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Matthew 18:15-20 – Exercising the Discipline of Forgiveness

Summary

Greatness in the kingdom has to do with the way the believing community exercises discipleship through the extravagant discipline of forgiveness.

Analysis

The usual title of this passage as "reproving the sinner" or "exercising church discipline" ignores the clear sense indicated by what precedes and follows it in the disciples' question about greatness in the kingdom and the parable of the lost sheep. Since it is the Father's will that not one "little one" be lost to the kingdom, this new community of disciples ("church," 18:15, 17) will exhaust all options in order to make sure that not one of its members is lost. The key center to this effort will be the exercise of tough and practical forgiving love. Once again (see 16:19) Jesus promises that this community has the authority to exercise this forgiveness ("binding" and "loosing") and that this authority will be grounded in Jesus' abiding and empowering presence (18:20; see 28:20).

Matthew 18:15-20

Reproving Another Who Sins

15 ‘If another member of the church* sins against you,* go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.* 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

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10 February 2011

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