There are a number of Hebrew words used to express this word in its various meanings, 'alam (Genesis 37:7), 'acar (Genesis 42:24), qashar (Deuteronomy 6:8). It sometimes means "to attach," "to fasten" (Exodus 28:28; Deuteronomy 14:25). It was used also with reference to an agreement in a judicial sense (Numbers 30:2,3), or to make one a prisoner (Judges 16:10; Psalms 149:8). It means also "to control" (Job 38:31).
In a figurative sense, to bind heavy and burdensome (extra) so-called religious duties on men (Matthew 23:4). This figurative use of the word in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 has given special interest to it. Necessarily certain powers for administration must be conferred on this company of men to carry out the purpose of Christ. That this power was not conferred on Peter alone is evident from the fact that in Matthew 18:18 it is conferred on all the apostles. The use of the word in the New Testament is to declare a thing to be binding or obligatory (John 20:23). In this sense this authority is used by some denominations in the service in preparation for the Lord's Supper, in which after the confession of sin by the people the ministers say, "I declare to you who have sincerely repented of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ the entire forgiveness of your sins." This statement is followed by the further declaration that if any have not so repented God will not forgive them, but will retain them and call them to account. The claim of the church of Rome that these statements of our Lord confer on the priests and bishops, or primarily on the pope, the power to retain or forgive sins, is without historical validity and does violence to the Scriptures.
Jacob W. Kapp
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