I’ve written previously about “keys,” and, while my understanding of that topic is still evolving, I found an interesting tidbit in the Restoration Edition of the scriptures about the “Keys of the Kingdom” that either muddies the water, or adds more light. I suppose which of those depends on the seeker’s connection with the Holy Spirit.
In the current LDS version of the Book of Moses, chapter 6, verse 61 (as well as the RLDS Inspired Version of the Bible, Genesis 6:64), we find this verse:
Therefore, it is given to abide in you the record of heaven, the Comforter, the peaceable things of immortal glory, the truth of all things, that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things, that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
However, Joseph Smith made a second revision to this verse:
Therefore>in you<it> is given <to abide in you> the record of Heaven, the comforter, the peacible things of immortal glory<keys of the kingdom of heaven> the truth of all things that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things, that which knoweth all things, & hath all power, according <to> wisdom, mercy, truth, Justice, & Judgement.
This wording is now present in the Restoration Edition, Genesis 4, paragraph 9:
…Therefore, it is given to abide in you the record of heaven, the Comforter, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the truth of all things, that which quickens all things — which makes alive all things, that which knows all things, and has all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment…
This is what the Joseph Smith Papers has to say about the two versions of the Joseph Smith Translation:
In June 1830, JS and Oliver Cowdery began recording a revelation related to Moses and other prominent Old Testament figures. (See Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1].) Over the next three years, this work expanded into what is now designated the Book of Moses and a complete revelatory re-reading of the Bible, an endeavor that came to be known as JS’s “New Translation,” or Bible revision. Initially, JS and his scribes, including Cowdery, John Whitmer, Emma Smith, and Sidney Rigdon, created a sixty-one-page manuscript containing a narrative account of the visions of Moses and a revised version of the Old Testament book of Genesis, from the beginning to chapter 24, verse 41. This manuscript is currently designated Old Testament Revision 1.
JS set aside work on the new translation of the Old Testament when instructed in a March 1831 revelation to instead begin work on New Testament texts. (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:60–61].) Shortly thereafter, John Whitmer was directed by revelation to “write & keep a regulal [regular] history & assist my servant Joseph in Transcribing all things which shall be given him.” (Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:1].) Among other undertakings, he proceeded to create a duplicate copy of the existing sixty-one-page Old Testament manuscript. This second manuscript, featured here, is now designated Old Testament Revision 2. At the same time, JS commenced work on the New Testament and continued until July 1832 (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832), resulting in two manuscripts, currently designated as New Testament Revision 1 and New Testament Revision 2.
I’m not really sure why this second revision has been ignored (at least in this instance) by both the LDS Joseph Smith Translation and the RLDS Inspired Version. You would think that the motivation for publishing those versions would be to have the latest revisions that came from Joseph Smith himself.
But what does it mean?
However, that is all a bit beside the point. I find it fascinating that in this verse, which discusses the nature of the Holy Ghost, equates the “Keys of the Kingdom” with the “Peacable Things of Immortal Glory.” Not only that, but it suggests that receiving the “Keys of the Kingdom” can happen when we fully receive the Holy Ghost.
This brings up a number of questions: What are the keys of the kingdom? Who can get them? Are they exclusive (meaning, can only one person have them at a time)? Are they connected with the Priesthood? How? If so, are the keys of the kingdom available to women? If you have the keys, can you let other people in to the kingdom, or only yourself? What about your family?
I don’t have answers to all those questions, but I do believe the topic is important to ponder. The one thing that I am increasingly sure of, is that someone else holding keys does not help me at all. It only helps if that person can instruct me in how to get them for myself.
I don’t believe the keys of the kingdom are exclusive. I believe everyone needs to get them for themselves. As I’ve written before, keys don’t seem to work when they are passed from man to man. They are only effective if you get them from Jesus Christ Himself.
By the way, if you want some interesting reading on what “keys” are, this entry in the glossary of terms in the Restoration Edition is enlightening.