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Lesson # Matt. 18:16-17
Study Material - Matt. 18:16-17
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
16 But [de] if [ean me] he will [akouo] not [ean me] hear [akouo] thee, then take [paralambano] with [meta] thee [sou] one [heis] or [e] two [duo] more [eti] , that [hina] in [epi] the mouth [stoma] of two [duo] or [e] three [treis] witnesses [martus] every [pas] word [rhema] may be established [histemi] .
17 And [de] if [ean] he shall neglect to hear [parakouo] them [autos] , tell [epo] it unto the church [ekklesia] : but [de] [kai] if [ean] he neglect to hear [parakouo] the church [ekklesia] , let him be [esto] unto thee [soi] as [hosper] an heathen man [ethnikos] and [kai] a publican [telones] . KJV-Interlinear
16 'But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 'And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. NAS
The first line of defense for the believer is the believers own confession for himself in which God forgives the sin or infractions whatever they might be, and restores the believer back into fellowship, 1 Jn. 1:9. This is where the mechanics of fellowship are found. The principle of fellowship is found in Leviticus. A believer back in fellowship avoids discipline from God, and is back inside of the sphere where blessings may resume in his life.
The second line of defense of the believer when dealing with people, is to approach the person (in private) who is causing an offense against you, and attempting to work out the problem. We might think of this as a civil action of a personal nature.
The third defense of the believer, when having a problem with another person, is to call in witnesses. This is based on the principles listed in Deu. 19:15, and in 1 Tim. 5:19, wherein two or three witnesses are required in order to 'establish' the facts of a matter. One person against one person is a 'he said she said' matter and therein is where difficulties in establishing facts might prevent a fair settlement. Note that these guidelines are given to mankind to help mankind settle disputes. When man cannot settle disputes, or will not settle disputes, then God will step in and settle them. Needless to say, when God speaks, things get done.
The fourth line of defense for the wronged believer, is a formal and public hearing on the matter. This is a civil court action, complete with a judge, perhaps a jury, with rules of evidence, and testimony and so forth.
The 'church' here refers to the whole assembly, the congregation, a civil meeting, an official setting or assembly, a lawful hearing. This comes to mean a public hearing wherein the wrong, and its outcome are made public and settled by law before the public. Its conclusion is binding on the parties who are in dispute. Any court hearing and its findings are public record and therefore 'before' the whole assembly (the public).
This activity in these last three verses are not and do not allow for vigilante activities, or anything which is outside a formal lawful public setting with all that accompanies a public hearing - complaint, defense, testimony, impartial judge, etc. This does not allow for secret courts, midnight lynching's so to speak, or anything that might be construed as a form of tyranny.
The party who has committed the offense has the option to settle the matter in three situations - privately, by convincing facts (from several persons), or through public hearing. If the party remains defiant in all three then he is rejected as a gentile is rejected in the scriptures. Ooops, better define gentile here. The defiant party may also be treated as a tax (Roman tax - not a temple tax) gatherer. What are these?
Truth is where facts and reality meet. In life there are two types of people - Jews and Gentiles. 'Jews' is a term, not for a genetic race founded by Abraham, but a reference to those who are in Gods family. Gods chosen people. People who believe in Christ, the Son of God, the Savior, are entered into Gods family as saved believers.
Gentiles are all peoples who are born 'once' (physical birth) an remain outside of Gods family through their failure to believe in Christ. They are not in Gods family. A tax gatherer is a person who by choice has decided to remain outside of Gods family. The tax gatherer chose a profession which is outside of Gods realm (Rome - representing earthly nations, earthly philosophies, etc.). This election to remain outside of Gods family is a conscious choice. Thus an unbeliever is born spiritually dead (gentile), and also chooses to remain spiritually dead (tax gatherer). These terms are used to represent the realities of the human condition or spiritual status.
All peoples have many chances to make the right decisions in life. God gives us many chances to reconcile our failed condition to Him. First we have a personal opportunity by believing in Christ. Second we have many more opportunities to believe by the convincing testimony of the many scriptures (the witness of many prophets). Third we have still more opportunities by human history and through Gods direct dealing with us individually. Failing all of these, then we receive the decision of the court in heaven.
Repent (change ones mind) and be saved or reconciled to God, or remain defiant and receive the permanent separation status from God - a single birthed gentile (no second birth or spiritual birth) along with a conscious decision to remain defiant and then the Lake of Fire.
These verses give us a lesson for settling disputes in our interactions with people, together with teaching the principles of how we make decisions in our spiritual life, and their repercussions. These principles apply to believers in their spiritual life as well. We either continue to be positive (making the right decisions), and we receive favorable decisions, or we become defiant in our spiritual growth (don't study regularly, don't confess regularly, don't follow or abide by the responsibilities expected of us, etc.), and therefore we receive whatever is appropriate in discipline.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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