Binding and Loosing

Series: The impact of the Jewish roots of Jesus

Have you ever been in a prayer meeting where someone loudly binds the devil? Perhaps you have done this?  I don’t want to be offensive but I do want to pass on some helpful information. Apart from the fact that prayer is to God and not to the devil, the practice of binding demons has no biblical support whatsoever.

The Pharisees accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of the devil and he responded by pointing out how ridiculous such an accusation was. He used the analogy of someone breaking into a house and said; “no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.  Then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27 ESV). This statement is not a warrant for the practice of binding the devil in prayer; it is simply a statement of the obvious fact that Jesus was able to heal all who were afflicted by the devil because he had overcome Satan.

The Greek words which we translate as ‘binding’ and ‘loosing’ appear in two New Testament texts. The second of these, Matthew 18:18, has to do with church discipline. Jesus explains the procedure for bringing correction and ends with the instruction that if the erring party does not respond then the matter is to be brought before the church leadership who will decide the matter. Jewish religious leaders had the responsibility of deciding what was permissible according to the Law of God and what was not. They ‘bound’ or prohibited, that which they deemed to be unlawful and they ‘loosed’ or allowed, that which they judged to be lawful. Jesus said; “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. In other words, “God will back up and authenticate whatever you leaders deem to be right in cases such as this.”

The other reference to binding and loosing comes in the famous declaration concerning Peter. In my previous post I wrote about what happened at Panias when Jesus asked his disciples who they believed him to be. Peter proclaimed his divinity and Jesus responded by saying to Peter; “I 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.”  In Jesus’ day Jewish Rabbis had the authority to determine correct interpretation of the Torah, the Law of God. When they decided on an interpretation they were said to be loosing the people to the determined beliefs and practices. The Wikipedia entry on this subject states that, ‘the poseks (the term in Jewish law for “decider”—a legal scholar) had, by virtue of their ordination, the power of deciding disputes relating to Jewish law. Hence the difference between the two main schools of thought in early classical Judaism were summed up by the phrase the school of Shammai binds; the school of Hillel looses’.

Binding and loosing have to do with establishing church doctrine and discipline and have nothing to do with presumptuously taking authority over Satan in ‘prayer’. 

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Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler



4 thoughts on “Binding and Loosing”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for this article. I totally agree with you that ‘binding and loosing’ has nothing to do with waging spiritual warfare against Satan and other demons.I used to fellowship at a church where ‘binding’ demons and especially the ‘Jezebel spirit’ and casting them into the ‘pit’ was a common practice. Why do you think many Christians fall into the trap of practising these sort of things?


  2. samuel h kennedy

    Dear Chris
    For once I fully agree with your explanation on ‘binding & loosing’ found in the book of the gospel of Matthew.What we witness in SA amongst primarily charismatic churhes is this failure to understand Biblical hermeneutics & or the True & proper interpretation of Scripture.I pray more eachers can be empowered to train & equip our Pastors to have a real & proper understanding of the Word of God. From a Slave of Christ-S H Kennedy(Theologian)

  3. @Rory Thanks for the affirmation.

    @Sean It is hard to determine the origin of some teachings but many of them come from literalistic interpretations of isolated texts taken out of there biblical contexts and some originate in cultic influences. Of course none of us can claim to have a perfect hermeneutic but I believe that we stay closest to ‘truth’ when we seek to interpret texts (a) in context (b) from a Christocentric perspective and (c) with reference to the full corpus of scripture.

    @samuel Glad we can agree on something 🙂

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.