Bible Question:

What did Jesus mean when He said that everything that Peter will do will be bound on earth and in heaven? Does that mean that on the day of Pentecost, after Peter stood up and baptized them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, that this overshadowed the great commission?

Bible Answer:

The statement that you refer to occurs in the following passage,

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (NASB) Matthew 18:15-20

Before we explore the meaning of the statement, “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven,” it is important to note that Jesus was talking to the disciples and not just Peter (Matthew 18:1). It is also important to notice that the statement occurred after Jesus explained the process of church discipline or how one should rescue another believer in Christ from sin. For a biblical explanation about how one should attempt to help another believer in Christ stop sinning, please visit “Should I act as though my son’s divorce is okay?” The link will take you to a previous question and answer that discusses church discipline, the context of which is the rescue of a believer from sin.

Church discipline requires one person to approach the sinning believer. It is unbiblical and insensitive for many to confront one. If the person does not repent, then two or three believers are to approach the sinning believer. If the sinning believer still refuses to repent, then the person must be brought before the church and removed.

At the conclusion of Jesus’ instruction, He told them that persons who continue in sin must eventually be removed from the church and ignored. They must be ignored just as the Jews ignored the Gentiles. Then Jesus added the statement that you have asked about. The context deals with church discipline. It means that the decision of the leadership to remove a sinning believer from the church is confirmed, or agreed to, by heaven. Whatever the church leadership decides with regard to sinning believers is affirmed by God in heaven. Or, put another way, the decision of two or three witnesses is affirmed in heaven. It is important to notice that Jesus refers to two or three witnesses. Earlier Jesus had referred to two or three witnesses in the church discipline process. This entire section is about church discipline.

Conclusion:

Therefore, the statement, “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” does not apply to the events that occurred in Acts 2.

Reference Links:

Peace With God
Should I act as though my son's divorce is okay?