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In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus said to his disciple Peter, “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 be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). A couple of chapters later he said very similar words to his other disciples (Mat 18:18).

What are the most common explanations and teachings about these “binding and loosing” verses that one hears today? Most people assume that they have something to do with spiritual warfare and binding the devil. Indeed, the surrounding context is about disciple’s authority, only the devil is not involved here.

In reality, binding and loosing are known technical legal expressions in the ancient Jewish world. “To bind” is to restrict, to confine, to limit and in a legal sense “to forbid something”. On the opposite side “to loose” is to unbind, to untie, to free, to release which in a legal sense means “to permit something”.

Here is an example from the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. He writes that under queen Alexandra of Jerusalem, the Pharisees “became the administrators of all public affairs, empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind”. (Jewish War 1:111). Josephus said that the Pharisees had the authority “to loose and to bind” and no, not demons or Satan.

When Jesus used this terminology in the Gospels, he did not speak about prayer or spiritual warfare either. The context is legal and the terms should be interpreted through first-century Jewish context. Just like the Pharisees in Josephus’s quote, the disciples were given a right to legislate, a right to make rules and norms, allowing and forbidding things in their own community. And that is binding and loosing first century’s style.

Developing the capacity to understand the scriptures in their Jewish context will make your study of God’s Word so much richer!



  1. This is very enlightening. The Western/Greek mindset (maybe American) has surely distorted this meaning which you eloquently provided. Thank you.

    • The Pharisees didn’t receive power from on high(Holy Spirit) so they may have picked up and used the term of binding and looking but they didn’t have the power to do so. And Who. speaks of not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    • The disciples were given the authority to bind and to loose what Jesus taught them. This was concerning the kingdom of God which is the church. They had the authority to preach the gospel of the church and they had the authority to loose and bind anything concerning the church. They did not have the right to make rules and norms concerning the church. They were to allow and forbid things they were taught by Jesus and the Holy Spirit concerning the church. That’s loosing and binding. This had nothing to do with community issues.

      • Seriously?! Jesus said, as He was sent we are sent!!! There are 2 kingdoms… Jesus got the victory Colossians 2:11 ¶” In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sinsfn of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
        12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
        13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
        14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
        15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Jesus won the victory…. we are Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
        12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,fn against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
        13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
        14 ¶ Stand therefore, ……,,” We are to take that victory to the world… through the power of Holy Spirit! Not being presumptive or flakey, but out of our relationship established through Jesus Christ!

      • This is not about the ” Church ” ! This is all about Yisrael and The Jewish Laws and Customs .Remember ? Y’Shua is a Jew who practiced Judaism and kept all of the Jewish Feasts and Festivals ( The Appointed Times ) .Read Constantine who started ” The Church ” in 313 CE/AD not Y’Shua and Not His Talmidim and Emissaries .

        • Jesus is clearly talking about the church. In the same passages, Jesus says, “on this rock I will build my church” 16:18 and “tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church.” 18:17. Constantine did not invent the church. Read St Ignatius AD 107

          • The word in Greek is “ekklesia”, which does not mean church (as in Christian institution) – it just means “an assembly”, any assembly. But in Mat 18 clearly, a Jewish one if the sinner is it be treated as if he was a Gentile (one without God) or a tax-collector (enemy collaborator).

    • Jesus told the women that was bent over and could not straighten up for I believe 28 yrs, Women thou art loosed from your infirmities. Would this not an example of loosing and binding?

      • Yes, Darlene, I believe the Greek uses that same exact verb, “to unite”, “to unbind” or figuratively-speaking “release” of “free” Just like in English we say – “You are free to do such and such…”

    • You are most welcome. I am glad that makes sense. Sometimes it is challenging to explain a new concept in just a few words. But I guess that is why we offer classes. 🙂

    • Not all perverted the truth. Ellicott said “ They point primarily to legislative or interpretive functions, not to the judicial treatment of individual men….When he resisted the attempt of the Judaizers to ‘put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples’ (Act 15:10),He was loosing what was also loosed in heaven. When he proclaimed … the eternal laws of righteousness, holiness, and love, he was binding those laws on the conscience of Christendom.”

    • Prof Shir is only partially correct. Yes, Binding and Loosing were not only used as technical legal terms, The intertestamental literature has many examples of binding and loosing of angels and demons: “Many early Jewish sources report that Satan or demons  were `bound,’ or imprisoned, after God subdued them; magical texts  often speak of `binding’ demons by magical procedures.” Craig Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary: NT. See Tobit 8:1-3 an angel bound a demon. Also 1 Enoch 10:4-12; 18:16; 21:1-2; 62:5ff; 89:27-28; Testament of Levi 18:12; Greek Apocalypse of Baruch, Psalms of Solomon 5:4, etc.

