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It is written:
Matthew 16:19-And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Here in this conversation between Jesus and His Apostles, the Lord promised to give Peter the keys to the “kingdom of heaven,” which was a reference to the church He promised to build (Matthew 16:18). The imagery of “keys” was commonplace in the ancient world as a symbol of authority. This is made especially clear in the phrase “binding and loosing.”
“The binding in Matt. 16: 19 and 18: 18 denotes both teaching authority (to determine what is forbidden) and disciplinary power (to place under a ban)—“ binding and loosing” were technical terms in rab. Jud. These passages in Matt. are concerned with the judicial function exercised by Peter and the disciples. Wherever the message entrusted to them is rejected, it inevitably binds people to their unforgiven guilt to await the coming judgment (cf. Jn 12: 47–48).” (Verlyn D. Verbrugge, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: Abridged Edition, 131 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MIchigan; Zondervan)
Peter used this authority given him by Christ to “open” the door of God’s kingdom (the church) for the Jews on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and later to the Gentiles (Acts 10) by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ (Acts 10:44). Furthermore, the Greek tenses uses in this passage show us that what was “bound and loosed” on Earth had already been bound and loosed in Heaven!
“Rabbinic terminology is found in 16: 19 where “binding” and “loosing” were common terms referring to “forbidding” and “allowing.” The tenses of the Greek terms are significant as well, for what the apostles would bind on earth, would already be bound in heaven, and what they would loose on earth, would already be loosed in heaven. 10 The actions of the apostles, then, would not bring about a new situation as if there was some “power” associated with the keys, but would mirror and reflect the divine decrees of God in heaven. These keys are not some mysterious, ruling power to be given to Peter, but a tremendous promise given to His Church, whereby we know that when we proclaim the Gospel to men, and speak of the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, we do so with the heavenly blessing, and the assurance that our words are reflective of the eternal, inviolable decrees of God Himself, made known to us in Christ Jesus.” (James R. White, Answers to Catholic Claims: A Discussion of Biblical Authority, 1590-1595 (Kindle Edition))
The phrase “binding and loosing” could have many different meanings in Judaism.
“Yet we still have to understand the binding and loosing image. There was an incredible diversity of uses of this metaphor in the ancient world. In Job 38: 31 God binds and looses the starry host, referring to his creation of the universe. In Jewish works like b. Šabb. 4a the terms refer to acceptable behavior, in b. Šabb. 81b they are used for magic spells, and in b. Moʾed Qaṭ. 16a they are used of the ban, namely, exclusion from the community. In Judaism and the NT it is used for binding Satan (Mark 3: 27 par.) and loosing people from demonic possession (Tob 3: 17, 8: 3; T. Levi 18: 12). 26 The concept can also refer to forgiving and retaining sins (Tg. Neof. Gen 4: 7; cf. Matt 18: 18; John 20: 23), for keeping or absolving vows (b. Ḥag. 10a), or parallels with the rabbinic šerā ʾ and ʾāsar for the halakhic conduct required by a proper interpretation of Torah. 27 How do we choose between the options here? Some believe it is the power to defeat the cosmic forces of evil, 28 others to open doors to the kingdom in the mission of the church, thereby bringing into the church only those who confess their sins as Peter did, 29 or still others to determine what is sin and what is not in the community, 30 or perhaps to accept or forbid members to remain in the church. 31 Probably the best interpretation is to bring together this image of evangelism with that of discipleship, i.e., the authority of Peter and the church to declare the kingdom truths as they interpret and proclaim Jesus’ teaching, guiding the new community regarding what is forbidden and what is permitted in both doctrine and conduct (thus including discipline in the church, cf. 18: 18).” (Grant R. Osborne & Clinton Arnold, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Matthew, 899 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
No doubt the phrase “binding and loosing” had reference here to the Apostles’ authority in the church. However, it also no doubt had reference to the authority of the Apostles over demonic forces as we see the same phrase applied throughout Matthew to spiritual warfare (Matthew 12:29; 13:30). This is also made plain by the context of where this conversation takes place-the region of Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13) which was considered by the Jewish people to be the very “gates of Hell” on Earth.
