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A device to open a lock. In the Bible it is often a symbol of the steward’s authority over his master’s household and of who gains entry to his master’s presence. In the OT, God promises to raise up a new “steward” over Israel and to give him the “key of the house of David,” so that what he opens no one will shut and what he shuts no one will open (Isa 22:22). A similar image in the NT is used of the authority Peter is to have in the emerging Christian community (Matt 16:19). (Rev 3:7) presents Jesus as the one who possesses the “key of David.” Other uses of “key” in Revelation refer to the keys of Hades and death held by Jesus (Rev 1:18). Heavenly angels wield the keys to the abyss from which the plague of locusts is released (Rev 9:1) and in which Satan is to be bound (Rev 20:1).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.