Catholic Church’s abuse and hi-jacking of this passage for their own purposes.

Last month, we saw how the Catechism of the Catholic Church falsely claims that Peter was the only rock of the Church (CCC #881), placing Peter above all the other apostles; and we demonstrated that the biblical evidence certainly points against this idea.  See here:

The Catechism Strikes Again

The Catholic Catechism also claims that Peter is the only one to whom the keys were directly given: 

“…Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.” (CCC #553)

So, what is all this about?  What are these “keys” that Jesus is giving to Peter?  Of course, these are not literal keys, but a metaphor.  Keys represent authority, power and access, and since they are the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, they must give access to Heaven.  This is the binding (locking) and loosing (unlocking) concept that Jesus was speaking of, i.e., restricting or allowing access to Heaven.

Infallible Successors?

Catholics also claim that this authority that Peter received from Jesus is an infallible authority, and because of this, he (Peter) cannot officially proclaim error when teaching on faith and morals.  Not only that, this infallible authority will also be passed on to his successors.  The reason they claim infallibility is because they believe:  1) Jesus gave Peter the legislative power (ability to make laws) to bind and loose.  2) Peter decides that a particular teaching should become law, and makes it binding on the church.  3) God sees this action and is somehow obligated to endorse or ratify this new law from His throne in Heaven.
And the Catholic says that the reason that this action has to be infallible is because God cannot lie or endorse an erroneous or false decree.  And since He must always endorse what Peter binds or looses, He won’t ever let Peter bind or loose the wrong things, guaranteeing freedom from error.  Sounds good, right?

But that’s not the way it works.  Man doesn’t make the rules and then obligate God to agree with him.  Nor is God obligated to keep anyone from making bad decisions.  Everyone is accountable for his own decisions (Galatians 6:7).

You see, the keys come with the implied understanding that you will abide by the rules of the one who gave you the keys in the first place.  This promise from Jesus to Peter is neither a license to bind and loose whatever he wants, nor is it a guarantee to never teach false doctrine (whether “officially” or not).  This is not about telling God what to bind or loose.  Rather, Jesus is saying, “Peter, I will back you as long as you do My will,” He is NOT saying, “I will keep you from ever straying from My will.”  Church leaders are expected to be more responsible and more accountable than others (1 Timothy 3:1-10; Titus 1:5-9).  The Bible tells church leaders to guard their teachings (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Timothy 4:16; 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14).  But why tell them to “keep” or “guard” those teachings if they are guaranteed an infallibility and protection against error?  There is no biblical evidence of anyone in the post-apostolic church who would have infallibility.

Just Peter?

Ok, so Peter was given the keys to the kingdom.  But is he the only one who obtained these keys?  No, not at all.  Speaking to all the apostles in another passage, Jesus said:

“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.” (Matthew 18:18)

We can see from this verse that Jesus is giving this same power to bind and loose to ALL the apostles.  It is the same exact wording as Matthew 16:19 (except the “ye” and “you”).  So they must necessarily all have the same keys, that is, the same authority.  Jesus gave nothing to Peter that he didn’t also give to the other apostles.  To try and say that Peter is “the only one to whom He [Jesus] specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom” is deceptive.  The Catholic Church makes a big deal out of isolating Peter in Matthew 16:18-19 and then they try to insert the doctrine of the papacy here.

Whose Papacy?

But the Catholic will say, “But look at all the special things Peter did and experienced!  Shouldn’t he have this ‘primacy’ and this special role as pope?”  Catholics will argue that he was the first one to get the keys, that Jesus told him to “Feed My sheep,” that Jesus changed Peter’s name, etc., etc.  But if these sorts of accomplishments suggest that a man should be pope, then we could suggest the apostle Paul, as well, for this honor.  After all, Paul has a better “resume” than Peter.  Whatever evidence can be brought forth for the primacy of Peter, more (and better) evidence can be brought forth for the primacy of Paul.  See this link for an interesting comparison between Peter and Paul:

Of course, no one is actually saying that Paul is a pope, but the point is that Catholics are not consistent when they use this argument.  If someone had to be a pope based on experiences and accomplishments, it seems it should be Paul.


