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Matthew 18:15-17 as a Procedure for Addressing Offenses Between Christians - Part 2

by Robin Calamaio  
6/23/2008 / Bible Studies

(This is Part 2 of this Master Thesis)

Resultant Translation and Conclusion

The resultant expanded translation is as follows:

"And hypothetically suppose that your brother sins, even singularly, against you. You must continue going until you gain an audience, expose his fault, while convincing him of its improprieties, between you and him alone. In this one-time private meeting, if he hears you, you win your brother! But, supposing that he does not listen, take with you one or two witnesses for the purpose that by the mouth of two or three witnesses this might be established - every single word. Supposing he brushes them off, you tell it to the church. And if he brushes off the church, then he must duratively be to you like a Gentile - even a tax collector; that is to say, like an ignorant outsider - even considered a despicable traitor."

It is not the object of this procedure to damn an offender. The object is to provide a systematic progressive platform for addressing offenses between Christians. Reconciliation and repentance are the desired goals, but if these are not forthcoming the offended saint is publicly vindicated and relieved of commanded pursuit of Christian duties toward that one. On the other hand, a repentant offender is to be forgiven, and all parties should strive to begin all things again fresh. Repentance, with accompanying forgiveness, equals healing and newness in relationship.

I believe Jesus gave the church a procedure for dealing with offenses between Christians that is fair and of great value. It is a simple procedure that covers almost all contingencies, regardless of human actions or reactions, with justice, mercy, and righteousness always being highlighted and sin always being exposed. All the complexities of human personality can be fairly accommodated under this procedural umbrella and all extenuating circumstances can be justly countenanced. The application of this process protects and honors God's name and reputation to those inside and outside the church. It also protects (and even honors) saints who have been violated by another Christian - and it grants an accused offender due process to be protected from false charges. Just about any and every offense situation, from the most "minor" to the most grievous, can be effectively addressed by obedience to the simple commands in Matthew 18:15-17 (Endnote 110). But, that is indeed the catch. Like all the rest of the wisdom which God puts at our disposal, it is completely wasted if ignored.

I believe that the leadership of a church, or mission work, has the responsibility to see that offenses between saints are addressed properly. I believe they will be held accountable to God for their failure to do this - or rewarded for creating the climate in which this service to the saints is optimally provided. This entire procedure should be viewed, and promoted, as one of the means of grace. It can help erring Christians by providing a chance for repentance (thus sparing them from a more severe discipline from God) and it can bring healing to a sinned-against saint. The following recommendations are suggestions for the implementation of this procedure in any setting of a group of Christians.

A formal system within the church or mission through which offenses are to be addressed should be instituted. One facet of this system would be the appointment of Christians who were deemed "spiritual" (after the pattern in Galatians 6:1) - who would be available for the second stage in the process. They might be viewed as "troubleshooters" and serve in that position for a year at a time.

When attempts at private reconciliation fail, the offended saint would know that these troubleshooters were then to be called upon as the second meeting was to be pursued. There are several reasons why it would be advantageous to have these troubleshooters pre-appointed. For one, an offended saint would be more likely to continue the "prosecution" of the offender. The offended saint is already under the burden of the offense, and by stage two, he/she has the additional burden of a failed private meeting. Pre-approved troubleshooters would make it much easier for a rebuffed, offended one to be encouraged to move forward with the complaint.

Another reason for having pre-approved, pre-appointed troubleshooters in place is that it would be difficult for an offender to charge that the offended saint has gathered friends to then gang up on him/her with trumped-up charges. These troubleshooters have already been acknowledged for their objectivity, spirituality, and wisdom when they were commissioned in the first place. And, as one reflects further, why burden a rebuffed saint with having to decide who should accompany him/her in this second stage? Pre-appointed troubleshooters smooth the way for continued commanded action and also free the offended saint from worrying over whom the saint chooses to go with him/her. The appointment of troubleshooters before any incident has occurred, and before the emotional intensity of an offense situation occurs, is a great service for leadership to provide a group of Christians.

Along with these appointed troubleshooters, there does need to be some definition given to stage three. How is the offended one (supporting troubleshooters) to "tell it to the church"? Is this to be announced in the Sunday morning service when announcements are called for from the floor? Is a flier to be inserted in the bulletin? These are indeed absurd remarks, but how is this telling to be done? In my opinion, the leadership of the church/mission should be briefed, and then an agreed upon way to tell the whole body should be pursued. Along with this announcement, a method should be forwarded so the whole church/mission can let the offending saint know of their support of the findings and position of the leadership of the church/mission (by this time, the offended one and the troubleshooters have established a solid case on the innocence of the offended one - and guilt of the offender). Perhaps this could be accomplished by means of a letter with signatures of the other saints. Also it should be clearly stated what repercussions the offender should expect if the impenitence is retained. For example, a private offense will mean the offended one has been vindicated by the church/mission and is relieved of pursuing Christian duties toward the offender. It may be worth remarking that this will have the effect of also naturally operating as a warning to other saints about involvement with the offender. If the offense is major, excommunication should then be explained.

