"Where two or three are gathered in my name"

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Reformed, Apr 13, 2016.

  1. Reformed

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    I read in a post on the board today a snip of this passage, "where two or three are gathered in my name". This is one of the most misapplied portions of scripture in the entire bible. It is often used to say that where two are three are gathered [in prayer], God is in the midst. If that was true than God would not be present if one or four are gathered in His name. The passage has nothing to do with the gathering of the church/believers for worship, prayer, or fellowship. The passage is referring specifically, and exclusively, to church discipline.

    Jesus is explaining how to deal with a brother who sins. He goes through the process of showing the brother his fault in private. If the brother refuses to repent the process is escalated, all they way up to, and including, excommunication. Jesus underscores the need for truthful witnesses in the process, so He states that charges need to be confirmed by two or three witnesses (v. 16). He repeats Himself in verse 19 by saying, "Again, I say to you...".

    Now, it is true that Jesus is present, through the Holy Spirit, if two or three are gathered. But He is also present if one, twelve, or three hundred and eighty five are gathered.
     
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  2. The Biblicist

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    Right on! Many don't see the grammatical connection between verses 15-18 with verses 19-20 by the word "again" in verse 18 which shows a continuation. More don't see the practical connection between the two, as the church in verse 17 must rightly discern who is wrong and who is right, and then properly apply the administrative keys of the kingdom in verse 18. That takes prayerful dependence and leadership and verses 19-20 directs the church to such prayerful dependence with regard to all stages of verses 15-18. Whether it is the meeting between the offended and offender in verse 15 or the two or three members of that church gathered with the offender and offended in verse16 or the whole body gathered in verse 17. To gather "in my name" means to gather as instructed and in prayerful dependence for divine direction.
     
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  3. Earth Wind and Fire

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    OK then the quantity of people present should not mean anything....as long as its a gathering in His name. Excellent!
     
  4. annsni

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    SO true and I always bite my tongue when people use this verse in the way that they do. Like there is more power if there are 2 or more people.
     
  5. Internet Theologian

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    Blame it on the pastors who don't teach others 2 Timothy 2:15, but instead ask people 'What does this verse mean to you'? or they encourage others who tell what a passage means to them. :rolleyes:

    Then there is the don't want to offend anyone factor, therefore the shepherds become the shepherded.
     
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  6. TCassidy

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    My response is usually, "I don't care what it means to you. I want to know what it means to God!" Did I mention I am not very popular in touchy feely churches? :D :D
     
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  7. Greektim

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    I think there is a terribly under emphasized grace in the aforementioned passage from the OP. Certainly the context is about church discipline and certainly at the point in question the discipline has escalated to the point of excommunication. And in that moment of despair and doubt, pain and peril, we have the promise of Jesus abiding with those who obey him in this pursuit. Church discipline is not an easy task. If you shy from it, you will have in your presence many unrepentant sinners along with a church that allows their presence as well. Church discipline, when done right, leads to the presence of Christ. It may cause quakes in the church and damage its structure. But the presence of Christ is the blessing, not the presence of the unrepentant sinner.
     
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  8. agedman

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    I disagree, Reformed.

    Although the passage is MAINLY about discipline of one who is in error (sin), it is also about the gathering.

    It shows that when believers gather, Christ is in the "midst." The statement, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” should not be exclusive to a gathering over matters of discipline, for ALL gathering of believers is over and includes matters of discipline in some manner. Gatherings may be called fellowship, or worship, or some other term, but discipline, instruction, and encouragement are always present. There is not a time when two or more members gather that some form of discipline is not also present.

    The sentence (verse 20) isn't EXCLUDING Christ from the midst at other times, it is reminding the apostles that Christ is ALWAYS in the midst - even when handling more difficult matters.
     
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  9. kyredneck

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    18 Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Mt 18

    19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Mt 16

    22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:
    23 whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. Jn 20

    He's speaking to the apostles concerning the 'apostolic authority' they would have in tending to the infant church. The Acts 15 council at Jerusalem would be a prime example as would Paul's disciplining in 1 Cor 5:5 and 1 Tim 1:20.
     
    #9 kyredneck, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
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  10. The Biblicist

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    One person is not an assembly. Church discipline cannot be administered by one person but is administered by the majority (2 Cor. 2:6). Hence, two OR three is a bare minimum to be an assembly. However, among that two or three minimum there must be at least two in agreement (v. 19) as a majority.
     
  11. The Biblicist

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    So where in the context do we read "apostles" or "the twelve" or "elders"? He does not say "tell the apostles' or "tell the elders" but "tell the church." The nearest antecedent for "you" in verse 18 is "church" in verse 17. Church is inclusive a plurality, like the term "herd" or "flock" and can therefore take plural pronouns. For example look at 2 Cor. 1:1-2 where "church" in verse 1 is the nearest antecedent to "you" in verse 2.

    Second, if you lift verse 18 out of this church context (and universal church advocates believe verses 17 and verses 19-20 are church context) then you have someone telling the church in verse 17 without providing any reason for telling the church as you simply do away with any response by the church to the contextual problem which is an obstinate unrepentant church member.

    Third, Paul as the apostle did not exercise church discipline on the open fornicator in 1 Cor. 5 but called upon the church as a plural "you" to exercise it. 2 Cor. 2:6 says it was performed by the majority "the many."
     
  12. kyredneck

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    1 In that hour came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Mt 18
     

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