      • Excellent point, Paul! But I am not suggesting that exorcism has no place and did not exist. Of course, that would be incorrect. In Rev 20:2 Satan is “bound” – imprisoned. My point rests on 2 NT passages I have cited. They are not about exorcism or anything of that sort. The context cannot be ignored and misconstrued.

        • As a biblical theologian, I disagree. Jesus uses the terminology in the same ways as the Jewish sources I mentioned. Matthew’s theological agenda lays the foundation for connecting binding & demonic in 12:29, which naturally fits in 16:19 as well. Binding is not necessarily exorcism but limiting demons

          • I am sorry, I did not see any Jewish sources you mentioned. As a biblical theologian, you would agree with me that the context of any saying plays a foundational role in interpretation. Mat 12:29 speaks of exorcism and the context of binding can be tied to demonic powers. No argument. But Mat 18 and 16 passages have no relationship to exorcisms whatsoever. No demons in those passages, no casting out of anything. Both texts refer to legislative authority. I don’t mean to be argumentative, I am just strongly committed to the context and see things differently. My short piece on the keys of heaven might not agree with you either, but just for fun, check it out.

          • Hard to see how either Mt 16 or 18 relates to demons. The passages speak of binding and loosing on earth and in heaven. Where does Jesus suggest Apostles should “loose” demons? Also doesn’t make sense for demons to be bound or loosed in heaven.

          • interesting Paul , that you felt the need to add to your name when pressing your point of view. Prof Pinchas Shir, you are a gracious, learned man of God.

    • I am so thankful that this passage of scripture has been explained I always wandered about this thank you so much.

  2. An opinion, My own: re: Binding & Loosing, Context of Scripture, if am I allowed 1st, if Jesus Christ, Could it be perhaps in reference to binding or loosing. If Saying Get thee behind me, is a type of binding, regarding authority, & can it be considered scriptural, if used in the more ancient times, as used by Jesus Christ. There was a Man, Jehu, commanded by a prophet to Do tasks in Ancient Israel, one command similarly used was Turn to, behind me, used several times in scripture by Jehu. In One book of Kings I believe.

    • Dear George, my point is very simple, that when Jesus uses such terminology it has a concrete and specific meaning “to allow” or “to forbid”. Interpret the text with these meanings and you build on that.

  3. The “spiritual“ interpretation comes in to play with the context of the binding and loosing being done on Earth *and* in Heaven. Please explain: How does one confine the meaning of binding and loosing in HEAVEN to a strictly earth-bound interpretation of legislation? Thanks.

    • Remi, God is involved in the affairs of mankind. People who are led by him (in this case Yeshua and apostles) would not legislate something that would go against the authority of Heaven (God). That is how the ruling stands in both places.

    • No, it rests on those that He gave it to. But to understand it you have to see beyond the physical world constraints.

  4. The total ministry of Christ was to open the human understanding to the spiritual world. Everything He did was to show how blind mankind had become. To limit the binding only to the administration of the church would limit the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ was continually defeating the powers of hell by freeing those held captive. Christ told us we are to bind the strong man to take his possessions To regulate the binding and loosing to only earthly matters would negate the spiritual power Christ has given us through the Holy Spirit.

    • James, no disrespect, but no one was ever “told” or “commanded” or even gently “directed” to “bind the strong man”. No such language in the gospels. Jesus simply used such words as an illustration that he as the Son of Man had the power to do as he wanted to Satan. He is stronger than the string man. Please re-read Mark 3:27 / Mat 12:29.

      • Prof, I agree with you, Jesus in His ultimate wisdom gave this authority to the Apostles, if they thro were through, The Holy Spirit, able to pass on this authority, then such authority lies surely with those in that lineage, however, I’m unable to believe that such authority can lay with the Pope, as that lineage is a false one, one that has been badly corrupted by man down through the centuries for money, greed, power, and the various control by high powered families, sorry that’s the way it has planed out over time. Lord have mercy on them all.

  5. Thank you for this explanation. I always wondered if the church was binding the devil then who kept letting him loose. Good teaching

    • Debra, the ability to bind the powers of the enemy depend completely on the relationship with Yeshua. If you don’t have a deep personal relationship with him which gives you access to his power & authority, you can bind & loose til the cows come home, & it won’t have any effect. Sadly, in today’s church, there’s very little real power & a lot of show.

  6. Fruitful! Your example from Flavius Josephus has helped me to identify the problem I have had with this teaching on binding and loosing. Something very important seemed to be missing. I now realize that we added language because the teaching was missing. Our Christ followers added “being gifted” in place of binding and loosing. I was not a Christ follower so I added “Jesus built fences around the Torah” (borrowed language).

  7. The Word Of GOD Is Spirit and Life. John 6:63. That means every Word spoken by MESSIAH CHRIST JESUS is a Living Enity. The meanings of JESUS Words are progressively upgraded to deal with whatsoever stubborn spirit that must be bound or loosed to advance the Kingdom of GOD. Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 2:44, Revelation 11:15-17 and Matthew 18:17-19 codified this authority. Therefore, only the Holy Spirit can authorize the exact truth in any given Rhema. Those who don’t have the Holy Spirit INDWELLING them cannot decree what exactly JESUS’ Words says. Shalom. Amen. Oged.

