Matthew 18:15-20

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

JESUS’ INSTRUCTION CONCERNING

THE DISCIPLINE OF OFFENDERS

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Destiny of the King includes the narrative about Jesus (13:54 - 17:27), the meaning and greatness of forgiveness (18:1-35), and the concluding statement, (1) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan. (2) And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there (19:1-2).

 

The meaning of greatness and forgiveness includes Jesus’ instruction concerning humility (18:1-6) and His instruction concerning offenses (18:7-14). We have looked at these previously. It also includes His instruction concerning the discipline of offenders (18:15-20) and His instruction concerning forgiveness (18:21-35).

We see –

    I.     WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD DO WHEN ANOTHER BELIEVER SINS AGAINST HIM – 18:15

 

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

 

A believer who has been sinned against by another believer should go to the one who sinned against him and privately talk to him about the issue in order that the two of them may be reconciled to each other.

 

Moreover continues Jesus’ statement in the sense of and or now.

 

If thy brother shall trespass against thee is a condition which may or may not happen.

 

Thy brother is your brother and refers to a fellow believer.

 

Shall trespass against thee is commits a wrong (or sins) against you.

 

If this should ever happen, the conclusion must follow: Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.

 

Go suggests go (to him).

 

And tell him his fault suggests and reprove him, show him his fault, or point out his fault.

 

Between thee and him alone is between you and him only (i.e. between you and your brother who sinned against you only.

 

No one else should know this, be told this, or be with you or with him at this time. It should be a private conversation between the two of you, which nobody else even knows about.

 

If he shall hear thee is another condition which may or may not be true. Again, no assumption is made by the structure of this condition.

 

It suggests if he listens to you or if he heeds (what) you (say).

 

Thou hast gained thy brother is the conclusion of this condition. It suggests you gained your brother, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

The implication is that he would otherwise have been lost to you.

 

Another possibility exists. The one whom you believe sinned against you may actually be innocent of any wrongdoing and show you that you misunderstood something. By your only going to him and not to others, the entire matter may be straightened out without involving others. You won’t have to go and straighten out things that you have caused by wrongly sharing with someone else what you perceived he had done.

We also see –

  II.     WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD DO IF THE BELIEVER WHO SINS AGAINST HIM REFUSES TO STRAIGHTEN THE MATTER OUT – 18:16

 

Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

 

If the sinning brother will not listen, the offended believer is again to seek reconciliation but this time is to take one or two others with him who are witnesses of what he did.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother in verse 15.

 

If he will not hear thee is if he will not listen to (you) or if he will not heed (what you say).

 

It is a condition which may or may not occur.

 

The conclusion of this condition takes up the rest of this verse.

 

Then take with thee one or two more suggests (then) take along with you one or two more (i.e. one or two in addition or one or two others).

 

That in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established suggests in order that (or for the purpose that) in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand firm (or hold its ground).

 

These one or two more are some who have actually witnessed the sin or trespass this brother has committed against the individual who has gone to him in verse 15 to tell him his fault privately.

 

These one or two plus the individual sinned against constitute the two or three witnesses of the sin, and they must go together to the one who has committed the sin in order that every word may be confirmed. They are not merely intended to be witnesses of what happens when this person is confronted with his sin the second time you go to him. They must have actually witnessed the sin that he committed against you.

 

The thought is that every word may be established with the one who sinned against you so that he realizes what he has done.

 

Their accounting to him must be accurate so that he sees his guilt.

 

What if there are no other witnesses? Then you cannot take this second step of taking one or two others who witnessed what happened. So, what should you do?

 

Before I answer this question, let me say that giving this advice is a whole lot easier than following it. I wish I could say that I have always followed my own advice and practiced what I am preaching, but I can’t. I wish I could say that I have actually followed it on one occasion, but I am not sure that I can. I have an old sin nature which plagues me constantly, and it is always rearing its ugly head.

 

                  1.   Keep your heart right in the matter. Suffer the wrong, but don’t do wrong yourself. If you do wrong to the one who has done wrong to you, you are no better than he is.

 

                  2.   Keep quiet about it. Don’t tell anyone about it other than the Lord. Turn the matter over to the Lord and ask the Lord to help this person see the error of his way and repent of what he has done. Try not to dwell on it. Ask the Lord to help you get past this in your own life and not sin against this person who has sinned against you. Follow the example of Jesus. You should also ask the Lord to show you if the other person is actually innocent and you have misunderstood something.

 

I Peter 2:21-2321 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.

 

                  3.   Forgive the person who has done wrong to you before the Lord even if he never straightens the matter out with you.

 

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

 

                  4.   If he repents and straightens the matter out with you, extend your forgiveness to him.

 

Luke 17:3-43 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Next we see –

 III.     WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD DO IF THE ONE WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST HIM REFUSES TO STRAIGHTEN THE MATTER OUT AFTER BEING CONFRONTED BY ANOTHER WITNESS OR TWO – 18:17A

 

Matthew 18:17 a – And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church. . . .

 

If the sinning brother fails to heed the second attempt at reconciliation, the matter is to be told to the church

 

And (or but) if he shall neglect to hear them is another condition which may or may not prove to be true.

 

It is taken for granted that the person sinned against and his one or two witnesses have urged the sinning brother to straighten the matter out.

 

He is the sinning brother.

 

Neglect to hear them is refuses to listen to them, where them refers to the individual he sinned against plus the one or two who witnessed what he did.

 

Tell it unto the church is the conclusion of the condition. If the condition is true, then the conclusion must take place. He is obligated to do this for the benefit of the one who sinned against him and for the benefit of the ministry of the church.

 

Tell it suggests declare what the sinning brother has done.

 

To the church is to the congregation or to the assembly.

 

It means to the assembled church as a whole rather than to one individual member of the church after another.

