What did Jesus mean by “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” Matthew 18:18

Yes, this is how it is understood among those churches that understand the Office of the Holy Ministry to have been divinely established as an order within the Church. Jesus, speaks through His Office to bind and loose sins.


In response to the title question:

The passage Mt 18:18 is also linked to John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

This is looks like a justification of the practice by Catholic priests of absolving sins as in the confessional…

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And also us Lutheran pastors as well… :slight_smile:

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Oh goody, it isn’t locked. I just watched the Mr Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks which was based on the 1998 Esquire article titled “Can you say … hero?” Apparently Mr Rogers was a Presbyterian minister. There is this paragraph from the article which talks of heaven which presumably reflects the thoughts of the article’s author, Tom Junod, more than those of Fred Rogers. But I thought it might be of interest here any way.

Once upon a time, a man named Fred Rogers decided that he wanted to live in heaven. Heaven is the place where good people go when they die, but this man, Fred Rogers, didn’t want to go to heaven; he wanted to live in heaven, here, now, in this world, and so one day, when he was talking about all the people he had loved in this life, he looked at me and said, “The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is, Tom. We make so many connections here on earth. Look at us—I’ve just met you, but I’m investing in who you are and who you will be, and I can’t help it.”


Just heard a good sermon on this verse. It must be taken within the context of Jesus’s command to “Love one another”. Jesus was constantly breaking the Sabbath law out of compassion.

In The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser puts in the context of the woman healed from bleeding by touching Jesus’s cloak.

“Simply put, what it tells us is that, just like this woman, we will find healing and wholeness by touching the Body of Christ and, as members of the Body of Christ, we are called upon to dispense God’s healing and wholeness by touching others.”

I am no Theolog but as I understood it those rabbis where the Pharisees that were writing the Talmud. When they were one nation under God, they could achieve righteousness by keeping the law. In the diaspora life is more complicated and they wanted to make the rules clear. Jesus was saying the better way was to stay with the spirit of the law which is Love. If you love God and love your neighbor, then decisions you make are of God.

That is a common misunderstanding.

I agree that this is about authority in the church. That verse is not isolated from its context. It is related a bit to the marriage verses on being bound or set loose.

The context shows that when someone is in sin, and they are refusing to get better there is a process. First talk to them privately. If they reject that then bring a few witnesses. If they continue then it’s time to bring them before the congregation. The two witnesses from earlier stand before the Elders, and they come together as the body in the name of Jesus and hold a sort of court that’s a shadow of the white throne judgment. They decide wether or not to disfellowship this man. It’s not common anymore. It’s glossed over by many. In my congregation, if you get disfellowshipped you can no longer come
To church. You don’t get help from us. You’re not our enemy, you’re handed over to satan. We do t pray with you, we don’t answer your calls. It’s a serious matter. It makes a person have to choose the church or the world. It’s not over something simple and ect… it’s over refusing to repent and being proud in your sin.

We had two couples , married people at our church. The husband and wife from one of them each cheated on their spouse with one another. They then moved in together. They came to church and sat together holding hands. They tried to justify their adultery. They would not repent. We went through this process and in the end the elders used their authority from those verses to set them loose of our body and handed them over to Satan. They received no help or fellowship from us. Their information was sent to all the other local congregations. They are cut off from us all. Two years later they repent, they go back to their spouses, and the husband of one accepted their wife back. They continued to the church. The other one, through the husband repented, his wife did not let him back and divorced him. He was back able to come to the body because he relented though. But he was let loose by his wife and no longer bound to their marriage.

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Definitive too. It shows how wisdom, the Spirit of a sound mind, was applied. Without Biblicism.

That’s a brilliantly hindsight obvious, beguiling inference, but can you substantiate it please? From the context, including I Corinthians, another consensually authentic epistle, marriage isn’t implied.

No, you’re right. It is a principle generally applied to marriage, but the context is more general partnerships. But it’s clear the concept of yoking together here in bad partnerships is not the same concept as binding things on heaven and earth, so my point that you can’t apply an interpretation of the one verse to the other stands.

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It refers to the authority of the Church to definitively decide essential matters such as correct doctrine, tradition and practice; what it means to be a Christian; and discipline (including excommunication). The “Church” is of course the original Church founded by Christ through the apostles and that still exists today - ie, the Catholic Church.

To “bind and loose” means nothing to those who believe they don’t need the Church and can decide everything for themselves.

But doesn’t this just teach conformity then? What if you are a Jehovah’s Witness who comes to think Christ is divine in nature? Being confronted by the whole congregation, you are told that the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine concerning the divinity of Christ is correct. And you are wrong. Are you supposed to yield to that doctrine, then? What if it isn’t correct? What if some other doctrine is correct, as most Catholics and Protestants assume?

If this passage is Jesus placing power in the hands of the congregation to deliver correct doctrine, how can any congregation’s doctrine be wrong? But if no congregation’s doctrine is wrong, whence comes the disagreement between sects?

