It is understandable why some of you would be confused by my strong statement about Matthew 18:20 in my last post. It is a questionable passage and i made a radical statement about it being taken out of context... below are my thoughts. I am willing to accept my mistake if i messed up and am almost to that point, so please comment and give me your thoughts,
A Brother Who Sins Against You
15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will bebound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
If you look at the majority of this passage, it is not talking about prayer at all... it is talking more about confronting a brother within a community. When it talks about "two or three come together" in verses 19 & 20 it seems to be referring back to verse 16 where it talks about two or three witnesses. The reason you would want two or three witnesses is because that is how you would condemn someone in court or have proof. Unless you really believe Jesus is just trying to reform the idea of "2 or 3 witnesses" right here into a more general context of community and prayer, you have to read this v19-20 as referring to the situation above. Even Peter's follow up question of "How many times do i forgive my brother" seems to suggest that they are still on the subject of correcting a brother. So what Jesus really seems to be saying by this passage is: "Confront a brother by yourself. If that doesn't work take 2 or 3 people so that there is legitimate proof and not just one person's word vs. another. If that doesn't work take the church. And if that doesn't work treat him as a nonChristian. The truth's you stand for on earth as a Church will also stand true in heaven. So where two or three witnesses come to agreement on an issue such as this, God will be there, because these Christians gathered with the intention of glorifying his name."(I took of a lot of liberty there)
But then again... The Message takes a firm stance that v 19 is talking within the wider context of prayer by adding "and make a prayer of it" and even in the v19 in the NIV where it says "agree about anything you ask for" seems to suggest that Jesus is saying that God answers prayers within a group of believers, the discipline issue just being one such scenario... I am willing to be corrected if my initial comment was wrong. Help Me out.