  8. The comments above make interesting reading; but all miss the mark. Yeshua was giving Kefa (Peter) and later the other Apostles (Heb Shaliachim) their smicha; their ordination. They were given the authority to represent the sect of the Nots’rim (Nazarenes). To bind and loose was specifically the authority to make halacha- rulings on how Torah was to be observed. They could not change Torah, but they could prayerfully and led by the Spirit make rulings on the minutia of obedience. They could also admit or disfellowship others.

    • I didn’t miss the mark. I repented. What I see in Matt 16:17 is that repentance (son of Jonah) is revealed by the Father (not man). The foundation is Jesus. And what is being built on the foundation (binding & loosing) should be built carefully by governing authorities (coincidentally this is why the mark of God is important). As far as dis-fellowship, the church was never my authority.

      • Kat, you are still missing the point of this scripture. These shaliachim (apostles) were being given authority by Yeshua (Jesus). And they were Jews, so they were not part of a “church.” They represented the Jewish sect of the Nots’rim (Nazarenes), established by Yeshua and of which Rav Sh’ul (Paul) was said to be a ringleader. You are looking at it as if it is all about you. It isn’t. It’s about these early men who were given authority, a mandate, and empowerment to evangelize the world.

        • Professor Shir’s explanation is quite clear and vivid. Those here wanting or needing to add to the meaning of binding or loosing are the ones in error. These proposed additions of false thought or teaching do indeed show how wolves are trying to enter the church and the lives of Christians.

          • See Prof. Shir’s reply (now 8 posts below). This doesn’t add to any meanings; merely interprets scripture Hebraically, as this course teaches. The misunderstanding is due to our ignorance when first interpreting scripture. But ignorance is not a terminal condition! The correction is for us Gentiles to learn to think in context of the culture (Hebrew), language (either Hebrew or mixed Greek), who is being spoken to (here Peter and later the Apostles), and does this apply to just them or are we included (not unless we are ordained). You are to be commended for questioning, however you should check out the answers before posting false teaching of your own. Not a negative judgement- I was once where you are, and just as passionate in defending my beliefs (Southern Baptist) and so did my share of spreading around the ignorance. These courses help keep the “Ignorant” factor in check.

    • Another interesting thing about the smicha of Kefa, it was said in front of a grotto which had a spring whose depths could not be plumbed. Pagans worshiped there, and it was called “The Gates of Hell.” So when in verse 18 Yeshua told His first Shaliach “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it (His assembly, sic),” Yeshua was declaring war on ha’satan and demonic forces. He threw down the gauntlet so to speak right on their very doorstep! This was the first step in establishing a command structure for an army which would evangelize the world!

      • Oh, that is really interesting. I didn’t know that. So often Jesus grounded what He said using what was there. Probably in many ways so much easier for those who were there to understand what He was getting at. Like, for example that bit where Jesus says about its being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to get into the Kingdom…I always thought that that was weird, until it was explained to me what ‘the eye of a needle’ actually meant in that context..not as we would immediately think of it.

      • Hi Dan! Do you know if this exact spot still exists? If so, I’d like to know how to find it so I could visit it on my upcoming trip to Israel. Thank you!

        • Pastor Perry Stone has some great info on this. The region of Caesarea Philippi was a highly idolatrous region v.13. This rode leading there was lined with idols of that region. Possible in this setting Jesus asked the question “Who do men say that I am?” The was a grotto there with small idols surrounding a pool of water believed to be a portal to the underworld called “the gates of Hades” where spirits were believed to pass through. Evidently there are other locations around the world that believe in so called portals.

        • Joseph, it’s part of the Hermon Stream Nature Preserve, along Hwy 99 on the way up to Tell Dan. I was at Tell Dan last year after Sukhot, and was able to touch the waters of the Dan Spring, which is one of the streams that combine to form the Jordan River. I did not realize we had passed it, and when we got ready to leave Tell Dan, there was not enough time to get back to Banyas before it closed. It is known for waterfalls that would be biggest in spring or early summer.

        • It is located a Caesarea Phillipi. Pan was the god worshipped there. There was a statue of Pan next to grotto where a spring issued from under the hill.
          The locals called it Panos and the Arabs pronounce it Banos because they don’t pronounce the ‘P’.
          It’s a nice wayside for hikers, but don’t drink the water!

    • Yes Dan, I just chose to use a simpler language everyone can understand. Instead of make halakha = legislate, instead of smicha = authority and etc… I am glad we are on the same page.

