After Peter made his famous confession that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus gave him an amazing promise, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Mat 16:19) Much has been made of this verse over the intervening centuries and, I must confess, this verse has always puzzled me a bit. Is Jesus really saying that, on Earth, we are in charge of binding and loosing? Furthermore, what did Jesus mean by “shall have been bound in heaven?”
In the original Greek, the phrase “shall have been bound” is composed of a form of the verb “to be” and a perfect participle of the verb “to bind.” This particular construction in the Greek is used to emphasize an existing condition. Jesus is not saying that whatever we bind or loose on Earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. Rather, he is saying that the reason these keys work to bind and loose is because the things they bind and loose have already been bound and loosed in heaven. Jesus’s word to Peter is not some blank check for us to actuate our own desires and wills here on Earth. Rather it is, in part, the means by which we partner with God to see his Kingdom and will come to be “on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat 6:10)
Understanding this scripture in this way causes me to ask myself, “Am I pursuing the establishment of my own kingdom and will, or am I seeking to establish God’s will and kingdom here on Earth?” The only way we can truly answer this question is to get to know God, his will, and the nature of his kingdom. Only then will we understand the keys we have been given and know how to use them to accomplish here what has already been accomplished in heaven.