Book: Occult Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?

Matthew 16:19 and 18:18

The Catholic Church claims that Jesus gave the apostle Peter (and those who would succeed him) the authority of “binding and loosing”—so that whatever they would bind or loose on earth, would be bound or loosed in heaven. They further contend that this authority grants an already infallible pope the power to bind and loose even if such decrees are contrary to the Scriptures— thus making the Word of God of no effect.

Various popes and “church fathers” over the centuries have appealed to this so-called “apostolic authority” of Peter—supposedly passed down to all popes—in order to “Christianize” what were originally occult practices and pagan holidays. One would think, however, that if these popes were really the successors of Peter, they would surely follow his example—which was to reject all occult practices and holidays!

In Acts 8:9-24, for example, we see that Peter had an interesting encounter with “Simon the sorcerer,” who promoted pagan, satanic practices. According to the Catholic perspective, Peter had the authority to “loose” the clear biblical prohibitions against such practices and incorporate them into Christianity. As absurd as it sounds, those practices would have also then been bound in heaven! But Peter, of course, resoundingly rejected Simon Magus and his satanic, occult religion.

Sadly, the apostate Roman church has embraced numerous Babylonian and Egyptian religious practices for themselves and their followers, while falsely claiming authority from God to do so. As a result, they are truly walking in the footsteps of Simon Magus, instead of the apostle Peter.

Such claims of authority are based on self-serving false interpretations and a misunderstanding of Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, due in no small part to a flawed translation. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19, KJV). A more accurate translation will easily clear up the matter.

In Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, William D. Mounce gives a clear and insightful explanation of the underlying Greek text, showing that what Jesus actually taught is entirely different from what many religious authorities assume, teach and practice. “In some translations of Matthew [16:19 and] 18:18, it seems like Jesus promised his disciples that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. In other words, they had the power to bind and loose, and Heaven (i.e., God) would simply back up their decrees. But the matter is not quite so simple; the actions described [as occurring] in heaven are future perfect passives—which could be translated ‘will have already been bound in heaven … [and] will have already been loosed in heaven.’ In other words, the heavenly decree confirming the earthly one is based on a prior verdict [by God].

“This is the language of the law court. Jewish legal issues were normally decided in Jesus’ day by elders in the synagogue community (later by rabbis). Many Jewish people believed that the authority of heaven stood behind the earthly judges when they decided cases based on a correct understanding of God’s laws. (This process came to be called ‘binding and loosing.’) Jesus’ contemporaries often envisioned God’s justice in terms of a heavenly court; by obeying God’s laws, the earthly court simply ratified [bound or loosed] the [already existing] decrees of the heavenly court” (p. 121, bracketed comments added).

Simply put, man can only ratify and be in agreement with what God has already established: “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in the heavens” (Psa. 119:89).

A proper translation of Matthew 16:19 follows: “And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you may bind on the earth will have already been bound in heaven; and whatever you may loose on the earth will have already been loosed in heaven.”

Clearly, Jesus did not give His apostles and disciples the authority to make binding decisions regarding anything on earth that had not already been decreed in heaven. Jesus specifically taught that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (Matt. 5:17). Therefore, whatever may be bound or loosed by men cannot be contrary to the laws and commandments of God, the revelation of the prophets or the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did not give His apostles the authority to loose any of the Ten Commandments or any of God’s laws that are not connected with the priesthood and temple ritual.

However, Jesus did give His apostles the authority to loose the religious traditions of the Jews (Mark 7:1-13, Acts 10:28) as well as pagan religious traditions (I Pet. 1:18, Acts 14:8-18).

New Testament teachings foreshadowed and prophesied in the Old Testament— and thus “bound” or decreed in heaven before Jesus Christ came in the flesh—are as follows:

  • To love the Lord God with all one’s heart, soul and might (Deut. 6:4- 6; Matt. 22:37-40);
  • For Jesus to magnify the law and make it honorable (Isa. 42:21; Matt. 5-7);
  • For Christ to die for the sins of the world (Psa. 22, Isa. 53; John 1:36; Rev. 13:8);
  • Forgiveness of sin, upon repentance, without temple animal sacrifices (Psa. 32:1-2; 51:1-17; Rom. 3:20-24; Heb. 10:1-18);
  • Circumcision of the heart (Deut. 10:16; Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:10-13);
  • Sabbath and holy day keeping for uncircumcised Gentiles (Isa. 56:1-

6), taught by Paul (Acts 13:42-44; Heb. 4:9, I Cor. 5:8); and many others.

Any Christian-professing ministry or church that promotes sin (the transgression of God’s law) in its binding or loosing decisions is operating contrary to the Word and will of God. Its decisions are simply inventions of men and do not have the authority of heaven behind them. Some examples would be: adding to or taking away from the Word of God (Deut. 12:30-32; Rev. 22:18-19); worshiping other gods or goddesses (Ex. 20:2-3; I Cor. 10:20-21); the making and worshiping of idols (Ex. 20:4-6; Isa. 42:8, 17; 44:9-20; I Cor. 10:14; 12:2; Rev. 9:20-21; 21:8); worshiping dead “saints” (Isa. 8:19); exchanging the Sabbath and holy days of God for Sunday worship and the pagan holidays of apostate Christendom—such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc., or any other so-called holy day of any religion of the world.

All binding and loosing decisions made by the ministry and brethren of Jesus Christ must be in complete accord with the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Such decisions are authoritative because they have “already been bound or loosed in heaven” as evidenced by Scripture. As Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18). All binding and loosing must be based on the authority of Jesus Christ and the Word of God, not on the whims of religious leaders who bring in pagan, occult religious practices under false pretenses.