  9. Yeshua is a Jew ,He did not come starting churches .This is false theology .Constantine created the Roman Catholic Church in 313 AD /CE .All of the Talmidim were Jews not Gentiles .On the Day of Shavuot /Pentecost they were all Jews who waited in Yerushalayim for the Ruach HaKodesh /Holy Spirit to be poured out on them .The Talmidim were called ,especially Kefa /Peter and Sha’ul /Paul were called to preach to the Jews and to the Goyim /Gentile .The Word of G-d was written my Jews not gentiles .

  10. We have used this Scripture as we have always understood it to mean,and it has worked powerfully.Satan and his demons have been cast out of people and situations countless number of times. Do you suggest that we repent, before God and apologize to Satan fo” misinterpreting” that Scripture bade on your interpretation sir? Rev.Yarima El-Samaila, Nigeria

    • Rev. Yarima, I’m colleague of Dr. Eli’s here at the Israel Bible Center and I’d like to respond to your question. First, let me say I am touched by your sensitivity to the Word of God. It takes great humility to adjust what we believe the Scripture is saying. I realize it’s humbling to discover that we have taught something it error but I am confident that God is more than pleased with your faithfulness. No need to apologize to the devil about anything. As Rav Shaul reminds us in I Cor 13, we all see in a mirror dimly!

    • You need to understand what the Word of G-d is saying through the Hebrew writings not the Western Mindset ! Jews wrote the Word of G-d and the Torah was given to Moshe on Mt .Sinai and Salvation is from the Jews .Yeshua is a Jew and all of His Talmidim were Jews and Jews were called to preach the Word to the Jews and Goyim ( Gentiles ) .Binding and loosing has nothing to do with Satan or the demonic spirits . If Satan and evil spirits can be bound ? Then why is evil rampant upon the earth?

    • Do not repent for trusting God and for doing good in his name! But anytime anyone of us takes God’s words and twists them to say something he did not say, something we want to say, for that we need to repent. And I include myself here. Ignorance is one matter. But we are not allowed to twist or misrepresent God’s words on purpose. Pastor, with respect, you know the end does not justify the means.

  11. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, Lord of all, and receive Him, Saviour, Redeemer, Promised One; you are free from your guilt, shame and fear as you forgive others their sins. We are loosed, loosed to forgive others. To release them to the truth. We are bound by our unbelieving. Apostles had the authority to expose the truth of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, also the jailor, released from the fear of the authorities and whose family was saved! Paul did extraordinary miracles, involving “exorcism as Sceva’s seven sons demonstrate

  12. My thoughts: “To bind or to loose” in today’s context — if a person “X” wrongs another person “Y”, and “Y” seeks retribution for it, “X” is made bound to his/her wrongful deed. But if “Y” forgives “X”, then “X” is loosed from his/her wrongful deed. And since God allows our actions here on earth (because he has given us free will), the responsibility is on each of us whether to bind or loose. Whatever we choose to do, will be considered done in the eyes of the Lord and in heaven.

    • Shalom Maureen. Perfect! What more can be said. Mercy or Condemnation within the family of believers. Just pose on 1 Cor 5:11-13 And 2 Cor 2:10-11 ?????

    • Maureen, you mention here that God has given us free will. Can you please direct me to the Biblical support for this statement. Thank you.

      • Joshua 24:15 KJV — And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
        John 1.11He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.
        12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

  13. Menge C. Kasonde The Scripture has been grossly misinterpreted and misunderstood. Punkt. We have to learn to humble ourselves as believers because much as we rely on the Holy Spirit for understanding, that which has already been taught and revealed to the Jews can only be grasped by learning from them. Yeshua told His disciples that to that which they already knew, the Holy Spirit would reveal even more to them. As such, it is imperative to learn first before the Holy Spirit can reveal even more.

  14. I’ve been teaching this for several years. Unfortunately, too many have spiritualized what should be taken literally. I have used Greek and Hebrew reference material for several years. I wonder if this is the “increase of revelation of knowledge” spoken of in scripture!

    • I hope so. In reality going back to the roots and the original context of the Bible is simply reclaiming which was once known quite well.

  15. This is so clarifying and makes perfect sense. Just one question: is there a connection with Isaiah 22:22? There is an interesting parallel with the use of the word keys in both passages (the keys of the kingdom of David vs the keys of the kingdom of heaven) and I was wondering if the “bind and loose” is somewhat similar in meaning to the “he shall open and none shall shut”? The parallelism in the passages is strikingly similar to be a coincidence, particularly knowing how well Jesus knew the book of Isaiah

    • Absolutely there is a connection. The words are not exactly the same, but conceptually they describe the same action.

  16. I am so excited about this expository, I wish I can enroll in your class. Unfortunately I am a retired administrator and cannot afford to. Bravo, let our prayers be based on the correct scripture for the ultimate effectiveness. Thanks once more and may Yahweh bless you continually.

    • Shalom Erica, I am so happy that you are a part of our online community. God’s blessing on you as well!

  17. It would be terrific if yiu could provide the course information in printed form…either hard copy or pdf, for those of us who di not have time to take the course.

