Matthew 18:18 ...Whatsoever you shall bind on earth

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The forgiving of brothers despite their not seeing their faults, but a switch from addressing an individual to the audience.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Honestly, I am telling you, as many things as when you tie together upon the earth, it will exist by itself having been tied a sky.   As many things as when you untie them upon the earth, it will exist by itself having been untied in a sky.

My Takeaway: 

The bounds we forge or break on earth are made possible by what has already been allowing beyond us.

KJV : 

Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

NIV : 

Matthew 18:18  Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This was said to Peter in Matthew 16:19  and it is now said to Jesus's entire audience. In this verse, this statement is in the context of the ostracism described in the previous verse (Matthew 18:16), and seems more like a warning against ostracism than a promotion of it.  In the earlier verse, the "whatsoever" was different and the "in heaven" phrase had a definite article and was plural, "in the skies."  

This verse is another clever play on words that is lost in translation.  Jesus plays with word order to shift the meaning of words for his listeners.  At first, the word translated as "bind" could be heard as "you lack," but it changes to "bind" when its antonym, "loosed," is revealed in the repetition of the phrase with different words. This shift in meaning does not occur in Matthew 16:19, because the noun "bindings" set the context for the verb. As in the earlier verse, a couple of "when" words that define the nature of their clauses are left out, obscuring the probable nature of this happening. We also need to understand that Jesus referred to the ways that doors were held closed as being "tied" as explained in the article on the earlier verse.

The tie/untie verbs are, as in the earlier verb, translated as passive, which they could be, and in the future tense, as they are not, in the "in heaven" clauses. The active verb is the "to be," which is in the future tense, but it should be translated as "will exist." The Greek verb "to be" does not act as a "helper" verb as it does in English. It does not make the following verb form, the "tie/untie" participle, passive. This "to be" verb is in the middle form, so it means "will exist for/by itself."

The tenses of the second "tie/untie" verbs in the "in heaven" clauses are the past perfect, an action completed in the past. So, this tying/untying in heaven happens before the potential tying/untying by individuals on earth.  The correct way to translate these verbs is either "having been tied/untied in heaven" or "having tied/untied itself in heaven," since the form can be either passive or middle voice.

Wordplay: 

The two keywords here have double meanings. The most surprising one is the "you shall bind" word which listeners could hear initially as "lack" or "want." The second keyword has a range of meanings that complement this double meaning from "loosen" to "deliver." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀμὴν "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly," "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω [264 verses](1st sg pres ind act) "I say" is lego, which means "to recount," "to tell over," "to say," "to speak," "to teach," "to mean," "boast of," "tell of," "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself," "pick up," "gather," "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelled the same means "to lay," "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

ὑμῖν, (pron 2nd pl dat) "To you" is humin the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ὅσα [28 verses](adj pl neut acc) "Whatsoever" is hosos, which means "as many," "as much as," "as great as," "as far as," and "only so far as."

ἐὰν (conj/adv) Untranslated is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

δήσητε [10 verses](verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Ye shall bind" is deo which means "to bind," "to keep in bonds," "to tie," "to hinder from," and "to fetter. " Or (verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Ye shall bind" is from deo, which means to "lack," "miss," "stand in need of," "to be in want or need," "require," and "beg."

ἐπὶ (prep) "On" is from epi. which means "on," "upon," "at," "by," "before," "across," and "against."

τῆς (article sg fem gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -

γῆς [59 verses](noun sg fem gen) "The earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth," "land (country)," "arable land," "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

ἔσται (verb 3rd sg fut ind mid) "Shall be" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." -

δεδεμένα [10 verses](part pl perf mp neut nom) "Bound" is deo which means "to bind," "to keep in bonds," "to tie," "to hinder from," and "to fetter. "

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in," "on," "at," "by," "among," "within," "surrounded by," "in one's hands," "in one's power," and "with."

οὐρανῷ [111 verses](noun sg masc dat) "Heaven" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky," "heaven as the seat of the gods," "the sky," "the universe," and "the climate."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

ὅσα [28 verses](adj pl neut acc) "Whatsoever" is hosos, which means "as many," "as much as," "as great as," "as far as," and "only so far as." -

ἐὰν (conj) Untranslated is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

λύσητε [10 verses](verb 2nd pl fut ind act or verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Ye shall loose" is lyo, which means "loosen," "unbind," "unfasten," "unyoke," "unharness," "release," "deliver," "give up," "dissolve," "break up," "undo," "destroy," "repeal," "annul," "break," "solve," "fulfill," "atone for," "fulfill," and "pay."

