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Who Has The Keys To Bind And Loose?

Janice Baca
Golden keys to my heart

Who does Matthew 16:19 tell us has the keys to bind and to loosen? Does everyone have the keys to bind, to loose? Do only a select few? Also, what is this “binding and loosing”? Hebrew manuscripts of the Gospel According to Matthew make these distinctions clear. While what we find there may be disappointing to some, it is encouraging to all that Yehovah trusts His selected ones with the golden keys to His heart.

Shem Tov Matthew

To begin with, I compared Matthew 16:19 in the Cambridge Matthew Gospels1 with the Shem Tov Matthew, and both Hebrew renderings are identical. Additionally, the Shem Tov Matthew has academic support for having “survived outside of the hegemony of the Roman Church,” that is, it preserves Hebrew tradition.2 For example, one of the most important variances between Matthew from the Greek manuscripts and the Shem Tov Matthew is here:

" ...The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses; therefore, all THEY tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds,"  Matthew 23:2-3 (Greek translation, emphasis mine).

In the Shem Tov Matthew, however, the Hebrew reads “HE tells you” instead of “THEY tell you,” meaning “obey Moses,” not “obey the scribes and Pharisees”:

ועתה כל אשר יאמר לכם שמרו ועשו ובתקנתיהם ומעשיהם אל תעשו שהם אומרים והם אינם עושים

“And now everything that he tells you, keep and do, and do not do their ordinances and deeds; do not do which they say, and they do not do” (emphasis mine).

Bind=Forbid And Loose=Permit

At Matthew 16:19, a proper translation from the Greek manuscripts appears strikingly different than what we’ve been taught! Consider my updated translation, below:

"And I shall give you the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever you FORBID/PROHIBIT on earth shall be, having been PROHIBITED/FORBIDDEN in the heavens; and whatever you SET FREE/PERMIT on earth shall be, having been SET FREE/PERMITTED in the heavens,” corrected Greek translation of Matthew 16:19.

We understand this “binding and loosing” in terms of binding an enemy with ropes, while loosening the ropes of one who must be freed.

The Greek Reveals The Truth

When analyzing the Greek in this passage, we must consider to whom Yeshua is speaking:

'He said to them, “And you, who do you say I am?” And Simon Peter answering, said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim.” And Yeshua answering, said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in the heavens. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I shall build My assembly, and the gates of She’ol shall not overcome it. And I shall give you the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth shall be, having been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on earth shall be, having been loosed in the heavens,” Matthew 16:15-19 (emphasis mine).

Notice in verse 15 through 18, Yeshua is speaking directly to Peter, proclaiming that the Father has revealed a matter to Peter. In the Greek the word σοι (soi) meaning “to you” is second person singular.1 Clearly, the other apostles aren’t being addressed in these verses. From there to verse 19, the blessing that has been bestowed upon Peter, continues.

The Hebrew Reveals The Truth

Now, consider these verses in Hebrew, from the Cambridge Gospels. This verse in the Cambridge Hebrew Gospels is also identical to the Shem Tov Matthew. But to whom is Yeshua speaking?

לך אתן מפתחות של שמים וכל מה שאתה אוסר בעולם יהיו אסורים בשמים וכל מה שיתר יהיו מותרים משמים 
"I will give you the keys of heaven and everything (or whatever) you prohibit (bind, as imprison; take captive) in the world (or what is hidden, uncertain, undefined) will be prohibited in heaven and everything else will be permitted from heaven,"2 Matthew 16:19. 

The Hebrew begins with לך (lecha) meaning “to you” (or “belonging to you”). The suffix is a 2nd person masculine singular pronominal suffix. Therefore, it is clear to whom Yeshua is speaking: to Peter. The suffix clearly indicates that this is one man only, not many. If Yeshua were speaking to all the Apostles or all his followers, the word would appear as לכם (lachem), 2nd person masculine plural pronominal suffix.


Binding and loosening - who has the authority?
Binding and loosing – who has the authority?