Ok, so ALL the apostles had the power of binding and loosing.  But what were the limits of this power?  When discussing the papacy, Catholics will almost always speak very highly of Peter’s authority.  But sometimes, an interesting thing happens when Catholics are pressed about the limits of this gift to bind and loose.  Someone in the discussion may well ask, since Peter had this special primacy and authority, couldn’t he decide to proclaim any wild teachings he desired to promote?  Could he make crazy laws for the church that everybody would have to follow?  Maybe change some existing infallible Catholic teachings?  After all, wouldn’t God bind and loose whatever Peter chose to bind and loose?  This is a valid question, since he is given so much attention and power in the Catholic Church.

At this point of the discussion, Catholics will often tone it down and say no, Peter can’t decree such things; that’s not what this means, and they may quote something like “Pastor Aeternus” of the First Vatican Council, which says:

“For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.” (Session 4, Chapter 4, Paragraph 6)

Ok, so according to Vatican I, this power of binding and loosing was apparently not for creating new doctrines, etc., but only to cause Peter to “religiously guard” and “faithfully expound” the revelation that already existed.  But isn’t this the job of every pastor who is worth his salt?  This is the norm for biblical churches, to try to religiously guard and faithfully expound God’s Word.  Actually, this is every Christian’s duty.  So, how does this separate Peter from the rest?  How does this make Peter’s status any higher than the other apostles?  It doesn’t.  There is nothing in Matthew 16 that calls for the Catholic Church’s exalted view of Peter.

But notice how the discussion goes from:
   A)Peter is the Vicar of Christ, referred to as “His Holiness,” who has full, supreme and universal power over the whole church, who has the power to make statements that are infallible (without error) and irreformable (unchangeable; not subject to improvement), and being under his authority is an absolute necessity for salvation.…

To basically

   B) Peter has to follow (and be faithful to) the Word of God, just like everybody else. 
“A” (above) can only be concluded by much hype and exaggeration, as well as eisegesis (reading things into the text), while “B” is much closer to the truth, and closer to the meaning of binding and loosing in Matthew 16.

When the Catholic is pressed on this point and this “special gift to Peter alone” is examined, we find that ultimately, they will be forced to downplay Peter’s status.

The Grammar

To get a good idea of the nature and scope of this power of binding and loosing, we need to look at the grammar used in this context.  The structure in the Greek grammar of both Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 is unique and very important.  Many scholars (e.g., A.T. Robertson, J.R. Mantey, Charles B. Williams, Robert Young, Jay P. Green, Sr., and Thomas Constable, just to name a few) agree on the type of perfect tense used in these passages and teach that it indicates a state of completion.  The Greek is literally saying, “Whatsoever you bind / loose on earth shall have been bound / loosed in Heaven,” “…is already bound / loosed in Heaven,” “…shall be what has been bound / loosed in Heaven,” “…having been already bound / loosed in Heaven,” etc.  There are well over a dozen different Bible translations that render it this way, or something very similar.  This may be somewhat awkward in English, but according to these scholars, it is faithful to the Greek, which is the inspired language.
Ok, so why does this type of perfect tense matter?  The important thing to note is that this structure demonstrates that the binding and loosing in Heaven actually comes FIRST - BEFORE a man on earth has declared what is bound or loosed.

It is interesting to note that this very same Greek construction is also used in John 20:23 where Jesus tells the apostles that whoever’s sins you retain / forgive are retained / forgiven.  This type of structure indicates that God’s forgiving or retaining comes first, and then man’s proclaiming of the person’s spiritual status afterward (based on that person’s acceptance or rejection of the gospel).

This is not a situation where a man can decide to forgive or retain the sinner’s sins, as in the Catholic confessional – it is a situation in which a believer simply declares / proclaims / confirms what God has already clearly stated in His Word, concerning the sinner’s response to the gospel. Forgiveness depends on whether a person is repentant and how he reacts to the gospel, not on some special formula that the priest, rabbi, or minister uses.

So, practically speaking, this passage is simply saying 1) “Since you have accepted the gospel on earth, you are already forgiven (loosed) in Heaven,” or 2) “Since you reject the gospel of Jesus Christ on earth, you have already been condemned (bound) in Heaven and excluded from eternal life.”

