Question: Please explain the part of Matthew 16:19 that says, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Answer: Matt 16:19 reads in full, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” II Corinthians 5:19 says that God “…hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” Mark 16:16 confirms this by saying that he who believes the gospel and is baptized shall be saved. But to God’s true ministers is also committed the ministry of condemnation and Jesus confirmed that, too, in this verse where He said, “…He that believeth not shall be damned.” Paul said in II Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” Surely, only those whom God has called, qualified, filled with His Spirit, commissioned and sent forth would be sufficient for this responsibility of loosing and binding souls for the judgment.
In this grant to the ministry from Jesus Himself is also included the power and authority of the ministry under God through the divine unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit and in strict accordance with God’s Word to govern, execute discipline, and maintain order in the Church of God. In the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-18, in the matter of dealing with a trespassing brother, He gives a step by step procedure for dealing with this. If the trespassing brother was obstinate and could not be gained through the first two steps, then it culminated in taking the matter to the Church. If he refused to accept admonition from the Church, then he was to be counted as a heathen and a publican. Then follows in verse 18 the same statement as given in Matthew 16:19, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:…”
Thus we see that the “keys of the kingdom” are also used by the true ministers of God in exercising government, discipline, and keeping order in the Church in binding or loosing certain things and people. When these things are carried out through the leading of the Holy Spirit and according to God’s Word all the way, even to our attitudes, feelings, purposes and motives, God in heaven will back it up and count it the same way in heaven. Remember, God’s Word is forever settled in heaven and it is the same down here as it is up there, and when it is strictly observed down here it will register up there just the same.
In I Corinthians 5:4-5 Paul is dealing with the matter of an incestuous person in the Corinthian Church and he instructs them, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Here they are instructed in the power and authority of Christ through the Spirit to excommunicate or cast out of the Church (bind him according to our text). He gives the reason for this in the next verse: “…A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” In other words, if that person stays among you in that condition, the infection will spread and more will be affected by it, so purge out the leaven and save the Church. This is one purpose of discipline in the Church to save the Church and keep it clean.
Discipline remained strict in the Church through those early years as the ministry used the keys that God had given unto them God’s Word and God’s Spirit to administer discipline and government in the Church. God put His seal of approval on this and through it kept the Church clean and pure and made it a light to the world, a city on a hill that could not be hid. He continued to confirm His Word with signs following among them and to show forth the glory of God and the perfection of beauty in it. But down in the third century discipline became more slack, and foreign elements began to creep in. God never stopped this trend because He had given unto His ministry in the Church the keys of the kingdom and the power and authority to bind all evil elements and to loose all right and good things. He never interfered with this trend, but as evil elements were allowed to come in and continue there, He Himself just moved on out and left it with them. The result was the great apostasy was set up and established in the earth. The true Church was lost sight of for a long period of time.