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November 1, 2017, 4:05 PM

Binding and Loosing in Historical Context

    A Fresh Look at the Influence of “Pop Theology” on Apostolic Doctrine - By Kelly Nix

    “We stand on your Word that whatsoever we bind on earth is bound in heaven and       whatsoever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. We bind the spirit of confusion and contention…” declares one Internet blog. “You have authority over Satan (Luke 10:19). You exercise it with the prayer of binding and loosing,” echoes another.

     Sad to say, these same words might provoke a fervent chorus of “Amens” if they came across an Apostolic pulpit. In fact, over the past couple of decades, we have seen a mass infatuation with the “theology of prayer” – an oddly pretentious and somewhat mysterious phrase for a practice so simple that even children are expected to engage in it daily – within Pentecost. The disturbing part is, we seem to be learning our terminology – and some of our theology, unfortunately – from Trinitarians and Charismatics. This “theology” is replete with “spiritual warfare” tactics that, though popular, have little or no connection to the intent of Scripture.

Enemies of the cross?

     Paul made an interesting and cautionary statement that is often overlooked: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ….” (Philippians 3:18). A look at the context of this scripture shows Paul urging the believers toward humility and the realization that we have “not yet apprehended” and are still “pressing toward the mark” – the complete antithesis to the smug proclamations that we are somehow in an exalted spiritual position where we can archly issue commands to angels, demons and situations.

     In fact, by “the enemies of the cross,” Paul seems to be referring to those whose attitude leads them to claim for themselves the credit for victories that were purchased at the cost of the blood of Christ…and for which we have no claim to personal glory. Sad to say, this is an attitude that occurs within the church.

     This mentality pervades much of Apostolic music. Songs in modern Pentecost are full of claims about our “rights” as believers, crowing about the chains we can break and the devils we can bind. Believers jump, dance and sweat in the frenzies these songs produce…but all too often, the church is exalted as the main protagonist and Jesus is only an afterthought. And the glory of the One who bought it all with groans and agony on a rugged cross is neatly stolen….

     But the cross is about crucifixion, self-denial, and dying to the flesh. The glorification of the human element of the church is counter to the spirit of the cross.

The Power to Loose and Bind

     What the Apostolic church desperately needs in this hour is a baptism of humility. Rather than strut and posture about our power and what the church is going to do to the devil, Paul’s writings were far more centered on the way our weakness should exalt the power of Jesus Christ – whom he stated in Romans 16 will be the One to crush Satan. The New Testament writers never worshiped the church; they worshiped the God of the church, realizing that it was only by grace that we, the church, have any claim to salvation at all. Paul did write about power, but it was the power of the gospel, not the church. And interestingly enough, the writing Apostles were not fascinated with the devil and demons the way the modern church is. In fact, they rarely mentioned them. Instead, their writings glorified God and admonished the church.

     It is this self-glorifying mentality that has led the church into one of the most egregious errors of hermeneutics – that of “loosing” and “binding” angels, demons and situations. Entire “theologies” of prayer have been built on this concept…but an honest look at the scripture on which the concept is supposedly based will quickly reveal that it, in fact, has nothing whatsoever to do with modern Charismatic spiritual warfare theology.

     In Matthew 16:19, addressing Peter, Jesus said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

     This is the passage used to support the doctrine of “loosing” and “binding” spirits. While in Matthew 12:29 Jesus does speak of binding a strong man in order to spoil his goods, this was spoken in the context of a direct confrontation with and casting out of a specific demonic spirit from a man – not a general command uttered into the ether and intended to have an effect on unseen demonic hosts.

     In fact, the loosing and binding referenced in Matthew 16:19 are terms taken directly from the teachings of the Jewish elders of Jesus’ day. According to the historian Josephus, the various schools of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day claimed for themselves “the power ‘to bind and to loose’; that is, to forbid and to permit.” The Jewish Encyclopedia, in its article referencing Josephus’ explanation, goes on to say that “in this sense Jesus, when appointing his disciples to be his successors, used the familiar formula (Matt. xvi. 19, xviii. 18),” and that “by these words he virtually invested them with the same authority as that which he found belonging to the scribes and Pharisees….”

