I have been taught that in Matthew 16 Peter was given the keys (plural), and used one in Acts 2 for the Jews then the other in Acts 10 to open the door for the Gentiles. I am confused because in Acts 8 (I realize the Samaritans were part Jewish, part Gentle) it is Philip who baptizes the mixed race of the Samaritans, and also who seems to me to be the first Gentile, the Ethiopian Eunuch. If Gentiles were converted before Acts 10, then what is the second key Peter is holding? -- Sandra (New York)

In fact, Jesus never says what, if anything, the "keys" represent. Normally keys represent access, control, or freedom. (See Isaiah 22:22, Luke 11:52, Revelation 3:7.) Indeed, Peter is the one who opens up shop on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). And, yes, he was the one preaching as the Caesareans were admitted to the kingdom in Acts 10. Yet to insist on one "Jewish key" and one "Gentile key" is fanciful, and will lead to contradiction. After all, he was not opening up two kingdoms, but one. The door was opened wide starting in 33 AD. It is important in biblical interpretation not to over-interpret passages.

And if it ever happens that a preacher asks us to accept his particular view on faith (without biblical corroboration), we need to ask questions. Questions need to be asked of the text, and questions may need to be posed to the preacher. After all, lack of exegetical control easily leads to wrong doctrines, emphases, and practices. I know from experience--it is a temptation for a teacher to find "insights" in passages that do not provide them.

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