ἐπὶ (prep)  "Against" is from epi. which means "on," "upon," "at," "by," "before," "across," and "against." -- The word translated as "unto" means "against," "before," "by" or "on."

τῆς (article sg fem gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -

γῆς [59 verses](noun sg fem gen) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth," "land (country)," "arable land," "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet. -- The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. See this articlefor more on these words.

ἔσται (verb 3rd sg fut ind mid) "Shall be" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." -

λελυμένα [10 verses(part sg perf mp fem nom) "Loosed" is from lyo, which means "loosen," "unbind," "unfasten," "unyoke," "unharness," "release," "deliver," "give up," "dissolve," "break up," "undo," "destroy," "repeal," "annul," "break," "solve," "fulfill," "atone for," "fulfill," and "pay."

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in," "on," "at," "by," "among," "within," "surrounded by," "in one's hands," "in one's power," and "with."

οὐρανῷ [111 verses](noun sg masc dat) "Heaven" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky," "heaven as the seat of the gods," "the sky," "the universe," and "the climate."

KJV Analysis: 

Verily -- The word translated as "verily" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

say -- The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

Whatsoever  - (WW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as," "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison. Since this is an adjective used without a noun, in Greek a pronoun is assumed. Adding "this" is required in English.  As many things as" it the general sense because the word is neuter plural. This is the plural object of the verb "bind" and the singular subject referred to by "shall be" because neuter plurals are treated as a singular conglomeration,

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "when" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. It is like we use the word "when."

ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

shall -- (CW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

bind  - "Bind" is from a word that is a play on words. Its form here can be one of two homonyms. The first means "to lack," "to want or need," but the second means "to tie," "to bind," "to fetter," and "to keep in bonds," Because of the context, his listeners would have likely heard the first meaning. While the first meaning could be in the future tense, both could also be in a tense indicating something that happens at some point in time past, present, or future. This form is strongly indicated by the untranslated "if" or "when" with which this phrase begins.

on -- The word translated as "on" means "on," "over," "upon," "against," "before," "after," "during," "by" or "on."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

earth  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as "the world." See this article for more how Christ uses the words for "earth," "heaven," and "world." Christ uses this word to refer to our lives on this planet.

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense of the "be" verb. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be  - -- (CW) The verb "be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The verb is singular those the subject is plural because the subject is neuter. This looks like a helping verb for a passive form of "bound," but it is not. Translated it as "will exist" avoids this confusion and works better with the middle voice (see below).

missing "itself"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb "to be" is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to act on "itself."

bound  -- (WT, WV) "Bound" is from a verb that means "to tie," "to bind," "to fetter," and "to keep in bonds," but the form is a verbal adjective, a participle. Its form is something completed in the past. The form is either passive, of the middle voice that means something acting for, on, or by itself.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

heaven: -- The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

whatsoever  - (WW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as," ""as much as," and similar ideas of comparison. Since this is an adjective used without a noun, in Greek a pronoun is assumed. Adding "this" is required in English.  As many things as" it the general sense because the word is neuter plural. This is the plural object of the verb "bind" and the singular subject referred to by "shall be" because neuter plurals are treated as a singular conglomeration.

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "when" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. It is like we use the word "when."

ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

shall -- (CW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

loose  - "You shall loose" is from a Greek verb that has many meanings spanning "loosen," "deliver," "destroy," and "pay." It is the word that gets translated as "break" in the phrase "breaking commandments." The "deliver" meaning is a counterpoint to the "lack" meaning of the word used in the first phrase while the "loosen" in the sense of "unlock" meaning works.

on -- The word translated as "unto" means "on," "over," "upon," "against," "before," "after," "during," "by" or "on."

earth  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, the ground, not society, which Christ describes as "the world." See this article for more on these words.

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- (CW) The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. This looks like a helping verb for a passive form of "bound," but it is not. Translated it as "exists" avoids this confusion.

missing "itself"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb "to be" is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to act on "itself."

loosed  - -- (WT) "Loose" is a Greek word that means "to unbind," "to unfasten," and "to open." but the form is a verbal adjective, a participle. Its form is something completed in the past. The form is not passive, but a middle voice that means something acting for, on, or by itself. The sense is "having untied itself."