“So what’s the connection with Jesus? As I noted earlier, the whole region of Bashan would have been associated by Israelites and Jews with giants and evil spirits, including the Watchers. In the days of Jesus, this region went by different names. All of what preceded is the unknown (to us) backdrop to some familiar episodes in the Gospels. The “gates of hell” incident (Matthew 16: 13–20) in Jesus’ ministry is familiar to most Bible students. However, the geography is unfortunately ignored, an oversight that prevents us from understanding the impact of what Jesus said and did in a region theologically tethered to the Watchers. The events of Matthew 16: 13–20 took place at Caesarea Philippi, a city located in the northern part of what had been called Bashan, at the foot of Mount Hermon. When viewed from this perspective, the scene takes place on geography considered the gates of hell in Old Testament times, the domain of Baal, the lord of the dead, and at the mountain where the plot of the Watchers was hatched. Hell, of course, wouldn’t be complete without the devil. It is well known to scholars that Baal is the Old Testament counterpart to the devil. In Ugaritic, one of Baal’s titles is baʿal zebul ʾarṣ (“ Prince Baal of the Underworld”), from which the New Testament Beelzebul and Beelzebub derive… The theological messaging couldn’t be more dramatic. Jesus says the “gates of hell” will not prevail against the church. We often think of this phrase as though God’s people are in a posture of having to bravely fend off Satan and his demons. This simply isn’t correct. Gates are defensive structures, not offensive weapons. The kingdom of God is the aggressor. Jesus goes to ground zero in biblical demonic geography to announce that Bashan will be defeated. It is the gates of hell that are under assault—and they will not hold up against the church. Hell has no claim on those who align themselves with Jesus. He will reverse the curse of death and His own will rise on account of Him.” (Michael Heiser, Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Mission Of Jesus Christ, 1626-1654 (Kindle Edition))
Our Catholic friends claim that this authority to “bind and loose” in the church was only given to Peter. It is further claimed that Peter was the first pope of Rome (and this passage is used to try and establish this).
However, this is certainly not the case.
This same authority was given by Christ Jesus to all of the Apostles.
For example, Jesus later told His Apostles:
Matthew 18:18-Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
The Apostles did not have a “head Apostle.” The Apostle Paul certainly did not regard Peter as some kind of pope.
2 Corinthians 11:5-For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.
Galatians 2:6-11-But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. 11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
Historically, there is no trace of the Roman Catholic papacy till the fifth century A.D.:
“As the city churches began to evangelize those in the country, the city bishops began to assume authority over the country bishops. These were called the Metropolitans. Thus began the avenue by which the organizational structure eventually evolved into the hierarchical form of church government that exists today in the Catholic and some Protestant churches. BISHOPS over elders (beginning in the second century). METROPOLITANS (city bishops over country bishops). PATRIARCHS in five cities (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Rome). PATRIARCHS IN TWO CITIES: CONSTANTINOPLE (Orthodox Catholic Church in the East). ROME (Roman Catholic Church in the West). POPE (Roman Catholic Church). NOTE: There are other men designated as popes but none over the number of people as that of the Roman Pope. ARCADIUS (377-395) and HONORIUS (384-423) became co-emperors when their father, Theodosius, died. He had designated Arcadius as ruler over the Western half and Honorius over the Eastern half. This set the stage for later separation into the Roman and Orthodox churches. The churches at this time were under control of five Patriarchs in Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Constantinople and Rome. Each had equal authority. With the division of the empire, the three Patriarchs of Antioch, Ephesus, and Alexandria gave their authority to the Patriarch of Constantinople. LEO I (400?-461), as Bishop of Rome, was formally acknowledged as having authority over all the churches of the Western empire by Valentinian, then emperor of the West. It was a political move by the emperor to solidify control over his empire. About the same time, “Pope” became the exclusive title of the Bishop of Rome. Leo justified his position on the basis of Peter being the first bishop of Rome and that such authority was vested in all future bishops of that city. The idea of succession was not from God but from Leo, who seized the opportunity to assume a title he knew would please the Roman emperor. Leo also issued a decree forbidding priests to marry. The idea that Peter was the first Pope, having all authority, is nowhere suggested by the Scriptures or church history.” (Calvin Fields, 10,000 Faces of Christianity, 5569-5590 (Kindle Edition); Xulon Press)
The Apostles of Christ continue to exercise their God-given authority in the church through their writings, the New Testament Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.