In addition, we see –

 IV.     WHAT THE CHURCH SHOULD DO IF THE BELIEVER WHO SINS AGAINST ANOTHER BELIEVER REFUSES TO STRAIGHTEN THE MATTER OUT AFTER BEING ADMONISHED BY THE CHURCH – 18:17B

 

If the sinning individual does not listen to the church, he is to be treated as an unbeliever and tax collector.

 

Matthew 18:17 b – . . . But if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

 

But introduces another condition whose structure makes no assumption regarding its truth: if he neglect to hear the church. It may or may not prove to be true.

 

If He neglect to hear is if he refuses to listen to.

 

Again, the church is the assembly or the congregation.

 

It may be understood in the sense of if he also refuses to listen to the church.

 

Once again, it is assumed that the church has attempted to get the sinning brother to straighten the matter out.

 

The conclusion of this second question is let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

 

Let him be is a third person imperative for which English has no equivalent. It means he must be.

 

Unto thee is singular but means unto the congregation as a whole.

 

As suggests as far as you are concerned.

 

An heathen man and a publican is as the unbeliever and the tax collector. A tax collector, although a Jew, would have had to work in continual contact with non-Israelites, which would have rendered him ceremonially unclean and, therefore, despised by strict Jews.

Furthermore, we see –

   V.     WHAT IS MEANT BY BINDING AND LOOSING ON EARTH – 18:18

 

Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

Verse 18 is addressed to the apostles, also referred to in Matthew as the disciples, who are representatives of the church; and in the context the subject is the discipline of someone who has sinned against another believer and neglects to hear the admonition of the church to straighten things out. It means that the church’s action in treating him as an unbeliever and a tax collector is directed by heaven.

 

Verily I say unto you suggests truly I say to you or I solemnly declare to you.

 

I is Jesus, and you refers to His disciples, the twelve apostles.

 

What is said in this verse to all the disciples was said previously to Peter as an individual in Matthew 16:19 .

 

Except for the use of the singular in 16:19 versus the use of the plurals in this verse, the message is the same.

 

Matthew 16:19 says,

 

Matthew 16:19 And I [i.e. Jesus] will give unto thee [i.e. to you, Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou [i.e. you, Peter] shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou [i.e. you, Peter] shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

This promise is made again to the disciples in John 20:21-23 ,

 

John 20:21-23 – (21) Then said Jesus to them [i.e. to the disciples] again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (22) And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: (23) Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

 

Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth is whatever you (plural) bind on the earth.

 

Shall be bound in heaven is shall have been bound in heaven.

 

It does not mean that the disciples will determine what heaven will bind; rather, it means that the disciples will bind on the earth whatever has been previously bound in heaven.

 

It is God the Father in heaven Who makes the determination of all that the disciples bind on the earth. The disciples will only be carrying out His directives.

 

In this context the binding refers to the exclusion from the church of the unrepentant individual who has sinned against another believer.

 

Likewise, whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven is whatever you (plural) loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

 

It means that whatever the disciples loose on the earth will have previously been loosed in heaven by God the Father.

 

In this context the loosing refers to the readmission to the church of the individual who has sinned against another believer on the condition that he has repented and straightened things out.

Moreover, we see that –

 VI.     IF TWO OF THE DISCIPLES PRAY ABOUT SOMETHING ON WHICH THEY ARE AGREED, GOD THE FATHER WILL GRANT THEIR REQUEST – 18:19

 

Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

 

If two of the disciples pray about something on which they are agreed, God the Father will grant their request. Although any thing that they shall ask is very broad, in the context of verses 15-20, the exclusion from the church of the unrepentant believer who has sinned against another believer and his restoration upon repentance is in view. God the Father will direct what should be done by the church even if the church consists of only a few believers who sincerely desire God’s guidance.

 

Again suggests also, furthermore, or thereupon. It comes as a result of what Jesus said to the disciples in verse 18.

 

It furthermore implies that whatever the two of them will agree on and ask is actually directed by God the Father in heaven just as the binding and loosing in verse 18 is directed by God the Father in heaven.

 

I say unto you is I am saying to you (disciples).

 

That introduces what Jesus said to them.

 

If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask is the condition in a conditional statement. The structure of this condition makes no assumption regarding its truth.

 

It may or may not happen; but if it does, then the conclusion will follow.

 

The conclusion is it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

 

It is reminiscent of binding and loosing on the earth in verse 18.

 

Two of you is two of you disciples.

 

Shall agree on earth is agree on the earth or are of the same mind on the earth.

 

As touching anything is concerning (or about) any matter. Of course, it goes without saying that the request must be in accordance with God’s will.

 

I John 5:14-1514 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

 

That they shall ask, where they refers to the two disciples who are in agreement.

 

It shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven is it will come to pass (i.e. it will happen, it will be performed) for them from My Father, the One in heaven.

 

Of my Father is from My Father and indicates that God the Father is the source from which this action will originate, not that He necessarily does it Himself.

Finally, we note that –

VII.     WHERE THE SMALLEST GROUP POSSIBLE HAS GATHERED IN CHRIST’S NAME, CHRIST IS THERE WITH THEM – 18:20

 

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

 

Where the smallest group possible has gathered in Christ’s name, He is there with them. It does not have to be a large group gathered for prayer to obtain God’s guidance.

 

Verse 20 is a general statement which is a timeless truth.

 

For introduces an explanation of Jesus’ statement in the previous verse that if any two of you agree on any matter that they will ask, it will be done for them from God the Father.

 

Where two or three are gathered together in my name suggests where two or three have been gathered (or have been brought together) in My name.

 

There suggests in that place (i.e. wherever their gathering is located).

 

Am I in the midst of them is I am in their midst or I am in the middle of them, which means that Christ is in their presence, wherever they are.

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