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Notes on Apostolic Succession and the Keys of David
First let us look at Is 22:20-23 which is the first mention of this/these "key(s) of the house of David".
Is this a reference to the kind of authority Peter will have? Who is Eliakim the son of Hilkiah?
According to Is 36:3,22 and 2 Kings 18:18 he was the palace administrator in King Hezekiah's palace.
Most the major commentaries see Is 22:20-23 as a kind of type to the antitype, fulfillment of Jesus as the holder of the "keys of the house of David", especially as cross referenced with Rev 3:7-12. See here: http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/isaiah/mhc/isaiah22.htm
So, when we compare Mt 16:17-19 to Is 22:20-23, if anything we see Christ prefigured, utilizing the type of one who has the authority and charge over the king's house. Papists (Roman Catholics) may attempt to pair Is 22:20-23 and Mt 16:17-19 to posit Peter as being given specific authority even over and above the other apostles. The problem that Papists will have is that Mt 18:18-19 is spoken in reference to ALL of the apostles and is almost the exact wording of Mt 16:17-19. There is a reason we have 4 Gospels and that is so that we can have multiple perspectives on the same texts. It is dangerous to interpret Mt 16:17-19 without considering that Mt 18:18-19 further clarifies that all the apostles have this authority. Isolated interpretation of verses of the Bible has lead to many heresies and cults.
After the last apostle dies, there is no biblical precept to say that inspiration was to be passed on to anyone else. As a matter of fact, if we did still have an inspired representative of the apostles today, I would suggest we follow that person instead of ever trying to interpret the Bible on our own. This is perhaps the reason why Papists would appeal for us do that very thing in following the interpretation of the popes -- which as we know have often contradicted and abrogated one another. However, I do want to agree with you that there is a problem with how people approach the Bible, in that we often make ourselves our own popes -- interpreting the text outside of any historic Christian interpretation.
Actually Protestantism DOES have a supreme authority when it comes to doctrine, it is called The Word of God. The apostles were handpicked by Jesus (John 15:16) and guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) for a purpose -- not just so that they could be the verbal mouthpieces of God, but so that they could bring about the closed canon of Scripture. (2 Thes 2:15) If the canon isn't closed and there is still an apostolic representative among us (eg. the Pope), then his words are just as worthy of being part of the Bible as the first 12 apostles.
Even before the Protestants came along, historic Christianity did NOT see the scriptures as teaching Peter as the 1st pope. As a matter of fact, post AD70 and after the last apostle died, the Church was governed by a college of Bishops/elders which oversaw churches in various cities. We see this model even in Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5. The intent for after the apostles were gone was to have elders "ruling" in the churches. There is never a hint of a Petrine heir even if we might see Peter as the leader of the 12 apostles. The authority of the "keys" was given not just to Peter but to all of the apostles as noted in several verses. Mt 21:21, and Mt 18:18-19 which is almost the exact quote of Mt 16:19, except that Mt 18:18-19 makes it clear that not only is this apostolic authority given to all of the apostles; but that their agreement empowers/validates this authority. Papalists almost want to make it out that Peter had an extra dose of inspiration. If that is so, then it is odd that Paul would dare challenge Peter. (Gal 2:11) Peter could have responded that he was a chosen leader the apostles and that Paul, especially being almost a 13th apostle, had no right to question Peter. Further, we aren't told too much about Peter's apostolic work. It would seem by the work alone that if there was a leader of the apostles, it would have been Paul since a sizable part of the N.T. is about Paul's ministry.
I don't see anything in the Bible that implies Peter was the leader of the apostles and that his authority was passed down to others throughout Christian history. As a matter of fact, I see historically, that the bishop in Rome was considered to have no more authority than the bishop in Antioch, Ephesus, Jerusalem or any other place. It has only been through imposition that the bishop in Rome has seen himself as differentiated from any of the other elders that have been appointed by the original apostles and elders.
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