The Master told disciples, “Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). In context, this does not refer to authority to bind and loose evil spirits in spiritual warfare. When the rabbis needed to decide an issue of law, they argued whether to “bind” or to “loose” a particular act or deed. To “bind” means to “forbid”; to “loose” means to “permit.”
The Torah vested the power to bind (forbid) and loose (permit) in the Sanhedrin, the priesthood and judges over Israel. The terms to bind and to loose (forbid and permit) appear literally thousands of times in the Mishnah, Talmud, and rabbinic literature. The following example illustrates the point.
If one sage declared something as bound, he should not ask another sage who might declare it loosed. If two sages are both present and one rules something unclean and the other rules it clean, if one binds and the other looses, then if one of them is superior to the other in learning and number of disciples, follow his ruling, otherwise, follow the stricter view. (b.Avodah Zarah 7a)
In the days of the disciples, the Sanhedrin had the ultimate authority to make decisions of binding and loosing. In the Messianic Era, King Messiah will give the keys to the kingdom and the authority to bind and loose to his twelve disciples who will sit on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). In this current era, He gave them the authority to make judicial decisions for the community of His assembly. They exercised that authority as they transmitted the teaching of Yeshua and practically applied it to the assembly of Messiah. On one occasion, they used that authority to override the orders of the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:17-20), and on another occasion, they loosed the Gentile believers from circumcision and the yoke of the whole Torah as it applies to Jews but bound them regarding things sacrificed to idols, blood, unslaughtered meats, and sexual immorality (Acts 15:19-29).
The power to bind and loose, however, never extended so far as to nullify the commands of Torah or create new commandments. The authority of the sages and apostles only went so far as to interpret the application of the existing commandments. For example, neither the Sanhedrin nor the disciples had the authority to loose Israel from keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day nor could they bind them to observe a different day of the week as Sabbath.