Oct. 1, 2006

A Prayer
of Jesus

I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.


The Builder
Part ll, "The Ekklesia"

By Edgar Jones


Part l of  of this series explained what I have learned from the Lord by carefully listening to his Word in the text of Matthew 16:13-16, shown below with the immediate context.  Part l carries the subtitle, "My Ekklesia" whereas this (Part ll) carries the subtitle "The Ekklesia."  Certainly the possessive pronoun makes "My Ekklesia" his own, different from another that he does not claim as his own. This is a significant distinction as we will see when we go now to examine the text of Matthew 18:17, the second of only two teachings of the Lord that include the Greek word, ekklesia. This is the word that Christian translators have uniformly rendered church in the English versions of the New Testament. Also very significant is this: having stripped away the obfuscations of Christian doctrine, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, I have learned that the Lord did not give Simon, son of John, a new name.  He only described him as a building stone (petros).  I have also learned that "My ekklesia" is not the church, and that the Lord is himself the bedrock (petra) on which he is building his ekklesiaWhen he stated (Matthew 16:18) that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it, he was speaking of the Resurrection at the Last Day, when he will summon his ekklesia forth, (from Hades) to assemble before him.  It is then that the gates of Hades will not prevail against his ekklesiaHere is the text that serves as the base for Part l.   


Mt.16:13 FNT When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea of Phillip he asked his disciples saying: Who do men say the son of man to be?
14 So they said: Some on the one hand John the baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or [one] of the prophets. 15 He says to them: But who do you say I am?
16 And Simon Peter answering said: You are the Christ the son of the zoe-living God.
17 Jesus answering said to him: Blessed are you, Simon Barjonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal [this] to you but my father in heaven.
18 And I say to you that: You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
19 I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in the heavens.
20 Then he censured the disciples that no one may say that he is the Christ.


The Keys -- To Whom Given?

Continuing with Matthew
16:19,  we have this:


19 I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in the heavens.


To whom does the Lord give the keys of the kingdom of the heavens?  Addressing Simon in Matthew 16:19, he gives them directly to him -- but is he the only one?  To get the answer to these questions and to learn more about the Lord's limited use of ekklesia, we need to go to the one other teaching of the Lord that includes the word.


Mt. 18:1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus saying: Who then is greater in the kingdom of the heavens?

Mt.18:14 Thus it is not [a] wish before your father in the heavens that [one] of these little [ones] be lost .
15 But if your brother sins, go tell him between you and him only. If he hears you, you have won your brother.
16 But if he not hear you, take along with you yet one or two, that on [the] mouth of two or three testifiers might stand every word.
17 But if he not hear them, speak to the assembly. And if he refuse to hear the assembly, he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.
18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in heaven.
19 Again I truly say to you that if two among you be in agreement on the earth concerning any matter that they ask, it will come to pass from my father in [the] heavens.
20 For when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

Please note that the Lord addressed these words to the disciples (Mt.18:18) and that disciples is plural.  Then observe that
18:18 above is exactly the same language as 16:19 except for the introductory reference to the keys.  Look at them here for comparison:

Mt.16:19 I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in the heavens.

Mt.18:18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in heaven.

Can anyone deny that the Lord, in Mt.18:18, speaks of the power of the keys of the Kingdom of the heavens just as specified in Mt.16:19?

The promise of the keys of the kingdom of the heavens is not to Simon alone.  It is to all disciples -- to all that confess Jesus to be the Messiah and respond as did Simon.  We already knew that, but this confirms it.  Simon, as the first to confess Jesus as the Messiah, becomes thereby a building stone (petros) -- the first -- together with every true disciple subsequently making and living that confession.  It is not to a single disciple but to all disciples that the Lord has given the keys of the Kingdom of the heavens.  Consequently, there is no primacy of Peter as taught in Catholicism, and there is no hierarchy among his disciples. The only primacy that Simon represents is in being the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and thereby becoming the first, in time only, of the building stones that the Lord is utilizing in the building of his ekklesia.

The Meaning of the Keys

Is it only a coincidence that this comes to us in a context that discusses forgiving -- or not forgiving -- a brother? And how to proceed in seeking his repentance when he has offended you?