    • Hi Michael. Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll consider it. By the way, please keep in mind that we designed the courses to be flexible for busy people like yourself who are on the go.

  18. So to all the experts who wish to increase our knowledge, I repeat my question of 01/28 which was never answered: I have gathered from all your interpretations that binding and loosing is only about parliamentary procedure; practical legislation; earthly values and not spiritual. If only concerning the mundane and the tangible, why would Yeshua go out of His way to emphasize that whatever we bind and loose will be so not just in earth, but in HEAVEN? Herein comes the (very) spiritual aspect of the practices.

  19. I understand the legal meaning of bind and loosen. I’m wondering (like some others above), how it applies in heaven as well as on earth.

    • Dear Evan, I will have to answer this matter in a separate post. There is a feature of Greek grammar that needs to be explained well in order for people to follow the thought process cohesively.

      • Apologies but I still don’t understand. Have I misunderstood and changed the word? Example: I bind cancer in my friend …. here on earth in Yeshua’s name and I loose my friends healing here on earth in Yeshua’s name.

        Thank you in advance

        • Dear Charlene, you are free to do as you please in your private life. Who am I to tell you otherwise? Just keep in mind that these verses do not teach you to do that! The texts merely says that disciples have the power (authority) to “permit” and “forbid” things in their community. For example, they can choose to forbid wearing fancy jewelry to a prayer meeting and make it a standing rule. There is no such commandment in Torah, but they can still forbid that.

        • It is more like the disciples agreeing on what should and should not occur. For example Act 21:25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

  20. Understanding the meaning and context of binding and loosing begs the question how spiritual warfare against Satan, demons, and their activities in people’s lives.

    • Good question. But I have no desire to tell people how to live or how to practice their faith. My job is to inform and explain what the Bible really says. Adjusting behavior to match God’s revelation is the responsibility of each believer.

  21. The concept of loosing and binding has to with the authority that Jesus had. He said l do nothing out of my own but do what my Father tells me to do. Looking at that, where was His authority seated? It is seated in heaven, given to Him by His Father. As l understand it, the Hebrew says that, what has already been bound in heaven, is bound on earth. So all within the power of the Father had been given to the Son to execute on earth. His authority in His will is our authoriy. Earthly authority is useless.

    • Job 38:31 loosing and binding of the seven stars, belt of Orion, this power belongs to God alone, and He freely gives to whom He will

    • Hi Rene. Thanks for jumping into the discussion. Whatever else this statement means – it has to first be understood within the context of Second Temple Judaism.

  22. Jesus is refering to Job, 38:31, that God gives His authority to whomsoever he wills, and that He made that abundantly clear through the repentance of Eliphaz the son of Esau son of Isaac son of Abraham. God had shown that His man ( Job ) is received by the face of God, the Abraham ritual covenant sacrifice was still in place and received through the man chosen by God, Job prayed for them and his captivity was ended. Jesus is the accepted covenant sacrifice and He gives to His own, to bind or loose the belt of Orion.

    • Shalom William, Enticing observation – but probably not the background of binding and loosing in the context of Matthew’s Gospel. Here the context is squarely within the world of first century Judaism. Glad you are a part of the discussion!

      • Not the actual physical, but a parable of total sovereignty in heaven and Earth, Job finally accepts this understanding of God’s total sovereignty and faithfulness, he now understands through faith, ( Hebrews 11: 3 ) and it is finally enough for the repentance of some and confirmation of faithfulness to Job. A very desperate situation in a whirlwind of emotions, He remains the anchor of our souls through it all. Hebrews 6:9 ) Mathiew 16:19…18:18,19.20. 1Corinth.5:12…6:2,3. Thank you

  23. I think Jesus was putting his instruction in a form that the disciples could understand–that of “binding and loosing”–giving the Bride the same authority as the Law of Moses–by the Word of God. This must have astounded those who heard Him. They were used to obeying those in spiritual authority over them (as indeed, Jesus instructed them to do). They were undoubtedly aware of the heavy responsibility being placed on their shoulders–but, Jesus promised that He would send a “helper” to remind them of all that He had taught them. His yoke is light.

  24. Shalom, interesting discussion, be mindful of connotations for binding and loosing, context is important, binding can be good ie tefillin is binding the word to the arm and forehead, good context for binding. A Mitzvah. Loosing can be good , to be loosed from sin through forgiveness. Both the binding and the loosing are represented in Heaven as on earth in the context of the scriptural passage, so mindfulness of the words is important both can have positive or negative connotations but neither are inherently good or bad it is entirely dependent on what the binding or loosing refers.

    • Yes, Jane, connotations are important. We people have all kinds of feelings about words. What I am most concerned about is that we do not allow our feelings to dictate an interpretation of what God actually said. Hashem has certain connotations in mind when he says things too.

