What does binding and loosing mean in the Bible?

I think Pentecostal roots have gone too far misusing the term of binding the power of sickness, darkness and so on.

Recently I saw a tweet a below: Do not pray: “We bind this sickness in Jesus’s name!” Instead, pray: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”—Gabriel Hughes

What does Binding & Loosing Mean in the Bible?

1. Keys of binding & loosing given to Peter

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

This is what Jesus spoke to Peter after Peter confessed that Jesus is Son of God & the Savior of the world. Then Jesus rewarded him and anointed him with the ‘keys of heaven. So what’s the keys of heaven?

In the context of these verses, and as per commentary: (WBC62Vol) 19 Peter, as the leader of the twelve, is the “rock” upon which the new community will be built. With this commissioning of Peter comes the authority symbolized by his possession of the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” For “kingdom of heaven,” see Comment on 3:2. “Keys” are above all a symbol of authority and, hence, a symbol of power over something. In the context of our passage.

Jesus gave Peter the keys of heaven. What are keys for? To open or to lock up. Jesus us referring to his new kingdom that Jesus has given to ‘you’ which is plural in Greek, meaning Peter and those who confess Jesus like Peter, will be given keys of heaven. What that means simply is that we have to power, or rather delegated power from God, to open door or close door for people to be admitted into the kingdom. Jesus said specifically I will give you keys of the kingdom of heaven. It’s the keys of the kingdom. That means folks like Peter hold that key now. That’s what Jesus means about bonding & loosing.

Peter’s possession of the keys of the kingdom grants him the right to admit or deny admittance into the kingdom, i.e., into the experience of the beginning blessings of eschatological salvation, as the following words confirm. This authority is expressed through the distinctive rabbinic idiom of “binding and loosing” (WBC)

2) Binding & Loosing in the context of ex-communicating unrepentant church members

Matthew 18:17-18 (ESV) 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This is clearly binding & loosing folks to be part of the membership of the body. Binding & losing in Matt 18:18 must be explained in the context of v17 which is a guy who refused to listen to correctio in church by the leader, and eventually to the church, he will be released from church membership. That’s what Jesus really says. In a sense you bind the guy, he’s out of the communion of the church or body of the church. But if he’s loosed, he’s back right in. That’s what it means,

3) Binding the Strong Man as in Cosmic Warfare

Mark 3 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

This is an interesting passage on binding the strong man. This is definitely a spiritual warfare with the cosmic battle with the devil & his cohorts. In this particular case, we have the Son of God himself casting out demons, and it’s the scribes accusing Jesus as the prince of Beelzebul, which is also demonic, to cast out demons.

(WBC62Vol) Few would question the applicability of this parable to Jesus’ preaching of the Kingdom. Many would trace it back to Jesus himself. Clearly the “strong man” (ἰσχυρός) stands for Satan; his “possessions” (σκεύη) represents those possessed; the “binding” (δήσῃ) of the “strong man” takes place in Jesus’ ministry; and the “plundering” (διαρπάσει) bespeaks Jesus’ own exorcisms of those “possessed.”

So its clear what transpired here is definitely a kingdom clash between God’s & the power of darkness. SO how was the strong man, who is referred as Satan himself, bound? Jesus has bound the strong man.

So when was the strong man bound? (WBC62Vol) Best also has taken 3:22-30 in light of the temptation scene but argues that the defeat of Satan in the temptation (1:12-13) represents the “when.” The exorcisms are but the plundering or “making real of a victory already accomplished” at the “very beginning of the ministry of Jesus” (Temptation, 15).

Remember Luke 10 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. That’s another mark of clear defeat of Satan.

So some commentaries expounded that the plundering of the devil’s house really begun at the defeat of Satan in the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. I would agree that would mark the beginning of that ‘binding’ of the strong man. But that’s a continuing process with ultimate defeat of Satan & the power of death on the cross at Jesus resurrection from the death.


How to bind the strong man?

Consequently, this saying makes clear the ultimate or eschatological character of Jesus’ ministry of exorcism that has accompanied his preaching and teaching (1:21-27, 34; 3:11-12) as being a consequence of Satan’s being “bound” or having “met his end.”

I don’t see how Jesus has asked us to pray binding & loosing in prayers. There is no such indication all the 3 set of verses.

I would support the continual ministry of preaching, teaching of the Holy Scriptures that brings healing, restoration of souls in church ministry. In such way, we continue to bind the strong man & loose souls to the kingdom of God.

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