No.  When a brother sins against us, we are to follow the prescribed proceedure: first go to him and seek a reconciliation.  If he is not responsive and there is no repentance (and one cannot forgive him except he repent; the offense is ongoing), we must yet seek to reclaim him, for he, a brother, is one of the Father's little ones, and it is not the wish of the Father that he be lost.  First take two or three others to consult with him.  Then, if he yet does not seek your forgiveness, take it to the ekklesia. This is the final step, and if he repents he is to be forgiven; if not (inferred), he is not to be forgiven.  And then the Lord says,

whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in the heavens.

Amazing!  When any qualified disciple, following this proceedure, procures the forgiveness of a brother on earth by securing his repentance and forgiving him, that same offense has already been forgiven in the heavens! Whatever one looses on earth shall already have been loosed in heaven.  Likewise, when the offending brother refuses to repent -- that brother is not forgiven on earth and that brother will not have been forgiven in heaven.  Whatever a disciple binds on earth will already have been bound in heaven.  Yes, it is amazing, but such is the power of the keys of the kingdom.  It is the authority to either forgive or not to forgive sin.  Let us state for emphasis that this is not a personal matter between two disciples, though it may begin so.  It is the authority to forgive sins in the name of the Lord and when a disciple so forgives (or does not forgive), heaven also forgives (or does not forgive).

Does the Word elsewhere confirm this?  Yes.

Jn.20:21 Jesus therefore said to them again: Peace to you. Just as the father sent me, I also send you. 22 And having said this, he breathed on [them] and says to them: Receive [the] Holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven to them; whose you judge, they will be judged.

Again, this word is to all his disciples. It is not to Simon alone. 

Tthe Lord goes on (in Matthew) to explain:

Mt.18.19 Again I truly say to you that if two among you be in agreement on the earth concerning any matter that they ask, it will come to pass from my father in [the] heavens.
20 For when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

We learn elsewhere that the Lord himself has power to forgive sins:

Mk.2:5 And Jesus having seen their belief he says to the paralytic: Child, your sins are forgiven. 6 But some of the scribes were there sitting and reasoning in their hearts: What does this [one] speak in this manner? 7 [God] slanderer! Who is able to be forgiving sins except one: God? 8 And immediately Jesus having known in his spirit they are reasoning in this manner among themselves, he says to them: Why do you reason these [things] in your hearts? 9 What is easier to say to the paralytic: Your sins are forgiven, or to say: Rise and take up your stretcher and be walking? 10 But in order that you may know that the son of man has authority to be forgiving sins upon the earth - he says to the paralytic: 11 To you I say, Arise, take up your stretcher and be departing to your house.

And, he stated in Matthew 18:20 (above):

For when two agree on anything that they ask, I am there in their midst.

He is here, in our midst, and he has authority on earth to forgive sins! 

The authority to forgive sins on earth is not trivial!  It is power such as men have thought, as indicated by Mark 2:7 above, to be possessed only by God.  There is more, for the Lord also said:

Again I truly say to you that if two among you be in agreement on the earth concerning any matter that they ask, it will come to pass from my father in [the] heavens.

Such is the meaning and the power of the keys of the kingdom of the heavens!

The Keys in the Old Testament

When the Lord first gave the keys of the kingdom to his disciples, they understood him and did not require an explanation.  Abiding by the first rule of interpreting the Word as spoken to the Twelve, which is to determine what it meant to them, we now ask what they understood.  All of them knew the history of their people through the study of the Law and the Prophets and the books of history in what we now refer to as the Old Testament.  Here is the relevant text:

Isaiah 22:20-22, (RSV) In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of JudahAnd I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaiah prophesied during the reign of king, Hezekiah (717-698 BC) in Judah, and at the time of the miraculuous rescue of Jerusalem from the armies of the king of Assyria (II Kings 18:9 - 19:37) (702 BC).  Isaiah 22:20-22 is part of an oracle directed to one Shebna, who was at that time the steward over the household of Hezekiah (i.e., the royal palace).  Hezekiah was the thirteenth king to rule over Judah in the succession of the Davidic dynasty.  A steward over the household of the king had great authority, likely second only to the king.  He was also called "the treasurer," since as ruler of the kings household he was responsible for the valuables stored in the treasury of the king and of all things placed in the royal palace.  This great authority was, according to the oracle, taken from Shebna and given to Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah.  Thus Eli'akim became holder of the keys of the king's household with control over every part thereof.  He possessed the keys of the kingdom; none shut what he opened, nor opened what he shut.

