And Now, Binding and Loosing
Finally, after promising to give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, Jesus made His statement about binding and loosing, His fifth figurative expression in the passage under consideration.
Within the context of the statements we've already examined, what did Jesus mean? How does Peter's binding and loosing have application to Jesus building His church, to the saving of people from Hades, and to proclaiming the gospel?
There is really only one possibility. Jesus simply meant, "I'm authorizing you as heaven's representative. Fulfill your responsibility on earth, and heaven will back you up."
If an employer said to his salesman, "Whatever you do in Bangkok will be done in the home office," how would that salesman interpret his boss's words? He would take them to mean that he was authorized to represent his company in Bangkok. All that Jesus meant was that Peter, on earth, was authorized to represent God in heaven. This promise to Peter would be a buttress to his confidence when he began proclaiming God's message in Jerusalem under the critical eye of the scribes and Pharisees—people who thought that they were God's authorized representatives, and people whom Peter would have previously revered as such.
This particular interpretation of Jesus' words harmonizes well with His second use of the same expression, found two chapters after the first passage in Matthew's gospel:
And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst (Matt. 18:15-20, emphasis added).
In this second passage that mentions binding and loosing, there is absolutely nothing within the text that would lead us to believe that Jesus was speaking of binding evil spirits. Here Christ spoke of binding and loosing directly after speaking on the subject of church discipline.
This would seem to indicate that in reference to binding and loosing in this passage, Jesus meant something like, "I'm giving you responsibility to determine who should be in the church and who should not. It is your job. As you fulfill your responsibilities, heaven will back you up."
In a broader application, Jesus was simply saying, "You are authorized on earth as heaven's representatives. You have responsibilities, and as you fulfill your responsibilities on earth, heaven will always support you."
|Read the previous article in this series,
The Keys to Heaven
This article is an excerpt from the book, The Disciple-Making Minister. The actual book itself may be ordered by visiting our online store. To view our copyright policy, click here. © 2013 by David Servant