Where Two or More are Gathered… But Why?

You have probably heard the verse before: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 

These words, spoken by Jesus, and recorded for us in Matthew 18:20, are often used with good intention in many settings to refer to the way that God’s presence is specially manifested in the gathering of believers.

But here’s the thing: Most people who quote that verse, although not incorrect in what they are stating, are taking those words of Jesus out of context.

Do you know what the context was in which Jesus said that famous statement?

Wait for it…

CHURCH DISCIPLINE!

Here’s the entire context:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:15-20)

The full context of what Jesus was saying is about addressing Christians in the church who are in sin. He urges Christians to lovingly confront each other if they are in sin, for the purposes of repentance, reconciliation and restoration. This loving confrontation is to be done in the smallest circle possible, because it is not meant to shame a person or embarrass them, but to lovingly confront them because sin by nature is destructive and detrimental, not only to the person who sins, but it has an overflow affect to those around them. Sin never happens in vacuum.

If that person won’t listen to the one who lovingly confronts them, then other objective Christian brothers or sisters are to be brought along, to talk to that person and pray for them to have a change of heart and turn back to the Lord.

It is in this regard, that God says: know that I will with you when you gather together to do this, as a word of reassurance and encouragement to those seeking to do the difficult job of confronting someone in love and urging them towards repentance.

Eric Bargerhuff sums it up well:

Essentially, Jesus is teaching that interpersonal sin and conflict should not be ignored or dismissed, because Christians in general should be committed to maintaining healthy, wholesome, and fully reconciled relationships. After all, this is ultimately why Christ died, so that we first could be reconciled with God and second, reconciled to one another. So we must guard and protect our relationships from sin, especially those relationships between believers.

Jesus is saying that whenever the church is pursuing and is involved in a reconciliation process with someone who has refused to repent, they can rest assured that God’s blessing is with them in their efforts. In other words, as the church renders judicial decisions on matters of right and wrong that are based on the truth of God’s Word, they should be confident that they are doing the right thing and that Christ himself is right there with them, spiritually present in their midst.

From: The Most Misused Verses in the Bible 

3 thoughts on “Where Two or More are Gathered… But Why?

  1. Nick, I get that , I really do….but here is how I would restate what Jesus said, ” Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven, (Do you know why that is?, Because)….where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

    I believe, and have always believed that Jesus last statement in this passage is true no matter what the circumstance i.e. he could have been talking about any subject where people gather in His name and said the same thing. I think it is one of those Biblical statements that can logically be taken in context with the passage it is written in ( Matt 18: 15-20 in this case) buy can also be taken in context with the Bible in it’s entirety….I mean how many verses in the old testament begin with, “Fear not, for I am with you….”?

    While I agree wholeheartedly with using the statement in context with this text, I also believe that Jesus’ promise that He will be with us when two or three gather in His name is a promise that we can count on no matter what the circumstance. I have trouble believing that

    1. Shelby, it looks like your comment got cut off. But I agree that this statement is generally applicable as you say. I think that looking at the context in which the statement was made is very interesting, and something which caught me by surprise when I realized it! I had never thought about the context before actually. Realizing that Jesus encouraged them that he would be with them when they undertake this uncomfortable but necessary action brought a new and powerful perspective on the topic for me.

  2. I do like the perspective it brings, but I was confronted with this idea several years ago by a good Christian friend who implied that to use this comment in any other way was erroneous. It caused me to consider it and develop a response that reflects my understanding of the Bible. Every passage, in my opinion, has three contexts that need to be considered – the context of the passage it is contained in, the context of the book it is included in, and the context of the whole Bible ( the whole council of God). Ultimately, every passage should be used to try to better understand the nature of God – and I think this passage allows us to better understand Him in a particular way. I love the feeling I get when I believe that He is with us when we gather in His name. I don’t want to lose that feeling when it applies to a situation other than church discipline!

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