The Davidic Dynasty over the kingdom of Judah was the precursor of the messianic kingdom of God.  Simon has just confessed to Jesus (Matthew 16:16) the identity of the latter as the Messiah (the Christ, the anointed king).  Therefore, this is a promise of authority in the messianic kingdom of God.  If Simon was the only one to receive this promise (of the keys), this would have been the institution of an hierarchy in the kingdom; however, as shown above, the promise goes to all that make the good confession -- to all that recognise Jesus as the Messiah and respond appropriately to his Word, thus becoming sons of God in their own right (John 5:24).

This authority is the authority of the king of the
kingdom of God, that is, of Jesus of Nazareth.  In the days of his flesh, he manifested it by granting forgiveness of sins knowing that whatever he loosed on earth was already loosed in heaven.  In similar fashion, the authority of the keys becomes the possession of all that share in the Word of the Messiah, here while in the flesh and in this present time.  When they follow the procedure specified by the king, whatever they loose on earth has already been loosed in heaven and whatevery they bind on earth has already been bound in heaven.  They open and none shut; they shut and none open!  They forgive, and none condemns; they condemn and none forgives.

The Ekklesia

Notice that the ekklesia (the assembly) in Mattthew
18:17 is without the possessive pronoun that we find in Matthew 16:18.  Though the word appears twice in this verse, in neither case does it include the possessive "My."  You see the impersonal article instead.

17 But if he not hear them, speak to the assembly (the ekklesia). And if he refuse to hear the assembly (the ekklesia), he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.

If he spoke of his own ekklesia here, the same as in Matthew
16:18, why did he not refer to it here also as "my ekklesia?"

What is the ekklesia?

It is not my ekklesia.  The answer is even simpler than in Matthew
16:18, where we learned (in Part 1) that it, which he designated "my assembly," is the duly summoned assembly (his assembly) that the Lord  will call out of Hades at the Resurrection to assemble before him at the Last Day.  That is his duly summoned assembly; that is the Ekklesia he is building.  But the ekklesia is not his assembly that he spoke of as my ekklesia.

May I remind you once more of the cardinal rule in seeking to understand the Teaching of our Teacher?  Believing that his Word of Truth is not only absolute but universal, being the same in all times and places even unto Eternity, and that he taught his first disciples in terms they would come to understand and that are reflected in the content of the gospels, His Word of Truth must mean to us exactly the same as it meant to those that heard it immediately -- that is, as it issued from his mouith.

What did the ekklesia mean to the disciples gathered about him when he uttered the words of Matthew 18:17?

The gospel does not provide a definition of the word or explain what he meant by it. It must have required no definition or explanation, so he must have meant exactly what they understood him to mean, based on their use and experience.  It was a word with which they were very familiar.  Here is the applicable definition of the Greek word as taken from a  Lexicon2:


ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ (ἐκ + καλέω; Eur., Hdt.+)

a regularly summoned legislative body, assembly, as generally. understood in the Gr-Rom. world
Gr-Rom. = Greco-Roman (gener. in contrast to Israelite/Christian tradition)


This lexicon lists other definitions including the one with which the Jewish disciples were familiar from their exposure to the Septuagint, that of the assembly of the Isrealites in the wilderness after being called out of Egypt.  They would be familiar with this, but they would be much more familiar with the definition given above.  It was impossible that they take their grievance before the assembly in the wilderness.  They had no doubt as to which the Lord meant, nor should we.

