When Yeshua spoke of binding and loosing, He wasn’t talking about spiritual warfare. The people to whom He spoke understood that He was talking about what was consistent with Torah and what wasn’t. This matter of binding and loosing wasn’t unique to Yeshua. It was entirely familiar to them all because it was how the rabbis would sanction something or ban it according to the teachings in Torah. Here’s one of those areas where knowledge of Hebrew as a language and of the culture in which Yeshua lived are now bringing clarity to some Scriptures we haven’t understood properly for centuries. This provides a deeper revelation of Yeshua Himself as well as further insight into how He intended for His followers to function.
Had the translators of our English Bibles used words that more correctly conveyed the meaning of certain passages we would see how they fit like puzzle pieces into a Hebrew mindset. With all due respect to the men who translated the KJV Bible, they knew nothing of the science of linguistics at that time nor did they have any insight into Hebrew culture. They just basically translated it word for word from Greek to English which introduces concepts that were never intended. For example, our English bibles quote Yeshua as saying, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). When He said, “I did not come” or elsewhere “I have come,” have you interpreted that as meaning He was referring to His incarnation? That is not what He meant. “I have come” is an idiom meaning intent or purpose. “It is my purpose” is what He was saying in Matthew 5:17. He is not referring to His coming from heaven but His intent and purpose was to fulfill Torah by raising it to God’s intention for it. It is a major part of His messianic purpose to elevate Torah to the fullest significance and meaning.
When the Greek text is translated back into Hebrew….voila!
Centuries of misinterpretations are only now being corrected. When the Greek text is translated back into Hebrew….voila! Some very interesting adjustments in our understanding of Yeshua and consequently of our roles as His followers emerge. It’s almost as if God is doing again what Yeshua did in the beginning, bringing truth to people’s misunderstanding of Torah so that our understanding of God is correct. The implication of that is incredible. The church has not had the power it did in the first century since those days. Seeing Torah properly is just liable to be the “key” to unlocking what has been imprisoned for centuries. Let me mention here that Torah can mean the first five books of the Bible which God gave to Moses, but it can also mean the entire Hebrew Scriptures. The prophets were all about getting Israel to keep the Torah so they weren’t a separate issue. How many of you have regarded the New Testament as the “real” Bible and the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament as less important. When I ask that question many of you will say, Of course not. But there has been for millennia, since Constantine, that sense that God’s real message is in the New Testament and the Old Testment is just that “old.” It’s unfortunate that it got that label altogether. God doesn’t see it as old.
People often use the passage to “bind the devil.” Yeshua did say that the strong man needed to be bound, and we assume He meant the devil (Matthew 12:39; Mark 3:27). Some think that Yeshua bound the strong man (the devil), when He was resurrected from the dead. When we come to Yeshua and are born from above, we become new persons in Him and we are empowered by God to no longer sin. Now we can see sin for what it is which we couldn’t see before we were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In that sense, the strong man has been bound in the lives of believers and we are free from satan’s power because Yeshua has given us authority over him and his ways. As long as we believe that, and live it out by faith, we are loosed from his grip. It is also true that we have been given the authority in Yeshua’s name to command demons to cease their influence and to leave.
But that’s not what these particular verses are about. Let’s see what we find out as we eavesdrop on a conversation between Yeshua and Peter though all the disciples were present. Peter has just responded to Yeshua’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” to which Peter replies, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, (son of Jona), because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:16-18).
This scene has some pretty significant things going on. I would even say this conversation is a pivotal one in history. Peter was blessed by God with the revelation of who Yeshua really is. Up until that moment, no one “got it.” It’s finally out — Immanuel! God is with us!! When Yeshua then says, “Upon this rock…,” He means that His Kingdom would be built on the revelation which Peter received of who Yeshua is — Messiah, Son of God, not built upon Peter himself. He was not making a statement of “apostolic succession” or making Peter the head of the church. If God had intended for Peter to be the head of the church, He would have given Peter and not John or Paul the increased revelations they received, revelations which far exceeded what the apostles knew even at the time of the Resurrection. Nor would Paul have had to rebuke Peter when Peter erred in judgment over a significant issue (see Galatians 2:11-14). He was saying that those who receive from Father God the revelation of who He is and surrender their lives to His Lordship are those with whom He will build His kingdom. What He says next confirms this is what He meant.
He continued to say, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (:19). What does having these keys to the kingdom mean? First you need to understand that the translation that says, “the Kingdom is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15) gives us the impression that it’s on its way but not here yet. The Hebrew word karav means it’s here now. This was a statement by Yeshua not of some future event but His present kingdom. Christians often have the sense that the real Kingdom is in the sweet bye and bye, but not really now. No, when He spoke of His Kingdom He wasn’t talking about heaven one day. He was talking about anything that was of Him, about Him or with Him. And it was meant to be a present reality for Peter as it is for us. Those keys are important to us as well.
So how were Peter and the rest of His followers to use the keys? What would the keys open — what did they mean in reality? Notice it’s not one key, there are several keys. These are keys to His kingdom which still have much to do with the revelation of who Yeshua is. Revelation always brings a certain amount of authority in the one who has received the revelation. To the extent that we have “seen” Yeshua, we will become like Him. That’s just a Biblical fact! “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (I John 3:2). That does mean when we see Him for real, when one wonderful day we are able to come before Him. But it’s also true that each revelation we receive of Him changes us somehow and we become more like Him in character and nature. Amazing! Surely something only God can do.
