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If we risk grace in community, it’s good for our spiritual life, especially when we’ve been sinned against.⇦Tweet that!

Matthew 18 Is Supplemental

The Scripture most Christians turn to when facing relational conflict or when we feel someone has sinned against us is Matthew 18:15-20. That’s a huge mistake because Matthew 18:15-20 is supplemental to the New Testament’s primary text on restoring one another.

In our last time in Galatians 6:1-5, we saw one of the ways grace works in community as we love and serve one another and walk in the Spirit is that we can now gently and humble restore our sinning brothers and sisters.

I told you last time that there are two other passages that tell us how to fulfill our responsibility to restore our fellow-Christians when they have stumbled into sin in the local church.

The fist of these passages, Matthew 18:15-20 adds to Galatians 6:1-5 by giving us some specific steps to take, especially when that sin is, in our opinion, against us.

The Context of Matthew 18:15-20–Humility!

In context, Matthew 18 isn’t an excommunication discourse, it’s a discourse on humility!⇦Tweet that!

Remembering the tone of Galatians 6:1-5, to gently and humbly restore one another, we see how Matthew 18:15-20 fits seamlessly. From the words of Jesus we discover that humility is the number one concern in this restoration process, the humility to trust God and the community when someone has hurt us.

Here’s my outline of Matthew 18:15-20 in context:

Context: This is the fourth major discussion in Matthew—the discourse on the necessity of humility in disciple-to-disciple responsibilities (Matthew 18).

  1. Jesus introduces the theme of humility by reminding His disciples of the childlike attitude required to enter His Kingdom and telling them that that same humility will determine their greatness in His Kingdom (1-4).
  2. Jesus warns His disciples against impeding the progress of His followers by pointing out the severe judgment this world will receive for abusing His “children” (only time “believe in me” occurs in the Synoptics, v 6, 5-14).

Specifics: Jesus explains how a humble disciple should restore fellow-believers who have wandered from the Shepherd and the sheep (15-20).

  • Go to them by yourself and “show him his fault.” The verb means to point out a sin in order to create an awareness of guilt.
  • If they do not listen, “take two or three others with you” to establish credible witnesses to help establish the truth in the matter. The reason for two or three others is not to make sure they understand that you are right or to prove the other party wrong. The purpose of the witnesses is to observe the erring disciple’s reaction to the confrontation.
  • If they still do not listen, “tell it to the church.” This is only the second use of ekklesia in Matthew (16:18). Jesus’ disciples heard “assembly of the disciples.” Today we know this to be the local community of faith. There is no procedure to follow, but a mandate to bring the leverage of the community to bear on the problem.
  • If they still refuse to listen, “treat him as a Gentile or a tax collector.” This doesn’t mean stop relating to this person, but it does mean to stop offering the warmth, encouragement, and comfort of fellowship in the community.
  • The overarching purpose is “to regain your brother.” To restore the believer who has wandered away from the Shepherd and the sheep.
  • The conclusion of the community in such matters is affirmed in heaven!

Jesus emphatically reaffirms the necessity of humility how a humble disciple should restore fellow-believers who have wandered from the Shepherd and the sheep (21-35).

I hope you’ll listen to my teaching on the podcast and refer to the free online commentary of Galatians. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the page for my detailed notes on Galatians 6:1-5.

In our next post I’ll give you notes from 1 Timothy 5:19-20, the passage applying love that restores to church leaders.

I hope this is helping those of you who fear grace. Grace isn’t soft on sin, but it’s the only safe place to experience God’s hard work in our lives.⇦Tweet that! 

The love of God became visible in the person of Christ and His Spirit is always moving His people toward making the love of God visible in His body—the church. If the love of God becomes visible in Jesus’ church because we’re liberated to love one another well, wonderfully miraculous healing occurs.

Question: What questions still remain in your heart concerning Matthew 18:15-20?

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