The lexicon also lists other definitions relative to the Christian Church as commonly translated in the New Testament, including the utterances of the Lord that we consider here.  We all know that when the Lord uttered this word, ekklesia, there was no Christian Church. There was no church, there were no Christians and we have no record of his having revealed that there would be such an ekklesia as the Christian ChurchIt follows that his disciples could not have understood the ekklesia as an assembly of Christians, or local church.  The translators lead all of us astray by plugging in "the church" for the ekklesia, but his disciples could not have understood what we mean when we speak of the church.  Therefore that is not what he means us to understand. See Part 1
of this series for a further discussion.  There was only one thing they were in a position to understand, for theirs was the Greco-Roman world and this, the ekklesia, was known throughout, including Galilee and Judea, as::

a regularly summoned legislative body, assembly, as generally. understood in the Greco-Roman world

This legislative body consisted of the civily involved citizens of a city, village or town, as indicated in Acts 19:32,39 & 41, regularly aummoned.  That was the only ekklesia his disciples would have understood when the Lord spoke of the ekklesia, and therefore that is what the Lord meant.  Simple!  That is what they understood, and that is what we understand.

To summarise this point, when the Lord uttered ekklesia in Matthew
18:17 (not my ekklesia, just the ekklesia), he meant for his disciples to take the grievance before the duly summoned assembly, which was the ekklsia of the community of residence. 

This ekklesia included everyone -- that is, every responsible citizen of the community.  In the Jewish communities of
Galilee they would have been predominately Jews, but some Gentiles may have been included.  Even more significantly, it included unbelievers as well as disciples of the Lord. 

Paul directly contradicts this instruction in I Corinthins 6, where we read:

1 Does anyone [of you], having [a] matter against another, dare to be judged by the unjust, and not by the holy [ones]? 2 Or don't you know that the holy [ones] will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy of judging [the] least [thing]? 3 Or do you not know that we will judge angels, let alone things of this life, 4 if indeed you be judging the things of this life; those despised in the assembly, do you seat these [to judge you]? 5 I speak towards your shame. [Is there] thus among you not one wise, who will be able to judge between his brother? 6 But brother is judged with brother, and this by [the] unbelieving. 7 Already indeed therefore actually is defeat to you because you have judgments within yourselves.

So be it!  That is what Paul does -- contradict the Lord. 

Until recently, under continuing Paul's influence, I misunderstood the ekklesia in Matthew
18:17.  I thought it refers to the local synagogue, for it definitely has a Jewish setting.  But I can find no reference or definition in the New Testament or in the Lexicons that define the ekklesia as a synagogue, nor have I found a synagogue called an ekklesia.  The disciples certainly would not have understood him to be speaking of a synagogue, therefore neither should we.


What if the offending party refuses to acknowledge his guilt and does not seek or accept the forgiveness so freely offered?  A forgiveness that is not only on the personal level but that also looses him in heaven?  In that case, of course he is not forgiven by you -- and not forgiven by the Father.  Whatever you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven! 

Then there is the alternative consequence, should the offender refuse to repent, that becomes effective immediately as stated in Matthew 18:17:

. . . . he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.

What does this mean?

The answer is not so cut and dried as you may think, for one gets different answers from different sources.  Christian scholars tend to assume that, for the Gentile, it's meaning is as indicated when Simon first broke the Jew/Gentile barrier by entering into the home of Cornelius the Centurian in

Ac.10:27 And conversing with him he came in, and he finds many come together, 28 and he said to them: . . . it is unlawful for [a] Jewish man to be associating or to be coming to [a] heathen; but God has shown me to be saying no man common and unclean.

Therefore, it should have been unlawful for Simon to enter into the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, or to associate with him because he would have been unclean, a condition that could result from numerous infractions of the Levitical purity laws.  But a Jewish scholar, Hyam Maccoby, after examining the implications of those laws for the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus, concludes that all Jews were ceremonially unclean most of the time, which prevented their entering into holy places or partaking of holy things apart from first purifying themselves.  He furthermore points to the fact that Cornelius was not just any Gentile -- he was a God-fearer, a Gentile that was devoted to the Jewish faith but without becoming circumcised so as to become a Jew.  Such people were accepted as such in the synagogues and honored, as was Cornelius. As a God-fearer, Cornelius would have seen that there was nothing of an unclean nature in his home when Simon, whom he was expecting, arrived.  Maccoby therefore comes to this conclusion:

