Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
Power of the, a term made use of in reference to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, denoting the power of excommunicating and absolving. The Romanists say that the pope has the power of the keys, and can open and shut paradise as he pleases; grounding their opinion on that expression of Jesus Christ to Peter
"I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, " Matthew 16:19 . But every one must see that this is an absolute perversion of Scripture; for the keys of the kingdom of heaven most probably refer to the Gospel dispensation, and denote the power and authority of every faithful minister to preach the Gospel, administer the sacraments, and exercise government, that men may be admitted to or excluded from the church, as is proper.
See ABSOLUTION. In St. Gregory we read that it was the custom for the popes to send a golden key to princes, wherein they inclosed a little of the filings of St. Peter's chain, kept with such devotion at Rome; and that these keys were worn in the bosom, as being supposed to contain some wonderful virtues! Such has been the superstition of past ages!!
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Keys'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/k/keys.html. 1802.