     In other words, the power to bind and loose relates to the formulation of doctrine and ordinances, not the commanding of spirits. “Binding” ordinances were ordinances that forbade certain practices, while “loosing” ordinances were ordinances allowing certain practices. Alfred Edersheim observes that “’binding’ and ‘loosing’ referred simply to things or acts prohibiting or else permitting them, declaring them lawful or unlawful,” and adds that “this was one of the powers claimed by the Rabbis.” He also affirms that “in the view of the Rabbis heaven was like earth, and questions were discussed and settled by a heavenly Sanhedrin…in regard to some of their earthly decrees, they were wont to say that ‘the Sanhedrin above’ confirmed what ‘the Sanhedrin beneath’ had done. When Jesus invested the power to bind and loose in His Apostles, He was in effect making the statement that they would formulate the doctrine of the church (bind or loose on earth), and that Heaven would back them up (bind or loose in heaven). What an endorsement of the New Testament epistles!

     James Freeman contributes another important perspective to the discussion. He posits that the expressions “shall be bound in heaven” and “shall be loosed in heaven” in Matthew 16:19 are “examples in Greek of the periphrastic future perfect passive construction and should, therefore, be translated ‘will have been bound already’ and ‘will have been loosed already’ in heaven,” and goes on to make the point that “Peter’s pronouncement of ‘binding’ or ‘loosing’ is dependent upon what heaven has already willed, rather than earth’s giving direction to heaven.”

     If Freeman is correct in his argument, this places an important limitation on the license Jesus gave His founding Apostles to formulate doctrine. Whatever doctrine they formulated and whatever ordinances they imposed must first have been established in heaven. In other words, all of the Apostles’ doctrine had to coincide with what was already given of God’s word. This rings true, because the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20), and the anointing Spirit would not violate the boundaries of what had already been spoken (John 16:13).

Getting it right

     To use Matthew 16:19, then, as a directive to bind and loose spirits is at best a misuse of Scripture. At worst, it represents a presumption into areas of the spirit realm we are not really intended to be preoccupied with, and an arrogance of spirit that could bring about tragic results. Consider the fact that even the Archangel Michael was careful in how he exercised authority in the spirit realm (Jude 9), not even daring to bring a “railing accusation” against the devil; he chose instead to simply say, “The Lord rebuke thee.” Continuing with the same thought, Jude 10 cautions against those who “speak evil of those things which they know not.”

     If the church were half as enamored today with keeping those things “bound” and “loosed” by the Apostles – the core doctrines of the Church – as we seem at times to be with flexing our muscles in the spirit realm, we might not be facing some of the critical trends that threaten to erode our doctrinal foundations.

     May God help us to renew our friendship with the Cross! It is necessary for Jesus to increase, but for us to decrease. And if Jesus Christ is rightfully worshiped within His church, the devil will be defeated and bound anyway.


Books by Kelly Nix:

"BINDING AND LOOSING (Hebrew, "asar we-hittir"; Aramean, "asar we-shera")." Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906. Web. 1 Sep 2012. .


Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. 531. Print.

Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. 532. Print.

Freeman, James. The New Manners & Customs of the Bible. Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998. 356. Print.


11-03-2017 at 11:52 AM
Bro M R Hennigan
Thanks for a very enlightening commentary on this subject.
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October 20, 2017, 5:05 PM

Who's On First

     Who’s On First is considered to be one of the greatest comedy routines of all time. It was performed by the premier entertainment duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, stars of vaudeville, radio, and early television. They had a great respect for their audiences, and wanted nothing more than to hear the laughter, as a result of their hard work.

     November 4th, 1943, Lou Costello was rehearsing for the evening Abbott and Costello radio show at the NBC studios when he received the tragic news that Butch, his soon to be year old son, had drowned in the family swimming pool. “Although Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney and Red Skelton volunteered to take his place, Costello insisted that the show must go on. He returned to the studio and did the radio show with Abbott and Lana Turner. At the end of the program, Costello rushed from the stage, his face streaked with tears. Then Abbott announced Butch Costello's death.”  

     The show must go on – a phrase most often used in show business, particularly the theatre. It means that whatever has been planned or scheduled must be carried out, regardless of the current circumstances, including any problems or disruption. To Lou Costello, even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy, keeping his commitment to fellow artists and entertaining millions of listeners was what came first to Mr. Costello before his personal grief.  

