The expression occurs twice in Matt. (16: 19 and 18: 18) and is spoken first to Peter and then to the whole group of disciples. It is a rabbinical term, an authoritative declaration about what is permitted or forbidden in the Law. It may have included the power of expulsion from the synagogue. Taken in connection with John 20: 23 the expression in Matt. 18: 18 could imply the power to retain or forgive sins, and it has been so understood in some ordination rites.