In conclusion, it is essential that we understand who Yeshua is speaking to in Matthew 16:19. Because if Yeshua is speaking to Peter only, then he was not speaking to all the Disciples, nor was he speaking to all his followers. In the Greek, and in the Hebrew as well, Yeshua speaks directly to Peter. Therefore, only Peter had binding and loosing authority, as stated at Matthew 16:19.

So, who has the keys to bind and to loose? According to Scripture, only a select few are gifted the keys which bind and loosen, not all believers. However, we can rest assured that whoever is chosen to wield them knows how and when to use the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven!

1 Bible Hub; Matthew 16:19. Greek Translation. Website: Matthew 16:19 Greek Text Analysis (

2 Jones PhD, Miles R. The Hebrew Gospels: Do They Exist? 2020. pp 19-20

3 Cambridge Gaster 1616 and Cochin Oo.16.1 manuscripts, collectively referred to as the Cochin Manuscript, currently unpublished

About The Author
Janice Baca

Janice Baca is the Benai Emunah Gospel Translation Team Manager who leads the transcription and translations of the Brit Hadashah (New Testament) into English, while maintaining the integrity of the core message of the New Testament authors. Janice is a Biblical Hebrew scholar trained at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies in Jerusalem, Israel.

Janice’s passion for Biblical truth led her on the journey to learn Biblical Hebrew, ancient writings, Hebrew linguistics, and Biblical Hebrew poetry and wisdom writings.

Janice Baca is known for her passion to find the mysteries contained in the grammar of Biblical Hebrew.

8 responses to “Who Has The Keys To Bind And Loose?”

  1. Jonathan Felt says:

    Janice, this concept that Peter had keys to bind and loose fits with both Catholic and Mormon theologies. In the rock foundation of Catholic theology, Peter’s keys are continued through the Vicar of Christ, but reasoning Catholics and Protestants have disagreed over time. Likewise, Mormons will say, Brigham Young acquired those keys of Peter through Joseph Smith Jr, but that it was done by default because Young was Joseph’s rightful successor. Further, Mormons will say, Joseph Smith Jr had claim on the keys originally because Peter, James and John appeared to him and Oliver Cowdery to confer their keys of authority in 1829. Other than Catholics and Mormons, not many outside those faith traditions will care, but should there be a mighty one (a select one) that will have such keys in the end time?

    In your research, have you found an example of what Peter did to demonstrate such keys? We see him pitted with Paul in Galations about who should go to the nations. We read about Peter speaking along side James in Acts 15 to answer thorny “nations” questions. I have heard a lot of St. Peter jokes about him being the gatekeeper of heaven, but would that role make him what Christ promised?

    So, thinking, what did Peter bind on earth that wasn’t already bound in heaven. Is this as simple as what Moses did? Moses bound on earth what was already the Law of heaven, did he not? Moses could not have gone past (transgressed) the Law (Torah) could he? Moses did nothing new. Was Peter’s authority the same? Was he never to cross the Law, which meant he could bind the Law on earth on the people? Was Peter charged with correcting doctrine that had started to drift away from the Law? Are we back to drifting away from the Law Jesus taught?

    • Janice Baca says:

      Thank you for your question, Jonathan. You are correct, there are many misleading doctrines based on this one verse alone; and truth can only be found in the TaNAKh (i.e., Old Testament).

      First consider the words, “binding” and “loosing”. According to my research, these were terms to denote conduct that either prohibits (“bind”) or permits (“loose”) according to Torah. In other words, it appears to me that Peter was given a special responsibility to do right-ruling through the Spirit of Yehovah.

      In my blog post, Yeshua Is Coming Sooner Than You Think I address the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Yehovah. I explain that some people are given a rare gift of the Spirit of Yehovah, which is different than the Holy Spirit. Specifically, Isaiah 11:1-5 and 28:6, all 7 Spirits of Yehovah are defined. Then, in Revelation 5:6, the 7 Spirits of Yehovah are sent into all the earth; which is Yeshua. I will be explaining more of this in a 4-part series that will be published soon.

