unshakeable15
07-01-2007, 09:14 PM
It seems to me that everywhere i turn, people are the quoting "where ever three or more are gathered" passage in relation to the essential need for church or for the power of prayer. In looking at this passage more closely, i don't see how it fits in with either.

Originally, i posted a shorter version of this in another thread. I expanded it out here in a PM to Skynes upon his request. I will post it here, both for discussion (people, i'm sure, will disagree with my interpretation) and for enlightenment (hopefully we can stop mis-quoting Scripture).

The passage, for reference: Matthew 18:15-20 "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."

When Christians quote this passage, they tend to use it to say "When we come together, God is there" which is true. But, more importantly, God is there when we are alone. That's the entire basis of a personal Bible study and prayer time, to continually build that connection with God and his Word. If he's only there when there are two of us, it's pointless to read the Bible on our own.

It's also a misrepresentation of what the passage is talking about. Jesus is not insane; his thoughts are very cohesive and one thought follows logically to the next. Therefore, when we read of him talking about correcting the sins of our brothers, then him talking about "where ever two or more are gathered..." they must be tied together somehow. The second part there doesn't make sense in relation to the first if we read it how so many Christians want us to.

When Jesus said 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses,' he was quoting Deut 19:15. In Deut, it was established that for a transaction to be legal, it was necessary that there be two or more witnesses, whether it be witnesses of a murder condemning him in court or the sale of this piece of land to that neighbor across the way.

Back to Matthew, we find that Jesus is taking that "command" (i'm not sure if it's actually a command, but it's close enough to one to call it that here) Jesus is taking that command and adding something more to it. If your brother screws you over and you go to him personally, and he doesn't listen, take two or three others with you, confront him again (working towards repentance and redemption of the relationship). If, in that company, things continue as before, cut him loose from the community. If he repents, the relationship is restored.

This is where the much disputed "binding" verses come in. We are given the authority on Earth to bind or release in heaven this offending brother. I'm not sure what we're "binding or loosing" him to or from; it would take more study. (Rob Bell has a different take on this that also makes sense, but it doesn't fit so well with the rest of the passage. Check it out for yourself on Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?id=l-3PcvMKnq4C&pg=PA50&ots=eFSuxwsrm5&dq=%22velvet+elvis%22+bind+loose&sig=V--gTPiD9lVnx-8iurfEDKZGLhI) if you like.)

If we continue this thought, it logically follows that when Matthew speaks of the Father granting our requests, it also concerns this offending brother. Especially when, as Jesus dictated, we have those two or three others along side us in our struggle for redemption of the relationship. If all come to a consensus--that he be kicked out of the community, or that he be restored in his relationships--then, by Jesus' own words, it will come to be.

alienyouth9292
07-02-2007, 06:49 AM
interesting....

NightCrawler
07-02-2007, 01:19 PM
Thank you for explaining my personal pet-peeve quite well.

bob
07-02-2007, 05:38 PM
There was actually a Pastor that was sued (http://www.covenantnews.com/libertylegal041130.htm) for following this passage. Totally unrelated, I know, but I was just wanting to throw that out there.

DarkestRose
07-02-2007, 07:23 PM
That brings up a wondering of mine, by Biblical mandate, do we have to excommunicate a member if we go through the whole proceduore of dealing with an unrepentant church member? Or is that just when a church is finally allowed to?

skynes
07-03-2007, 01:06 AM
do we have to excommunicate a member if we go through the whole proceduore of dealing with an unrepentant church member?

Yes. Paul ORDERED it in 1st Corinthians when a guy was having sex with his mother-in-law. He said that it was to prevent the sin infecting the whole congregation (a little leaven leavens the whole lump as he put it)

DarkestRose
07-03-2007, 01:08 AM
That's settled then. I was just wondering about the mandatory nature of it. Could they be re-communicated when they finally did repent?

skynes
07-03-2007, 02:48 AM
That's settled then. I was just wondering about the mandatory nature of it. Could they be re-communicated when they finally did repent?

Yep, Paul also Ordered that in 2nd Cor 2 when someone repented but the church wouldn't let them back in. Paul told them to have love and comfort for them so they wouldn't drown in sorrow. It's popularly said it was the same guy who got kicked out in 1st Cor, it doesn't explicitly say that though.

DarkestRose
07-03-2007, 11:36 AM
That works out pretty well then.

unshakeable15
07-05-2007, 11:50 AM
It does. Hopefully the act of being kicked out of the community is enough to wake you up from the life you had been living, giving you a desire to change.

DarkestRose
07-05-2007, 07:03 PM
I would think that most people who want to change within the first few confrontations. But getting kicked out is a good wake up call.