Binding and loosening (Mt 18:18-18:18)

“Truly!

I say to you!

Whatever you bind

On earth,

Shall be bound

In heaven.

Whatever you loose

On earth

Shall be loosened

In heaven.”

 

Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ.

 

This saying about binding and loosening is unique to Matthew.   Earlier in chapter 16:19, Jesus had given Peter this exact same power, using the exact same words, to bind and loosen on earth with consequences in heaven.  This power of binding and loosening also had been the authority that rabbis had used to forbid or permit things to happen.  In a solemn pronouncement “truly, I say to you!” (Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus granted this authority to bind and loosen to the whole community and not just Peter.  Whatever they bound on earth (ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) would be bound in heaven (ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Whatever they loosened on earth (καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) would be loosened in heaven (ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ).

Jesus rewards Peter for his response (Mt 16:18-16:19)

“I tell you!

You are Peter!

On this rock

I will build my church.

The gates of Hades

Shall not prevail against it.

I will give you

The keys

To the kingdom of heaven.

Whatever you bind

On earth

Shall be bound

In heaven.

Whatever you loose

On earth

Shall be loosed

In heaven.”

 

κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ πύλαι Ἅιδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς.

δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

This reward bestowal of power on Peter is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, via Matthew, asserted the authority of Peter in a very formal way with a solemn pronouncement (κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω).  Peter (ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος) was going to be the rock of Jesus’ new church community (καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν).  Notice the play on words of Peter “Πέτρος” and rock “πέτρᾳ.”  The gates of hell (καὶ πύλαι Ἅιδου) would not prevail (οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς) against this rock of a church, congregation, or assembly “ἐκκλησία.”  Matthew is the only biblical writer to use the phrase “gates of hell or Hades” (πύλαι Ἅιδου).”  Peter would receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven (δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν), as the gatekeeper of heaven.  Whatever he did on earth would be bound (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς) or loosed in heaven (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  Peter was no longer a mere informal leader, but the true man in charge here on earth with heavenly consequences, much like the Israelite high priests.  This of course has led to the so-called Petrine privilege, the power of Peter as handed down via the bishop of Rome.  As the first bishop of Rome, the power of Peter passed on to the bishop successors of Peter in Rome.  Thus, the bishop of Rome became known as the Pope or papa of the Christian Church in later centuries.

No pity (Ezek 7:8-7:9)

“Soon now,

I will pour out

My wrath

Upon you.

I will spend

My anger

Against you.

I will judge you

According to your ways.

I will punish you

For all your abominations.

My eye

Will not spare you.

I will have no pity.

I will punish you

According to your ways,

While your abominations

Are among you.

Then you shall know

That it is I,

Yahweh,

Who strikes.”

This is exactly the same as the opening verses of this chapter. Yahweh’s anger was going to be let loose on them. He was going to judge them according to their ways. He was going to punish them for their abominations. He would not spare them. He would not have pity on them. By punishing them for their evil ways, they would come to recognize that Yahweh was in charge. He was the God Yahweh who was striking them. They better not forget this.

The end of the land of Israel is near (Ezek 7:1-7:4)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘You!

O son of man!

Thus says Yahweh God

To the land of Israel!

An end!

The end has come

Upon the four corners

Of the land.

Now the end is

Upon you.

I will let loose

My anger

Upon you.

I will judge you

According to your ways.

I will punish you

For all your abominations.

My eye

Will not spare you.

I will have no pity.

I will punish you

For your ways,

While your abominations

Are among you.

Then you shall know

That I am Yahweh.’”

The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. Yahweh in this oracle told Ezekiel that the end of the land of Israel was coming soon. His anger was going to be let loose on them. He was going to judge them according to their ways. He was going to punish them for their abominations. He would not spare them. He would not have pity on them. By punishing them for their evil ways, they would come to recognize that Yahweh was in charge. He was the God Yahweh.

The three separate disasters for the people of Jerusalem (Ezek 5:11-5:12)

“Says Yahweh God!

‘Surely as I live,

Because you have defiled

My sanctuary

With all your detestable things,

With all your abominations,

Therefore I will cut you down.

My eye will not spare.

I will have no pity.

One third of you

Shall die

Of pestilence,

Or be consumed

By famine among you.

One third of you

Shall fall

By the sword

Around you.

One third of you,

I will scatter

To every wind.

I will unsheathe

The sword

After them.”

The God Yahweh was mad at the people of Jerusalem. They had defiled his sanctuary. They had brought in all those detestable abominations into the Temple. Thus Yahweh was not going to spare them, but cut them down. He was not going to show any pity. Using language similar to Jeremiah, there were three main options for dying. However, Ezekiel was more precise. One third of them would die from pestilence or famine. Another third would fall by the sword. The final third would be scattered to the winds in every direction. Yahweh was going to let his sword loose on them.

The devoured lost sheep (Jer 50:6-50:7)

“My people

Have been

Like lost sheep.

Their shepherds

Have led them astray.

They turned them away

On the mountains.

From mountain

To hill,

They have gone.

They have forgotten

Their fold.

All who found them

Have devoured them.

Their enemies have said.

‘We are not guilty!

Because they have sinned

Against Yahweh,

Their true pastor,

Their lord,

The hope of their ancestors.’”

The people of Israel and Judah were like lost sheep. Their shepherds or leaders had led them astray. They let these sheep loose in the mountains where they wandered around from hill to mountain, forgetting about the rest of the flock. Anyone who found them killed them and ate them. The response of these enemy snatchers was that they were not guilty, because these sheep and their shepherds had sinned against Yahweh, the true pastor and hope of their ancestors. Thus they justified their actions against them.

The menace from the north (Jer 8:16-8:17)

“The snorting of their horses

Is heard from Dan.

At the sound of

The neighing of their stallions

The whole land quakes.

They come.

They devour the land.

They devour all that fills it.

They devour the city.

They devour all those who dwell in it.

See!

I am letting snakes loose among you.

These are adders

That cannot be charmed.

They shall bite you.’

Says Yahweh.”

Here Yahweh, via Jeremiah, warns them that the destroyer is coming from the north, much like in chapter 4 of this work. The horses and the stallions are snorting and neighing in the territory of Dan, the most northern part of Israel, near Syria. The land was beginning to quake as they are getting closer. They would come and devour the land with everything in it. They would devour their cities and everyone living there. Yahweh was going to let the snakes and the adders loose in Judah so that they would bite them.