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

heaven: -- The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.

KJV Translation Issues: 

16
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "whatsoever" should be "as much as."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shall" before the first "bind" does not mean the future tense.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "earth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "be" is not the helper verb creating a passive, but the verb "will exist."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "bound" seems to be the future tense, but it is the past perfect, "having bound."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is either passive requiring a "been" before it, or the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "whatsoever" should be "as much as."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shall" before the first "loose" does not mean the future tense.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "earth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "be" is not the helper verb creating a passive, but the verb "will exist."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "loosed" seems to be the future tense, but it is the past perfect, "having bound."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is either passive requiring a "been" before it, or the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.

NIV Analysis: 

Truly -- The word translated as "truly " is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

tell -- The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

Whatever  - (WW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as," "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison. Since this is an adjective used without a noun, in Greek a pronoun is assumed. Adding "this" is required in English.  As many things as" it the general sense because the word is neuter plural. This is the plural object of the verb "bind" and the singular subject referred to by "shall be" because neuter plurals are treated as a singular conglomeration,

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "when" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. It is like we use the word "when."

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

bind  - "Bind" is from a word that is a play on words. Its form here can be one of two homonyms. The first means "to lack," "to want or need," but the second means "to tie," "to bind," "to fetter," and "to keep in bonds," Because of the context, his listeners would have likely heard the first meaning. While the first meaning could be in the future tense, both could also be in a tense indicating something that happens at some point in time past, present, or future. This form is strongly indicated by the untranslated "if" or "when" with which this phrase begins.

on -- The word translated as "on" means "on," "over," "upon," "against," "before," "after," "during," "by" or "on."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

earth  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as "the world." See this article for more how Christ uses the words for "earth," "heaven," and "world." Christ uses this word to refer to our lives on this planet.

will -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense of the "be" verb. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be  - -- (CW) The verb "be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The verb is singular those the subject is plural because the subject is neuter. This looks like a helping verb for a passive form of "bound," but it is not. Translated it as "will exist" avoids this confusion and works better with the middle voice (see below).

missing "itself"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb "to be" is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to act on "itself."

bound  -- (WT, WV) "Bound" is from a verb that means "to tie," "to bind," "to fetter," and "to keep in bonds," but the form is a verbal adjective, a participle. Its form is something completed in the past. The form is either passive, of the middle voice that means something acting for, on, or by itself.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

heaven: -- The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

whatever  - (WW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as," ""as much as," and similar ideas of comparison. Since this is an adjective used without a noun, in Greek a pronoun is assumed. Adding "this" is required in English.  As many things as" it the general sense because the word is neuter plural. This is the plural object of the verb "bind" and the singular subject referred to by "shall be" because neuter plurals are treated as a singular conglomeration.

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "when" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. It is like we use the word "when."

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

loose  - "You shall loose" is from a Greek verb that has many meanings spanning "loosen," "deliver," "destroy," and "pay." It is the word that gets translated as "break" in the phrase "breaking commandments." The "deliver" meaning is a counterpoint to the "lack" meaning of the word used in the first phrase while the "loosen" in the sense of "unlock" meaning works.

on -- The word translated as "unto" means "on," "over," "upon," "against," "before," "after," "during," "by" or "on."

earth  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, the ground, not society, which Christ describes as "the world." See this article for more on these words.

will -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- (CW) The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. This looks like a helping verb for a passive form of "bound," but it is not. Translated it as "exists" avoids this confusion.

missing "itself"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb "to be" is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to act on "itself."

loosed  - - (WT, WF) "Loose" is a Greek word that means "to unbind," "to unfasten," and "to open." but the form is a verbal adjective, a participle. Its form is something completed in the past. The form is not passive, but a middle voice that means something acting for, on, or by itself. The sense is "having untied itself."

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

heaven: -- The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.

NIV Translation Issues: 

13
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "whatsoever" should be "as much as."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "earth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "be" is not the helper verb creating a passive, but the verb "will exist."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "bound" seems to be the future tense, but it is the past perfect, "having bound."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is either passive requiring a "been" before it, or the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "whatsoever" should be "as much as."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "be" is not the helper verb creating a passive, but the verb "will exist."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "loosed" seems to be the future tense, but it is the past perfect, "having bound."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is either passive requiring a "been" before it, or the middle voice requiring the concept of "itself" as its object.

Front Page Date: 

Mar 31 2021