Being responsible for one another in Matt 18 video discussion

The gospel reading for Trinity 14 in Year A, Matt 18.15–20, comes within the fourth of the five collections of teaching organised by Matthew to, in some sense, present Jesus as a new Moses. Having focussed on discipleship (Matt 5–7), mission (Matt 10), and the kingdom of heaven (Matt 13), this collection gathers sayings on life together in the ‘ekklesia‘. The Greek term ‘ekklesia‘ never denotes a physical structure in the NT, nor, I would add, an institution with regulations and structure, but always a community of people.

Come and join James and Ian as they explore the surprising things Jesus says about our relationships, and their implications for ministry and discipleship today.

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20 thoughts on “Being responsible for one another in Matt 18 video discussion”

  1. What a thoroughly enjoyable chat, thanks.
    And that Rabbinical quote at the end points to a theme: the presence of God, in Christ. The presence of God is also a whole canon theme including an eschatological one.
    On Saturday gone, I listened to a podcast on the eschatology of the Beatific vision, which, it was said, has largely been lost in Protestant eschatology.

      • It was a term I was unfamiliar with, but not a thumb – nail sketch of the theology.
        It was identfied as part of Thomist theology, but not exclusively so, being also part of Protestant theology.
        It was a discussion on the Credo podcast, between Matthew Barrett, Fred Sanders, J.V. Fesko and Scott Swain.
        The link is here:
        It is just short of 36 mins in length.
        (Aired on 10 August 2023.)
        I think it was Sanders, though I I’m far from sure, not knowing the voices, ( and I was washing the dishes at the time) who said the theme could be traced in both Biblical and Systematic theology.
        BTW. Thank you for pointing out R T France’s comment on “binding and loosing” which, to me, gets order right, that is it right as it is in line with what God has revealed to be in accord with his will.

        • Listening.
          It is some years ago now when as part (and yes it was only part of the worship) of our Sunday morning service an invited guest recited, from memory, the whole of the Gospel of Mark.
          And we are millenia removed from the oral tradition and transmission of OT and NT, times! Does that have a bearing on any contested scribal error or emendation? Let alone on accuracy and reliabilty of all that is recorded, written down.
          The recitation of Mark was for the purpose of demonstrating memory recall, even in today’s society of short attentiveness and visual culture, how much more so would the accuracy be for the purpose of Gospel compliations memory of Jesus and historical recall.
          Just a thought ( foolish I know?) – the Cathedrals could broadcast Bible reading on a loop as background sound for visitors.

      • Simply that the intended consummation of history is for us all to achieve a state of comprehending the essence of God and participating in this essence.

        St. John writes about it in 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

        The beatific vision is a knowledge of God that is not abstraction, reason, or analogy. We will know God’s essence without any mental image or created idea that represents this divine essence.

        I Cor. 13:12 – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.”

        The faithful who endure to the end will “see God” by a comprehension of Him. Each person will “see” or comprehend God in the beatific vision in accordance with his own capacity determined by his state of grace at death.

  2. I can really recommend the David Suchet readings on the NIV. It isn’t my favourite translation, but he is a really great reader.

  3. Our Vicar gave an excellent word on this passage last Sunday focusing on the requirement to “become as little children in order to be able to see the kingdom.”

    This passage also seems to me to consider children, the young in faith.
    I am reminded throughout this passage of the function[s] of the /a priesthood as those who were tasked with the guardianship of the ecclesia, as God is ultimately.
    The priests of old were Temple Guards of The Holy, to keep out false worship and behaviors. That the temple was an exclusive institution which here in ch.18 Jesus shows that the whole ecclesia is involved in ensuring that the* church* is safeguarded,
    Remembering that Jesus had recently forbidden anyone to carry anything through the Temple.
    In attempting to be Inclusive is there not a great danger that all manner
    of evil teaching is allowed to parade unchallenged? What is Holy has already been decided in heaven and revealed in the holy scriptures. What is unholy has already been bound and awaiting sentencing. Paul teaches what should be a modal of sound practice which includes the directive of Jesus here in 1&2 Tim. & Titus.

    • Thanks, Alan.
      Couldn’t view it on my phone, and its 13 pages requires far more attention in its detail and covers more aspects than the podcast I referred to above.

    • Hello Alan,
      Here is a shorter explanation of Beatific Vision from Sinclair B Ferguson:
      For believers, it is something to delight in as our destination, terminus, the purpose of our creation, in being born from above, and in our Union with Christ.
      John Owen was recommended reading in the podcast, without giving specifics, but if his contemporary English books, “Communion with God” (as Trinity) and “The Glory of Christ” published by the Banner of Truth are anything to go by, so would I.

  4. Another wonderful video discussion, Ian and James. I await each one with great anticipation. With respect to the discussion on “binding and loosing,” might it be possible that the common (as I understand it) Jewish practice of confirming agreements, etc., with an oath, be in the background here. I haven’t seen this interpretation anywhere, but it would seem to fit within the context of the ecclesia. I know that Jesus warned us against swearing, teaching us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. But we do make agreements and promises to one another within our life together in Christ. Such an agreement or promise would certainly be binding on those who take discipleship seriously. Mightn’t Jesus be saying that a promise made within the ecclesia is taken as seriously, is as binding, and perhaps even more so in the courts of heaven, as it is on earth. As to loosing, on this line of thought, one can be released from a commitment only by mutual or common consent of of the ecclesia. And if the ecclesia mutually agrees to resolve or dissolve a commitment on earth, then Jesus may be saying that it is also resolved/dissolved in heaven. Just a thought, and if it is too speculative or terribly off target, I gladly welcome your correction. Anyhow, thanks for all your efforts to reveal His Word to us more clearly.

