To whom was Jesus addressing in Matthew 18:15-20?


#1

To whom was Jesus addressing in Matthew 18:15-20? This is from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible:

Binding and Loosing of Sins
15 “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.
16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence 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, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
18Truly, 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. *
19Again 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.
20For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

I’m a convert (former Baptist, and converted at age 20ish). From a Catholic perspective, verse 18 applies only to the apostles, and then their successors. However, the other verses seem to apply to all Christians. Either the entire passage (15-20) applies to all Christians, or it applies to just the apostles/successors.

If the former, then we all can “bind & loose.”

If the latter, then only the apostles/successors can be guaranteed to receive what they ask if two or more pray together, and only they are asked to “tell it to the Church” if someone sins against them. If this is the case, then who are their “brothers”? The other priests/bishops? If so, then who is the “Church”?


#2

Hey Larry,

Great questions!:thumbsup:

This won’t answer them all but may help.

First, verse 1 of Chapter 18 says Jesus is speaking to the “disciples”. I don’t know. I always think that means the apostles and others. I don’t know why I think that, I just do. I figure if it was just the apostles then it would just say the apostles. But I’m guessing here.

From the Navarre Bible Commentary…

…these passages deal with three "aspects of life in the Church…

  1. fraternal correction (verses 15-16) which is a way to help “save a brother who has gone astray”

  2. authority of the leaders of the Church (verses 17-18) which is another way to help save someone…this is like excommunication.

  3. prayer in common (verses 19-20)…Jesus is emphasizing its effectiveness similar to a contemporary saying that when two men meet together to study the words of the Law, God himself is there with them."

Considering the audience is “disciples”, I would say it is ok for us (and them) to understand that 1) and 3) can be applied to any Christians. And 2) is reserved for the leaders of the Church.

That’s a start anyway…


#3

Once you have completed the process of trying to correct your brother and take it to the Church, then the Church takes over and applies the principle of binding and loosing, according to the authority granted to the Apostles and their successors by Christ. It’s rather simple–you try to settle the matter between yourselves as outlined, and if that doesn’t work, take it to the Church, who has the authority to settle the matter.

Not unlike a civil dispute where the parties attempt to settle the dispute among themselves (with their lawyers), and if they can’t, they take it to court, where the court has the legal authority to settle the dispute (bind and loose).


#4

Not necessarily. Our Lord could have been talking to the Apostles alone, and saying to them some things that applied to them as Christians, and other things that applied to them as Apostles. Those things that applied to them as Christians could then be applied to the rest of the Church.

If we back up to the beginning of Chapter 18, we see that in context the Lord is talking to “the disciples.” We can discuss whether “the disciples” refers here to the Twelve or some subset of the Twelve, or if it is used in a broader sense. Given that the previous chapter names Peter, James, & John, calling them “the disciples,” it seems reasonable to conclude that the references immediately following are also to the Apostles.


#5

Larry1700 #1
I’m a convert (former Baptist, and converted at age 20ish). From a Catholic perspective, verse 18 applies only to the apostles, and then their successors. However, the other verses seem to apply to all Christians. Either the entire passage (15-20) applies to all Christians, or it applies to just the apostles/successors.

If the former, then we all can “bind & loose.”

No. Christ instituted His Church on Peter and the Apostles. The thousands of Protestant sects, all differing in beliefs, show how no one else can “bind and loose”.

If the latter, then only the apostles/successors can be guaranteed to receive what they ask if two or more pray together, and only they are asked to “tell it to the Church” if someone sins against them. If this is the case, then who are their “brothers”? The other priests/bishops? If so, then who is the “Church”?

radioreplies.info/site-search.php?q=Whatever+you+bind&db=2
316. Where in the Bible does it say that Peter was the Vicar of God?
The three classical passages in which St. Peter’s supremacy over the Church is clearly shown are as follows: In the Gospel of St. Matt. XVl., 18-19, we find Christ saying to Peter, “I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall he loosed also in heaven.” Christ there constituted Peter head of the Church in promise, declaring that the office would carry with it the power to act vicariously in the name of God. In St. Luke, XXII., 31-32, we have the words of Christ, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” St. John, XXI, 15-17, tells us how Christ, after His resurrection, commissioned St. Peter to feed His lambs, and to feed His sheep, i.e., to be shepherd over the whole flock.

