Matthew 16:19 (NKJV)19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Matthew 18:18 (NKJV)18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
These are two of the verses of scripture that many in the Christian Church, especially those of the Word of Faith Movement, use to claim that Christians can command things to be bound or loosed…..whatever that means. Sometimes they say it with regard to sickness when they say “I bind that spirit of illness or that spirit of cancer, and I loose the spirit of healing”, or “I bind you Satan and command you to loose this person”. In other words we can bind or loose whatever we want. That’s a lot of authority and since I’ve heard this all my life and I still see sickness, or lack, or anxiety, in those who do the binding and loosing, and in those who they loosed and the stuff they bound, I started to wonder why those things weren’t bound or loosed Especially since the ones saying it said that Jesus told us we could do it, and they were doing it in Jesus’ name.
I wrote a post some time ago asking the question, can we bind or rebuke Satan (Can We Bind and Rebuke Satan? What Does The Bible Say?), and my conclusion after looking at what the Bible said, was that the only one with the power to rebuke or bind Satan is Jesus and that He did not give us that authority. To answer my question about us Christians binding and loosing everything I again took a look at what the Bible says.
As I have written many times in my blog posts it’s very important that we look at everything in the context that it was written. When we take things out of context we can make them say anything that we want. Now let’s look at these two passages so that we can really understand what Jesus meant when He said “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. We focus on the first part of the scriptures the binding and loosing, but not the "in heaven" part, and it's context.
Here’s the Matthew 16 verse in context.
Matthew 16:13-19 (NKJV)13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Jesus asked His disciples who the people were saying that He was and after getting the answer He asked them who they said or believed He was. When Peter answered that He was the Son of God Jesus told him that the statement that He was the Son of God was on what His church was built. Everything He said after was regarding the church and things related to it. Yes, I know that individuals make up the church but Jesus was talking about His body the church.
1 Corinthians 12:27 (NKJV) Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Jesus was talking to Peter and indirectly to the other apostles. When He said that He was giving him the keys He meant authority to proclaim the fact that He, Jesus was the Son of God and that would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and nothing could stop it even the gates of Hades, death. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.
Here is an example of something that can affect the church and that leader can lead in binding;
1 Corinthians 5:1, 4-5 (NKJV)1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The Matthew 18 scripture is even more clear that Jesus is talking about church discipline.
Matthew 18:15-20 (NKJV)15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Those members of the church who sin and repent are to be “loosed” or in other words, restored to fellowship, while those who are unrepentant are to be “bound” or removed from fellowship (Matt. Again,sickness, poverty, and there is no reference to demonic activity in this context.
Peter, the other disciples, and us today do have the authority to discipline, but only as it relates to the church and individuals as they relate to the church. We do not have the authority over individuals and their eternal destiny.
I believe that one of the reasons that we think we have authority to bind or loose whatever we want is that we forget the rest of the binding and loosing scriptures…”will be loosed in heaven”. In these two scriptures, Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, Jesus tells us that He will ratify what is done in His name in obedience to His Word which is established in heaven. That’s what He meant when He said that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.