Matthew 18 is concerned with how Christians should treat sinners in their midst. If you follow the instructions, they are simple
- Deal with the “sinner” first yourself
If another member of the church[d] sins against you,[e] go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.[f]
- If this doesn’t work, bring witnesses to hear and decide the matter, like a jury system.
But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
- If this fails, bring the complaint to the Church
If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church
- If they don’t listen there, treat them like a Gentile, meaning either drop them from the community, or go to government court to seek redress.
and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
- Now, after giving instructions on how to deal with sinners in the Church, Jesus assures them that he will be there with them making sure the decisions are correct.
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Notice: The line about 2 or more agreeing or gathering is a direct reference to what precedes it, the idea that disputes between individuals can be resolved by hearing the case before Christian witnesses acting as a jury.
Nowhere in this passage is there any mention of the foundation or leadership of the Church as a whole, merely how to resolve specific disputes that are bound to arise. If Jesus had intended his Church to be lead by more than Peter, he had a chance to say so 2 chapters earlier, when as someone else brought up, all the disciples were around. Jesus didn’t do this, he singled Peter out specifically and handed him the keys to the Kingdom, no one else.
Now of course, Peter isn’t going to be around to hear every dispute between Christians, so some binding and loosing power has to be granted to subordinate bodies as well, hence Matthew 18.