    • Binding and loosing are known technical legal expressions in the ancient Jewish world. “To bind” is to restrict, to confine, to limit, in a legal sense “to forbid something”. On the opposite side “to loose” is to unbind, to untie, to free, to release, in a legal sense means “to permit something”.

      First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes that under queen Alexandra of Jerusalem, the Pharisees “became the administrators of all public affairs, empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind.” (Jewish War 1:111).

      When Jesus used this terminology in the Gospels, the context is legal and the terms should be interpreted through a first-century Jewish context. Just like the Pharisees in Josephus’s quote, the disciples were given a right to legislate, a right to make rules and norms, allowing and forbidding things in their own community.

  5. @ Ian
    >>The Greek term ‘ekklesia’ never denotes a physical structure in the NT, nor, I would add, an institution with regulations and structure, but always a community of people.<<

    Perhaps not, but are you opposed to consecrated buildings where people assemble to offer worship and to church institutions with regulations and structures?

    • Jack As someone who is not opposed to ‘consecrated buildings’ (open-air services do have their limitations!) , I too am more than perplexed by the assertion that “the term ‘ekklesia’ *never* denotes a physical structure in the NT nor, I would add an institution with regulations and structures, but *always* a community of people.”
      In essential terms, the term ekklesia (the ‘called out ‘- the ‘holy one’) does preclude ‘physical structures’. Nevertheless, simply to disassociate people from other aspects of the physical world is, I would suggest to engage in a form of hyperspirituality – “meanwhle back in the wilderness”!
      Furthermore, note the logical link between the phrase ‘ekklesia *never* denotes’—– and the conjunction *nor*; thus it would seem to be giving us ‘ a communityof people *without regulations and structures*. Well bang goes eldership and the diaconate; bang goes “everything being done decently and in order.” A misinterpretation? It is one thing to ontologically distinguish between a community of people and the physical world around them . But in biblical terms,though not of the essence of our humanity, regulations and structures are prolugated with the primary purpose of encouraging the growth of such qualities as love and holiness – not in ‘a community of people’ – but in ‘a community of the *people of God*’; thereby ushering them into the fulness of humanity at the end of the age.

      • @ Colin McC

        Indeed. And the address by Jesus – “loosening and binding” – is actually about the authority of the community to excommunicate from and receive back into the community following sin.

        Understood through a first-century Jewish context, the disciples were given a right to make rules and norms that allow and forbid things in their local community.

        The question then is the relationship between local communities/churches and the wider universal community/church.

  6. It is recalled, and I have a book somewhere which considers, as a topic, all the “one another” scriptures and their totality is not confined to hierarchical, top-down, church discipline, nor embraces individuality, self-expressive individualism, which is particularly prevalent in the contemporary Western culture.
    Two or three bear legal corroboration, evidence to the objective truth, which is disputed, which is not merely personal and subjective in understanding or interpretation, a subjectivity which may have a self purpose of its own to serve.

  7. Ian

    Why do you believe Matthew the tax collector wrote Matthew’s Gospel? Many scholars such as Bauckham reject that.

    Regarding ‘when 2 or 3…’ Ive always found that a troubling passage as it seems to say if 2 or 3 agree to ask God for something, He automatically grants their request. I suppose many would understand it to mean if you ask and it’s God’s will then it will be granted, but that always seemed to me to be a copout as that isnt what Jesus said. If the ‘anything’ in fact relates ONLY to dealing with someone’s sin, or permitting or not ie rules etc, then perhaps it’s more understandable. But again is that really what he was referring to?


  8. Regarding Church buildings. Of course God was the first designer [the tabernacle] which was rich in symbolism pointing to Christ.
    Apparently The oldest dated evidence of a synagogue is from the 3rd century , but synagogues doubtless have an older history. Some scholars think that the destruction of Solomon’s Temple of Jerusalem in 586 bc. gave rise to synagogues after private homes were temporarily used for public worship and religious instruction.
    Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of Jewish prayer, study, assembly, and reading of the Torah (read in its entirety once a year.]
    Jesus and the Apostles preached their first sermons in such places until they were scattered it was their meeting places where they paid the temple tax. It was not until later that churches were erected as power and authority, places of grand scale for which the flock was severly shorn, being required or duped to pay for all manner of services.
    Similarly, Wesley et al. Wesley was regarded as a high churchman who wanted to stay within the CofE.he was ejected as we know. His churches are nearly all of similar simple design. Jesus did prophecy that they would throw you out of the “synagogues”.[As we see today!] “Count it all joy for so persecuted they the prophets!” If you are a member of the prophetic church proclaiming a warning you will not be “included” Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness are the big polar opposite question today. Only at the Judgement will the righteous be vindicated and *called out*.


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