Again, as with all three passages mentioned above (Matthew 16:19, 18:18, and John 20:23), it is NOT a case of a man having power over other people’s souls, or creating laws at will, or absolving sins and then afterward, God being obligated to give His seal of approval.  Binding and loosing (as well as retaining and forgiving) has to do with entrance into Heaven and is simply declaring what God has already done according to His Word.  Scripture is the standard upon which a person can bind or loose something.  The keys that were first given to the apostles are simply the gospel of Jesus Christ, because THAT is “…the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).  And these keys are, by extension, given to every Christian through the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  When Christians are obedient in proclaiming the truth about a person’s acceptance or rejection of the gospel, God will ratify (or has already ratified) that proclamation in Heaven.

Isaiah 22

Another argument that Catholics often use to justify Peter’s primacy as pope is to parallel Matthew 16:19 with Isaiah 22:20-22.  Here is the passage:

v. 20) And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah.

v. 21) And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

v. 22) And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Since there is a key involved, and since there is opening and shutting (“loosing” and “binding”) involved, and what seems to be a type of “prime minister” position, Catholics believe that this is symbolic of Jesus giving the keys to Peter, with Peter ruling over the Church by way of a papacy. 
But this Isaiah passage is actually about a man named Shebna (v. 15) who, because of his pride, was about to lose his position as second only to the king (Hezekiah), and God was handing his position over to another man named Eliakim.  So, Catholics compare Peter to Eliakim, who was to receive the “key of the house of David” (v. 22).   And they say that Jesus is giving Peter these same keys to be a sort of “prime minister” of the Catholic Church.  This is Catholic typology.

But this is far from good biblical typology.  The Bible mentions several different keys (or sets of keys).  Does each and every one of these also apply to Peter just because keys are mentioned?  What is it in Isaiah 22 that demands a parallel with Peter?  If this typology is accurate, then who represents Shebna in the Matthew 16 scenario?  Who did Peter replace?  The truth is, he replaced no one, since the apostles were the foundation of the church era.  And if this passage points to Peter, then what is the significance of Isaiah 22:25, that is, how was Peter ever “removed” or “cut down”?  We would think that Catholics would be cautious about applying this to Peter or his papacy.

The Jewish Connection

And it doesn’t apply for good reason.  This Eliakim (whose name means “God will raise up”) is a type of Jesus Christ, not Peter.  It is Jesus who will have the glorious throne in v. 23 (the everlasting throne of David - 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:30).  And it is Jesus who has the “key of David” (Revelation 3:7).

The “key of the house of David” in Isaiah 22, we believe, focuses more on the promises of David’s throne, the setting up and fulfillment of his kingdom.  The “house of David” is about the ancestry or the line of David.  Again, the key (singular) of the house of David (Isaiah 22:22) had to do with Israel (note the reference to Jerusalem and Judah in v. 21), while the keys (plural) of the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19) have more to do with the church.

There may be similarities between Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16, but they are not the same thing.


We have often said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.  The Catholic Church’s claim to Matthew 16:13-19 is no different, in fact, it is one of their most fervent claims, but their focus is on the wrong person.  They have a lot to lose if they are proven wrong here.  That’s why they fight tooth and nail to promote these ideas.

Once again, this passage is NOT about Peter and his “primacy.”  It is about the person, the work, and the message of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  It is about His gospel of salvation through faith in that glorious work on the cross… and that alone.  He has also called all Christians to share this gospel with a lost and dying world.  As we said earlier, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), and it is exactly what this passage (Matthew 16:13-19) and this series of articles is all about.

We are not against Peter.  He was definitely a leader in the church who has done much for the gospel.  He became a great man of faith, in spite of his initial shortcomings, and he will sit on a throne just as all the other apostles will.  But we must be ever mindful of over-emphasizing anyone, be it an apostle, Mary, a “saint,” or any minister.  And this is exactly what the papacy does:  It wrongly focuses on, and exalts, a mere man rather than Jesus Christ.

According to God’s infallible Word, there IS no papacy, there IS no pope, there IS no one ruler on earth over the whole church.