'What you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven' (Mt 16:19)
AbstractThis article has been a homiletic reflection on the well-known words in Matthew 16:19. The explication and application of these words have been theologically contextualised with respect to current debates amongst theologians in the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk. The original meaning of this verse relates to the rabbinical tradition of interpretation of the Torah. Matthew pictures Jesus as the new teacher (like Moses), who gave a new interpretation of the law. In rabbinical language, his teachings are 'binding' and 'loosening', or, as translated in the Good News Bible (1933), they permit and prohibit. In the history of the reformed tradition, this verse was mostly interpreted from a judicial perspective as the authority to excommunicate or to include. To a great extent and especially in certain circles, the tradition of interpretation became static because of the authority of a 'final' interpretation attached to the creeds of the church. However, the original meaning of this verse is the authority, and commands us continuously to interpret the meaning of the gospel in the context of the present-day situation.