This section of verses 1-141At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,3and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.4Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.7“Woe to the world because of [its] stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!8“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.9If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.11<For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.>12“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?13If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.14So it is not [the] will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. deals with a little one and the kingdom. This section of verses 15-2015“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.16But if he does not listen [to you], take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.18Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.19“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.20For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” is about a brother and the church. Just like a little one can go astray, a brother can also go astray. Just as a stray little one must be brought back to the herd, a stray brother must be won.
If a brother goes astray by sinning against another brother, the brother against whom he has sinned must reveal the same spirit of gentleness as the Lord supposes in the case of a little one. He should not sit down and wait for the other person to confess his sin. He must go there himself and convince the brother of the wrong he has done and thus win him. He has to go alone. Nobody should know about it. If the brother listens and confesses his sin, the brother is won. Nobody knows about it and never needs to know because it is confessed and therefore gone.
However, it may happen that the brother does not listen. Then he has to take one or two brothers with him and look for the other. For example, there are two or three witnesses to the conversation that then takes place. The intention is that the brother, in the presence of one or two witnesses, will still be convinced of the sin he has committed. If he is convinced and confesses, the brother is also won.
However, if he does not listen, a report must be made to the assembly. However, it is necessary that the report is made by two or three witnesses, because only then is the report acceptable to the assembly. According to the report, the brother is visited for the third time, this time by a delegation of the assembly. If he does not listen to the assembly either, the case is settled for him against whom sin is committed. For him the brother is no longer a brother, but he is like the heathen and the tax collector with whom he cannot associate.
It is clear that the assembly cannot let the matter run its course. Maybe some more attempts can be made to bring the wandering brother to repentance. If he persists in his sin despite all the loving efforts to win him, the church has the responsibility and the authority to bind sin to such a person. He must then be regarded as an evil one and disposed of out of the middle of the assembly (1Cor 5:1313But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.). This very last act of the assembly seals the fact that any attempt to win the stray brother has failed.
By binding sin to the person, the person is surrendered to the Lord with the prayer that He will yet repent. The Lord Jesus also points this out when He then says that the assembly can also loose, that is, loosening sin from the person. This happens when the person confesses his sin and the assembly pronounces forgiveness over it and accepts him again in its midst. These acts of discipline by the assembly of binding and loosing are recognized by heaven. The congregation must therefore know well that what it does in this respect must have the consent of heaven. She can only convince herself of this if she acts according to the Word.
In order to know for sure whether an act of binding or loosing in heaven will be manifested, any act of discipline must be the result of unanimous prayer to the Lord. The whole congregation must ask the Lord for His will. The Father will make His will known through His Word. Therefore, a church must be able to base a disciplinary action on God’s Word.
It is a disciplinary act of the assembly and not one of some random believers. All believers belong together. However, it is not just about belonging to each other, but really being together. The power of prayer and the action of the church do not depend on the number, but on His Name, that is the Name of the Lord Jesus.
It is important to read the Lord’s words about His presence in the middle of the two or three in the context in which they stand. From verse 1515“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. it is about sin in the church and how to deal with it. After the various steps, sin must be revealed to the assembly.
The church here cannot be the entire church on earth. It must be the local church. For example, the Bible speaks of “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1Cor 1:22To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours:). That is, the believers are the assembly of God there. They also come together as an assembly (1Cor 11:18,2018For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.20Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,) to celebrate the Lord’s supper and to encourage and build each other up in the faith (1Cor 14:23,2623Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?26What is [the outcome] then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.).
There are many privileges attached to the meeting of the assembly. How important and blessed it is to come together as believers with Christ in the midst, we see with the Lord Himself. After His resurrection from the dead, His first thought, spoken with reverence, is to be with His assembled disciples (Psa 22:22-2322I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23You who fear the LORD, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
; Jn 20:19-2019So when it was evening on that day, the first [day] of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace [be] with you.”20And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.; Heb 2:11-1211For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,12saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”).
As said, there are also responsibilities connected to it. One of them we find in this section is the exercise of discipline. The context shows that it is about the church and it is in connection with it that the Lord Jesus speaks about being gathered in His Name. We can conclude from this that the Lord Jesus connects His presence to the church in a special way when she comes together.
Certainly He is always with each of His own. According to His promise He will be that “always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:2020teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”). Here, however, it says that He is in the middle of the two or three that have met in His Name. That’s something else than His nearness that every believer may experience anytime and anywhere – and what a tremendous encouragement that is!
Before the Lord says “I am there in their midst”, He first speaks of being gathered in His Name. He attaches His personal presence to the condition of being gathered in His Name. He talks about the smallest possible number – “two or three” – to be able to meet as believers.
He says more. It is not just a meeting of two or three believers. Believers can gather anywhere and for many purposes, but that does not mean that wherever believers meet, this is a gathering that the Lord says they are ‘gathered together in My name.’ What does it mean to be gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus? It means that those who have come together have all come because they know that this gathering is only about the Lord Jesus. His Name is the center.
To come together in His Name means to give Him full authority in the gathering. He exercises that authority through His Word and through His Spirit. All those who are together there want to acknowledge that. No one who would like to be with the Lord Jesus may be refused. All those who belong to the church and are pure in doctrine and life and reject any connection with evil have access to it. This does not mean that everyone who says he is a believer should be received. In this section we see exactly how there should be care in the case that sin becomes public in the assembly. Then it is clear that from an unknown person who comes, it must be determined that he is not connected with sins.
An important aspect here is that no one may enter into the Lord’s rights and set their own conditions for those who come. And someone who comes may not demand to be received on the basis of his own conditions. It is both contrary to the spirit of grace and the sense of forgiveness that characterize this whole chapter.
It is also important for the congregation that this congregation is not governed by its own rules. Everything is in the hands of the Lord and the Word is the unchanging touchstone. When believers come together in this way, aware of their weakness in the practice of coming together, the Lord says that He is in the midst.