Matthew 16:19 – Whatever You Bind on Earth

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:19

Misinterpretation

The series ‘Verses in context’, deals with the verses that are being read, leaving the previous and the following verses. In today’s verse, apart from separating it from its context, the verse itself is divided into three parts and only the middle part “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” is being used without its context.

Without understanding this verse, people bind evil spirits, sicknesses and poverty but never realize that who is going to loosen the things bound by them. Rather this is being used as the encouragement verses before our offering time by churches and people go home feeling that they have deposited savings in their account in heaven.

People presume the nature and functioning of heaven with this world where we are living in. Hence, they think, when they bind something on earth, the same will be bound in heaven also. On the contrary, the Bible explains heaven as a place where there will be no darkness, no tears and lacking nothing.

Background

With reference to the prophecies regarding the forerunner to Messiah recorded in Isaiah 40:3-4, Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6, Jews were expecting Elijah to appear.

Despite John the Baptist’s public announcement like “the one who comes after me”, the Jews mistook Jesus for prophet Elijah, ignoring John the Baptist’s role in preparing the way for the Messiah. Knowing the mindset of people, Jesus wanted to know what His disciples regarded Him as.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Matthew 16:13-15

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven

Matthew 16:16-17

From the above verses, it is evident that Jesus knows that His Father reveals Him to His people. Jesus came to this world to save the mankind from their sins and to reconcile them with His Father. The eagerness to know more and more about Jesus, draws the attention of the Father and He reveals Jesus to us.

If we restrict ourselves to the knowledge that we are gaining through the study of religion, correlating prophecies, reading multiple research work on the subject and through analyzing the views of god-men, we may miss the wonderful experience of receiving the truth revealed by our Father in heaven.

For this reason, Jesus in Verse 20 warned His disciples not to tell anyone that He is the Messiah. Comprehending Jesus is a splendid spiritual experience given to us by His Spirit.

Interpretation

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-19

The name Peter represents people who recognize Jesus as their Messiah, irrespective of the time period. On such believers, Jesus intends to build His Church, placing Himself as the cornerstone. We are co-workers in God’s service; God’s field and God’s building.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:9-11

The most misunderstood part of this verse is, “whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus uses this idiom in two places. One during explaining the role of a believer in building a spiritual church (not structural) (Matthew 16:19) and in another place while explaining the role of a believer in settling the disputes among the believer brothers (Matthew 18:18).

Matthew has also recorded this on another occasion, where Jesus used the illustration of binding the strong man to prove His stand that He was driving away the demons not by black magic but by the power of God.

Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

Matthew 12:29

In all these three places the word ‘binding’ deals with the believers firm actions through their faith in God, whether it is a process of building a spiritual church on the foundation called Jesus, a defensive act of protecting the spiritually built structure from demonic attack or an endeavor to accomplish peace among believers.

Through this idiom, Jesus brings out the truth that whatever we gain on this earth through faith will also be counted as gain in heaven and whatever we loose on this earth because of unbelief will also be counted as loss in heaven.

but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 10:33

Application

When the disciples of Jesus asked Him to teach them how to pray, He said,

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:9-11

Here Jesus asked His disciples to pray that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus did not ask His disciples to pray that whatever is happening on earth should happen in heaven. Keeping this in mind, we have to seek eternal things, leaving aside our worldly desires.

Some people are delighted when they think of walking on the golden roads in heaven rather than seeing the light shining from the face of God. They do not understand that the description of heaven with golden roads is a metaphorical way of underlining our ignorance of valuing gold high even in heaven. Gold, highly valued by man on this earth, is a material in heaven used for laying roads.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Storing our treasures in heaven does not mean that we have to store all the mortal things of this earth in heaven, rather it means that when we shift our focus to the things of heaven, our rewards will start to accumulate in heaven. And if our rewards continue to accrue in heaven, our hearts will cling to our Lord Jesus to inherit His belongings.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

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