Matthew 16:13-28 Part 10

Having begun verse nineteen last Lord’s Day, we saw that our Lord Jesus Christ came out of the Heavens, entered into the realm of the dead, exited from there and entered back into the Heavens.  This is what He means when He says that He has the “keys” to the Kingdom and the “keys” of Hades.  He has authority over both.

And in the text He says that He will give the keys of the Kingdom to His apostles.  (Man already has access to Hades!)  So, in some way there is a “granting” and “furnishing” of a degree of authority to the apostles – at the time of the resurrection and ascension of Christ – with regard to the Kingdom.

And we were made aware that, at the same time that the Scribes and Pharisees did not enter the Kingdom and didn’t, therefore, open the portals of the Kingdom to the people of Israel, the apostle Peter, the apostle to the Jews, preached the Gospel at Pentecost; and the portals of the Kingdom were opened to five thousand men who heard him!

Now, it should be very obvious – even to casual observers – that the authority given to the apostles by Christ was centered in the preaching of the Gospel of the resurrected Lord!  Considering these events, it is unreasonable to even question that.

And closely connected to the keys to the Kingdom are the terms “loosing” and “binding”. 


“I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens; and whatever you shall bind upon the earth shall be as having been bound in the heavens, and whatsoever you shall loose upon the earth shall be as having been loosed in the heavens.”


So binding and loosing have to do with divine, vicarious authority – the “keys” having been given to the apostles.  And since all authority in heaven and earth is centered in the “heavens”, the giving of the authority to bind and loose comes from there; it doesn’t come from Hades!  Whatever has been bound and loosed is bound and loosed in the heavens, not in Hades!  So the apostles have been given to bind and loose that which has been bound and loosed in the heavens.

The apostles are not given the keys to Hades, because men don’t need to have Hades opened up to them; they already live in the realm of death by virture of their depraved nature.  Men need to leave the realm of death and enter into the portals of life!  And since life is found only in the Kingdom of the Heavens, the portals need to be opened to them.  And the keys are given to the apostles.

We’ll examine this some more in a few minutes.  But, first, we need to get an idea about the terms “binding” and “loosing”.  Because, with the keys to the Kingdom, the apostles have been given to bind what has already been bound in the heavens, and to loose what has already been loosed in the heavens.

Now, as we’ve already seen on numerous occasions, it is the tendency of Jesus to speak in highly figurative language – and even parabolic language.  And it is for us to ascertain, with wisdom, the fullness of His words.  And, as always, He, Himself, is the fullness of the Word of God – and His language is the language of God in His enscripturated Word!  So, with the Bible in hand, there can be no “mystery” in any of His language.  It is simply a matter of searching and discovery of the “mind” of Christ.

But all too often men search and discover what is in their own minds and hearts, which always leads to a violent misuse of Scripture and a man-centered or self-centered interpretation of the truth!  And this saying of Jesus concerning “binding” and “loosing” is one of the better examples of that!  Men have always wanted the authority to make personal pronouncements concerning the sins of others.  From the Pharisees – to Roman Catholicism – to cultic authority figures, men have always coveted the authority of God Himself – an authority to condemn other men to hell, or to free them from their guilt or to control them in some extra Biblical way!

And what is it except the desire to be “as God” – with the power to decide life and death over other men?  What greater power is there than to consign to hell or permit entrance into heaven?  With a self-centered interpretation of “the keys to the Kingdom”, and the power of “loosing” and “binding”, the Pharisees locked up the Kingdom to the entire nation of Israel!  And Roman Catholicism has kept the masses of its followers in total fear of the pope and the local priests!  And cultic authority figures rule with fear and intimidation!  Men crave to have the power to dispose of others in whatever way they see fit.  It’s a craving for sovereignty, even elders in reformed congregations.

And one of the prime portions of Scripture used in this process of “self-deification” is this verse nineteen of our text where the Lord gives the keys of the Kingdom to His apostles and endows them with the power of binding and loosing that which has been bound and loosed in the heavens.  Instead of searching the “mind” of Christ for the fullness of the meaning, men prefer to feel self-empowered and “puffed up” with a misunderstood authority!

