Matthew 18:15-17 (Seeking Sheep That Have Gone Astray, Part 2)

What are the key words in Mat 18:15 about the manner in which we are to go and reprove an errant brother?  Why is it important to do so “in private” (lit. “between you and him alone”)?  What does this teach us about the importance of speaking to our brother about his faults before speaking to others about them?  Are we faithful to do that?  Considering the deceptiveness of sin and the propensity of our fallen state to be misled, is any one of us above falling into sin or going astray?  Cf. Gal 2:11, 1Ti 5:19-20.  If a person loves the Lord with all His heart and earnestly desires to walk with Him, what will be his response when another brother comes and reproves him for his sin?  See again David’s example in 2Sa 12:13 as well as Peter’s example at the Jerusalem Council in Act 15:7-11 after Paul’s rebuke in Gal 2; cf. also Psa 141:5, Pro 9:8, 28:23.  What does Jesus say is the desired result of meeting privately with an errant brother?  Does winning a brother refer only to getting him to see things from our perspective and being personally reconciled to him, or does it refer to something much bigger than just our relationship to him?  See Pro 11:30, 1Co 9:19-21, Jam 5:19-20, 1Pe 3:1.  If the loss of even a single sheep is a great matter to God, what is the gain of a single soul to Him?  Cf. Luk 15:3-10.

After speaking privately to a brother about his sin and he will not listen to us, what is our natural inclination to do?  Does Jesus say that speaking privately to our brother is the extent of our duty and if he won’t listen to us we should just say “to hell with him”?  Cf. Gal 6:1-2,9.  What does Jesus say in Mat 18:16 we should do if a brother will not listen to us privately?  What does this again teach us about the Lord’s great love for the lost and His desire that none perish?  In what way does taking one or two others along with us serve as a safeguard against unjustly accusing a brother, or judging a brother based on our own faulty perceptions instead of the Lord’s righteous standard? [1]  Why does Jesus say this step is essential to the process of God’s justice?  Cf. Deut 17:6, 19:15, Joh 8:17, 2Co 13:1, 1Ti 5:19, Heb 10:28.  Again, if a person loves the Lord with all His heart and earnestly desires to walk with Him, even if for whatever reason he could not accept it privately from a single brother, what will be his response when two or three brethren reprove him for his sin?

What is our natural inclination if a brother remains obstinate and will not listen even to one or two others?  Does Jesus yet say that we should give up and let him go as incurable?  How great is the love of the Father that not one of these little ones perish?!  See Mat 18:11-14, Joh 3:16, 2Ti 2:24-26.  What does Jesus say we should do in such a case?  See Mat 18:17.  Considering that the church as we know it had not yet come into existence and that here and in Mat 16:18 are the only mention of the church in the gospels, what would the disciples have understood Jesus to mean to tell it to the church from the way the word was used in the Old Testament?  Note: the Greek word for church is evkklhsi,a, which means literally to be called out.  It is a common word in the LXX where it is usually translated as an “assembly” or “congregation”, most often of the assembly or congregation of Israel, i.e., those who had been called out of Egypt; see Deut 4:10, 9:10, 18:16, 23:1-4,8, Psa 22:22,25, 26:12, 35:18, 40:9, 89:5, 149:1, Act 7:38, 1Pe 2:9.  What does Jesus say we should do if the errant brother refuses to listen even to the congregation of those who have been called out of darkness into the light?  Practically speaking, what does He mean to let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer?  Think: would a tax-gatherer who was also a Gentile have been welcome in their assembly?  See also 1Co 5:9-13.  What are the spiritual consequences that will manifest themselves in the physical realm for putting a brother out of the covenant community?  See 1Co 5:4-5a, Job 1:10, Isa 5:5.  Does doing so mean that such a one is lost for good?  See 1Co 5:5b, Mat 9:9-10, Act 11:19-21, 2Co 2:5-8.

Must it necessarily be the case that if one loves the Lord with all his heart and earnestly desires to walk with Him, that he should defer to the authority of the congregation even if he believes it is wrong?  Cf. Joh 9:22, 12:42, Act 4:18-21, 5:27-29.  Consider that this passage here in Matthew has been used by many churches throughout history to condemn the righteous who perhaps take a stand and speak out against the sins of its leaders; if a righteous man is put out of the congregation unjustly, why should he not fear?  Cf. Joh 9:35-39, Rev 18:4, and the meaning of evkklhsi,a;; see also Mat 5:10-12.

 


1. Though in such a world as this it is rare to find one good whom all men speak well of, yet it is more rare to find one good whom all men speak ill of. (Matthew Henry).

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