  25. While I enjoyed the article, it unfortunately falls flat because it removes the power of the Holy Spirit from the believer’s life by rationalizing the terminology. The missing key ingredient is the heavenly binding & loosing. The description should have gone further to explain that the physical idea explained was an implication of what can happen in the Spiritual realm when a believe understands their authority over the enemy to put the enemy in their place so to speak and not let the attacks against the believer defeat them. I speak from experience in the supernatural.

    • I agree. I purposefully did not go into the issue you mentioned. Can not accomplish this in a three hundred word post. That is another article!

  26. This passage is clearly about binding and loosing Jesus’ authority being passed on to the apostles and the ekklesia/church he left to continue his teaching. Exercised in extending the Gospel to Romans, disciples of John the Baptist, Greeks; relationship of Gentiles to Jewish law (Acts 15). Jews and Gentiles in one community/assembly, see Ephesians chapters 2 (esp. 14-16) and 3 (esp. 3:6). Salvation is of the Jews historically, but by faith for believers of all nations.

  27. Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 8:7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this

  28. This would make sense of Paul speaking to each community about rules in the congregational community setting. They would apply to that community and not necessary for all believers. Each community received a different Message.

  29. Concerning the “binding and loosing,” I don’t believe Christ gave the disciples the authority to make or unmake rules. I believe “esomai–shall be” is a perfect passive participle. This has the meaning that whatever the disciples may bind or lose has already been bound or loosed in heaven. They are just carrying out what the Holy Spirit is revealing to them as they proclaim the gospel. Otherwise, we have the apostles making laws on their own without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, not all the New Testament is the result of inspiration. Them’s my thoughts. —

    • Jefferson, shalom. I think this is more like what came first the chicken or the egg. The Apostles can INTERPRET laws if YHVW through his anointed Christ gave them authority to do so.

    • You are correct, Jefferson! The phrase “will be bound” is not a simple Imperfect Future verb as in many English translations. Instead, the Greek δεδεμένον (dedomenon) is a Future Perfect Passive Participle. What does that mean? Forbidding and permitting decrees Peter makes on Earth “have already been bound” (Perfect Participle) in Heaven and by Heaven. Peter is not the one doing the action (Passive Voice). The rulings that forbid and permit are still to take place (Future tense) for him. This is completely the opposite of what the typical English rendering suggests!

  30. This was a wonderful heated debate indeed! But first, let me congratulate Prof. Shir for ably expounding the context of “binding” and “loosing.” Your interpretation of the two phrases truly demonstrates a 1st Century Jewish theological understanding of “binding and loosing”as articulated by the Scriptures, if well observed that is. Second, I don’t see any problem in your interpretation of the “binding and loosing theology.” I believe this was one of the most important steps Jesus took to empower his apostles in anticipation of the heavy task ahead of them of leading the Church of God. Take it or leave it, and on Pentecost Day their authority to “bind” and “loose” was finally sealed by the pouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. This signified that whatever decision they would make on earth, if made by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would definitely meet God’s approval in heaven. So the apostles were now fully empowered not only to preach the Gospel with full force but also to make ecclesiastical decisions as documented by Dr. Luke in Acts 15:24,28, read the verses objectively and honestly, and you will understand the proper context and usage of the two phrases: “to bind” and “to loose. Note carefully these phrases: “…some went out …without our authorisation…It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” Doesn’t this tell us that the decision the apostles made was also guided and approved by God the Holy Spirit? In fact, I believe this is the same authority (of binding and loosing) that Rav Shaul was using to handle various situations or even disputes in the Corinthian church and others. So for me it is not just a matter of usage of the words, but the meaning. And we must always bear in mind that meaning originates from context. And therefore, the end MUST never justify the means. Stay blessed! God bless Israel!

    • I am so glad my point makes sense to you. Legislating is an essential and reasonable way to lead a community. And God is offering help with that. There is a perfectly reasonable, historical, cultural and linguistic range of what these terms can mean. What I see too often are very creative interpretations that take these phrases well outside of that reasonable range. Sadly these are the meanings people are most familiar with, hence my article.

  31. Thank you so much for your insights. As an elderly lady I may not be able to study as much now but being shown once many years ago that there is a difference between Jewish & gentiles when studying the Holy Scriptures gave me more understanding. The Holy Scriptures, (The Bible) is for us gentiles but not necessarily about us. Your knowledge of the Jewish way of thinking in those earlier years, is a great help.

  32. Prof. Shir, thank you for this concise and insightful article! Your interpretation seems to be the “key” to understanding what Jesus meant. (pun intended).

  33. I see no issue with the interpretation and intent of binding and loosing as referenced to permission and prohibition. The charge to cast out demons is still a legitimate instruction as these signs shall follow those that believe. Salvation is through the Jews, namely Yeshua alone. The sinful nature of the Jew is precisely like the fallen nature of the gentile so there is no need for fleshly pride. Paul did preach to the Jews first but they rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Paul went to the gentiles, who would, and did receive the message.

