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Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

Matthew 18:15-17 – Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

|| Luke 17:3

MT18:15 “However, if your brother[1] should sin[2] go to him privately and offer reproof.[3] You gain your brother if he listens to you. MT18:16 But, if he does not listen to you,[4] return with one or two others[5] so that at the mouth of two or three witnesses[6] [Deuteronomy 19:15] anything said may be confirmed.[7] MT18:17 Now if he refuses to respond[8] to the witnesses, speak to the congregation.[9] But, if he refuses to listen to the congregation,[10] let him become to you as a foreigner or a tax-collector.[11]

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[1] Your brother: The “your” is singular. The word “brother” indicates a spiritual or religious relationship. The subject or theme is still that of stumbling a little one. Jesus now deals with how to handle such a matter personally.

[2] Should sin: What the “sin” is we are not told. We do not know whether this is a personal offense or one observed by another. If the theme and subject continue this may be something scandalous or offensive done to a little one so as to cause stumbling. Such a person – in danger of Gehenna – needs to be cautioned and corrected so that no further harm come to others. The KJV adds the words “sin against thee” but it is now recognized they are not adequately supported by older manuscripts. Note the responsibility under the Law to reprove a fellow worshipper (Leviticus 19:17; Proverbs 25:9).

[3] Go to him privately and offer reproof: Or, ASV: show him his fault; RIEU: go and have it out with him in private; RHM: withdraw, convince him betwixt thee and him alone; BAS: make clear to him his error between you and him in private. The original question from the disciples was, “Who is greatest?” This is a subject that has been discussed among the disciples. Is it possible this kind of thinking which is called a sin here? Is there a need among the disciples for one of them to go to another and offer reproof regarding this political ambition? We suspect Judas Iscariot right in the middle of such a concern. The Greek for “reprove” here is ELEGZON. Strong’s provides the following: “AV – reprove 6, rebuke 5, convince 4, tell (one’s) fault 1, convict 1; 17 1) to convict, refute, confute 1a) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted 1b) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose 2) to find fault with, correct 2a) by word 2a1) to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove 2a2) to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation 2b) by deed 2b1) to chasten, to punish.”

[4] Does not listen to you: Or, KJV: if he will not hear thee; RIEU: if he refuses to listen. The reproof has not worked in the first instance. Perhaps the person insists he does not have this problem despite the rebuke.

[5] Return with one or two others: Or, RIEU: call in one or two other people. Ideally these would have been witnesses to the “sin.” As observers they can confirm to the erring one that he is indeed guilty. Also, they become witnesses to the whole conversation and the effort to gain the brother. This would be the first time the correcting brother discussed the matter with others.

[6] Mouth of two or three witnesses: This is a reference to Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus also quotes it at John 8:17 and Paul alludes to it at 2 Corinthians 13:1.

[7] Anything said may be confirmed: Or, KJV: every word may be established; RSV: every word may be confirmed. The two or three witnesses confirm the attitude and the denial of sin.

[8] Now if he refuses to respond: Or, KJV: if he shall neglect to hear them; RHM: hear them amiss; RIEU: if he pays no attention to these.

[9] Speak to the congregation: There are a variety of views here. To these Jews the “congregation” would be the members of the synagogue. The “congregation” may also be that one Jesus said he would build (see notes at Matthew 16:18). Also, some hold “congregation” here means the elders who represent it; others, see the entire congregation. There are good reasons for the later. Paul indicates that the sinner in the Corinthian congregation was judged so by “the majority.” (2 Corinthians 2:6 NW, CON) This would indicate a vote of some kind. Paul also counsels that elders who sin should be rebuked before the entire congregation (1 Timothy 5:20). Others render this phrase: KJV: tell it unto the church; RHM: tell it to the assembly; RIEU: report the matter to the church.

[10] If he refuses to listen to the congregation: This is his last chance. He was reproved by a single brother, then two more tried, and now the congregation has tried, but he still refuses to recognize his sin, repent and turn around. Every opportunity has been given the sinner.

[11] Let him become to you as a foreigner or a tax-collector: Again there are a variety of views on the meaning. Others render this: KJV: as an heathen man and a publican; RSV: as a Gentile and a tax-collector; NEB: a pagan or a tax-gatherer. If the “you” be viewed as a Jew then the sinning brother is no longer welcome in social association though business dealings may continue. If the “you” is a disciple of the Nazarene then the commands of Jesus must be considered. Jesus taught his disciples to “love their enemies” by praying for them, doing good to them, and even giving them money without interest (See notes on Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:30-35).

Three times Paul uses the word SYNANAMIGNYSTHAI (quit mixing yourselves with) (1 Corinthians 5:9, 11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15). The later verse clarifies the whole matter when it says: “But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.”

We may also ask how our Lord treated Non-Jews and tax-collectors? See notes on Matthew 9:10, 11; 11:19; 15:21-27.

