Loosed on Earth also Loosed in Heaven… What?

Matthew 16: 19 (NIV)

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist ; and others, Elijah ; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am ?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church ; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

I’m currently listening to audio cassette tapes from Pastor George Westlake’s college classes on various books of the Bible. As I was listening to one of his previous classes on Romans and Galatians, I heard Matthew 16: 19 thoroughly explained. I finally understand what Jesus was saying in Matthew 19, and I wanted to share it here in my blog.

While by my own words I will partially explain Matthew 16: 19 and Matthew 18: 18, but for the majority of the teaching I will directly transcribe Pastor Westlake’s explanation of Matthew 16: 19.

The transcription will start here. Pastor Westlake is asked to explain Matthew 16: 19. He begins,

“I hate to get technical… It’s a Periphrastic Future Perfect (The Greek grammar and Tense), It’s the only one in the New Testament. It’s a continuous action in the future based on a single event that’s going to happen in the future. Whatsoever you bind on earth Shall have been bound in heaven. Meaning…On Calvary (Christ’s work on the Cross), and the Resurrection…the potential was for every human-being to be set loose, for every enemy of God to be bound, and you’re going to be doing that because it’s already been done in heaven. I don’t command heaven to loose somebody…I’m an agent of heaven…I’m able to see someone loosed cause heaven has already commanded it. It’s already been done on Calvary.”

Pastor Westlake continues,

“It’s a continuous future, (The future authority Jesus was explaining to his disciples in Matthew 16: 19), That’s going to be taking place because of the Cross…Shall have been bound in heaven. And again it’s the only example of a Periphrastic Future Perfect in whole Greek New Testament.” 

Transcription ends here.

Okay, a continuous action based on a single future event. What’s the continuous action? And what single future event, and what’s Pastor Weslake saying here?

The continuous action is : Whatever you bind or loose on earth, (the authority to use the keys to the kingdom of heaven).

The single event stated is: Shall have been bound in heaven.

Many Bible translations don’t even give a hint to Greek grammar, and to what’s stated in verse 19. The New International Version Bible  is a good example of Matthew 16: 19 not explained properly. Please pay close attention to the Tense of the words.

19  “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The New American Standard Bible gives a better clue as to what’s said–shall have been bound or loosed.

Salvation, or other such things only need to be acted upon. The context of this verse is Peter’s authority as an Apostle. But, this verse is repeated in Matthew 18: 18 to the rest of the disciples.

Matthew 18: 17-18 (New American Standard Bible)

17 “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 collector. 18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven ; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

This same concept is found in John 20: 23, when Jesus was talking to his disciples after his resurrection.

John 20: 23 (New American Standard Bible)

23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

A. T. Robertson in his book: Word Pictures of the Greek New Testament, explains Matthew 16: 19, Matthew 18: 18, and John 20: 23. Robertson stated,

“All this assumes, of course, that Peter’s use of the keys will be in accord with the teaching and mind of Christ. The binding and loosing is repeated by Jesus to all the disciples ( Matthew 18:18 ). Later after the Resurrection Christ will use this same language to all the disciples ( John 20:23 ), showing that it was not a special prerogative of Peter. He is simply first among equals, primus inter pares, because on this occasion he was spokesman for the faith of all.” 

“It is a violent leap in logic to claim power to forgive sins, to pronounce absolution, by reason of the technical rabbinical language that Jesus employed about binding and loosing. Every preacher uses the keys of the kingdom when he proclaims the terms of salvation in Christ. The proclamation of these terms when accepted by faith in Christ has the sanction and approval of God the Father. The more personal we make these great words the nearer we come to the mind of Christ. The more ecclesiastical we make them the further we drift away from him.”

Robertson sums up the last two paragraphs in an earlier statement in his book. Robertson stated, “The same power here given to Peter belongs to every disciple of Jesus in all the ages.” 

When I heard this on tape the other day, I was excited to share it here, and to maintain a written explanation of Matthew 16: 19. But I want to stress an important point here. The Lord Jesus responds to my faith in him, and what his work on the cross has purchased. The Newest Believer who has just received Jesus, can and often does use the Authority of his or her Heavenly Father, whether to lead a friend to the Lord or to pray for the sick. A person doesn’t have to understand a thing I just wrote, but simply understand that what the Lord has done for them, he will do for others–set them free. A good example is if we have a child of a year and a half old, and that child points to the sink, and says “drink.” We understand perfectly what child needs or wants. The Lord hears us loud and clear, regardless of our level of understand. Praise the Lord!

But it’s not a sin to be a scholarly student of the word either.

One last thought. I can’t take credit for this teaching; in that I had previously studied and learned this teaching and then decided to post it as a topic. The subject of this Bible study came as I was listening to Pastor Westlake’s teaching tapes, and wanted to share this teaching on Matthew 16: 19 and Matthew 18:17-18 because this passage is clearly explained like I never had heard before. So, I wanted to share it with you all, and have this teaching written out and saved electronically for future reference.

God bless!


1 thought on “Loosed on Earth also Loosed in Heaven… What?

  1. Pingback: Angels and Demons in the Bible: Bound and Loosed | Angelica Belle

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