The Perfect Tense In Matthew 16:19 And Three Charismata -- By: Paul Elbert

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 17:3 (Summer 1974)
Article: The Perfect Tense In Matthew 16:19 And Three Charismata
Author: Paul Elbert

The Perfect Tense In Matthew 16:19
And Three Charismata

Paul Elbert

Christian Stature Ministries
San Juan Capistrano, California 92675


Mantey, citing an array of witnesses, argues convincingly that the correct grammatical translation of the periphrastic future-perfect passive participles in Matthew 16:1 is a literal one, yielding “…but whatever you may bind (ean deses) upon the earth shall have been bound (estai dedemenon) in heaven, and whatever you may loose (ean luses) upon the earth shall have been loosed (estai lelumenon) in heaven.”1 The common understanding is that this verse and its companion, Matthew 18:18, were (in the mind of Jesus) destined to apply to the oncoming church at large.2 Jesus was instituting a process He expected to continue in the church, not to be turned off by the church. Mantey’s result is therefore of real concern.


The consensus of ensuing interpretation by Cadoux, Chamberlain, and Albright and Mann is that the church on earth is to be carrying out heaven’s decisions, already sanctioned there.3 These decisions are communicated by the Spirit via inspiration or guidance. The reverse process is definitely not in view in this verse.

The common misunderstanding, probably based on the KJV text, is the reverse process where a believer binds and/or looses something on earth and implies to others that this is then true in heaven and is now going to occur on earth, according to the KJV promise.4 There are, however, other promises which get things done by faith like Mark 11:22–24, so if requisite faith happens to be present results occur anyway and no one knows the difference. But a work of faith is not implicit in 16:19, neither is it explicitly excluded in the context.5

To bind in contemporary rabbinical parlance was to forbid and to loose

was to permit, although an overly strict application of this idea is out of the question in light of linguistic variables involved in the deo-luo idea.6 The linguistic evidence argues for n...

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