Now what if the finally impenitent one refuses to leave the church or mission (assuming the offense was major)? I do not know what should be done in that case. Probably the offender will not want to continue being present anyway, but that circumstance would just have to be handled if it did indeed arise. Perceived possible future difficulties should not negate an implementation of this procedure in present settings. The benefits far outweigh the risks.

In outline form, here is the general format to be introduced and forwarded in a church/mission.

When an offense occurs:

1. Go in private to the offender.

2. If still unresolved, contact the troubleshooters and have them go with you for a second meeting with the offender.

3. If still unresolved, bring the matter to the church/mission leadership. The entire church/mission will be formally told of the infraction and the entire group will again appeal to the offender to repent (through a signed letter, etc.). Repercussions for continued impenitence will also be forwarded in this communique. A date for the offender to respond will be included.

4. If he/she still continues in his/her impenitence, then the forewarned repercussions will be implemented.

At this point, it may be asked how offenses by Christians toward outsiders (e.g. unbelievers) should be addressed. Remember, that by inclusion of "eis se" into the text, I opted for this passage to be viewed as instructions for Christians to deal with offenses among themselves. But, what if a Christian commits some sin against an unbeliever? What should be done? When discussing such a situation, Alexander Campbell states that "those privy to it [should] notify the elders of the church ... of the fact, and of the evidence on which they rely" (Endnote 111). The procedure I have forwarded could be altered slightly and be used in the above situation. If a saint knew of something another saint had done, he/she could notify the elders with the information, and one of the troubleshooters could be employed in the first private meeting. Obviously, the elders and/or troubleshooter need to approach such a situation quite carefully and gather information (perhaps even contacting the one[s] offended). This initial stage should be one of attempting to gather facts rather than approaching the situation in an accusatory manner. But the procedure outlined above could then be employed as written.

I believe that many, many Christians leave churches/missions quite often because of unresolved, offense situations. I am afraid that many times the situation has never even been addressed on the private level. This creates several unfortunate and destructive scenarios. If the offended one simply leaves because an offense has no way for resolution, then the Christian group loses "the good guy" - and "the bad guy" continues operations within the fellowship. I am afraid, even at the moment of this writing, that my church has a longstanding member who has run off many a saint by his offenses. I believe I am beginning to pick up a pattern of behavior in which he targets individuals he wants out of the church. I have been told of this (by other longstanding members) and I did not really entertain this seriously until just very recently. My point is that I am beginning to fear that many solid saints have been lost to this particular church because this one saint has never been properly confronted, warned, and dealt with in the past.

On the other hand, I am also quite convinced that offenders often leave a group of Christians and simply go to another group - without ever facing up to their deeds. What should be done in this circumstance? I see two sides to this problem. First, I have long maintained that a receiving church/mission does bear the primary responsibility to know whom they are receiving into their midst. Did the transferring person leave their previous group in a sound moral disposition? I know this is rarely questioned as most churches/missions assume the best about newcomers. Also, I am afraid that when letters of transfer are requested, the old group may be so glad to have the offender leave, that they simply respond in a kind manner - optimistically hoping, and maybe assuming, the offender has changed. This leads to my next consideration. If an offender does leave with impenitence, does the original body have any responsibility to warn sister churches/missions when they know the offender is coming to them? I believe I can best address this by two examples from my own experience.

Several years ago, I was a staff person in a male Christian alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. The director (with board approval) innocently hired a convicted male child molester. He was from another area of the state, and apparently falsified his resume and application. The director received a call from an outside Christian who knew of this man's background - and supplied the director with the names and numbers of authorities and others who knew firsthand of the objective findings. The director immediately followed up on this, and later that day I was delegated the duty to drive this new staff person back to his area. This was not a pleasant experience, but indeed necessary, and to this day I feel confident the "informant" saint provided our mission a great service.

On another occasion, a practicing homosexual was seeking to buy a street gospel mission were I worked. When his homosexuality was discovered and confirmed, the director would not sell to him. Weeks later, when I learned this man, and some of his companions, were going through membership classes at a large local church, I felt compelled to call the minister in charge of new members (it was a 5,000 member church) and let him know of our experiences with these men. Based upon his own inquiry, membership was denied and that area minister was extremely grateful to me. My point is that circumstances will dictate proper procedure and attitude many times, and I believe that each situation needs to be approached on a case-by-case basis with petitions for wisdom from on High.

