The Roman Catholic Church uses this verse to claim apostolic authority for its preeminence over other Christian faiths. It is a singular verse, open to possible interpretation as something inserted by Rome. Per Apostolic Constitutions, Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome. My plan, with these verses, is to bring up paradoxical feelings from within myself, feelings that contradict each other, to ask if others can identify:
-Do Peter’s Keys jingle? If the kingdom of heaven is within, will they tingle?
With this line, Jesus commits the church to Peter. Jesus later calls Peter Rock and says that upon this rock, Jesus will build his church. Historically, America debated whether Jesus was calling Peter this Rock or whether the church’s foundation would be Jesus and his rock-solid evidence for being the only begotten son of our creator.
-What might there be to bind in heaven? Should we fear there might yet be leaven?
Jesus tells Peter that these keys will allow Peter to bind what must be bound in heaven. It brings up a question. Will there be anything in heaven to bind? Through the Bible, our creator promises that every tear will be dried, that he goes to prepare a place for us, a mansion in the sky, that those who grieved us will be cast into the pit of fire, and that there will be a chasm across which we cannot assist, but apparently across which we can observe. The Bible further explains that after the millennia, the Devil will be let loose in heaven for the space of an hour to deceive those he might. Therefore the Bible implies a minor or potential rebellion that swells upon the Devil’s arrival.
Therefore the second part of the stanza relates both good and bad leaven. The good leaven is from when Jesus explains the metaphor of heaven as being like three measures of flour into which a woman sticks a dash of leaven. The yeast grows and leavens more than might be expected from its small portion. However, the second interpretation is that leaven is of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who, according to the Bible, argue so much about the text that they fail to gather its import. Jesus compares those who debate but refrain from action as straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. And therefore, the question is whether both good and bad might be found in heaven.
-These gates of heaven and gates of hell, so many gates it’s tough to tell.
Theologians relate that our creator created all. From the highest mountain to the depths of the sea, Paul relates that, like the Prophet Jonah found while praying from the belly of a great fish in the deep, that neither the highest mountain nor the depths of the sea can separate us from our creator. Some have suggested that, like the great fish of Jonah, we fail to observe his ways (my ways are not your ways) because we are always in the presence of the divine. This stanza, therefore, relates that according to our Bible, our creator created these gates that presumably separate us from the divine presence and ourselves from unspeakable horror. We refer to the time Jesus spent between the cross and resurrection as the harrowing of hell. Jewish scripture relates that like our creator having created Pharoah and hardening his heart to show our creator’s greatness, our creator is like a potter who creates some for destruction. My verse relates confusion about a creator creating places its creatures are deigned to avoid while dooming others to destruction.
-And there’s the limit of the sea where bars have been set, although oceans rise; these words they don’t get.
The gates have been set, and yet, and yet, and yet, our oceans rise and fall over the course of time. During the ice age, we are told a land bridge brought Asian explorers from Russia to Alaska. Submerged temples have been discovered off the coast of Alexandria. And in mythology, a place called Atlantis is hauntingly rumored to have sunk beneath the sea. When the earthquake leveled the mountain in Chile, sending a tsunami into Japan and destroying the reactor at Fukushima in 2011, polluting the Pacific with radioactivity even unto the salmon of Idaho, our days became shorter due to our decreased rotational inertia, and the seafloor rose in Indonesia, sending a tsunami across India killing hundreds of thousands. Those who search the Bible wonder at Peleg, a child who lived when the earth was divided (Gen 10:25). We wonder if this might be the first observation of continental drift.
-If angels distinguish the wheat from the tare, this Book of Life test shall happen where?
This verse questions the timing of various books of the Bible around the rapture. According to Jesus or Matthew, the graves will or have opened; according to Paul, the dead will rise to Join Jesus first before we all join Jesus in the clouds. After Jesus rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, disappearing into a cloud while the apostles stood or wandered aimlessly while looking at the sky. Some books say it happened in Jerusalem, while others put it on the sea of Galilee. Paul says we will be given glorified spiritual bodies. Jesus says that when he arrives like a thief in the night, no one knowing the hour of their visitation, that two will be on a roof and one will be taken. When asked, “Where?” Jesus responds, “Wherever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered.” I’ve tested this in my hometown, Coal Valley, IL, attracting eagles from along the river. I acted like a dying animal until an eagle flew so close with its talons and beak that it scared me. Perhaps, rather than us flying up in our spiritual bodies, we will leave our previous bodies behind, for Revelations explains some will be left for the tribulation. My Bible study teacher explained there would be seven raptures following the harvest seasons of ancient Israel. The first was Christ or the first fruits (the graves that opened at the resurrection when the dead prophets walked in Jerusalem). He said to tell everyone that after the tribulation, the gleanings would be taken too (some who at first didn’t believe). If he’s right, it reminds me of the thieves on the cross with Jesus, one of whom Jesus tells, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
It gets confusing, as noted, for first, the angels come to separate the tares from the wheat to be thrown into the fire. At some point, the gates of hell are opened, and the condemned are brought forth to judgment and everlasting fire. Meanwhile, believers are brought to the Book of Life test, where we search for our names to be embarrassed and cast into hell if we should find ours missing. Afterward, we receive the crown of life, which is larger or smaller depending upon our conduct, although, per Protestants, the test is absolute and not based upon our actions but rather on our faith. So the question remains, how do angels know which are tares to throw into the fire, since, from the field, the book of life test would not yet have happened, who would then be in hell pending judgment, and when will death and hell be thrown into the lake of fire?
-This king of heaven upon his throne, did he lock the doors to the place we call home?
This question goes deep. Would we grant maleness to our creator? The Hindus have a mudra, a symbol made with the hand, that I appreciate. The Buddha made it while sitting for seven years under a Baobab tree, whatever that might be. It is two fingers pointing into the earth, communicating that we belong. Per an oracle that whoever kissed his mother first would be king, an ancient Roman kissed the earth, claiming her as our mother (Cassius Dio 2.7.11), just like Native Americans referring to Gaia as our mother. These all mean that without moving, we are. No king on his throne might cast judgment against our beingness itself. Just as Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is within; nothing outside ourselves might interfere. In my opinion, believing that heaven is elsewhere or that we must do something to earn our presence cheapens the experience.
For a more detailed citing of my sources of confusion, please review my book on the subject – Sin, Sacrifice, Heaven, and Hell 2017.
Peter’s Keys – Mt 16:19 (Jesus to Peter) – 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.
Leaven – Yeast. …beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees… (Mt 16:1-12) It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Lk 13:21).
Gates – of heaven Gen 28:17, of death Job 38:17, of hell Mt 16:17, of pearl Rev 21:21, doors of the shadow of death Job 38:17, windows of heaven Gen 7:11, fountains of the deep Gen 7:11, land of the shadow of death Is 9:2, valley of the shadow of death Ps 23:4, bars and doors for the sea Job 38:8-11: Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.
Angels separate the wheat from the tares – Mt 13:37-43.
Book of Life – Rev 20:12.
King of heaven – Dan 4:37
Throne of heaven – I Kings 22:19