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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 11: Matthew 16, by Kevin M. Williams

Caesarea Philippi is the visible location of pagan worship and the “gates of Hades.” It was these very gates at which they were looking that Yeshua claims will not stand against what He established there that day. What did He establish? Jurisprudence.

The phrase “bind and lose” is a legal term in Hebrew culture. It has nothing to do with spiritually containing or casting out demons. Rather, it means that whatever halakah, or “way of life,” is decided upon (essentially a legally binding ruling), it will be as binding in heaven as it is on earth.

For instance, when the first Jewish people came to the American shores, they encountered a strange bird—the turkey. This was new to them and they asked the question, “Is it kosher (clean to eat)?” They watched it, analyzed it, and established that a turkey is “clean” to eat. This was now “bound” into the dietary halakah.

The turkey is a simple example, but an apt one. It demonstrates the authority to set legal precedence and jurisprudence in the faith.

What Yeshua was was likely saying in Matthew 16:18-20 established earthly authority for the disciples, with Kefa (Peter) at its head. They had acknowledged His Messiahship and He, in turn, established the first messianic sanhedrin (court).

The Hebraic application of “binding and loosing” is explored further in Matthew 18.4


Next Issue: In part 12 of the series, we shall examine Peter in more detail and the mount of transfiguration.



1. Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, vol. 2, John Lightfoot, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997, p. 231.

2. Ibid., p. 232.

3. Jonah: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Mesorah Publication, 1978, p. xxvi.

4. Editor’s Note: See also Craig S. Keener’s study on Matthew 18:18 in this issue, number 25 of his “Learning Context,” page 38.

All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2003, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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