In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom…” Our culture often interprets this statement to mean that Peter was given the authority to stand at heaven’s gates and grant entrance to whoever is worthy. In reality, we see this statement fulfilled in the book of Acts.
In Acts 2, Peter stands before the crowds and delivers the first gospel sermon preaching to Jewish people from around the world. About 3,000 souls are baptized into Christ and added to His church (Acts 2:41). Peter has unlocked the kingdom (the church) for the Jewish people.
In Acts 10, Peter delivers the first gospel sermon to the Gentiles. After entering the home of Cornelius, and finding “many people assembled,” Peter preaches and then “commands them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (10:48). By God’s direction, Peter has now unlocked the kingdom (the church) for the Gentiles.
The Bible does not teach that Peter will meet us at the gates of heaven with a ring of keys in his hand, but that all who obey God’s word will one day enter through heaven’s gates (Rev. 22:14).