Modern Catholic Dictionary
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
CHURCH.
The faithful of the whole world. This broad definition can be understood in various senses all derived from the Scriptures, notably as the community of believers, the kingdom of God, and the Mystical Body of Christ.

As the community of believers, the Church is the assembly (ekklesia) of all who believe in Jesus Christ; or the fellowship (koinonia) of all who are bound together by their common love for the Savior. As the kingdom (basileia), it is the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies about the reign of the Messiah. And as the Mystical Body it is the communion of all those made holy by the grace of Christ. He is their invisible head and they are his visible members. These include the faithful on earth, those in purgatory who are not yet fully purified, and the saints in heaven.

Since the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church has been defined as a union of human beings who are united by the profession of the same Christian faith, and by participation of and in the same sacraments under the direction of their lawful pastors, especially of the one representative of Christ on earth, the Bishop of Rome. Each element in this definition is meant to exclude all others from actual and vital membership in the Catholic Church, namely apostates and heretics who do not profess the same Christian faith, non-Christians who do not receive the same sacraments, and schismatics who are not submissive to the Church’s lawful pastors under the Bishop of Rome.

At the Second Vatican Council this concept of the Church was recognized as the objective reality that identifies the fullness of the Roman Catholic Church. But it was qualified subjectively so as to somehow include all who are baptized and profess their faith in Jesus Christ. They are the People of God, whom he has chosen to be his own and on whom he bestows the special graces of his providence. (Etym. Greek kyriakon, church; from kyriakos, belonging to the Lord.)
therealpresence.org/cgi-bin/getdefinition.pl


#6

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 15. Offend against thee. St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome understand from this verse, that the injured person is to go and admonish his brother. Other understand against thee, to mean in thy presence, or to thy knowledge, because fraternal correction is a duty, not only when our brother offends us, but likewise when he offends against his neighbour, and much more when he offends God. It is moreover a duty not peculiar to the injured, but common to all. When the offence is not personal, our advice will be less interested. This precept, though positive, is only obligatory, when it is likely to profit your brother, as charity is the only motive for observing it. Therefore, it not only may, but ought to be omitted, when the contrary effect is likely to ensue, whether it be owing to the perversity of the sinner, or the circumstances of the admonisher. (Jansenius)

Ver. 17. Tell the church. This not only shews the order of fraternal correction, but also every man’s duty in submitting to the judgment of the Church. (Witham) — There cannot be a plainer condemnation of those who make particular creeds, and will not submit the articles of their belief to the judgment of the authority appointed by Christ. (Haydock)

Ver. 18. Whatsoever you shall bind, &c. The power of binding and loosing, which in a more eminent manner was promised to St. Peter, is here promised to the other apostles and their successors, bishops and priests. (Witham) — The power of binding and loosing, conferred on St. Peter, excelled that granted to the other apostles, inasmuch as to St. Peter, who was head and pastor of the whole Church, was granted jurisdiction over the other apostles, while these received no power over each other, much less over St. Peter. (Tirinus) — Priests receive a power not only to loose, but also to bind, as St. Ambrose writeth against the Novatians, who allowed the latter, but denied the former power to priests. (Lib. i. de pœnit. chap. ii.) (Bristow)

Ver. 19. That if two of you. From these words, we learn how superior is public to private prayer. The efficacy of the former is attributed to the presence of Christ in those assemblies. The Father, for his Son’s sake, will grant petitions thus offered. (Jansenius) — The fervour of one will supply for the weakness and distractions of the other.

Ver. 20. There am I in the midst of them. This is understood of such assemblies only, as are gathered in the name and authority of Christ; and in unity of the Church of Christ. (St. Cyprian, de Unitate Ecclesiæ.) (Challoner) — St. Chrysostom, Theophylactus, and Euthymius explain the words in his name, thus, assembled by authority received from Christ, in the manner appointed by him, or for his sake, and seeking nothing by his glory. Hence we may see what confidence we may place in an œcumenical council lawfully assembled. (Tirinus) (St. Gregory, lib. vii. Regist. Epist. cxii.)


#7

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