     Isn’t it interesting that entertainers often have a higher regard for what is important than many who claim to serve the Lord Jesus. Sure, they are ultimately serving their own self-interests (wealth, stardom, etc) but the commitment they have to their ideals often compels them to go beyond what they desire to do themselves. What hinders the Jesus show in your life from continuing as scheduled (1 Peter 2:9)?

  • Are you sick? Don’t skip church, call for prayer (James 5:13-15)
  • A loved one passed away? There’s a blessing in mourning when you allow yourself to be comforted (Matthew 4:4)
  • Discouraged by those that reject God but seem blessed? I understood their end when I went to God’s sanctuary (Psalm 73:1-17)
  • Too tired or busy to go to church and be involved in the work of God? Seek first His kingdom and everything else will fall into place (Matthew 6:33)
  • Feeling lonely and depressed? Find another brother or sister and encourage them. Remember, you can do all things through Jesus, which strengthens you (Philippians 4:13)

     “Jesus said unto him, Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Matthew 22:37). The things we make time for tells everyone around us what is most important to us. So, Who’s on first in your life?   



The show must go on. (n.d.) Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. (2015). Retrieved October 20 2017 from


10-23-2017 at 12:19 AM
Cassandra Savala
Pops— As usual, a very well written and thoughtful post... Thank you for always making me think. The church must go on, it is up to me whether it will continue with or without me.
10-21-2017 at 12:15 AM
David Pittenger
A very poignant analogy and well spoken. Hope to hear it preached some day.
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September 23, 2017, 10:15 PM

Google Me Jesus

Gone are the days of Open Bible Conferences...just plain Bible teaching without "dynamic, throw down, off the chain, tear the roof off, break every chain, shout down, run away" hype. The emphasis is now upon action rather than substance. Faithless is the preacher that says otherwise.

Many folks cannot sit through a half hour of Bible teaching. It is the hallmark of the TV culture and instant answers - a Google me generation.

The lack of Bible doctrine teaching is reflected in the feel good Jesus is my boyfriend Christian bling bling songs. Doctrinal teaching and preaching has been replaced by the politically correct social gospel. No condemnation, shame, or guilt. Jesus loves everyone just as they are and there is no reason to be saved from sin cuz Jesus is cool like that.

With more access to information there is less retention of what is learned. Digital technology has reduced the average attention span to 5 seconds, ten years ago it was 12 minutes. Research shows that more knowledge is retained by hand writing because it involves more cognitive retention skills.

Bible study is not just the telling of information but engaging the congregation through Bible reading and them following along in text - one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of verses on the wall is that people no longer follow in their own Bibles, if they even bring one to church,  because they've become intellectually lazy.

Searching the scriptures is almost unheard of - Google me Jesus is much faster and fits our impatient, busy, and non reflective lifestyles. Look it up in a book? Actually write it down? Never! It's much easier to do a word search, copy and paste and get on with my life.

Google me Jesus...I'm trying to possess my soul with impatience.


09-26-2017 at 4:26 PM
Rick McGuffey
I enjoy reading this blog... It's insightful, witty, and written by a good friend of mine. :)
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September 12, 2017, 12:00 AM

We The People

WE THE PEOPLE...I've been thinking a lot about the church of Laodicea (laity rules) and the foundation of America - we the people.
I have never bought into the America is a Christian nation least not to the degree that some folks believe. However, there was a basic respect for Biblical principles however skewed their application may be. The respect of and tacit desire for those principles is gone.
As I traveled today from Ohio and into TN, I pointed out the "Lions Dens" to my wife - they are Adult Porn Shops and difficult to miss. They are also prominent in the south. It caused me to chuckle in a rather sarcastic manner - America's Bible Belt (we the people) a bastion of Bible proliferation built upon alcohol, tobacco, and porn shops - the fingers are usually pointed at the coasts as the purveyors of all that is evil.
While it is arguable that the colonies were initially founded for the purpose of religious freedom. Without question, the Union of the United States was established upon rebellion. The idea of freedom of speech, especially against government is antithetical to the command of NT scripture (Jude 1:8). If America can be found in scripture (I do not think so), it won't be long before "we the people" are dominated by another king - the anti-Christ.
Which is what happens when "we the people" believe they can govern themselves without the aid of supernatural authority.
The worst state an individual or group of individuals can be in, is to be without a king. Because every man does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). And that is the same condition that Laodicea was plagued with -and they would not invite the King into the house of their hearts (Revelation 3). Therefore, they will not be welcome into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:7-8).