Thus the statement attributed to Peter that 'a Jew is forbidden by his religion to visit or associate with a man of another race' is not historically correct.  How, indeed, could the 'whole Jewish nation' have expressed their respect to Cornelius, or responded to the fact that 'he gave generously to help the Jewish people' (verse 2), if they all treated him like a leper?  In historical fact, there was great social intercourse between Jews and non-Jews, as is shown by the fact of widespread proselytization, commented on by many ancient authors and attested in the gospels.  The insertion of the speech into Peter's mouth is thus a piece ot Pauline Christian propaganda, intended to emphasize the contrast between the universality of Pauline Christianity and the alledged particularism of the Jews.4

Then we have this statement from a sharply contrasting Christian source:

Peter was a Christian by choice, but a Jew by birth. Two commandments had been drummed into his soul since his childhood: "Do not eat forbidden food – like pigs, rabbits, camel, hawks, owls or snakes. Our people never do that. Never."

The second was similar: "Do not go into the home of non-Jews or eat with them. Our people never do that. Never."  Eating unclean foods was one of the major reasons Jews considered Gentiles unclean and unacceptable to God. To associate with a Gentile a Jew would become unclean and lose his distinctiveness as being one of God’s chosen people.

So, in the light of these disparate views, when the Lord commanded his disciples (not Simon only) in Matthew 18:17, saying;

. . . . he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.

did he mean to avoid such a one like a leper, or something less drastic?

Another good rule for interpretation of the Lord's Word is to look to his example.  What was a Gentile to him?  Did he avoid them as unclean?  Apparently not, for we have this incident from his example to guide us:

Mt.8:5 Now when he came into Capernaum [there] came to him [a] centurion calling to him 6 and saying: Lord, my child is stricken paralytic in my house, terribly put to the test. 7 And he says to him: I, having come, will heal him. 8 But the centurion answering him said: Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say [the] word, and my child will be cured.

Our Lord showed no hesitation when confronted with the prospect of entering the house (come under the roof) of this Gentile, also a centurian like Cornelius.  Yes, the Lord did not seek out Gentiles, saying that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And yes, when he sent out his disciples on a preaching mission, he forbade them to enter into the way of the Gentiles.  We assume therefore that this was not a matter of discrimination against Gentiles but rather of holding true to the limits of his mission.  Further, while he himself refrained from seeking out Gentiles, at the last he commissioned his disciples to seek them out as objects for witness. 

Mt.28:19 Having gone therefore, make disciples of all nations . . ..

It is therefore very difficult, indeed impossible, to make a case for interpreting Matthew
18:17 to mean that we, the Lord's disciples, should absolutely shun the unrepentant one that has offended us.

Having examined the Gentile, what of the tax collector?  These persons were not Gentiles.  They were Jews that contracted (or worked for Jews that had contracted) with the Roman administration to collect the Roman tax from their fellows in
Israel.  We have this definition2:

τελώνης, ου, (τέλος, ὠνέομαι); tax-collector, revenue officer  The τελ. in the synoptics (the only part of our lit. where they are mentioned) are not the holders of the ‘taxfarming’ contracts themselves, but subordinates hired by them; the higher officials were usu. foreigners, but their underlings were, as a rule, taken fr. the native population. The prevailing system of tax collection afforded a collector many opportunities to exercise greed and unfairness. Hence tax collectors were particularly hated and despised as a class.  A strict Israelite was further offended by the fact that tax-collectors had to maintain continual contact w. non-Israelites in the course of their work; this rendered an Israelite tax-collector ceremonially unclean. The prevailing attitude is expressed in these combinations: τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοί: Mt 9:10f; 11:19; Mk 2:15, 16ab; Lk 5:30; 7:34; 15:1, Mt 18:17. οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι Mt 21:31f. As typically selfish Mt 5:46.—Lk 3:12,  5:29; 7:29. A Pharisee and a tax-collector Lk 18:10f, 13. Μαθθαῖος τελώνης Mt 10:3τελ. ὀνόματι Λευί Lk 5:27

It appears correct to say, allowing for exceptions, that tax collectors were generally selfish and grasping for wealth, being willing to accept a certain kind of ostracism from their fellow Jews for the sake of the money.  They were therefore classified by the Jewish teachers of the Law as sinners and listed together with harlots; nevertheless they ranked much higher than the Pharisees and elders in the esteem of the Lord:

Jesus says to them: Truly I say to you that the tax-collectors and the harlots will precede you into the kingdom of God.

