Binding and Loosing - Apostolic Authority


God established the Sanhedrin Gedolah (great court of 71 judges) – the essential source of halacha (rules by which to walk). The two-fold duty was to interpret Torah to apply to differing situations in life, and to make legal adjudications in civil and criminal disputes and offenses. They were the Supreme Court. God gave them the Holy Spirit in order for them do make righteous judgments. [“Rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 5:22, Acts 13:15) were the lowest court of three judges, who made halachic rulings at the local level.]


Numbers 11:16-17 – So Yahweh said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.”


About 1500 years later, the Sanhedrin (seat of Moses) had become corrupt and judges were hypocritical. Some judges had purchased their positions (seated themselves). Nevertheless, due to their position of authority under God, Yeshua taught that the people should walk according to their halachic rulings.


Matthew 23:1-3 – Then Yeshua spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.


To try to perpetuate their own corrupt power, the judges sought to crucify Yeshua.


John 7:25-26 – So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, "Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?


Yeshua said that He would take the halachic authority away from them and give it to others.


Mark 11:27 – 12:9 – And they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and scribes, and elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, "By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?" And Yeshua said to them, "I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me." And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Then why did you not believe him?' But shall we say, 'From men '?" –  they were afraid of the multitude, for all considered John to have been a prophet indeed. And answering Yeshua, they said, "We do not know." And Yeshua said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things." And He began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard, and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. And at the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some, and killing others. He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those vine-growers said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!' And they took him, and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. Have you not even read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone? . . .


Yeshua gave the halachic authority to His twelve apostles.


Matthew 16:18-19 – "And I also say to you that you are Petros (small rock, or a single rock), and upon this petra (large rock – Yeshua, or several rocks – 12 apostles) I will build-up My church; and the doors of death shall not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind (men to do) on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose (men from doing) on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."


The Greek word for “loose” is the standard verb “luo” (lu-o). In this verse, “loosed” is in the pluperfect tense – a past action that continues. Thus, a full translation could be as follows: “Whatever you forbid on earth shall be that which was-already-forbidden,-to-remain-forbidden, by heaven, and whatever you permit on earth shall be that which was-already-permitted,-to-remain-permitted, by heaven.”


The subject is halacha – how we should walk to fulfill Torah. Bind and loose were rabbinic terms of the day which meant forbid and permit. For example, a well man is bound-to-the-commandment-to-fast / forbidden-to-eat on Yom haKippurim (the Day of the Atonements); but a sick person is loosed-to-eat / permitted-to-eat on that day: that is a halachic judgment based upon the Torah principle of health taking precedence over Holy-day ordinances. Likewise, a man is bound-to-the-commandment-to-rest / forbidden-to-perform-his-usual-work on the Sabbath; but he is loosed-to-work / permitted-to-work at freeing his ox from a ditch on the Sabbath, because of halachic judgment that the life of the ox takes precedence.


Yeshua was instructing apostles concerning making halachic judgments, so that they could instruct disciples on how to walk – how to properly apply God’s instruction (Torah) in various unwritten circumstances. These judgments often involve determining what instructions take precedence. Such judgments may neither change laws nor be new laws; they must comply with prior instruction from heaven – Torah.


The Apostles may be seen later going to Jerusalem to make a halachic ruling. James spoke for the group:


Acts 15:19 – “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles . . .”


DDD 7-7-2006

© 2006  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)





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