What is meant by the “keys of the Kingdom” and “binding and loosing” as found in Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 1818?
“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.”
In this verse, Jesus is speaking directly to the apostle Peter but also indirectly to the other apostles and all believers.
Jesus' words meant that believers would have the right to enter the kingdom and would be given power of attorney (authority - symbolized by the possession of the keys), being able to open the kingdom of heaven to all who believe through the message of the Gospel.
Believers are given the authority through the use of the Name of Jesus to perform signs and wonders, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons and be an instrument of the Holy Spirit to bring the message of salvation which when believed and confessed, opens the doors to the Kingdom i.e. we are given the “Keys of the Kingdom” to open the door for ourselves and others.
The book of Acts shows this process at work through Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), Peter opened the door of the kingdom for the first time and 3000 entered.
The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common Jewish legal terms meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed as pertaining to Jewish law, and reflect an authority held by the person doing the binding or loosing.
Jesus uses this commonly understood concept of the day to convey the truth that all believers would be given authority (an authority lost by Adam). This authority would not relate to the Jewish law, but would relate to rescuing fallen mankind from the enemy and helping them enter the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew 18:18, the usage is different in that here Jesus is referring to binding and loosing in the context of believers behavior. If one believer sins against another, Jesus provides a process by which to deal with the situation. This principle of binding a loosing reflects an authority that is given, first at an individual level, then in the group context of the ecclesia.
On earth and in heaven:
What Jesus was saying is, “I am giving you the keys to the kingdom of heaven [or, the rulership from heaven -- the Greek word basileia means reign, or rulership]. We have been raised up and seated in heavenly places in Christ. Therefore we can speak authoritatively from that position in the heavens or spirit realm. This authority also carries across into the physical realm.
Jesus was given all authority in heaven and in earth. He has given us permission to use His authority through the use of His name. He has raised us and seated us with Him on His throne. Therefore this authority given to us, extends from the heavenly or spiritual realm all the way down to the earthly realm. When we command demons to leave a person, we are positioned in the heavenly realm in Christ and they have to submit to His Name. Any further issues in the physical realm such as sickness also have to obey and leave because the earthly realm is also subject to this authority.
The same principle of binding and loosing applies to forgiveness. Jesus told his disciples that whatever sins they retain will be retained and whatever they forgive will be forgiven. This primarily applies to how we deal with people and why it is so important to forgive others. We hinder both ourselves and others by not forgiving.
Binding and loosing also have to do with soul ties. When you take an offense, you’re tying your soul to it. You’re binding it to you. And when you bind it to you, it’s bound in Heaven, because you made that decision. When you loose people from an offense you loose that from yourself and untie the soul tie, it is then loosed in Heaven and can’t have any hold on you.
An interesting thought: When Steven was stoned, Paul stood by holding the jackets of those stoning him. It was at Paul’s command. Steven looked up to heaven and as he died, he said that he does not hold this sin against them and ask God to forgive those stoning him. Question: If Steven had not forgiven those stoning him, could Paul have been saved?