By Fred A. Shewmaker
Some are asking, “How can there be a law of silence of the Scriptures, where the Scriptures are silent?” This may not be the exact words you would use to phrase the question. Please remember that it is not always possible to word something precisely as others would phrase it. Probably not all who are asking this question choose the exact words when asking it. As the question is asked here, it appears to me, to be a fair representation of what is being asked. At any rate, because this or a similar question is being asked, this article will be an examination of “the law of the silence of the Scriptures.” loosed in heaven.”
In Matthew 16:19 Jesus told Peter, “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” (KJV). We are interested in the binding and loosing. It is certain that this part of the verse applies to all the apostles because in Matthew 18:18 Jesus repeated this to them (“the disciples” – Matt. 18:1 – to whom Jesus was speaking were His apostles; compare Mk. 9:33-37).
Many English translations fail to make clear whether the binding and loosening take place first on earth and then in heaven or first in heaven and then on earth. This is true with regard to both Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. There are many people also who today do not readily understand the terms “bound” and “loosed.” In this examination of the law of the silence of the Scriptures efforts will be made to: clarify the order of the binding and loosing, find the meanings of “bound” and “loosed” and to show that this is a statement of “the law of the silence of the Scriptures.” These efforts will be made by noticing how the statement is rendered in several translations.
Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible (Robert Young, 1898) renders it: “And whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.” Although Young did not place a comma between “be” and “having, it should be easy for a reader to see that this shows already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permitted either to bind or loose a thing without that thing “having been bound (or loosed) in the heavens.”
This also may be seen in The New Testament Revised and Translated (A.S. Worrell, 1904): “And whatsoever you shall bind on the earth shall have been bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on the earth shall have been loosed in Heaven.”
The Amplified New Testament (The Lockman Foundation, 1958) has: “And whatever you bind – that is, declare to be improper and unlawful – on earth must be already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth – declare lawful – must be what is already loosed in heaven.”
The New American Standard New Testament (The Lockman Foundation, 1960) reads: “And whatever you shall bind on earth shall been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
The two translations that will now be cited are not as clear regarding the order of binding of loosing. Still, they are worth noticing because they help us with understanding the meanings of “bound” and “loosed.”
The New English New Testament (1961) translates the statement: “What you forbid on earth shall be forbidden in heaven, and what you allow on earth shall be allowed in heaven.”
The New Testament in Modern English (J.B. Phillips, 1962) renders it: “Whatever you forbid on earth will be what is forbidden in Heaven and whatever you permit on earth will be what is permitted in Heaven!”
The translation that will now be cited combines both a clarification of the order of binding and loosing with the use of terms which help us with understanding the meanings of “bound” and “loosed.”
The New Testament in the Language of the People (Charles B. Williams, 1955) renders the statement: “And whatever you forbid on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven.”
The renditions of this statement by Jesus which have been cited show that the order of binding and loosing is: first in heaven before on earth. They also show that “bind” and “loose” mean: Bind – “declare to be improper and unlawful” or “forbid.” Loose – “declare lawful,” “allow” or “permit.”
Jesus was not merely talking about His apostles revealing God’s law, He also was stating God’s law regarding anything not referred to in the word of God – “the law of the silence of the Scriptures.” Is a thing allowed, if it is not even referred to in the word of God? Many today are answering, “Yes, it is allowed.” However, the law of the silence of the Scriptures, as Jesus stated it is: “Whatever you permit on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven.” It is totally, completely, absolutely and altogether certain that a thing not even referred to in the word of God is a thing for which we do not have heaven’s permission. To do such a thing is a violation of “the law of the silence of the Scriptures.” This shows there can be a law of the silence of the Scriptures, where the Scriptures are silent. Not even the apostles, who were guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth (Jn. 16:13) which is the word of God (Jn. 17:17), were allowed to permit a thing about which God is silent. That makes it certain that no man today has a right to permit any thing about which God is silent.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 5, pp. 146-147
March 6, 1986