Whatsoever ye shall bind, etc. - Whatever determinations ye make, in conformity to these directions for your conduct to an offending brother, will be accounted just, and ratified by the Lord. See on Matthew 16:19; (note); and, to what is there said, the following observations may be profitably added.
Οσα εαν δησητε - και οσα εαν λυσητε . Binding and loosing, in this place, and in Matthew 16:19, is generally restrained, by Christian interpreters, to matters of discipline and authority. But it is as plain as the sun, by what occurs in numberless places dispersed throughout the Mishna, and from thence commonly used by the later rabbins when they treat of ritual subjects, that binding signified, and was commonly understood by the Jews at that time to be, a declaration that any thing was unlawful to be done; and loosing signified, on the contrary, a declaration that any thing may be lawfully done. Our Savior spoke to his disciples in a language which they understood, so that they were not in the least at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and its being obsolete to us is no manner of reason why we should conclude that it was obscure to them. The words, bind and loose, are used in both places in a declaratory sense, of things, not of persons. It is ὁ and ὃσα, in the neuter gender, both in chap. 16, and here in this: i.e. Whatsoever thing or things ye shall bind or loose. Consequently, the same commission which was given at first to St. Peter alone, ( Matthew 16:19;), was afterwards enlarged to all the apostles. St. Peter had made a confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. His confession of the Divinity of our Lord was the first that ever was made by man; to him, therefore, were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven: i.e. God made choice of him among all the apostles, that the Gentiles should first, by his mouth, hear the word of the Gospel, and believe. He first opened the kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles, when he preached to Cornelius. It was open to the Jews all along before; but if we should suppose that it was not, yet to them also did St. Peter open the kingdom of heaven, in his sermon at the great pentecost. Thus, then, St. Peter exercised his two keys: that for the Jews at the great pentecost; and that for the Gentiles, when he admitted Cornelius into the Church. And this was the reward of his first confession, in which he owned Jesus to be the promised Messiah. And what St. Peter loosed, i.e. declared as necessary to be believed and practised by the disciples here, was ratified above. And what he declared unlawful to be believed and practised, (i.e. what he bound), was actually forbidden by God himself.
I own myself obliged to Dr. Lightfoot for this interpretation of the true notion of binding and loosing. It is a noble one, and perfectly agrees with the ways of speaking then in use among the Jews. It is observable that these phrases, of binding and loosing, occur no where in the New Testament but in St. Matthew, who is supposed to have written his Gospel first in Hebrew, from whence it was translated into Greek, and then the force and use of the expression will better appear. Dr. Wotton's Miscell. Discourses, vol. i. p. 309, etc., etc.
"The phrases to bind and to loose were Jewish, and most frequent in their writers. It belonged only to the teachers among the Jews to bind and to loose. When the Jews set any apart to be a preacher, they used these words, 'Take thou liberty to teach what is Bound and what is Loose.'" Strype's preface to the Posthumous Remains of Dr. Lightfoot, p. 38.
Whatsoever ye shall bind - See the notes at Matthew 16:19. These words were spoken to the apostles. Jesus had before addressed the same words to Peter, Matthew 16:19. He employs them here to signify that they all had the same power; that in ordering the affairs of the church he did not intend to give Peter any supremacy or any exclusive right to regulate it. The meaning of this verse is, whatever you shall do in the discipline of the church shall be approved by God or bound in heaven. This promise, therefore, cannot be understood as extending to all Christians or ministers, for all others but the apostles may err.
21, 22. A Foretaste of Pentecost—The act of Christ in breathing upon His disciples the Holy Ghost, and in imparting His peace to them, was as a few drops before the plentiful shower to be given on the day of Pentecost. Jesus impressed this fact upon His disciples, that as they should proceed in the work intrusted to them, they would the more fully comprehend the nature of that work, and the manner in which the kingdom of Christ was to be set up on earth. They were appointed to be witnesses for the Saviour; they were to testify what they had seen and heard of His resurrection; they were to repeat the gracious words which proceeded from His lips. They were acquainted with His holy character; He was as an angel standing in the sun, yet casting no shadow. It was the sacred work of the apostles to present the spotless character of Christ to men, as the standard for their lives. The disciples had been so intimately associated with this Pattern of holiness that they were in some degree assimilated to Him in character, and were specially fitted to make known to the world His precepts and example (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:243, 244). 5BC 1151.1
23 (Matthew 16:18, 19; 18:18). Man Cannot Remove One Stain of Sin—Christ gave no ecclesiastical right to forgive sin, nor to sell indulgences, that men may sin without incurring the displeasure of God, nor did He give His servants liberty to accept a gift or bribe for cloaking sin, that it may escape merited censure. Jesus charged His disciples to preach the remission of sin in His name among all nations; but they themselves were not empowered to remove one stain of sin from the children of Adam.... Whoever would attract the people to himself as one in whom is invested power to forgive sins, incurs the wrath of God, for he turns souls away from the heavenly Pardoner to a weak and erring mortal (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:245, 246). 5BC 1151.2
24-29. Tenderness Won Thomas—Jesus, in His treatment of Thomas, gave His followers a lesson regarding the manner in which they should treat those who have doubts upon religious truth, and who make those doubts prominent. He did not overwhelm Thomas with words of reproach, nor did He enter into a controversy with him; but, with marked condescension and tenderness, He revealed Himself unto the doubting one. Thomas had taken a most unreasonable position, in dictating the only conditions of his faith; but Jesus, by His generous love and consideration, broke down all the barriers he had raised. Persistent controversy will seldom weaken unbelief, but rather put it upon self-defense, where it will find new support and excuse. Jesus, revealed in His love and mercy as the crucified Saviour, will bring from many once unwilling lips the acknowledgment of Thomas, “My Lord, and my God” (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:222). 5BC 1151.3Read in context »
