Welcome to the study of the Bible, the greatest book in the world. Jesus said in Matthew 18:18-20, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
In these verses Jesus is still talking about the church that He founded: that group of people made up of all those in the world who believe in Him. Jesus meant for there to be unity, closeness, and cooperation among His believers. Earlier in Matthew Chapter 18 Jesus gave the steps to be taken in order to retain unity among believers, and now He emphasizes the result of having unity. His teachings present the attitude that all things are possible through Him. Donít give up. Donít fear. You can do it, according to Jesus. And you can especially do it if you are united with other believers.
Unity among believers is important because we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and unity is important because our lives will not be as effective without it. In verse 18 Jesus emphasizes the power and authority that He has given to His believers. That power and authority that He gives us is very closely linked to the unity that He says that we need to have. It is similar to the old saying that two heads are greater than one. In this case two hearts knit together by the Spirit of God are greater than one.
We know that Jesus is talking about unity in these verses in Matthew because of the context, and because He uses the word "ye" instead of "thee". The usage of "ye" and "thee" is one of the values of reading the King James Version of the Bible. In the Greek, "you" in the plural can be distinguished from "you" in the singular. Whenever the Greek indicates two or more, it is translated "ye"; and whenever the Greek indicates you in the singular, it is translated "thee".
The entire congregation can benefit from the diverse spiritual gifts and the additional spiritual strength that will result from unity. You need unity among as many believers as possible because Jesus said in verse 19 that answers to prayer are assured when there is agreement between believers on what to pray about. His promise was "that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."†
Perhaps you might ask, "How big is big enough?" How many do we need in a gathering of believers in order to gain these blessings that Jesus spoke about? Jesus makes it clear in verse 20 that quality is much more important than quantity. He said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." If you have a Schofield Bible, you will find in his notes that Schofield entitled that verse: "The simplest form of a local church." I do not always agree with Schofield, but in this case I do because the context here in Matthew Chapter 18 is one of only two places in all of the four gospels where Jesus talks about the church. It only takes two or three gathered together in the name of Christ to make a church. Recently I visited one of the larger churches in town and read in their church brochure that when they started over 100 years ago, they had 7 members. They were just as much a church when they had 7 people as they are today when they have over 1000.
It is just like Jesus to keep things simple. In the places where Jesus mentions the church there is no ceremony, there is no human tradition, and there is no form of an organization other than a gathering of the believers. You may want to remember this fact with the warnings that Jesus gave His disciples about the traditions of men and the commandments of men. The Pharisees had added the commandments of men to the Jewish religion, and therein was one of the biggest reasons for their failure. Make sure your view of what a church is really based upon the teachings of Christ, and not based upon organizations and traditions that humans have built up and presented to you. Just because a building has the word "church" on a sign out in front of it, does not mean that it is a church after the simple and pure example that Jesus gave.
In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus told the disciples the requirements and the importance for reconciliation between brothers and sisters in Christ. Peter evidently gave serious thought to the matter of reconciliation because Matthew says, "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him, until seven times?" Peter probably realized that humans donít naturally or easily forgive others when they have been wronged. Instead, they often tend to hold a grudge or try to take vengeance because they are not led and filled by the Spirit of God.
After the teaching of forgiving others was presented to him, Peter thought that there must at least be a limit, and so he asked Jesus if seven was a good limit. But Jesus made it clear that there was to be no such limitation to the concept of forgiveness. Matthew says, "Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." We will all be eternally grateful that Jesus put no limit on the concept of forgiveness. Our attitude toward each other in the matter of forgiveness should be a reflection of Godís forgiveness to us, and there is no limit to His forgiveness. If you will just remember how often and how much God has forgiven you, it should be very easy for you to be willing to forgive your brother.
In Matthew -34 Jesus said, "Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But because he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him a hundred pennies: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all your debt, because you desired it. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellowservant, even as I had pity on you? And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due unto him."
