Matthew 18:15-20 - Binding and loosening, on earth and in heaven

Updated: Jan 28

Jesus said, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”


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The key instruction in this reading is: “if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”  That says Gentiles and tax collectors are sinners and sinners cannot possibly be “gathered in my name.”  That is because it means sinners are those whose souls have not been merged with the Holy Spirit and therefore not reborn as Jesus Christ.


The Greek word “ekklēsia” (also “ekklēsias“) translates as “church.”  When Jesus was speaking these words to his disciples, they were all happy Jews, all of whom went to synagogues regularly.  None of them had yet become “Christians,” so there was no such thing as a “church,” per se.  This means the true translation of the Greek is as “an assembly, a (religious) congregation.” (Strong’s)  


When Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” think about what that means.  Jesus was there among his disciples, when he said that.  Judas was there as well.  Jesus was still three Matthew chapters (19, 20, 21) away from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem for his final Passover.  That means (minimally) Jesus was with an assembly of twelve.  However, at that time none were gathered in his name.  They were all gathered in their names, as disciples that followed Jesus around.


In verse 20, when Matthew wrote the word “onoma,” which is translated as “name,” that word also translates as “a name, authority, cause” [Strong’s definition], but also as “character, fame, reputation.” [Strong’s usage]  HELPS Word-studies adds the following:


“3686 ónoma –name; (figuratively) the manifestation or revelation of someone’s character, i.e. as distinguishing them from all others.


Thus “praying in the name of Christ” means to pray as directed (authorized) by Him, bringing revelation that flows out of being in His presence. “Praying in Jesus’ name” therefore is not a “religious formula” just to end prayers (or get what we want)!”


This then follows (in brackets): [“According to Hebrew notions, a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs, i.e. it is something of his essence. Therefore, in the case of the God, it is specially sacred” (Souter).]


Simply from realizing all that, to say “gathered in the name of Jesus” does not mean, “Here meets the club that calls itself a gathering of those who like Christ.”  In the name of Jesus means one is related to Jesus, as the Son of man reborn Spiritually, so all true Christians are Jesus Christ reborn.  Anything less than that does not qualify as being in the name of Jesus.  It qualifies as being in the name of Gentiles and tax collectors.


There is no such church on planet earth today that has pews with sinners sitting in them that would ever dare to confront someone claiming to be a true Christian, when there is nothing about his or her character, fame, reputation, authority or cause that says, “I walk the path of righteousness, as did Jesus, healing the sick, casting out demons, and explaining the Word of God for all who seek to know to become my brothers, in my name.”  Therefore, the only way to confront this absence of another who needs to be called out is to stop hanging out with Gentiles and tax collectors and pray for God to send His Holy Spirit upon oneself.


That makes a “church” of one, but when that “church” is where Jesus Christ truly resides, then it is just a matter of time before one can touch two or more others, so the Holy Spirit has brought about a true gathering of those in the name of Jesus Christ.  Because Jesus will be there, two thousand years after his death-resurrection-and-ascension, the truth of that statement is Jesus will be there physically as those who are in his name, as him resurrected.


The only ones who profit from a church that is led by and filled only with a bunch of heathens pretending to be something they are most assuredly not are those who charge customers money [call it tithes, dues, club membership fees, pledges, or any amounts under 100% of a member’s ownings].  They pass off charging customers as though customers need to pay for the right to sit in a building that is supposed to be one God ordered built.  They want the customers to pay the salaries of those who are hired hands (working for false shepherds), who do little towards keeping the building nice and clean.  So, the warning Jesus gave to his disciples (including Judas) says, “Do not fall for those who claim to be the Christ, but are not, do not believe them.” (paraphrased from Matthew 24:23)


R. T. Tippett

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