April 01, 2007

calling all rabbis for help

Peter's Confession of Christ ~ Matthew 16

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 1I 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." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

So there is the scripture verse. What is the proper interpretation? I have come across a couple different takes on it. These are my basic/fuzzy descriptions. Don't quote me but please help me out.

A. This has been used in teachings for spiritual warfare. This interpretation believes that the binding and loosing is an authority over demonic powers that a believer in Jesus (Peter being the first to confess belief out loud) has been given.

B. While reading Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis" I came across his interpretation of this verse and his take on it was that it was referring to what is known as a rabbi's yoke. A rabbi's yoke is a respected rabbi's interpretation on a certain biblical verse. Jesus, who is a rabbi, has said something along the lines "You have heard it been said but now I tell you....". A rabbi with proper authority would than bind or loose an interpretation as he sees fit.

I came from a spiritual upbringing that would definitely affirm the first interpretation but I had no problem with this take on the verse either. I also found it ironic that a verse that I was having slight difficulty in finding an interpretation was about interpreting bible verses...possibly. Perhaps there can be an integration of intepretations?

C. This verse could probably used as a scriptural basis for the roman catholic doctrine of papal infallibity/authority. Since I consider that belief to be stupid if not heretical(pardon by protestantism, I respect roman catholicism a lot)I kind of need to know what it means to refute this take.

Any feedback would be appreciated. I am very interested.


mikeofearthsea said...

Since Catholics generally place tradition above the authority of scripture, I always find it somewhat amusing when Catholics use scripture to back up their tradition. I have heard the "on this Rock" interpretation with "the Rock" being "Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ" but I don't think one even needs to make that "stretch." Peter went on to preach the first "post-resurrection" sermon that jump-started the church so I have no problem with the verse being understood as any aspect of Peter himself or his life being understood as "the Rock" referred to. Where it becomes problematic for me is the ridiculous assertion that Jesus is saying - through this verse - there will be an "unbroken line" of church leaders (Popes) through Peter. History has proven otherwise. What about the lines that follow: "and the gates of hell with not prevail against it..." I find more compelling as proof that even when human institutions fail the worldwide church of Jesus Christ has endured - through people - since AD33.

carl said...

wow! excellent insights Mike.

I am still wondering what people think if you or anyone can help, what's up with the binding and loosing part?

Anonymous said...

The greek word for "bind" in this verse is "deo." The only other place where this word is used to define "bound" in the NT is with regard to the Gethsardine (sp?) Demoniac is Mark and the prophet who bound paul with paul's own belt in Acts as a prophecy of his imprisonment. One place, the word is used in conjunction with marriage where Paul teaches on marriage - "Is any of you married, do not seek a divorce." Various commentaries would postulate the binding and loosing of spiritual powers (e.g., Chuck Smith - Calvary Chapel). Other potestant commentators apply "binding" an "loosing" to conveying spiritual knowledge and discipline (Matthew Henry's "key allegory" - www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Mat/Mat016.html Regardless, I think whatever is referred to may not necessarily be "St. Peter, the doorman at heaven's pearly gates" - although many individuals as yet unidentified do seem to play various roles in heaven (c.f., Revelation). The implying of a "binding" and "loosing" "ability" of Peter in Heaven may, at the very least, serve to illustrated that heaven will be a dynamic, interactive, created real existence as opposed to a state of "Nrivanic" emptiness and bliss.

Just a few ideas...


carl said...

those are some sweet ideas!

The implying of a "binding" and "loosing" "ability" of Peter in Heaven may, at the very least, serve to illustrated that heaven will be a dynamic, interactive, created real existence as opposed to a state of "Nrivanic" emptiness and bliss.

...how about not only how heaven will be but how heaven on earth is(or can be) right now? ...let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Does God give those who believe in His Son(not just Peter but us today and throughout history) keys to the kingdom and the ability to bind and loose according to the leading of His Spirit.

Is this binding and loosing a type of rejecting and accepting of what is truth and what is false? A discernment of what is good and what is evil whether it be an idea, philosophy or a spirit? I COULD BE WAY OFF, which leads me back to Rob Bell's take on the verse. He also mentioned how back in the day the Jewish followers of God would interpret scripture together. There would be a sort of accountablity/community/discussion as God leads His people. The conclusion would come from a respected rabbi and be called the rabbi's yoke.

It seems to me there's a lot to this verse and it's interpretations and implications. Enough to jumble my brain but at the same time stir my spirit, which explains my rambling

mikeofearthsea said...

"binding" and "losing" can also come to mean no more than the oft-fogotten christian truism "everything counts" (in this life and the next). For example, sins of "commission" and "ommission" can - though not necessarily - "lose" some aspect of "reward" in heaven (let's face it - paradise is still paradise - so it may not matter in centain senses). However, christians too easily forget that (keeping in mind works do not equal salvation) heavenly "rewards" and the "loss of rewards" (and, therefore, by extension, "punnishments" and "removal of punnihsments" in hell - though eternal sepration from God is still hell) are pretty clearly demonstrated throughout scripture and commonly accepted in the evangelical church.

carl said...

another good and interesting train of thought.

If I'm following you right it sounds like
binding and loosing can be looked at as a kind of sowing and reeping in the here and now as well as in the next life. This includes the sowing of what's done in this life effecting the next.

carl said...

Ben Witherington says "....when Jesus speaks about binding and loosing, he is not referring to forbidding and allowing certain ways of interpreting OT verses. To bind refers to making a ruling that is binding, not forbidding it. To loose means to free someone from obligation to keep a particular rule."

mikeofearthsea said...

Interesting. I would observe that Peter "loosed" someome (in the spirit of the Worthington interpretation) from an obligation re: Acts 10 encounter where God showed Peter it is lawful to eat "unclean" food (Peter's response: "I now see God shows no partialty..."). Peter possibly "bound" folks (in Worthington's interpretation) when "he withdrew from the Gentiles." Of course, it is interesting that this "binding" was ruled a sin by a fellow Apostle, Paul ("I opposed Peter to his face becuase he was clearly in the wrong...") Indicating possible "spiritual damage" done by or to Peter for his sin though not something that could not be overcome by grace.


carl said...

It seems like Peter was involved in a lot of important scenarios in the bible.