The purpose for this story was to make one important point: receiving the forgiveness of God necessitates being willing and able to forgive our brothers. Jesus made this clear by saying in Matthew , "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." Jesus said the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount when He taught us how to pray and said "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors". Jesus also said, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Being able to forgive others is an imperative from Christ. It is very logical that we would forgive others when we ourselves have been forgiven so much by a merciful and forgiving God. Itís also beneficial to forgive others. Anyone who cannot forgive others will end up being a vengeful and vindictive soul, tortured night and day by their own thirst for revenge. Such unforgiving souls will become victims of their own anger and bitterness, and will end up causing themselves more suffering than they probably received from their supposed enemy. How better off we will all be when we learn to forgive and not try to get even. Romans says, "Recompense to no man evil for evil," and Romans says, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
19:1-2 says, "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these
sayings, he departed from
In Matthew 19:3 the Bible says, "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" There was a problem with the attitude of the Pharisees. They came "tempting" Jesus, instead of coming to learn from Him. There was also a problem with the very question that they asked Him.
In the time period in which Jesus lived, women did not have the legal rights or the opportunities that they have. Women were treated by some as if they were the property of their husbands, and such attitudes led to abuses by the society and by many men. One of the abuses was the right that society gave for a man to put away his wife whenever he wanted and for whatever reason. Of course, the wife had no such right. She could never divorce the husband for any reason. That permission to put away a wife was easily abused by man. And being so easily and so unjustifiably divorced caused much suffering for the women. Because of the lack of opportunities for women at that time, they were very dependent upon their husbands for the provision of their needs.
By teaching these things about the husband-wife relationship to these men in their society and with the attitudes that they had towards women, Jesus was standing up for the rights of women and Jesus was speaking out against the abuse of women at the hands of men. Men were given strength by God to help provide for and to protect the woman, not to use their strength against her. Some women are still horribly abused by men in our society. Just look at the statistics on violence in our culture. Women are the victims of violence by the hands of men much more often than the other way around. However, men are not the only ones who are guilty of harming the opposite sex. Unfortunately, in our society some women have found a way to abuse men also. Some bitter and revengeful women use the legal system to attack men and to bring false accusation against them. Such sins are just as bad as those committed by men against women.†
Of course, in our society there is also abuse that is of a
sexual nature. One thing that contributes to this is the fact that women are sometimes portrayed as being sex
objects. Sex should not be contemplated or desired or represented in any
context other than in marriage.
of the abuse of sex by men and women, some
have sold their bodies and become prostitutes. We should pity them, and not
despise them. Jesus forgave those who had fallen into immorality. The prophet
Hosea was told by God to marry a prostitute. Rahab
the harlot was saved from the destruction of
First Timothy 1:9-10 gives a list of those that are lawless and disobedient, ungodly and sinners, and unholy and profane. Whoremongers are mentioned right after murderers. Prostitutes are not mentioned at all. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Again it is those who frequent the prostitutes that are given the greater condemnation, and not the prostitutes. In Revelation 21:8 is a list of the kinds of individuals that will end up in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Whoremongers are in the list, and prostitutes are not.
What should you think of when you see a member of the opposite sex, no matter how they are dressed? You should think, not that there is a person who was created for your pleasure, but that there is a person who was created to glorify God. Revelation says, "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created."
In Matthew chapter 19 the Pharisees asked Jesus if divorce were permitted for any possible reason. The response by Jesus to the question of the Pharisees is not a condemnation of those that have been divorced. But Jesusí teaching is a holding forth of the great ideal of marriage. No matter what has happened to you, and no matter what sorrows have come your way; never let go of the wonderful ideal of marriage. Be like Jesus. Consider what marriage was meant to be from the beginning. Jesus referred to the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, and Matthew 19:4-6 says, "And he answered and said unto them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
When speaking only to men who have the attitude that their wives are their property to do with as they please, Jesus said that the only reason to consider divorce was if the wife had committed adultery. Also, in speaking to both men and women, the Apostle Paul indicated that there were other valid reasons for divorce. He said in First Corinthians 7:15, "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace." When the scripture says not under bondage, it means not under the bond of marriage. Thatís divorce. Someone who has been divorced is not a second-class citizen and should not feel guilty, if they have asked God to forgive them for anything that they may have done to contribute to causing the divorce. A divorcee has all the rights and privileges as any other believer. Only let their attitude towards marriage never waver. Let them have the same attitude that Jesus had when He referred to the book of Genesis and said, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Of course, it is very important that a believer marry the right person. A believer should marry another believer who walks in close fellowship with the Lord. A believer should pray and ask for Godís leading in choosing his or her spouse. If these things are done, and if both husband and wife love the Lord Jesus; the marriage will last for a lifetime.†
Copyright; 2007 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved