Binding and Loosing

posted in: Blog, My Blog | 4

Series: The impact of the Jewish roots of Jesus

Have you ever been in a prayer meeting where someone loudly binds the devil? Perhaps you have done this?  I don’t want to be offensive but I do want to pass on some helpful information. Apart from the fact that prayer is to God and not to the devil, the practice of binding demons has no biblical support whatsoever.

The Pharisees accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of the devil and he responded by pointing out how ridiculous such an accusation was. He used the analogy of someone breaking into a house and said; “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” (Mark 3:27 ESV). This statement is not a warrant for the practice of binding the devil in prayer; it is simply a statement of the obvious fact that Jesus was able to heal all who were afflicted by the devil because he had overcome Satan.

The Greek words which we translate as ‘binding’ and ‘loosing’ appear in two New Testament texts. The second of these, Matthew 18:18, has to do with church discipline. Jesus explains the procedure for bringing correction and ends with the instruction that if the erring party does not respond then the matter is to be brought before the church leadership who will decide the matter. Jewish religious leaders had the responsibility of deciding what was permissible according to the Law of God and what was not. They ‘bound’ or prohibited, that which they deemed to be unlawful and they ‘loosed’ or allowed, that which they judged to be lawful. Jesus said; “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. In other words, “God will back up and authenticate whatever you leaders deem to be right in cases such as this.”

The other reference to binding and loosing comes in the famous declaration concerning Peter. In my previous post I wrote about what happened at Panias when Jesus asked his disciples who they believed him to be. Peter proclaimed his divinity and Jesus responded by saying to Peter; “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 Jesus’ day Jewish Rabbis had the authority to determine correct interpretation of the Torah, the Law of God. When they decided on an interpretation they were said to be loosing the people to the determined beliefs and practices. The Wikipedia entry on this subject states that, ‘the poseks (the term in Jewish law for “decider”—a legal scholar) had, by virtue of their ordination, the power of deciding disputes relating to Jewish law. Hence the difference between the two main schools of thought in early classical Judaism were summed up by the phrase the school of Shammai binds; the school of Hillel looses’.

Binding and loosing have to do with establishing church doctrine and discipline and have nothing to do with presumptuously taking authority over Satan in ‘prayer’. 

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4 Responses

  1. Rory

    Thanks Chris. Was having this discussion a few weeks ago. Good to have some clarity on it…

  2. Sean

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for this article. I totally agree with you that ‘binding and loosing’ has nothing to do with waging spiritual warfare against Satan and other demons.I used to fellowship at a church where ‘binding’ demons and especially the ‘Jezebel spirit’ and casting them into the ‘pit’ was a common practice. Why do you think many Christians fall into the trap of practising these sort of things?


  3. samuel h kennedy

    Dear Chris
    For once I fully agree with your explanation on ‘binding & loosing’ found in the book of the gospel of Matthew.What we witness in SA amongst primarily charismatic churhes is this failure to understand Biblical hermeneutics & or the True & proper interpretation of Scripture.I pray more eachers can be empowered to train & equip our Pastors to have a real & proper understanding of the Word of God. From a Slave of Christ-S H Kennedy(Theologian)

  4. Dr Christopher Peppler

    @Rory Thanks for the affirmation.

    @Sean It is hard to determine the origin of some teachings but many of them come from literalistic interpretations of isolated texts taken out of there biblical contexts and some originate in cultic influences. Of course none of us can claim to have a perfect hermeneutic but I believe that we stay closest to ‘truth’ when we seek to interpret texts (a) in context (b) from a Christocentric perspective and (c) with reference to the full corpus of scripture.

    @samuel Glad we can agree on something 🙂

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