A final duty that leadership must continually do is to make sure all the Christians of their group use the implemented system. The saints must be taught of its existence and purpose. This should be done in an exhaustive manner when a Christian first enters the fellowship of the church/mission. Then reminders should regularly go forth through the bulletin, Sunday School classes, preaching messages (or asides), etc. There are at least three reasons for this constant education. First, this procedure must be seen as "the way" to go about addressing offenses between the saints. They must be persuaded of its propriety and also internally commit themselves to it. Second, if Christians are not willing to pursue grievances in this prescribed manner, then they must simply be exhorted to drop the matter entirely. A system has been provided for grievance address and if he/she is not willing to use it, then his/her offense must not really be that important. The matter should be dropped, and the saint should get on about his/her Christian duties - and leave that "offender" alone. Finally, with a procedure like this in place, there is no room for gossips or slanders of one saint toward another. If all the Christians of a given group would become committed to a procedure like the one outlined above (or at least the bulk of the Christians in a given group), when someone starts complaining about another saint, the complainer could immediately be directed to a proper way to handle that complaint. One could simply ask, "Have you gone to talk to him/her about this thing that has offended you?" If the answer is "no," then the saint who is having his/her ear filled with the perceived offenses can direct that errant saint to handle the complaint in a proper way. I really believe that a concentrated effort to call saints to a proper understanding of Matthew 18:15-17 (with a purposing to practice it) would stifle much Christian pettiness - and call the saints to a higher level of Christian behavior. Great vigilance is necessary to keep Christians interacting with one another in integrity and respect.

I will be the first to assert that my proposed system may have opened up more questions than I have even begun to address. Also, it is possible that I have opened up some areas for mistakes to be made on several levels - as the pursuit for exposing sin is engaged. But, I am also convinced that even though mistakes might be made in the process of addressing offenses, if offenses are ignored between saints - that is nothing but a mistake.

Jesus calls his followers to conviction, courage, righteousness and graciousness. All of these elements, in all their appropriate balances, are called into action when offenses do occur between saints. Any church, or mission, that has educated its members on the proper way to address offenses between saints, and then has also implemented a well organized procedure - has done themselves, and their members, a great service. This forethought and preparation will avoid a compounding of pain in situations already painful enough. It is my hope that the Church lives up to all of her high callings, and I hope this labor contributes to that effort.


It is in this context that I believe a proper understanding of one of the nuances of "agapao" (love) can be extremely important and helpful in the promotion of healthy Christian interpersonal relationships. But, before stating my position, a brief synopsis of the variant views of the word may be helpful.

There is a substantial linguistic debate among scholars on the meaning of "agapao." In an attempt to define it, "agapao" is often examined by its own contextual and etymological roots and then contrasted with "phileo."

When referring to pre-biblical Greek usage of "agapao," Stauffer states that "in the word 'agapan' the Greek finds ... little of the warmth of 'philein.' Its etymology is uncertain and its meaning weak and variable" (Endnote 112). Among many varied examples of contextual meanings, Stauffer includes connotations of "honoring, esteeming or preferences" (Endnote 113).

Thayer maintains that "agapao" "by virtue of its connection with 'agamai,' properly denotes a love founded in admiration, veneration, esteem" (Endnote 114) and should be viewed in this manner in its New Testament uses. Thayer is arguing that "agapao" should be viewed more as an act of the will - an act one can choose - which can even be commanded. There is almost a stoic element in this concept of love as one volitionally chooses whether one will respect, value or esteem (love) some person or thing. On the other hand, Moulton and Milligan take another approach. While they do acknowledge "agapao" in pre-biblical Greek as ambivalent in meaning, they then assert:

"This is emphatically a case where the needs of a new subject take up a rather colorless word and indefinitely enrich it. In NT, "agapan" is purged of all coldness, and is deeper than "philein ..." (Endnote 115).

This is a huge leap. Basically, this position would maintain that "agapao" is now heavily laden with the emotional element of love and is in no way inferior, or less intense, than any emotional rendering of the love found in "phileo."

When defining "phileo," Thayer says that it "denotes an inclination prompted by sense and emotion" (Endnote 116). Similarly, G. Abbott-Smith identifies a linguistic assertion that depicts "phileo" as a "spontaneous natural affection, emotional and unreasoning" (Endnote 117). He later defines "agapao" as "the love of duty and respect," and "phileo" as "the love of emotion and friendship" (Endnote 118).

