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Binding and loosing in Matthew 18:18

Submitted: 5/30/2005
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Question: What does the Word mean when it says, 'whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'

Answer: According to the original Greek, in Matthew 18:18 Jesus said, “Whatever you bind on earth shall occur, being bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on the earth shall occur, being loosed in heaven” (v.18). This rendering of the original Greek in the Interlinear Bible by Jay P. Green Sr. shows clearly that the Lord was not affirming that He would stand behind every decision of the church, but that the church, which is on earth, must stand behind what He has already decided in heaven. This is almost the opposite of what it seems like it says in English. It is not saying that God will stand behind us no matter what, but that we must stand behind God, no matter what! In this way, there is a logical connection to the previous verse. It is the spiritual explanation of why the person who transgressed will not even respond to the entreaties of the church. We are to interpret this as meaning that he has cut himself off so severely from God that he must likewise be cut off from the body, lest the body become defiled.

According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the word “bind” means “to forbid, prohibit, declare, illicit.” It also means “to tie, fasten, or place in bonds” (see Matthew 13:30; 22:13). In other words, it means to deprive of liberty. The word translated “whatsoever” can also be translated “whosoever,” as it is many times in the New Testament. The way it is translated has to do with the context.

If the translator believes this verse refers to evil spirits (as some contend) or church-made laws, then he will translate it “whatsoever.” If it is referring to people, however, then it ought to be translated “whosoever.”

To paraphrase the first half of Christ’s statement: “Whosoever you (as an assembly on earth) declare to be acting illicitly and therefore prohibit from continued fellowship (according to the procedure just described) shall presently be seen to be in spiritual bondage, having already been deprived of spiritual liberty in the heavenlies.” In other words, Jesus is telling us that if we stand behind Him, He will stand behind us. If we enforce on earth what has happened in heaven (in the spiritual realm), then this person will begin to manifest his spiritual bondage. The worst thing a church can do is let there be sin in the church and just go on acting as though everything is A-OK. This leads to the corrupting of the body.