You see, this is the same craving which is easily seen from depraved man in society generally.  Those in civil government want absolute authority.  Women seek empowerment.  Blacks seek empowering.  Gays seek empowering.  And “little caesars” rule their homes and their Churches with iron fists:  while everybody wants empowering with self-esteem!  It would probably be a great surprise to learn how many would think their elders held the keys of binding and loosing.

So the “self/god” looks into the Scriptures and sees these wonderful words from our Lord, and he interprets them in whatever way meets his own cravings for power!  And, strangely enough, the word “to loose” appears in verse twenty of Second Peter chapter one, where it says, “No prophecy should be exposited according to private opinion!”  The word “luo” – to loose – is the root word used for the translation of “exposited”, which means to release – or to resolve!  You could translate it like this:  “No prophecy should be self-explained!”  Or, “No prophecy should be interpreted according to needs of the ‘self’!”  It is not one’s private opinion!

This verse nineteen of our text is a prophetic utterance of our Lord Jesus concerning His resurrection from the dead and His ascension to Power; and His giving of the keys of the Kingdom to His apostles.  And the authority of the keys will be given to them for loosing and binding that which has been loosed and bound in the heavens.  And it is not to be self-explained – nor is it to be “loosed” from its moorings in the fullness of the revealed Word of God.

That’s what the Pharisees did; that’s what Roman Catholics do; that’s what petty tyrants do; that’s what god-like cultic figures do.  And it’s destructive – which leads me to the first distinctive meaning of this word “to loose”.

In Matthew five, verses seventeen and eighteen, Jesus says,


“Do not think that I came to destroy, or abrogate, the Law….  I did not come to abrogate, but to be its fullness.”


The word “to destroy”, or “to abrogate” in that quote from Jesus is our word here, “to loose”.  In John two, nineteen, Jesus says,


“Destroy this temple and, in three days, I will raise it up.” 


The word “destroy” is our word here in verse nineteen, “to loose”.

In John chapter five, verse eighteen, the Jews sought to kill Jesus because, in their opinion, He had “broken” the Sabbath.  The word “broken” is our word “to loose”.  In Ephesians two, fourteen, Paul says that Christ has “broken down’ the wall of partition…”  That’s the word “to loose”.  In Revelation chapter five, there is no one who is able to break open the seals of the New Covenant Charter of Humanity until the Lamb slain takes the book out of God’s hand and opens it.  To “break open” is this term “to loose”.

So this word is used on many occasions to mean a “breaking up” or a “disintegration”, or an “abrogation” or “dissolution”.  And it is in this sense that apostolic preaching of the Gospel of the Risen Savior brought final judgment and destruction to Israel!  And it is in this same sense that the word is used over in Matthew chapter eighteen, verse eighteen when Jesus instructs the apostles to dissolve the relationship between the Church and the pagan who will not repent of his sin!  This is similar to First John three, eight where it says this: 


“He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the operations of the devil.” 


The word “destroy” is our word “to loose”!

But the term has another meaning as well.  Listen to Revelation chapter one, verse five:


“And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first begotten from the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and redeemed us from our sins in His Own blood….”


The word “redeemed” is the word in our text – “to loose”.  In this sense it means to “free”.  In Luke chapter thirteen, when Jesus encountered the severely crippled woman on the Sabbath day and was condemned for it by the Pharisees, He replied to them:


“Hypocrite!  Do not each one of you, on the Sabbath loose his ox or ass from the stall, and lead it away to watering?  And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath Day?”


So our word “to loose” means to free from being “bound” by Satanic activity!

And, now, listen to a small part of the preaching of Peter at Pentecost – Acts chapter two, beginning at verse twenty-two:


“You men of Israel, hear these words:  Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know:  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pangs of death; because it was not possible that He should be held by it….”


Our word “to loose” is plainly used in this passage, and it clearly means to free from the bonds of death – or Hades!

And where is all this prophesied?  In that great chapter having to do with the coming of the great Shepherd/King, Isaiah chapter forty!  Listen:


“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.  Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her conflict is over, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand – double for all her sins.”


The word translated “pardoned’ is our word “to loose”!

