Matthew 18:15-20 Being Reconciled

“If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Being Reconciled

Jesus, I thought I understood this process of reconciliation:  First go to the person who has sinned against you and talk it over; Second bring a few friends who have also seen the problem;  Finally bring it to the church.  Now I see things a little differently.  The second group of friends are to be mutually supportive, as far as possible, and will allow both sides to see where they are mistaken.  The final group would not have been hundreds of people in a church, but they would have been twenty people in a local gathering like a synagogue.  Also, I thought that if we could just let sleeping dogs lie, we should.  If we could avoid bringing things up, we would.  That is like nothing I have ever been a part of.  My father would suppress things and live on ‘simmer’ mode and then explode when it all got too much.  My mother would avoid the issues in the house for fear of my father erupting.  In my house we avoid issues most often.  The thought of, “Why blow this up out of all proportion?” is the prevailing thought.  However, what I see as the ideal in community here is the thought that there should be a foundation of love which allows offences and differences to be talked about as soon as they occur.  Both sides should be part of a broader community which can help them to see how they may be at fault.  that’s a bit much for many of us to cope with.  We are so enculturated toward avoidance that a community of healthy conflict resolution is not just alien but frightening.

Questions 

  1. What problem does Jesus solve in this passage?
  2. By what steps is the problem solved?
  3. What exactly would the church or assembly have been at this stage?
  4. How have you seen church discipline exercised?
  5. How would a healthy church today apply these principles?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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