Upon This Rock: Part III


Upon This Rock: Part III

What is this thing called “the church” that Jesus said he would build upon the Solid Rock the proclamation of Jesus Messiah-God by Peter and those like him (the little rocks).?

There were in effect two pillars to the building of the first church. One of the pillars, according to Acts 2:42, is the teaching of the apostles about who Jesus was and what he did.

In Luke 9, Jesus went onto to say “The gates of Hades, [of Hell] the gates of death… will not stand against it. This could well be a reference, to Isaiah 38:10 that speaks of the gates of the grave. But given the location where this story occurred it is most likely that Jesus is referring to Satan and his evil hordes who inflict humanity with destruction, disease and death.

Jesus true identity has just been revealed and now he reveals His true destiny to His disciples and His apostles. He’s going to go up to Jerusalem, he’s going to encounter the religious authority, disturbingly threatened by this powerful, popular messianic figure, and by God’s foreordained plan. God will hand him over, deliver him up to these religious authorities who will hand him over, deliver him up, to the Romans who will execute him. And then God will raise him from the grave. So Jesus is assuring His disciples, for they don’t quite understand this yet, that not even death, not even the death of Messiah is going to stop the church, for he will be raised on the third day, that he has power, the power of life that will overcome death, hell and the grave.

And it is this power which will empower the church and his life giving words which will the church will be built upon. His identity and under the administration, leadership of the apostles, including Shimon Petros.

The “Keys of the kingdom, is perhaps a reference to Isaiah 22:22, “And I will give him the keys of David.” The context of Isaiah 22 is a reference to the Messiah, the son of David, and he’s going to have David’s authority and power, the context is the government, the context is kingdom.

Jesus says, ‘I’m giving you now the authority, Peter,’ and he later gives this authority to the apostles, Matthew 18:18, “To the apostles,” plural, we know from Acts 15, that’s also an authority exercised by the church as a whole. So it’s not just Simon Peter alone to whom this authority to bind and to loose was given.

Bind and loose, of course, immediately to the Christian mind tends to evoke the passage in Matthew 12 about binding the strong man. So many believe this has to do with binding demons in the name of Jesus. In fact this text has nothing to do with that (Matthew 12 does, but not Matthew 16). Nor in John’s Gospel chapter 20:23 does this particular text have to do with the forgiveness of sins as John uses the term in his fourth gospel.

Binding and loosing were rabbinic terms. They simply meant, to make decisions that prohibit (loose) certain conduct or decisions that permit (bind) certain conduct.

A rabbi had authority to interpret Torah. Jesus gave the same authority to His disciples to interpret Jesus’ torah, Jesus’ teaching. To make clear to the disciples, to the church, what conduct is appropriate (bind), what conduct is inappropriate (loose). What is forbidden (loose) by the teachings of Jesus and the Word of God and what is permitted (bind). The authority is in the Word, but that authority is now shared with the disciples to interpret the Word.

Jesus is saying, ‘I’m giving you now the authority which I have exercised.’ For example, earlier in Matthew’s Gospel he says, ‘You’ve heard it said you shall not do this and that, I say to you… you shall do this.’ He’s interpreting the Torah for his disciples. Don’t murder, I’m saying to you it means don’t have hatred. Don’t commit adultery, he’s says also means don’t have lust. Now, he says, I’m going to give that authority to you disciples because I’m going up to Jerusalem to be delivered up as the Son of Man on the world’s behalf, but in fact, now raised I’m going to become the head of a movement I’m calling my church.

  1. If we have been given authority to bind and loose, what does that look like in everyday life? How can I begin to take authority?

(This article was adapted from http://jcstudies.com/articleDetail.cfm?articleId=79)