Is the “binding and loosing” of demons biblical?

This article is from Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book—Collector’s Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008)
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One of the most common expressions in contemporary Christianity is “I bind you, Satan, in the name of Jesus.” Biblically however, the phrase “binding and loosing” has nothing whatsoever to do with demons.

One of the most common expressions in contemporary Christianity is “I bind you, Satan, in the name of Jesus.” Biblically however, the phrase “binding and loosing” has nothing whatsoever to do with demons.

First, when Jesus told the disciples, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19), he was not talking about demons but discipline. In other words, in the context of church discipline, those who repent are to be “loosed” (i.e., restored to fellowship). Those who persist in sin are to be “bound” (i.e., removed from fellowship). Demons are totally foreign to the context.

Furthermore, humans are not authorized anywhere in Scripture to “bind or loose” Satan. Even the archangel Michael did not tackle Satan on his own. Despite his wisdom and power, he called on God to rebuke Satan. Christians should never suppose that they are smart enough to engage Satan on their own. Rather they, like Michael, should pray, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 9).

Finally, while it makes sense to ask the Lord to “bind” the power of demons in the sense of thwarting their plans to undo us, to “loose” Satan and his minions makes no sense at all. Thus, common sense alone should be enough to convince us that biblically “binding and loosing” has nothing whatsoever to do with demons.

For further study on biblical spiritual warfare, see Hank Hanegraaff, The Covering: God’s Plan to Protect You from Evil (Nashville:W Publishing, 2002).


“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:15–20

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