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In the context of Mat 18:15-17, what does “bind” mean in verse 18?  Cf. Mat 13:30, 22:13, Luk 13:16, Act 9:2,14, 20:22, 22:5.  What does “loose” mean?  See Joh 20:23. What does the inclusion of “loosing” here in the context of Mat 18:15-17 indicate about the purpose of church discipline: is it punitive or remedial?  See again 2Co 2:5-11.  Notice that the formula Jesus uses in verse 18 is the exact same as that spoken in Mat 16:19; is the meaning the exact same?  In what way is it different, and in what way is it similar?  Think: to whom were the words spoken on each occasion?  With what is the binding and loosing associated on each occasion?  Recall that in Mat 16:19 the binding and loosing is associated with the keys of the kingdom given to Peter, who used them to open the door of the gospel not only to the Jews (Act 2:14ff, 3:1-26), but also to the Samaritans (Act 8:14) and Gentiles (Act 10, esp. Act 10:34-48, 15:7); see also Act 5:3-11, 8:20-23 for Peter using the authority of the keys of the kingdom to “bind” the gospel to Ananias and Sapphira and Simon the Sorcerer, and of Paul using that authority in Act 13:8-11,41,44-46, 18:6, etc….  Was the authority to bind and loose spoken of in Mat 16:19 more internal or external to the church?  Was the binding and loosing spoken of here in Mat 18:18 more internal or external?  Whereas the binding and loosing spoken of in Mat 16:19 was exercised by the proclamation of the gospel, how is the binding and loosing of church discipline exercised?  Cf. 1Co 5:4-5.  Observe that in both cases the wording uses a rare future passive form of the verb (“whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven”); what does this indicate in both instances of where the authority to bind and loose originates: here on earth with one’s own will and authority (whether it be an individual, like Peter or Paul, or even a church) or in heaven?  Cf. Act 8:14-15, 11:17 for how what Peter loosed on earth had already been loosed in heaven; likewise, consider that when a church exercises church discipline, is it initiating something that heaven will then agree to, or is it acting in obedience to what has already been decreed in heaven for the express purpose of communicating the seriousness of an errant brother’s sin and hopefully restoring a lost soul, because in God’s great love He is not willing that even one perish?  See again 1Co 5:5.  From this perspective, what are we to understand about the importance of exercising church discipline out of obedience to the Lord for the salvation of men’s souls?  Does a true love for one’s children require the exercise of discipline?  See Pro 13:24.  Does a true love for our brethren with whom we are in covenant require the exercise of discipline?  Is any member of a church, including its leadership, above reproof and discipline?  See Gal 2:11-14, 1Ti 5:19-20.  Whereas a brother may fall into sin through disobedience to the commands of the Lord, is it any less an act of disobedience for a church to disregard its responsibility to exercise church discipline in binding on earth what has already been bound in heaven as a final expression of the Father’s great love for the lost and desire that not a single little one perish?  What does this indicate about the many “seeker-friendly” churches popular today where there is no accountability?  What does Scripture call those who attend such a church because they refuse the Lord’s discipline?  See Heb 12:8, Isa 30:9.

What do Mat 18:18-19 teach us about the authority of a true church, and the seriousness of church discipline?  If a believer has fallen into sin and remains obstinate even when those who are spiritual (Gal 6:1) have sought to restore him, should he make light of the authority of the church and suppose that its action will be overruled by a higher court in heaven?  Who is the “you” in Mat 18:18-19?  Do Jesus’ words apply to any gathering of people, just because they say they are Christians, call themselves a church, and are even registered as a 501c3 tax exempt religious organization?  When a policeman or peace officer enforces the law of a city, state or country, with what authority does he do so?  Likewise, when a church enforces the law of God’s kingdom, with what authority does it do so?  What aspect of a policeman gives him his authority to enforce the law?  Think: if a policeman was driving his own car and not wearing his uniform, would he have the same authority to pull someone over for speeding?  In the same way, what aspect of a church gives it its authority to enforce the law of Christ’s kingdom?  See Rom 13:12-14, Eph 4:22-24, 6:11-17, Col 3:9-10.  What does it mean to “agree” on something in Mat 18:19?  Note: the Greek word used is sumfwne,w from which we get our symphony, and means to be in harmony.

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