      However, take notice in Acts 5 when Peter is dealing with a situation regarding Ananias and Sapphira who conspired to lie about the selling price of their house. In verse 3, Peter told Ananias he lied to the Holy Spirit. But in verse 9, he told Sapphira she lied to the Spirit of Yehovah!

      Second consider John 21 when Yeshua asked Peter three times if he loved him, followed with directions to “Shepherd my sheep” and “Feed my sheep, “John 21:17-18.

      According to these verses, it appears Peter was given the Spirit of Yehovah. Perhaps specifically, Peter was given the Spirit of Right-Ruling according to Isaiah 11:4-5, 28:6.

      Thus, the “keys” given to Peter was probably the Spirit of Right-Ruling to lead Yehovah’s people, according to Torah, and was vital to make righteous judgements. And, according to Revelation 5:6, the Spirit of Yehovah will be sent into all the earth and we will see these types of events again!

      I hope this answers your question.


      • Jonathan Felt says:

        Janice, I am grateful you brought up Isaiah 11:4-5 and 28:6. It hasn’t been long (10 years only) that I started thinking about these passages that are in our future. 11:4-5 is started with the “a shoot will spring up from the stock of Jesse and a branch from its graft bear fruit. The Spirit of Jehovah will rest upon him–the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of valor, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah. His intuition will be [guided] by the fear of Jehovah; he will not judge by what his eyes see, nor establish proof by what his ears hear. He will judge the poor with righteousness, and with equity arbitrate for the lowly in the land; he will smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips slay the wicked. Righteousness will be as a band about his waist, faithfulness a girdle round his loins.” in verse 1-3 (Gileadi translation). It is written in Micah 5 there will be several such individuals sent to shepherd and judge by righteousness and the Law of God.

        Thank you for your spot-on answer.

  2. Oliviajane K Ulmer says:

    Hi Janice, If Peter has these keys it seems to me he has the authority in the assembles of Yeshua. What do you make of Peters definition or qualifications to be an apostle?Acts 1:22

    • Janice Baca says:

      Shalom, Oliviajane! The keys to the kingdom were given to Peter at that time. But Peter has already gone to sleep. So, does he still hold the keys? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that he is an example of those who receive the keys to the kingdom, for I do not believe he is the only one who receives them; but not given to all believers.

      Nevertheless, these keys appear to be authority, or ability that is not given to others, according to scripture. In his case, it appears that he was given the Spirit of Yehovah as shown in Ananias and Sapphira.

      For your second question, let’s review Acts 1 in context:
      20 “For it has been written in the Book of Tehillim, ‘Let his dwelling lie waste, and let no one live in it,’ and, ‘Let another take his office.’
      21 It is therefore necessary that of the men who have been with us all the time that the Master יהושע went in and out among us,”
      22 beginning from the immersion of Yoḥanan to that day when He was taken up from us, that one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
      23 And they put forward two: Yosĕph called Barsabba, who was also called Justus, and Mattithyahu.

      Judas (Yahudah) betrayed Yeshua and died. Therefore, Peter’s (Kepha’s) request is to replace Judas with someone who is an eyewitness to the full spectrum of the events of Yeshua. For they were to go forth and disciple people and raise up those from those who are eyewitnesses of Yeshua’s testimony to do so. Does that mean it is a requirement for today? Of course not. But they should be knowledgeable of the Torah as well as the writings of Yeshua and walking in love to serve as an Apostle of Yeshua.

      Shabbat Shalom!

      • Olivia Jane says:

        Dear Janice, thank you for responding. I have heard this Christian response before. Perhaps we should consider that Yeshua meant what he said and Peter carried the keys and Peter defined an apostle. (Eyewitness to the baptism and resurrection/ascension)

        • Janice Baca says:

          Hi, Olivia Jane. I didn’t realize this was a Christian response, but a logical one. But I appreciate your input.

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