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Preceding

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

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Related

  1. His Compassion
  2. Great Verses of the Bible: Matt 18:15
  3. “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” ~Religious elites to Jesus disciples
  4. Correction And Discipline Of Other Believers
  5. When Christians Foolishly Speak For Others
  6. About organized religion
  7. The Spiritual Warfare Error
  8. The Error of Not Confronting Error
  9. Be Reconciled

Matthew 11:7-15 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 3 John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

Matthew 11:7-15 – John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

|| Luke 7:24-28

MT11:7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus started to tell the crowds regarding John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?[1] A breeze rattling some willows?[2] MT11:8 But, what did you go to see? A human dressed in soft clothes? Look! Those who wear soft clothes[3] are in royal houses. MT11:9 But, why did you come out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.[4] MT11:10 This person is the one about whom it has been written,[5] ‘Look! I am sending forth My messenger[6] before your person. He will prepare your way ahead of you.’ [Isaiah 40:3] MT11:11 I tell you this truth: None generated by women have been raised up who are greater than[7] John the Baptist. But, a lesser person[8] in the Realm of the Heavens[9] is greater than John. MT11:12 From the days of John the Baptist right up until now the Realm of the Heavens is being zealously pursued[10] and those in energetic pursuit are grabbing for it. MT11:13 For the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.[11] MT11:14 And, if you wish to accept it – John is Elijah,[12] the one who was to come. MT11:15 Let the person with ears listen.”[13]

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File:Accademia - St John the Baptist by Titian Cat314.jpg

St John the Baptist by Titian, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

[1] What did you go out into the wilderness to see: We have learned earlier that all Judea went out into the desert to see this strange prophet who dressed primitively and eat honey and locusts.

[2] A breeze rattling some willows: Possibly a bit of sarcasm? Others render this phrase: KJV: a reed shaken with the wind; RIEU: a reed swaying in the wind; NEB: a reed-bed swept by the wind. As a metaphor John the Baptist could not be characterized like a reed-willow easily blown about (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, he was stalwart and firm – even dogmatic.

[3] Soft clothes: John was dressed roughly in harsh clothing. His clothes and manner must have attracted inquisitive crowds wondering about this strange man. The phrase is rendered by others: WMS: silks and satins; NJB: fine clothes.

[4] More than a prophet: The Bible is fill with “prophets” of the two types: the one foretelling events and the one declaring God’s righteous will. The word “prophet” occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Jesus makes clear the Baptist is more than just a prophet and he now explains what he means. The idea of saying that someone is more or greater than another is something Jesus uses several times. Compare Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.

[5] It has been written: Jesus quotes Isaiah 40:3.

[6] My messenger: Literally the Greek is “my angel.”

[7] Who are greater than: John the Baptist is at least equal to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah.

[8] A lesser person: The Greek is MICROTEROS and is rendered: KJV: least; ASV: little; PME: humble.

[9] In the Realm of the Heavens: It is possible this phrase is limited to that Realm of Profession, or the territory or domain over which Lord Messiah reigns – his congregation of disciples. In other words: the most humble member of the Christian Church is greater than John the Baptist and therefore greater than all the ancient worshippers of God. See notes in Matthew chapter 13 on identifying the “kingdom of the heavens.” Some also believe this to mean John the Baptist and the ancient patriarchs would not attain to heaven but would be raised in the resurrection of the righteous on earth (John 3:13; Hebrews 11:39, 40; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

[10] Zealously pursued: This is a classically difficult text. Most translators tend toward the idea that the kingdom is attacked violently and the violent seize it. However, from John the Baptist to the present of Jesus’ statement there is little evidence of persecution against the King or his realm. The Greek word here is BIAZETAI and its root meaning is “violent.” Jesus repeats the word group in the next phrase (See Acts 2:2). The word is rare in this form. However, there are two verses in Luke which might shed light on the Nazarene’s intent. Luke 13:24 literally means, ‘agonize to enter through the narrow door.’ And, the parallel in Luke to Matthew here is, ‘everyone is violently forcing [BIAZETAI] themselves into (the Kingdom of The God).’ This could mean violent men force themselves violently into the kingdom; or, it could mean the agonizing struggle to enter the realm of profession. This is the first interpretation the New Jerusalem Bible gives in its footnote “f” – “1. The praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom.” Strong’s (#971, #973) offers “vital activity, energetic.” Thayer’s (page 101) says: “a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion… utmost eagerness.” Thus, the context and the parallel in Luke suggests the possibility that Jesus is describing the agonizing zeal his disciples have demonstrated in their pursuit of the “kingdom” – willing to make any sacrifice, willing to surrender their soul in the process.

William Barclay suggests a possibility: “‘The Kingdom of the Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate,’ that no one drifts into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom only opens it doors to those who are prepared to make as great an effort to get into it as men do when they storm a city.… Only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.” (Matthew, Volume 2. page 8)

[11] Prophets and the Law prophesied until John: The complete phrase linking the Law and the Prophets is used by Jesus elsewhere (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). There is now to be a great transition. Hebrews 1:1 states that The God used to speak in a variety of ways to the prophets of old, but now speaks to us by means of a Son. With the coming of John the Baptist in the year 29 AD a new season, a new age begins to open up – a Messianic one. Grace and Truth will now come by means of Jesus the Nazarene (John 1:17).

[12] John is Elijah: Jesus explains this to his own disciples elsewhere (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Compare Luke 1:17. Elijah’s name (My God is Yah) occurs 100 times in the Bible and most importantly at Malachi 4:5 where the prophet is foretold to appear before the Day of Yehowah. The end of the Jewish Temple Age is upon that generation. The name Elijah only occurs twice outside the Gospels (Romans 11:2; James 5:17). Note Elijah is missing by name in the Book of Revelation. He is alluded to at Revelation 11:5, 6.

[13] Let the person with ears listen: This becomes in Revelation a phrase identified with Jesus (Revelation 2:7). PME: the man who has ears to hear must use them.

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Preceding

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

Matthew 11:2-6 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 2 Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

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