Matthew 18:18 to All Disciples?


#1

A Protestant has told me that Matthew 18:18 (the power to bind and loose) is given to all disciples of Jesus, which is all believers. :eek: I know this is wrong and that it refers to the Apostles. But, looking at the Scripture itself, I am having problems justifying this interpretation. The NAB notes have not helped nor has the Greek, unless I am reading it incorrectly. The Ignatius Study Bible has also not helped, although I may be using it incorrectly as I just bought it.

Help? :shrug:

I have a related question. Does anyone know the name of a good Catholic Bible commentary?


#2

Back up to chapter 17.

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli′jah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli′jah.”[a] 5 He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,** with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard** this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.

The disciples heard? But wait, only Peter, James, and John are with him. The text doesn’t use Apostles exclusively for the Twelve, and disciples for mixed groups. Disciples is used to refer to groups of only the Twelve, too.

Peter, James, and John went with Jesus, which left the other nine below, attempting to preach the Kingdom, heal the sick who came, and cast out demons. When the text in 18 refers to the disciples, it just means the Twelve. It’s applied similarly to how it was used in 17.

It should be noted that at the Transfiguration, according to Luke chapters 9 and 10, only the Twelve had been commissioned to cast out demons. The 72 weren’t commissioned until sometime after.

A little later in Matthew 17, Matthew writes…

[quote]19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

These are disciples who had tried to cast out demons while Jesus was gone for the transfiguration. Yet again, here is another example of “disciples” being used for a group that can only be the Twelve, because Jesus had granted no one else the authority to do so at the time.

So no, it’s not right to read the word “disciples” in the very next chapter to refer to all of Jesus’ followers. Matthew is writing about the Twelve.

A few other examples:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. (Matthew 10:1)

And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 11:1)
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#3

I would recommend you not get caught up in the Bible gotcha games that others, usually sola scriptura denominations, play. If it’s not in the Bible, it can’t be valid. Most who play this game use an altered Bible that is also missing books from the accepted canon. If these Protestants truly believe God gave the power to forgive sins to ALL people, they are welcome to come to confession with a Catholic priest. After all, he’s a person, right? What I find unusual is their stubbornness in their refusal to accept that the Catholic Church would have the same authority as any ordained or non-ordained (even non-Christian for that matter) person to forgive sins. If God, as they contend, gave EVERYONE the power to forgive sins, even atheists have the power to forgive sins.

God Bless you for defending your faith and remaining faithful to the true church of Christ. :thumbsup:


#4

The word Apostle appears exactly once in Matthew’s Gospel. The word disciple appears 72 times. In Matthew’s Gospel the word disciple and Apostle are sometimes interchangeable.

*And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. (Matthew 10:1)

And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 11:1)

And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, (Matthew 20:17)

When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; (Matthew 26:20)*

Joseph of Arimathea was not an Apostle but he was called a disciple.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe’a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. (Matthew 27:57)

We have to look at the context - to whom Jesus is speaking. Jesus gave Peter the authority to bind and loose in Matthew 16.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18-19)

The authority to bind and loose was given to the Church in Matthew 18. The Church is the context.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:17-19)

The word Apostle appears only eight times in the Gospels. John’s Gospel doesn’t use the word Apostle at all.

The Authority to bind and loose was given to Peter and to the Church. That is what Scripture says.

-Tim-


#5

I agree fully with all the above comments. Ask your friend this, if all believers have the power to bind and loose, then how would they apply that in their life? How would they bind and loose?


#6

St. Thomas Aquinas is a good source. For the four gospels, his Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) in particular, in which he compiles key passages from the commentaries of various Church Fathers and theologians. You can find this, and other commentaries of St. Thomas online, e.g. from the Dominican House of Studies in D.C.

The Great Commentary of Fr. Cornelius a Lapide (1567-1637) is also good. To my knowledge the online versions (such as this one) only contain the commentary on some of the books of the Bible, but are still worth using.

The commentary of Fr. George Leo Haydock (1774–1849) is another good one, which like St. Thomas’s Catena, compiles commentary of Fathers and theologians, but on the whole Bible.

InterVarsity Press (Protestant) has been putting out a compilation of commentary of the Church Fathers, collectively called the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. I will tell you from flipping through some of it, the selection of quotations is not without bias, but it is still a useful resource if you have the money and don’t mind giving it to IVP.

I’m more cautious about more recent commentaries, due to the spread of modernism in biblical studies in the last couple of centuries, and the move away from St. Thomas and the Fathers. That is not to say that everything old is good and everything new bad, but be careful.


#7

Thanks, everyone. I realized my error when I started looking at Scriptures and saw that the word “disciples” is used at the Last Supper and not the word “Apostles.” I’m not sure how that slipped past my mind for all this time. :slight_smile:


#8

Thanks. I love St. Thomas Aquinas! He is such an inspiration to me. I found the Haydock Commentary online at Bible.Hub, which also has the DRB.


#9

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