    • Yes, Kenneth, we are all human and all in need of God’s mercy and grace, both Jews and non-Jews. But I am going to disagree with you on the fact that Jews rejected Jesus. If Jews rejected Jesus, then who spread his name among the nations? I will give you a hint, not the nations. 🙂 I know it is a common idea, but it is not entirely correct. Read this

  34. Please will you revisit your citation of Josephus, “Jewish Wars” (1:110) that appears to be lacking. I have to assume that the “1” refers to book 1 but then what is “110”. After the book number (in this case “1”) I would expect to see the chapter and then verse but “110” cannot be applied to either as there are 33 chapters containing typically 4 to 11 verses.

  35. I think it’s really important to remember that whenever Jesus discloses keys or gives people keys to aid in their transformation into Christ likeness they unlock spiritual realities which allow them to be manifested in the natural. I like Maureen’s comment a lot regarding how unbelief binds Heaven. The Kingdom of God is built by the Holy Spirit, although there is a true historical context for the scripture, there is no way that we can leave out the Holy Spirit regarding its interpretation because the focus is regarding the Kingdom of God which is built of the supernatural precious stones.

  36. I agree with Dr. Eli but I would like to bring to your attention that Jesus bound demons, cast them out and others. He gave this power to the believer. The spirit filled believer has been given the ability to “bind and loose” in the spirit realm. This will seem strange to those who have not experienced the baptism of the Holy Ghost. You may want to put me in the class with the over zealous etc. It does not hinder my belief and experience. Like Paul told Agrippa, I wish that all believers were filled with the Holy Ghost.

  37. I have heard many pastors preach on this topic of binding and loosing.
    but always in the context of marriage. Does this term have anything to do with marriage? I do not see anybody commenting here even mentioning marriage.

    • People can choose to apply these words to tying any context they wish as long as they understand that the original teaching is about allowing something and forbidding something in a legal context. Staying outside of the original meaning does not legitimize improper applications.

  38. When Jesus said that the Pharisees sat in Moses seat He was saying that they had the authority to interpret Torah – what was intended to be specifically permitted or prohibited by the commands in Genesis-Deuteronomy. For example, how far was it permitted to walk on the sabbath – what is a sabbath day’s journey.
    That the West links this to having authority over demons, health, weather and money is utterly wrong, foolish, misleading, ignorant and in some cases stupidity. In the final analysis, never mind the true meaning, it just doesn’t work.

  39. When reading your explanation the scripture in Psalms that says …Life and death are in the power of the tongue… Is that a fair connection or could you explain why not?

    • It all depends on what kind of a connection you want to make and for what purpose. If theological/doctrinal – that would be improper, because the scope of passages is completely different. If devotional/sermonic – go ahead, but make sure you understand that binding/loosing are legal terms.

  40. So, I’m a little confused. Why would Y’shua discuss this with his Disciples, since we don’t see any evidence of using this in the context that you describe. I don’t doubt that it’s a first-century legal term, but I do think there’s more here. Even in the context that you describe, binding and loosing can still pertain to spiritual warfare as our authority comes from Y’shua, through the court of Heaven.

    Thanks for all your insights!

    • Dear Todd, Yeshua does not teach “spiritual warfare” in these verses. Just dig into the surrounding context of the verses. It is about managing the affairs of their community. Apostles had that power and authority, they made rules for their faith community, forbidding certain things and allowing others as God gave them wisdom. This teaching is not a license to “bind up” some heavenly things or “loose” some prosperity or anything you may hear on TBN 🙂 Sorry, I do not see how it can work both ways. Only one of the meanings has to be valid.

  41. Good day. Was binding and loosing only given to the 1st century apostles? Nowadays, I see Pastors, Bishops making this claim that they too have authority to bind and loose. Will appreciate some clarity.

  42. Thank you for clarifying. Thanks a lot.

    I will also appreciate a short article on tithing. Lots of debate in the Christian about this. Others believe (as I do) that tithing was meant for the Levite’s and not meant for pastors, bishops and rabbies. Now that Levite’s are not existing, there should not be a reason to tithe. Of course, others believe differently than some of us. They want the money at all costs (tithing as being part of the law)and yet they claim that the law was nailed to the cross.

    • Funny paradox… People completely reject the law and everything Jewish except when it is about tithing. That is hypocrisy of course and many people like you recognize it. Giving is biblical, however. The principle is valid.

  43. If one reads the jewish encyclopedia on binding and loosing you’ll notice 2 views converging as one, but half of the view pertains to supernatural authority.

  44. Sounds like the lecturer is a Pharisee himself ha ha. We also need to comprehend the whole of scripture. Several comments cover things well so I don’t have to prove what is already proven. When they bound or loosed (or when we bind or loose) something its done!

  45. Loosing and binding is referred to Priesthood Authority and Power,to act in the name of the Eternal Father like ancient Priests of Israel in the Temple. Melchizedek is a good example of Authority in the Priesthood; Abraham paid his tithings to Melchizedek.