11-20-2017 at 8:15 AM
Steve Walker
Very powerful article Bro. Savala! “We the People” need real Holy Ghost revival very desperately in this hour. The unashamed spiritual blindness of this world - it’s no wonder the Lord asked Luke 18:8
09-26-2017 at 10:48 AM
Brent Crosswhite
Liberty, a priceless commodity but with no boundaries it becomes a detriment.
09-13-2017 at 12:38 AM
J. Thompson
Just to add from Ezekiel 16:49:
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
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April 23, 2017, 12:00 AM

America, Christianity, and Eternity

Most of you will never read (although you should) the book called "The Family" - Jeff Sharlet. In it he discusses the way Christian Fundamentalism has sought for power under the guise of religious humility - using the name of Jesus Christ. The book challenges and explains the rise of Fundamentalism in America and how it became perverted by an elite group of men particularly in the 1920's into the present.

The Family is a secretive society however, they have an annual publicized gathering called the National Prayer Breakfast. "Some 3,000 dignitaries, representing scores of nations and corporate interests, pay $425 each to attend" (p.22). According to an internal planning document, "the Koran could even be read, but Jesus is there! He is infiltrating the world" (p.24).

The roots of The Family are firmly planted in Buchmanism and Abramism - Dr. Abraham Vereide was the initial founder of The Family. The Fellowship has recast the language of empire into theology.

Interestingly, it is Republican presidents that so often speak of nation building in theological terms. When one includes the code words "safety", "Christian responsibility", and "Jesus" into the political dialogue, the Christian movement by and large goes along. However, " is Christianity itself that has prevented fundamentalists, America's most authoritarian demographic, from embracing the cult of personality around which fascist states are organized" (p.133).

That is a remarkable statement but one that will soon be incorrect because America and the vast majority of "Christians" are looking for someone that can save them - never before have e been so ripe to accept the anti-Christ.

"The NAE saw socialism and separatism as opposite ends of the spectrum of the beast known as secularism." At the second convening of the National Association of Evangelicals, "personal legalisms" - church standards of separation (holiness) - were relegated to none issues in view of the larger goal, making a Christian nation. Therefore, all were okay so long as Jesus Christ was embraced for the greater good of the nation and a select few in power, "Come on in, said the populist front, whether you speak in tongues and wave your hands on Sunday or sit on them and tsk, tsk at the sweat and tears of the holy rollers. Its fundamentalism was not theological; it was American. The totalitarianism of God, unlike that of man, welcomed all true believers" (p.155).

For these reasons and more, the American political and religious upheaval exists today. Jesus is coming soon and it would behoove us as Apostolic brethren to not be so enamored with the cause of America, as much as the cause of Jesus Christ. The political world is not extolling the same Jesus we do. The extent that it is doing so today is for the same purposes that Constantine embraced the concept of Christianity in his day - power and world domination.

Luke 21:7-9 (KJV)  And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?  And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.  But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

2 Timothy 3:13 (KJV)  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Jesus is coming back again - not for Americans, Russians, Japanese, Iraqi's, Africans, Israeli's, and such like. He is returning for His bride. Those that have been born again of water and Spirit ( John 3:3-5 & Acts 2:38) and that have made themselves ready to see Him (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). For all others that reject His gospel and authority, only judgment, everlasting punishment, and hell await (Revelation 21:8).  As for me, I am, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" Titus 2:13-14 (KJV)


06-13-2017 at 1:43 AM
David P
Finally got a round "to-it" and enjoyed reading the blog. Will order the book.
04-30-2017 at 12:56 PM
Brian Enochs
Thoroughly enjoy your cd, "Oh, Say But I'm Glad," our "after church" jam sessions and your ministry to us at Life Tabernacle. Thank-you for being sensitive to the Holy Ghost and pouring out your heart to us. I can't wait to see what God has in store for Life Tab, between now and His return! God bless you my friend!
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