Summary of passage: If a believer sins against you, go to that person first to try and resolve your differences. If he will not listen, bring some other believers along. If he still resists, take it to the church and then to other legal means if the differences remain.
If many believers ask for the same thing, it will be done by God as He is with them when they are together.
9a) If one person suffers, every person suffers because of it since we are all part of a whole.
b) If a believer sins against you, go to that person first to try and resolve your differences. If he will not listen, bring some other believers along. If he still resists, take it to the church and then to other legal means if the differences remain.
10a) Tolerance and forgiveness. We should be filled with grief and comfort them.
b) To bring them back to Christ. To restore them gently.
11a) Binding and loosing means exercising judgment on conduct–either being bound to the law or loose (unbound) to the law. Here we are talking about sin as well. So if both parties have a heart for God whatever they agree to do or forgive will be honored in heaven as it was agreed upon on earth. See HERE for more details. In essence, churches do have the authority to discipline if it is done in with the right heart: God’s.
b) The source is God and He is the ultimate authority for when you come together to bind or loose properly in His name, He is there among you, leading and guiding you to the proper conclusion.
Conclusions: I can’t stand it when we’re told to read a passage (in this case Matthew 18:15-20) and then the first question immediately sends us somewhere else and asks a question on that passage. Then we aren’t studying Matthew; instead, we are studying 1 Corinthians. It drives me nuts! I just have this great passage of Matthew in my head and now I have to leave it to linger and go some place else! Just don’t call it the study of Matthew then.
I wish BSF would have touched upon verse 19 and it’s context as it applies to individuals in terms of the power of asking for prayer from others (even if it’s just a couple). How we don’t have to worship in a “mega-church” to have God with us. How we can meet as a family even and pray in His name and it will be done. How the most important thing is that we meet in Jesus’ name and call upon His authority in our lives. How He hears the cries of His lost sheep and He goes and brings them back. To me, this is more powerful than understanding where the authority of the church comes from in the Bible.
End Notes: We talked about binding and loosing in Lesson 17 Day 4. Binding and loosing were legal terms in use in the Jewish law in first century AD that all Jews understood. You were either “bound” or “loose” with regards to Jewish law. To bind was to be subjugated to the law; to be put under it or to prohibit something. To loose was to allow something under the law; to permit it. Here, Christ is extending these legal Jewish terms and laws to his church as well with the caveat that he (Jesus) is the one granting the authority.
This passage as a whole is a warning against gossiping. Either go directly to that person for a grievance or forgive them and let it go. We must be willing to help resolve a dispute among others. This is not interference in an argument but rather a mediation effort. If the unrepentant one still refuses, then the church is allowed to place the offender outside the body of Christ as a pagan would be. For God’s power among many of His believers is strong.