  46. Wow thank you so much this has answered my questions as a pastor teaching the word I always need the context. Blessings

    • That is why IBC exists. 🙂 We want to help people make sense of biblical teachings in their natural context.

  47. I certainly agree with the jist of this post. I hold to a further explanation of the “shall be bound in heaven” piece as follows: Jesus is teaching them that, following the outpouring of His Spirit, they will naturally administer the Church as Heaven is governed; God’s way.

  48. The phrase “binding and loosing” was deliberately mistranslated by Roman Catholics at some point to justify the practice of confessing sins to a priest, who acted (acts) as a mediary between God and man. Non-Catholics believe that only God can forgive sin; a mortal man cannot.

  49. Thank you Prof Shir, this is indeed a remarkable. The first time I have learnt about this scripture, we were told to use it to bind demons and satan and his cohorts. I thank God to receive your emails every morning. I don’t take this lightly. Thank you sir

  50. Hi,
    Granted the authority to bind and loose are both in the physical and spiritual world.
    That’s why it is said only to Peter in Matt.16 and then to all Christ followers in Matt.18
    The natural man can’t understand spiritual things, neither can he know them, the Bible states. Selah

  51. Continue…if we are not born again by accepting Christ as our Lord and Saviour and birth into the Kingdom of God spiritually we can’t know the things of the Spirit of God. We may have a Ph.D. in Hebrew/ Greek or whatever. Only Spirit-filled teachers get revelation to understand spiritually.

  52. I agree with Prof Shir, but also see that Yeshua gave concrete examples of this binding and loosing. The crippled man loosed from disease AND loosed from the oral command not to carry his bed. The disciples allowed to eat heads of grain. Other examples come to mind. Thank you.

  53. He explained the context of those verses. Those verses when in context are referring to legal authority to forbid or allow within the Messanic community and it will be aligned with heaven by Holy Spirit. The apostles did it all the time as evident in the gospels. Just read!

  54. So now I’m more confident in my ability to hear the Heart of God through the Holy Spirit! I recently made a post saying that I didn’t see any biblical confirmation that we are to bind the devil. Thanks for this, because I got a little criticism for saying that.

  55. shalom Prof. So He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but

    • Ok, Moses, what does Luke 10:17-20 has to do with Mat 16 and Mat 18 passages on binding and loosing? Nothing. I am not trying to say exorcism is not legitimate. I am saying that Mat 16 and 18 passages on binding and loosing are not related to the context of exorcism and should not be read or considered this way. That’s is my only point. The rest is commentary.

  56. This concept has been thrashed out many years ago, and those that trust in Jesus and in His Word (and practice it), know well that we may bind and loose pretty much what we please, as long as it is in accordance with His will. So bind the strong man.

  57. Craig Keener, whom I sat under for several classes, drilled into us, “CIE – Context Is Everything.” In Matt 16 the context is admittance into the assembly Jesus was building. In 18 the context is discipline in that assembly. Both are earthly authority concerning humans. Neither mentions demons.

    • Exactly! You had an excellent teacher. Context is King. It changes everything and determines the very meaning and force of words. LOL. I just called context “something inanimate” a King in a clearly idiomatic way. Someone may read my words without the context of our conversation and think that I am a citizen of a kingdom and the name of the king who rules it is King Context. Interpretation without contexts is dangerous!

  58. Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.Do we have authority to forbid and permit something we feel like or dislike

  59. If the LORD said upon this rock I will build my church. the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.the best meaning of “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” to bind and loose is found in the parable in Mark 3:27binds the strong man

  60. Thanku for that teaching. However, when a person has an attitude problem or is moody I do take authority over it and I do bind it in the name of Yahusha haMashiyach and the change in that person is immediate.

  61. shalom Aleichem Leister thank u too for your encouragement. am just a humble servant of The GOD of Abraham ,of Isaac ,of Jacob the Israelite and The father of our LORD YESHIVA.” I do take authority over it and bind it” – great truth bind the problem . (Matt 16:19)

  62. Mark 7:8 …They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’ 8You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” 9He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the commandment of God to maintain your own tradition.…mark 7:5,Mark 7:3,4 LORD save

  63. This is the same misconception that everyone has concerning scripture. Just read the next verse.. again I say?.. he is talking about prayer. You have to be pretty creative to misconstrue this scripture to think that it has anything to do with laws.

  64. Almost every miracle and or healing that took place had to do with demonic strongholds. That is why Jesus gave his disciples specific power as he sent them out. He didn’t send them out to legislate. They had no power for that. Only power over the devil.

  65. Prof. Pinchas Shir, i love you so much. May GOD bless you for this service. You make some of us to learn new insights from you and others.My bro. Ron Brumbaugh talked about power it reminded me about LORD interaction with the experts in legal matters in Matthew 23:4,Luke 11:45-46.


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