Isn’t it right for a person to disagree with a congregation if the congregation happens to be wrong? But the verse says, “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

So permission is given to the congregation to alienate anyone who disagrees.

I guess the more charitable reading has it talking about working with someone who is spiritually or morally erroneous. (Rather than just dismissing them outright.) And that, I suppose, is good.But following this particular Biblical passage to the letter can be problematic as I see it. I’m sure it has justified bad things.


The verses are not about creating and dismantling doctrine or righteousness. The context is there.

Matthew 18:15-20 NASB

15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 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.

19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

The verses, including binding and loosening , are about Church discipline.

When it said to let them be like a tax collector to you it’s a reference to cutting them off because at that time gentiles were not her part of the body. Gentiles were considered outside of Gods chosen people.

We this further discussed later on.

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NASB

5 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Here are again see similar language. If witnesses gather and talk about unrepentant sin in someone’s life then they are removed ( let loosed) from the body. Disfellowshipped.

That no longer being bound is tired to marriage as well. It’s again about being removed from a partnership and no longer counted as one body. 1 cor 7 explains this.

So it’s definitely not about doctrines and it’s definitely not about popes and the Catholic Church. It’s about the very subject they were talking about I the scriptures…

There is nothing wrong with conforming to the truth. But the question is, where does a Christian find the truth? The truth must exist: there must exist correct doctrine and there must exist a recognizable central authority (a Church or “congregation”) that teaches correct doctrine and that interprets the scriptures correctly – otherwise the Scriptures are useless and simply become a source of confusion, error and division.

The Church is the “fullness” of Christ (Eph 1:22-23) and is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1Tim 3:15), therefore the Church cannot teach error or produce false doctrine. Which Church? Why, the Catholic Church, of course - the same Church of the apostles and the same Church that is referred to in the NT.

The Holy Spirit does not give independent individuals the right (nor the ability) to decide doctrine and the interpretation of scripture for themselves – that right (and ability) belongs only to the Church.

Furthermore, one cannot speak of “binding and loosing” without considering the first part of Matt 16:19, in which Jesus gives the “keys of the kingdom of God” to one man only – Peter. Here, Jesus unquestionably installs Peter as the one and only leader of the Church, who has the final say when it comes to deciding correct doctrine and all other important ecclesiastic matters (“what you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven; what you loose of earth will be loosed in Heaven”).
Now this begs the question: What happened to the “keys”? Did they get lost or disappear when Peter died? No, of course not – the “keys” were passed on to Peter’s successor, who then in turn passed them on to the next successor … and so on, all the way down through the centuries to the present day. it is Pope Francis – Peter’s current successor – who is in possession of the “keys” today.

Coming from a more zealous Spirit-filled point of view, I was taught this means we are given full authority through the blood of Jesus Christ to bind up the strongman or demonic strongholds in individuals and/or areas, certain places, cities, courtrooms, judges, political arenas, structures or otherwise, where there is demonic jurisdiction. Bind up the demons and loose them from the atmosphere in the name of Jesus. Casting them into the pit or outer darkness from which they came and literally muzzling them by the Word, rendering them blind, deaf, and dumb, and thus preventing them from ever returning.

For example: when Jesus bound up Legion off the naked, crazy man roaming the graveyard, and he loosed the demons into a herd of pigs. The man was then found dressed and restored to his right mind. Question is why did Jesus loose them to the pigs at the demons request? The pigs ended up jumping into a body of eater and drieinibg themselves. Thus leaving the demons without a host on earth to continue their evil. However, pigs can actually swim, but evidently, the pigs in this case decided they did not want to live with those demons. So, they chose to drown themselves instead. Yes, contrary to popular belief animals do have souls. Remember when Baliff beat his donkey and the donkey talked back to him? :rofl::joy:

I heard that. I know this is probably pretty far off but it’s really what I was taught. I’m having to relearn biblical truths right now. I’m not a biblical scholar by any means, but obviously some of y’all aren’t either.

Welcome! Maybe you can tell us more about yourself.
Interesting question. I’m sure there is more for us to learn in that, culturally. Thanks for the question.
I think you mean “Balaam” rather than “Bailiff”–auto correct gets me every time! :slight_smile:


I think the first step is to look at the context to determine what is it about. A simple but often neglected practice. Many know it in theory but don’t really follow through.

Matthew 18:15-20
New American Standard Bible

15 “Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. 17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to 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.

19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

*The section is on how the church handles disciples who are refusing sound doctrine and righteousness. It’s about disfellowship.

There is nothing here about supernatural intervention, miracles and or pointing towards authority like then “pope”.

It saying rhst when the entire congregation besr witnesses to witnesses and the elders over someone the judgement is what the judgement is.

Do you still believe there is demonic activity in these areas you mention?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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