Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
It may seem that Matthew 18 is not a deep chapter and that the parable in verses 23 through 35 is shallow. Actually, what is revealed in this chapter is very deep. When most Christians read Matthew, they do not realize that this book deals not only with the doctrine of the kingdom, but with the practical kingdom life. If we would understand any portion of Matthew, we need to keep this fact in mind. When I was young, I did not care to read Matthew 18 because I did not see that this chapter deals with the kingdom life. Although you have read this chapter before, you probably have not seen what it really deals with. Rather, you may have thought that it is merely concerned with Christian behavior, that it is merely a word about forgiving our brothers. Because of our natural concept, we do not see that this chapter is deeply concerned with the kingdom life.
The fact that this portion of the Word deals with the practical kingdom life is proved by verse 1: “In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?” To enter into the kingdom of the heavens means to enter into the manifestation of the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, this chapter, along with chapters nineteen and twenty, deals with the kingdom life.
In order to remain in the kingdom life, we must have humility. If we have humility, we shall neither offend others nor be offended by others. We shall neither stumble others nor be stumbled by them. All stumbling, of ourselves or of others, comes from pride. We need to hate pride and treat it as a “gopher” that must be killed. Otherwise, the “gopher” of pride will ruin the kingdom life.
In chapter eighteen we see how to deal with someone who offends others. If a brother offends us, we should go to him directly in love. If he does not listen to us, we should go to him again with one or two witnesses. If he still does not listen to us, even in the presence of witnesses, we should tell the matter to the church and let the church deal with him. If he refuses to hear the church, then the church should consider him a heathen or a tax collector and cut off his fellowship with the church. Although this is a word telling us how to deal with a brother who causes offenses, it is also a word indicating that it is a serious matter to offend others. The seriousness of this is shown by the danger of being cut off from the fellowship of the church. To be cut off from the fellowship of the church means to be put out of the kingdom life. This is serious.
In the Lord’s word about dealing with an offending brother, the authority of the kingdom is involved. Verse 18 says, “Truly I say to you, Whatever you bind on the earth shall be what has been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth shall be what has been loosed in heaven.” If someone offends the brothers and rebels against the church, the heavens will bind him. Notice that verse 18 says that the church binds what has already been bound in the heavens. This indicates that the offense and the rebellion cause the heavens to bind the one responsible for the offense. If you reject the church and rebel against the church, the heavens will bind you. Because the heavens have bound you already, the church executes what the heavens have already bound. If you consider verse 18 in its context, you will realize that it is not an insignificant matter to rebel against the church. The church simply follows the heavens to bind what the heavens have already bound. The church’s binding is the execution of the heavens’ binding. Before the church says, “Lord, we bind this rebellious brother,” he has already been bound in the heavens.
The same is true regarding repentance. To repent to the church for your rebellion is a matter of great significance. If you repent to the church, the heavens will immediately loose you, and then the church will loose what has been loosed in the heavens. To rebel against the church is serious, and to repent to the church is very significant. By this we see that Matthew 18 covers the kingdom life.
What is found here is not simply a matter about offending someone or listening to the church. It is a matter of whether or not we shall remain in the kingdom. If we rebel against the church, the heavens stand behind the church and support it. Hence, if you rebel against the church, the heavens will say, “I bind you.” Then the church will rise up to bind what the heavens have bound. But if you repent, the heavens will say, “You are loosed.” Then the church will carry out what has been loosed in the heavens. Whether we rebel against the church or repent to the church, both are serious. Both reveal that our relationship with the brothers and with the church has a great deal to do with the kingdom life.
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