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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Saturday, January 09, 2016

"Where Two or Three are Gathered" Doesn't Mean What You Think" (video)

It's almost commonplace for church leaders and Christians in general to refer to Matthew 18:20, which says "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." They try to use this verse to prove that Jesus can be found in the fellowship of believers. However, in doing so, they are twisting the scriptures just as much as a Mormon or one of Jehovah's Witnesses do.

In this short clip, Lenny explains what Matthew 18:20 really means and why it's important to use the scriptures properly, especially in church settings.

Photo courtesy Grayson Akerly and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License.


  1. Hi! I watched this video twice and read the passage under discussion (Matthew 18:15-20) a few times, and I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion.

    (Which if I understand it correctly, is that the "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them" from 18:20 only applies in the context of 18:15-17, the procedure for dealing with sin in the church).

    I'm not a pastor or a teacher -- I'm just a guy with a Bible in hand -- but from reading this passage, it looks to me like Jesus is talking about a few distinct topics here:

    Matthew 18:15-17 - Procedure for dealing with sin in the church;

    18:18 - The verse about things being bound/loosed on earth being bound/loosed in heaven as well (which admittedly I don't understand);

    18:19 - If two people in unity on Earth ask God for something, he'll do it for them;

    18:20 - The "where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them" verse.

    From my reading, it's not totally clear to me that 18:15-17 are a single subject together with 18:19-20?

    I'd be happy to hear any clarification or supporting points you might have for why all that IS the same subject!

    Thanks! :-)

  2. That is very interesting, I heard something about this the other day from another teacher. What I find interesting is that there is agreement to a point on this. Jesus was teaching on those dealing with someone in the church in a trespass and that there is to be 2 or 3 witnesses there to confirm what is going on to try to bring restitution.(Matt.18:15-16) If that person refuses to listen then they tell it to the church, and if that person still refuses to listen, then that person is to be considered as Gentile. (verse 17/ like an outsider) In verse 18 Jesus speaks in reference to a person's sins being bound or loosed, which would be by confession or rejection, and this was to be publicly declared among the church. However in verse 19 it has a little shift, in which Jesus says something a little different along the same context on 2 or 3 people agreeing "about anything they may ask", it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. That sounds a lot like prayer, with 2 or 3 asking for something to be done in agreement, and Jesus says this will be done by the Father. In reading verse 20 Jesus went on to state that where 2 or 3 people "have gathered together in my name", there I am in their midst. In verse 20 is teaching something in general, for where 2 or more believers are together, Jesus is there among them in fellowship and spirit. Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 28:20, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." The context of what is going in Matt.18:15-20 is dealing with a person's accountability by church members, and agreement among believers in asking the Father for things to be done in agreement, and Jesus is among them in spirit when they are together. Many times the overall context may not be addressed clearly, but I would not agree with those who say Matthew 18:19-20 is not about prayer, because it does give some validity to it.


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