In Christ's commission to His disciples He tells them: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” If this is the fearfully responsible work of God's ministers, how important that they give themselves wholly to it and watch for souls as they that must give an account. Should any separate or selfish interest come in here and divide the heart from the work? Some ministers linger about their homes, and run out on the Sabbath, and then return and exhaust their energies in farming or in attending to home matters. They labor for themselves through the week, and then spend the remnant of their exhausted energies in laboring for God. But such feeble efforts are not acceptable to Him. They have no mental or physical strength to spare. At best their efforts are feeble enough. But after they have been engrossed and entangled all through the laboring days of the week with the cares and perplexities of this life, they are wholly unfitted for the high, the sacred, the important work of God. The destiny of souls hangs upon the course they pursue and the decisions they make. How important then that they should be temperate in all things, not only in their eating, but in their labor, that their strength may be unabated and devoted to their sacred calling. 1T 471.1
A great mistake has been made by some who profess present truth, by introducing merchandise in the course of a series of meetings and by their traffic diverting minds from the object of the meetings. If Christ were now upon earth, He would drive out these peddlers and traffickers, whether they be ministers or people, with a scourge of small cords, as when He entered the temple anciently “and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” These traffickers might have pleaded as an excuse that the articles they held for sale were for sacrificial offerings. But their object was to get gain, to obtain means, to accumulate. 1T 471.2
I was shown that if the moral and intellectual faculties had not been clouded by wrong habits of living, ministers and people would have been quick to discern the evil results of mixing sacred and common things. Ministers have stood in the desk and preached a most solemn discourse, and then by introducing merchandise, and acting the part of a salesman, even in the house of God, they have diverted the minds of their hearers from the impressions received, and destroyed the fruit of their labor. If the sensibilities had not been blunted, they would have had discernment to know that they were bringing sacred things down upon a level with common. The burden of selling our publications should not rest upon ministers who labor in word and doctrine. Their time and strength should be held in reserve, that their efforts may be thorough in a series of meetings. Their time and strength should not be drawn upon to sell our books when they can be properly brought before the public by those who have not the burden of preaching the word. In entering new fields it may be necessary for the minister to take publications with him to offer for sale to the people, and it may be necessary in some other circumstances also to sell books and transact business for the office of publication. But such work should be avoided whenever it can be done by others. 1T 472.1Read in context »
The truth was reforming your life and character, and you were gaining the confidence of the brethren; but Satan saw that he was losing you, and therefore he increased his efforts to entangle you in his wily snare and has succeeded wonderfully. The weakness of your nature, hitherto undiscovered, is now developed. You do not see your condition, although it is very apparent to others. Light does not come to a man who makes no effort to obtain it. When you saw that your brethren and sisters were grieved with your course, then it was time for you to stop and consider what you were doing, to pray much, and to counsel with men of experience in the church and gratefully accept their advice. 5T 107.1
“But,” say you, “should I follow the judgment of the brethren independent of my own feelings?” I answer: The church is God's delegated authority upon earth. Christ has said: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” There is altogether too little respect paid to the opinion of members of the same church. It is the want of deference for the opinions of the church that causes so much trouble among brethren. The eyes of the church may be able to discern in its individual members that which the erring may not see. A few persons may be as blind as the one in error, but the majority of the church is a power which should control its individual members. 5T 107.2
The apostle Peter says: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” Paul exhorts: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another,” “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Unless the advice and counsel of the church can be respected, it is indeed powerless. God has placed a voice in the church which must control its members. 5T 107.3Read in context »
If the erring one repents and submits to Christ's discipline, he is to be given another trial. And even if he does not repent, even if he stands outside the church, God's servants still have a work to do for him. They are to seek earnestly to win him to repentance. And, however aggravated may have been his offense, if he yields to the striving of the Holy Spirit and, by confessing and forsaking his sin, gives evidence of repentance, he is to be forgiven and welcomed to the fold again. His brethren are to encourage him in the right way, treating him as they would wish to be treated were they in his place, considering themselves lest they also be tempted. 7T 263.1
“Verily I say unto you,” Christ continued, “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Verse 18. 7T 263.2
This statement holds its force in all ages. On the church has been conferred the power to act in Christ's stead. It is God's instrumentality for the preservation of order and discipline among His people. To it the Lord has delegated the power to settle all questions respecting its prosperity, purity, and order. Upon it rests the responsibility of excluding from its fellowship those who are unworthy, who by their un-Christlike conduct would bring dishonor on the truth. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God's word will be ratified in heaven. 7T 263.3Read in context »