This 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.