Like the Gentiles, the tax collectors were ceremonially unclean.  This did not hinder social contact with them by the Lord; Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, having others under his supervision, yet the Lord did not hesitate to enter into his house and sit down to eat with him and others.

Lk.19:1 And when he entered he came through Jericho. 2 And behold [there was a] man by name being called Zacharias, and he was chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus is, and was not able from the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 And running before, he climbed up [a] sycamore tree, in order that he see him, for he was [about] to come by that [place]. 5 And as he came to the place, having looked up, Jesus said to him: Zachariah, having made haste come down, for today I must remain in your house. 6 And having made haste he came down, and he hosted him rejoicing. 7 And when they saw, all grumbled saying that: With [a] sinful man did he enter to lodge.

Likewise, Matthew (Levi) whom the Lord made one of the Twelve, was a tax collector:

Lk.5:27  And after these [things] he went out, and behold [a] tax collector Levi by name sitting in the tax office, and he said to him: Be following me. 28 And having left all, having stood up, he followed him. 29 And Levi gave [a] great banquet in his house, and there was [a] great crowd of tax gatherers and others who were with them being seated.30 And the Pharisees and scribes were murmuring of them to his disciples saying: Why do you eat and drink with tax gatherers and sinners? 31 And answering Jesus said to them: The healthy have no need of [the] physician, but those having [it] evilly.

Ceremonial uncleanness was a condition that the tax collectors shared with the Gentiles.  Since the Lord puts them together in the statement of Matthew 18:17, it may be that this is the only hindrance, for a Jewish disciple, to having contact with these parties.  Yet it did not hinder the Lord's mingling with them, or from calling at least one of them to become a disciple. 

In each of the above cases where the Lord had social intercourse with a tax collector, it was for the purpose of sharing the gospel with him and his friends.  When he commissioned his disciples to go to the Gentiles (the nations), it was also for the purpose of sharing the gospel  with them.  He explained this with the words:

The healthy have no need of [the] physician, but those having [it] evilly.

It is a different case with a brother that has refused to repent, for he will have heard the gospel and yet, having heard, is unrepentant of offenses to his brother(s).  There is no point in taking the gospel to him that has already received it and become apostate.  He may be compared to the unfruitful seeds in the Parable of the Sower.  Having received the Word, it came to life in him but soon died due to the shallowness of his faith. 

Most commentators that attempt to make ceremonial uncleanness a factor in understanding the Lord's command,

. . . . he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.

must completely ignore this Word of the Lord:

Mk.7:15 There is nothing outside of man entering into him that is able to defile him;

It is therefore very unlikely that he commands us to deal with Gentiles and Publicans on the basis of ceremonially uncleanness, or that he was commanding his Jewish disciples to avoid them for that reason, since the Lord himself did not avoid them, and gave a fundamental teaching to explain his conduct.

What, then?  Are we able to find another utterance of the Lord that puts Gentiles (the nations) and Publicans together?  Yes, there is one and only one; it is in the Sermon on the Mount:

Mt.5:46 For if you agape-love those agape-loving you, what reward do you have? Don't the tax- collectors do likewise? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what do you do more [than] [anyone] [else]? Don't the nations do likewise? 48 Therefore be complete as your heavenly father is complete.

Here, at the very most, the Lord sets both Gentiles (nations) and tax collectors apart from divine perfection (completion).  That is the alternative to being like them.  Yet here there is no clue as to how his disciples should relate to Gentiles and tax collectors.

With all these factors in mind, we have some questions to consider:

Does the Lord mean for his disciples to respond to an unrepentant brother as the Jews to Gentiles and Tax Collectors?

I don't think so, for in that case, how could they have followed his example?  He mixed with both Gentiles and tax collectors, entering into their homes and dining with them.

Again, another question:

Does the Lord intend that we respond to the unrepentant brother as to one that is apostate?

Again, I don't think so; the person is a brother, and the Father would not that any should be lost.

Finally, one more question:

Does the Lord intend for his disciple, to respond to the unrepentant "brother" as he responded to Gentiles and tax collectors?

