What do the words "bind and loose" mean in Matthew 16:19?


Full Question

How does the Catholic Church understand the meaning of "bind and loose" in Matthew 16:19, where Jesus says: "And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven"?

Answer

The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers these explanations:

  • During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God. (CCC 1443)
  • In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins, the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: "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." The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (CCC 1444)
  • The words bind and loose mean: Whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God. (CCC 1445)

 


Peggy Frye