Question about Matthew 18:15-17

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sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
The passage reads (NKJV):
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that "by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

This passage is used time and again to determine the proper biblical way of reconciling with a brother in the Lord who has offended you. First, you talk to him privately, then with one or two witnesses and lastly you take the matter before the church. That is usually where the line stops. But, my question for you is: what is the significance of "let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector"?

I ask this in specific reference to 1 Cor. 6:1-8 where Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for Christians taking other Christians to "court" before heathen magistrates. Paul says that Christians ought to work out their problems between one another and not let our controversies spill over for the world to see.

But, if after following the steps Jesus gave us in Matthew 18 the offending brother does not repent, then is it ok to take him before a "heathen" magistrate? We are to treat him as a heathen and a tax collector. Does this mean that he loses the "right" to be protected from "worldly" lawsuits? I realize this only applies to non-spiritual issues. We obviously are not going to take someone to court for believing in paedocommunion. That is an issue where the church is the final court of appeal, so to speak. I'm talking about non-spiritual issues.

Your input, please.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by sastark
But, my question for you is: what is the significance of "let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector"?

The person that has went through each stage of church dicipline has lost his covenant priveledges. This does not mean that he is NOT saved, it just means that the fruit he is bearing is not that of a tree of God so to speak. We are to treat him accordingly. He may not partake in the membership of the covenant body, the sacraments, etc. etc.

Originally posted by sastark
But, if after following the steps Jesus gave us in Matthew 18 the offending brother does not repent, then is it ok to take him before a "heathen" magistrate?

My first inclination would be to say it would not be sin. That being said, without details, I am not sure it would be the best thing to do.

I would get recommendation from session on that one. ;)
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
The Geneva Bible has some interesting notes on this passage (Mat 18:17)

He that condemns the judgment of the Church, condemns God.

He speaks not of just any policy, but of an ecclesiastical assembly, for he speaks afterward of the power of loosing and binding, which belonged to the Church, and he has regard for the order used in those days, at which time the elders had the judgment of Church matters in their hands, (Joh_9:22; Joh_12:42; Joh_16:2), and used casting out of the synagogue for a punishment, as we do now by excommunication.
 
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