Yes, I think so; but just what would this mean in practice?

He explained why he mixed with Gentiles and tax collectors in the clearest of language:

Mt.9:9 And proceeding from there Jesus saw [a] man sitting at [a] tax-booth, called Matthew, and he says to him: Be following me. And having stood up, he followed him. 10 And it came to pass when he was seated at table in the house that, behold, many tax-collectors and sinners came and sat down at table with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And the Pharisees having seen this were saying to his disciples: Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners? 12 But having heard this he said: The healthy have no need of [a] physician, rather those having [it] evil-ly. 13 But go and learn what it means:

I desire mercy and not sacrifice.

For I did not come to call [the] just, but sinners.

By this he explains why he mingled with tax collectors and sinners.  They were dining in the house of Matthew, the Publican (tax collector) whom the Lord had just called to be one of his disciples.  If there were ever a case where he might be exposed to ceremonial uncleanness, this was it -- yet he readily entered into this event, and then further explained that he and the Father desire mercy rather than sacrifice.  It follows that, in doing this, he was motivated by mercy for these sinners and tax collectors that were sick -- sin sick.  He does not go into detail as to the cause of the sickness, but he does explain that his ultimate motivation for being there is mercy.

I conclude that, in all our dealings with the unrepentant brother, we are to gauge every individual and individual situation and respond mercifully, knowing that we are dealing with one that is sin sick and in need of the physician.  Such a person has received the Word and been counted as a brother, which would rule out the merciful motivation of introducing the Gospel to him as the Lord did in his personal example, in Matthew's house.  There will be other ways to display mercy, and we must seek them and apply them.

We must not shun such a person, for the Jews did not as a rule shun Gentiles and tax collectors, even though they were ceremonialy unclean. How could we, by shunning them, display mercy toward them?  The Lord has clearly stated, concerning them,

Mt.18:14 Thus it is not [a] wish before your father in the heavens that [one] of these little [ones] be lost.

Summary and Conclusion

Here in Part II we have learned things that amaze me as I begin to hear what the Lord is saying to us.  This illustrates how tenacious are the blinders of Christianity, where we were mislead and mistaught concerning the Truth of our Lord.  We do not need to belong to a church to be blinded; blinders are pervasive throughout Christendom -- indeed, the world -- and we unconsciously put them on.  As for me, I have just recently seen the Truth regarding the ekklesia, his ekklesia, the keys of the kingdom and the power on earth of the keys to forgive sin.  I have also witnessed to the Lord's teaching the location of his ekklesia that he is building, and that he is building it in Hades, not on the earth.  This invites us to make the only conclusion possible concerning what men in Christendom know by the term church.  The Lord has no part or place in this earthly institution that masquerades as his ekklesia.
Finally learning this Truth has been one of the most liberating experiences of my entire life, including my sixty years of discipleship.  I wandered among the churchmen during the early years, not daring to charge them with error and wondering what was wrong with me.  It was not all a loss by any means, for I did learn some things through the years of discipleship, and I have shared much on this site of what I had already learned.  But now, I can put the pieces together and it all becomes a glorious whole -- a glorious, liberating Truth.  It is exactly as the Lord said:

Mt.7:7 Be asking, and it will be given to you; be seeking, and you will find; be knocking, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone asking receives, and [everyone] seeking finds, and to [everyone] knocking it is opened.

And as he also promised:

Jn.8:31 If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

One beam of Light leads on to others until it all becomes Light and there is no darkness at all. So, having dispensed with the church as an agency of the Lord, how would he have his disciples relate to each other and join in common cause?  We will address this question in a subsequent part of this series of papers.  Look for it in a future edition of voiceofjesus.org

In the meantime, let us join our Lord in thanksgiving:

I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wiseand understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.


1. Arndt, William ; Danker, Frederick W. ; Bauer, Walter: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2000, S. 303
2. Arndt, William ; Danker, Frederick W. ; Bauer, Walter: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2000, S. 999

3. Quoted from the Faithful New Testament.  This  translation is one of very few in holding faithful to the meaning of the Greek at this point.
4. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, Copyright  ©  1986 by Hyam Maccoby, Harper Collins Publishers, p.135, .



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