THE BINDING AUTHORITY OF THE APOSTLES
Matt 18:18-20 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. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father, which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.
God's commandment, given to the apostles through His Son, Jesus Christ, on the resolution of an offensive trespass between two brethren within His church, is found in verses 15-17 preceding the lesson text. It was delivered to His apostles and made their spiritual responsibility to include it in the Christian doctrine that they would establish on the Day of Pentecost that would govern His kingdom on earth, His church, the church of Christ. Not only did Jesus present to them many teachings that would serve as spiritual doctrine for all future members of His church, but also in the lesson text He commissioned them to establish additional rules of discipline, as directed by the Holy Spirit of God, that would be approved and sanctioned by heavenly authority.
Jesus told them that whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. That, which many seemed to believe, had been given only to the apostle Peter upon the mount of transfiguration, is here given, by Jesus, to the entire band of His twelve apostles. If indeed Peter, at that time, was the only one receiving the keys of the kingdom of heaven (See Matt. 16:18-19), then at this time, noted in the lesson text, all of the apostles received the same keys as did Peter. This same power given by Christ to His apostles is also noted in John 20:23. Just as Jesus taught in the opening verses of this chapter of Matthew, there was not then, nor was there ever to be, one apostle that would hold a position in the kingdom of heaven that would be considered greater than the other - all apostles would be servants of mankind and God through Christ Jesus and have equal responsibility and rank in establishing the church of Christ on earth. Their decisions would be binding where necessary by God's decree, or loosed where existing laws of men are detrimental or contrary to His doctrine within the kingdom to be ruled by His Son, Christ Jesus, both on earth and in heaven.
Continuing on with His instructions to His apostles, Jesus gave them this assuring authority: if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father, which is in heaven. Many biblical scholars take this verse out of its context and apply it to any two baptized believers within the body of Christ. Agreed, the principal does apply. Indeed, the word of God assures us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b). The principal of prayer for followers of Christ was given in His "Sermon on the Mount." He told the multitude to ask, and it shall be given you (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9). However, just like the meaning found in verse 18, the teaching in this verse of the lesson text applies to Jesus' apostles. This verse is a continuation of Jesus' commanding instructions to His apostles relative to the establishment of the kingdom of Christ on earth, His church, the church of Christ. What doctrinal tenets of the church that were not established by Jesus while He was here on earth was to be the responsibility of His apostles after His ascension back into heaven. And beginning with the gospel of salvation through Jesus being first preached on the Day of Pentecost by the apostles, the church of Christ was established under their spiritually guided direction.
In anticipation of the founding of His church, Jesus gives His apostles this promise: For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Again, within the context of the lesson text, this scriptural assurance was made to the twelve apostles, but, as is true in many of Jesus' doctrinal teachings, it can surely be applied to the assembling together of two or more saints as a congregation of Christ's followers. As it was on the Day of Pentecost, so it is within the assembly of saints in any age of Christianity. This statement of Jesus is more than a suggestion; it is a direct commandment. Those believer of Christ that culminated in baptism for the remission of their sins, make up the church of Christ. They are to gather together in the name of Christ (1 Cor.5:4) to solemnly worship under the doctrine and authority of the Jesus' apostles.