“For where two or three gather in my name…”

“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. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:19-20

Context is a tricky thing; come to think of it, it can also be inconvenient.

I wouldn’t mind too much if I were able to report to you that if 2 or 3 of us come together and agree that God should provide each of us with 10 million dollars tax-free, that Jesus has promised to do so, but sorry, Jesus has done nothing of the kind!

Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from teaching it that way…

If you read the last post  you know that the context is entirely different; Jesus is re-enforcing His remark in 18:18 about loosing and binding. His context is the discussion of how to handle issues relating to sin in the church so as to restore people to their healthy relationship both with God and the community of believers. We need also recall that He is speaking to the disciples, who He is in the process of training to lead the early church; He is not making a blanket statement for everyone, in my view.

As I mentioned earlier, dealing with sin in the church is not an easy business, and it requires wisdom, spiritual maturity, and prayerful reflection, for without these things, we tend to give a knee jerk reaction that doesn’t seek to restore the offending party, but instead seeks merely to punish them. Punishing is clearly not what Jesus is teaching.

With all that I have said in these two posts, I should add something here: Having been in church leadership for more years than I like to count, I realize quite fully that there are situations in which the sin that a person is engaged in brings danger to the congregation; an obvious example would be someone working with children who has sinned in a way that violates a child, or a man in church leadership who has been known to become involved with women who are not his wife… I’m sure you can think of other examples. A leader would tend to disqualify himself from a leadership role in such a case, a person with such a history shouldn’t work anywhere around children, any more than a recovering alcoholic should take a job as a bartender. In such cases, and I sincerely hope that you never have to deal with this sort of thing; we must concern ourselves with the safety of the flock, and the redemption of the offender; we cannot do so without wisdom, spiritual maturity, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in these verses, Jesus is promising to do His part.

In the next passage, Jesus continues to re-enforce this theme with a parable; you won’t want to miss it!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to “For where two or three gather in my name…”

  1. Pingback: A disciple's study

  2. dwmartens says:

    ” … Jesus is promising to do His part.” Fits with John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; …” and others.

  3. Wally Fry says:

    Don, I am really enjoying this trip through this chapter.. I am spending some time in it myself for the next few days. It started with Peter’s conversation about how many times he should forgive his brother, and just sort of kept going. For some reason, when I read that chapter, I see much of the text before it and after it somehow being tied to the conversation. I may be totally off base LOL, but it’s been interesting to study.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I don’t think you are off base at all, Wally, because that is the context in which the text falls. There is a shift in 19:1-2, and 19 and 20 comprise a transition to the conflict in Jerusalem, but 16:21-20:34 is a section of the book with a common theme running throughout, thus, what you are saying is right on the mark.

  4. bcaudle77 says:

    I never put this verse with the pervious verse before, again the Bible, Jesus and growing in knowledge doesn’t stop and the more we are open to others input we can grow. It amazing year after year new things you can learn. It’s why THIS FAITH we have is in the One True God is real because He is living and we are learning daily.

    thanks as always Don!

  5. Roo's Ruse says:

    Well said, Don. Fortunately relationship with God eventually clarifies the context of Scripture.

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