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Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 18:18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven

The passages above speak of binding and loosing something.  Understanding what Jesus meant is important both because of it’s role in spiritual warfare in the modern Pentecostal/Charismatic church, and also to help us understand the authority of the Church.

In chapter 16, Jesus is speaking to Peter while in chapter 18 the statement applies to the entire church. There are two interesting issues concerning the concepts of binding and loosing – the meaning of the terms themselves and how we should understand the perfect passive tenses. Concerning the perfect passives, they would ordinarily be translated something like “have been bound/loosed.” But it is also perfectly acceptable to translate it as the ESV does above. I don’t have an opinion on this so I won’t comment further.

I am writing this post, because I wanted to pass along the helpful explanation of the terms I found today in Ulrich Luz’s wonderful commentary on Matthew:

The primary meaning is “forbidding” and “permitting” with a halakic decision of the rabbis, that is, the interpretation of the law. Less frequently, but documented in contemporary sources, a judge’s activity is meant. Then “to bind” and “to loose” correspond to “to put in fetters” or “to acquit.” Furthermore, it is the rabbinic conviction that God or the heavenly court recognizes the halakic decisions and the judgments of rabbinical courts. Thus not only the concepts “binding/loosing” but the entire saying is rooted in Jewish thought. Our text [16:19] is presumably thinking of teaching, while in 18:18 the thought is of judging, without the two meanings being mutually exclusive. Matthew 8-20, Ulrich Luz, p. 365

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