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Matthew 18:18. ESV

"Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." My emphasis. KJB also has "shall be bound".

My comment: here possibly the binding takes place on the earth and then [shall be] in heaven.

Matthew 18:18. NASB 1995

"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". NASB and Berean Literal Bible also have "shall have been bound".

My comment: here possibly the binding "shall have been" on earth as a reflection of what has already happened in heaven.

Do either "shall be bound" or "shall have been bound" capture the full meaning of the Greek?

What is the full meaning /nuance/implication of the Greek?

Another question on this site asks "What is being loosened and bound?"

2 Answers 2

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The Greek text in both Matt 16:19 and 18:18 has a pair of unique phrases

ἔσται δεδεμένον ... ἔσται λελυμένον = will have been bound ... will have been loosed

In J. B. Phillips' "The New Testament in Modern English", Rev Ed, 1972, he adds a "Note 3" in an appendix about this very question that summarizes the situation well.

Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 - "forbidding" and "Permitting". There is a very curious Greek construction here, viz, a simple future followed by the perfect participle passive. If Jesus had meant to say quite simply, Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven", can anyone explain why the simple future passive is not used? It seems to me that if the words of Jesus are accurately reported here, and I have no reason to doubt it, then the force of these sayings is that Jesus' true disciples will be so led by the Spirit that they will be following the heavenly pattern. In other words, what they "forbid" or "permit" on earth will be consonant with Divine rules.

If a simple future passive had been used it would mean an automatic heavenly endorsement of the Church's actions, which to me, at least, is a very different thing.

In the pertinent verse of John's Gospel (chapter 20, 22, 23), it is quite plain that "holy spirit", of which Christ is giving his disciples a first breath, so to speak, (for the Holy Spirit in person was not given until Pentecost), would be the factor by which alone human beings could perform the Divine function of forgiving or not forgiving sins. There is no ground for supposing that celestial endorsement automatically follows action, however exalted.

I agree. The best sense of the Greek is given by the following versions:

  • NIV footnote: will have been bound ...
  • BLB - shall have been bound ...
  • NASB: shall have been bound ...
  • Amplified Bible: will have [already] been bound ...
  • CSB: will have been bound ...
  • HCSB: is already bound ...
  • Aramaic Bible in Plain English: will have been bound ...
  • ISV: will have been prohibited ...
  • LSV: will be having been bound ...
  • NET: will have been bound ...
  • YLT: shall be having been bound ...
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[will be] δεδεμένα bound V-RPM/P-NNP Verb - Perfect Participle Middle or Passive

The NASB in its complex choice of "will have been bound" is perhaps trying to capture the participle. There is no difference between the two translations. It is just a perfect-passive, so shall be bound is clear in meaning. There is no unique or difficult sense in Greek.

What is being loosened and bound? It means spiritual rewards and punishment in afterlife based on the works done on earth. Cf. Matt 5:20 Matt 5:46-48 Matt 6:33 Matt 7:21 Matt 16:27 Matt 18:3 Acts 10:34-36 Rom 2:6-16 Rom 6:16 1Cor 7:19 2Cor 5:10 1Pet 1:15-17 Rev 20:12 Rev 22:11-12 Gen 4:7

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