The same principle is at work in life here and now; to the extent that Yeshua is revealed to us, primarily through His word, or in a personal interaction with Him, we gain Kingdom authority based on seeing something about Him. We can speak with assurance; it’s not hearsay. No one can tell you that you didn’t experience what you did. You can speak about your experience with confidence that you have experienced truth! He has given us keys of authority to reach out in confidence that what we have is real, powerful, ultimate and eternal. On the other hand, what you gain by revelation comes from the Father and as a result of your revelation you now have an authority, a kind of authenticity in how the revelation changes you and what you learned through the revelation.
Let’s look again at Matthew 16:19 in a more correct reading. The words “binding and loosing" do not convey what Yeshua meant. Here’s one of those places where a knowledge of Hebrew roots straightens out a whole doctrinal conundrum. The Hebrew for binding is to disallow or forbid, and the Hebrew for loosing is to allow or permit. So the verse should read, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you forbid on earth shall have been forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth shall have been permitted in heaven.” Yeshua was saying that binding and loosing or rather permitting and forbidding are directly connected to this issue of authority. Okay, so, what is being forbidden or permitted?
It's all about how to observe Torah …loose meant permit; bind meant forbid.
It’s all about how to observe Torah. For centuries the rabbis had been making decisions about what was “kosher” or Torah-compliant and what was not; what was permitted and what was forbidden according to the laws of Torah or the Talmudic writings which are commentaries on Torah. The reason is that the Torah teachings (laws) still need interpretations. For instance, Torah says to observe the Sabbath but it does not tell how to observe it. A day of rest can mean many things to many people. How much is one allowed to do on the day of rest? Can you carry things, cook things, ride a horse, drive a wagon or a car, light a fire? So the rabbis deliberated and this one said this and that one said that, and all is recorded in the Talmud. Once the Talmud was closed, that is completed so no more commentaries were included, Jewish learning was largely about quoting what this or that rabbi has said in the past but it would be the local rabbi or rabbis who would be consulted about any given issue for a ruling on whether something was “permitted” or “forbidden.” When it was allowed or permitted, it was loosed from restriction. When it was forbidden, it was bound from use or action. So loose meant permit; bind meant forbid. Questions were continually presented to the rabbis to find out what was “kosher,” so to speak. What the rabbis permitted was loosed in order to do them; what was forbidden was bound, meaning to tie up or disallow or imprison.
Yeshua, acting as a rabbi, was continually bringing a reassessment of correct Torah interpretation. Most of His teachings were to correct erroneous understandings of what God originally meant when He gave Israel the Torah instructions. Now Yeshua was conferring upon Peter and the others the authority to permit or forbid, to make decisions on issues as He would have by the Spirit of God. This is an important point – what the rabbis would decide based on their scholastic reasoning and familiarity with the Torah, the Spirit filled believers would know by the Spirit. You can read Torah as information, or you can perceive the mind of the Spirit in reading Torah. The believers didn’t have to follow hundreds of added rules to try and avoid offending God. Yeshua had paid the price to release them from that fear of God’s displeasure. They were free from the rigidity of legalism (those rules which were added to the Torah) and were functioning by the Spirit of Holiness. Do you realize what an incredible power that is? These men were certainly not rabbis or scholars or Pharisees or Scribes or Torah teachers. They were fishermen and a tax collector, for heavens sake, and Yeshua is giving them that kind of authority? They were completely outside of the hierarchical religious system but to them He releases the power and authority to make decisions that He says heaven would back up because they would be entirely in tandem with God. These decisions would affect thousands, even millions of lives, even us today in fact. That’s how assured Yeshua was that His followers would be entirely in tune with the will of God through the Holy Spirit so that He could trust them with that kind of authority. His followers would be so “one” with Him and His Father that they would be the expressions of God’s will as He had been. Would you please read this paragraph over again a few times and let it sink in. I’ll just wait while you do.
When we read the book of Acts we see incredible power and effectiveness in the lives and relationships of the early believers, all of whom, I might add, were living Torah compliant lives by the Spirit of God. But in the course of time things were incorporated into the doctrines and practices of the church that were apart from Torah. Looking back, we see that the wisdom of men in authority replaced the authority of heaven in the lives of men.
But here’s what so exciting now. God is reversing the whole thing and bringing His people back to a correct understanding of the place of Torah, not in any legalistic performance-based rigidity but in our Spirit-led lives. In watching Sid’s shows we have seen how God is restoring the authority of the believer so that the supernatural that was there in the first century is being restored. Yes, there are always ‘front runners’ whom God teaches first but they present a picture of what is possible in God. So if it’s not happening in your life yet, realize that God is restoring to the end time body of believers the “revelation” of Yeshua in the Spirit and in truth which includes that He is the Torah made flesh, the embodiment of all God revealed of Himself and set forth for the wellbeing of His people. Power and authority laced with humility, obedience to the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit of Holiness. That’s where we’re going. HalleluJah!
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Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.