Continuing sharing discussion notes from my senior theology classes on our memory verses, here are the notes spliced and merged from four class discussions on reading Matthew 18:20 in context.
Matthew 18:20 – “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am with you?”
What’s the context in which we usually hear this verse applied?
- Gathered for worship.
- Gathered for Bible Study.
- Gathered for prayer.
What’s the context of this verse in Matthew 18:15-20?
- Context: How to address someone who sins against you (Matthew 18:15-20)
If someone sins against you, bring it up between yourselves privately. If they do not listen, take some other people with you so that you have testimony against that person with others. If they again do not listen, go to the church, and if there is still no response, treat the person like a “pagan or tax collector.” (15-17) Like Jesus, we should still respect them and treat them with kindness, valuing their existence despite sin. (Don’t pretend there is fellowship when there is not.)
God is with you. It can be a difficult and scary thing to approach someone for correction, but when we do so in God’s name through his Word, Christ is with us, and we are not doing it based upon our authority, but Christ’s. Approach the person with love, with kindness and respect for the other. Use the Word to bring truth, with the intention to bring the other person to salvation/repentance.
Questions that we discussed in the various classes?
- Is it the loving thing to do to bring the person in front of the church congregation and call them out publicly for their sins?
- Have you ever seen this played out in a church setting before?
- When someone sins against you, what is your initial response, how do you usually respond?
- Does this verse apply just to those who sin against you, or also to those you know who are living in some sort of sin that appears externally to us to be unrepented sin?
- Is there a difference between someone upsetting you vs. sinning against you?
A lot of the classes struggled with this passage in context. The struggle was the concept that we are not to judge others. But in this case, it appears that we are. Any thoughts on helping make this concept of how to judge and when to judge more clear to us. We played it out in discussion for a very long time in class, and not everyone came to the same conclusion. Maybe some food for thought from some outsiders will be helpful. Please respond to the five questions or any other points.