Excerpts from a Bible Reading – R. Huebner, D. Ryan
1. The importance of the phrase “for where” at the beginning of the verse, and a distinction made between His omnipresence and His presence “in the midst” of the assembly.
“For where” (οὗ γάρ) is the phrase in Matthew 18:20 which links the context of verses preceding with the truth contained in this verse. The action of binding and loosing by the assembly is done on account of the Lord in the midst, and it is by His authority that these things are able to be done.
2. It is true that the Holy Spirit gathers believers into one body in Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Are there personal and corporate actions of the Holy Spirit? What is a voluntary association?
Voluntary association = autonomous assembly (independent assembly) = independent denominational system
(Not congruent with the truth of the one body according to Paul’s doctrine)
3. What meaning does the phrase “two or three” have in this verse?
Note: Mankind would find confidence and strength in great numbers (and this is often used as some measure of success and growth); however, here the limelight is not on the two or three but on the Person who is in the midst! Therein lies their strength and confidence! He is everything and supreme, and if there are only two or three, they find their sufficiency in Him!
4. Why is the Church found in Matthew’s gospel (which is sometimes referred to as having a Jewish character)?
5. Why is it “unto His name” that we are gathered?
6. Paul wrote to Corinth from Ephesus to put away a man who had done evil (1 Cor. 5). The context of Matthew 18:20 speaks about binding decisions by the authority of the Lord in the midst. How does the binding work, and if a group of believers considers itself independent from another group, how is that different?
“For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 5:3-4).
“Where” = Multiple geographic places, but 1 moral place = a place defined by certain moral features = a foundation and ground of gathering
7. Does the ruin of the Church found in Christendom nullify what is taught in this verse?
8. How many occasions do we find in scripture where the Church is gathered together counting on the Lord in the midst according to Matthew 18:20? Are these then the meetings of the assembly?
Four Functions/or Meetings of the Assembly
- Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:18, 23)
- Prayer (Acts 4:23-31; 12:12-17)
- Ministry (1 Corinthians 14:23, 29)
- Discipline (1 Corinthians 5:3-4)