So, in the translation of this word we have both the breaking up and dissolution of the old, and the immediate expectation of a new order – freed from the bondage of iniquity, Satan, and death!

And, now, before we go back to the text with that, let’s see if we can grasp the significance of the word “deo” – to bind; for Jesus also said,


“whatsoever you shall bind upon the earth shall be as having been bound in the heavens….”


And, as with the word “loosing”, “binding” also has two distinctive meanings as is evidenced, first, by the second verse of Romans chapter seven where Paul says,


“for the woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to that husband so long as he lives….” 


He also says the same thing to the Church at Corinth in the seventh chapter of his first letter: 


“The wife is bound by the Law as long as her husband lives….” 

So the Law is “binding” upon mankind to obedience.

But the overwhelming evidence of the Scriptures is that “binding” means imprisonment!  And I give you one example from Paul, as he writes to Timothy from prison.  He says,


“Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer – unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound.”


This is a particularly good example, because imprisonment is used in Scripture as analogous to bondage is spiritual darkness.  Those who have been kept in darkness, as Israel was by the Pharisees, are said to be imprisoned – in a state of bondage!  But, at the same time, the Word of God knows no bondage – and can’t be imprisoned, for it is Light and Life to the blind!

Further, in a passage which we covered some months ago, chapter thirteen of this Gospel, we encountered the parable of the zizanium in the field.  The alien seed had been sown over the good seed; and the owner of the field let them remain until it was time to bind them in bundles to be burned!  The “binding” and burning are judgmental activity, foreordained in the heavens, until the final retribution occurred in 70 AD.

But the very best example of the use of this word “to bind” occurs in the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning demonic activity – in Matthew chapter twelve.  During that exchange Jesus says,


“How can one enter into a strong man’s house, and rob his goods, except he first bind the strong man?  And then he will rob his house!”


This teaching has to do, of course, with the chaining and imprisonment of Satan in Hades so that Christ the King could go and spoil his domain in the wilderness nations of the world!

But remember most of all that the Word of God is unbound.  The Word of God – the Gospel of God – is the Power of God into salvation for those who are believing.  And by its proclamation the alien seed are bound and made ready for destruction.  And, at the same time, through its preaching there comes pardon from iniquity.

While there is binding of men to unforgiven sin, the Gospel frees men from death.  While there is the binding of Satan, there is also the breaking open of the seals of the New Covenant Charter of Humanity!  While in the proclamation of the Gospel there is the breaking up and dissolution of the old, there is the binding of men to the Law of God.  While there is a binding of the blind in the prison of darkness, there is also a loosing from Satanic activity.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has “loosed” the pangs and sorrows of death.  He has entered into it and preached the Gospel there and exited it to be King of a New Heavens and a New Earth.

And, as He promised, He gave the “keys” to the Kingdom to His apostles.  And as they preached the Gospel of the Resurrected Lord, the portals of the Kingdom were opened wide to all who would believe.  And all their names were written in that book that only the “slain Lamb” could open – so that those who were loosed in heaven were the same as those loosed through the preaching of the apostles.  And those whose names were not in the book were bound by that same preaching.  Apostolic preaching is “the keys”.  And it binds those who are already bound in the heavens, while loosing those already loosed in the heavens.

Personal pronouncements of binding and loosing; declarations by men of binding and remitting of sin; individual assertions of imposing and/or removing an obligation; personal declarations of what is forbidden and permitted – all of these are Judaistic casuistry.  All are Romanist casuistry.  All are doctrinal assertions of personal sovereignty.  All are manifestations of cultic activity; and all come from depraved hearts and minds.

Egocentricity and personal esteem are at the root of men seeking to be “as God”.  And all who attempt this sovereign power will, by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, receive the “loosing” and disintegration of the old humanity; and the “binding” which makes ready for final judgment and destruction.

Rather than egocentricity and personal esteem, Christ’s people must be Theocentric and have “Christ-esteem”.  For it is through the ministry of the Word of God that men enter into the wide-open portals of the Kingdom of Christ, not by personal pronouncement.  Minister the Word to the lost – to those bound in the prison of darkness, and loose them unto life.