Louw and Nida hesitate to draw too sharp a distinction between "agapao" and "phileo" in their lexicon, but they do admit; "There are probably some significant differences in certain contexts; that is to say, 'phileo' and 'philia' are likely to focus upon love or affection based upon interpersonal association, while 'agapao' and 'agape' focus upon love and affection based upon deep appreciation and high regard" (Endnote 119).

While there are some instances where "agapao" and "phileo" seem to be used synonymously (i.e., 1Thes 4:9), there are many instances when these words are expressing different ideas. Moulton and Milligan infuse "agapao" with new meanings that have nothing to do with this word's actual history. They impose their own New Testament theology of God's love and nature upon "agapao." This is tremendous license.

In opting for a simpler etymological progression of the uses and meanings of "agapao," I have come to the following position. Christians can choose to value, respect or esteem one another ("agapao" a more stoic nature) without being required to love each other in some emotional sense ("phileo"). This is a critical element to Christian unity, Christian tolerance and Christian cooperation. God does not command that I emotionally love ("phileo") some brother or sister (or even Himself), but He does command that I respect him/her, esteem him/her, and value him/her ("agapao") - and Him, too! I can do that, and I have done that and, by His grace, will continue to do that - as that is an act of my will. Personally, I have found great freedom in these renderings of "agapao" and "phileo." When I have not felt an emotional love toward someone, I have found that I can respect, value or esteem that person - if for no other reason than the fact that God made him/her. I believe that "agapao," in this sense, is the true base upon which lasting Christian relationships can be built. And if one is committed to respecting others, then this procedure for addressing offenses becomes even more attractive. The entire process treats each individual with respect - while never compromising truth or righteousness.

End Notes

1 - John Calvin, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries: A New Translation," Vol. 1, trans. A. W. Morrison, ed. David W. Torrence and Thomas F. Torrence (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publ. Co., 1972), 186.

2 - Homer A. Kent, Jr., "The Wycliffe Bible Commentary," ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), 938.

3 - Sherman E. Johnson, "The Interpreter's Bible," Vol. 7, ed. Nolan B. Harmon (New York: Abingdon Cokesbury Press, 1951), 296.

4 - I do think a case can be made that this Galatian account can be read as including a situation like the one described in the Matthew account. To be specific, a Christian who is refusing to repent in stage two or three of the procedure in Matthew (and that Christian has been clearly exposed as being in the wrong), he/she could be viewed as one who is caught, or entangled, in a trespass. If one can accept such a reading of this Galatians account, then the spiritual qualifications of the additional Christians as enunciated by Paul can be directly applied to the additional Christians of the Matthew account.

5 - Raymond T. Stamm, "The Interpreter's Bible," Vol. 10, ed. Nolan B. Harmon (New York: Abingdon Cokesbury Press, 1951), 573.

6 - F. Roy Coad, "The New Layman's Bible Commentary in One Volume," ed. G.C.D. Harley, F. F. Bruce, H. L. Ellison (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), 1501.

7 - While it is possible that Jesus addressed His disciples in Aramaic, I have assumed that the writer of this account was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax are all open to investigation for authoritative instruction even if Jesus did not speak this in Greek.

8 - "The Analytical Greek Lexicon," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977), 2.

9 - Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, eds , "The Greek New Testament," (West Germany: United Bible Societies, 1975), xii.

10 - Bruce M. Metzger, "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament," (London: United Bible Societies, 1975), 45.

11 - Ibid.

12 - Ibid.

13 - Ibid., xvii.

14 - Ibid.

15 - Ibid., xxvi.

16 - Ibid., xxvii.

17 - Ibid., xxviii.

18 - Ibid., xxvii.

19 - Obviously, because I am maintaining here that the shorter reading is what makes this passage too difficult so as to be viewed as the original, then the guiding principle to lean towards shorter readings as more valid is rejected as the shorter reading is, in this instance, being viewed as the problem itself - making for too difficult a reading. It may seem that I have pressed the material too aggressively in attempting to make a case for "eis se" to be included in the text. I probably have. But, it may be that the retention of the singular pronoun, "soi" throughout the entire passage makes a case for "eis se" to be understood even if it was never a part of the original text.

20 - H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, "A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament," (New York: MacMillan Publishing Corporation Inc., 1955), 245.

21 - Ibid.

22 - Ibid.

23 - J. Gresham Machen, "New Testament Greek for Beginners," (Toronto, Ontario: The MacMillan Company, 1951), 132-133.

24 - A. T. Robertson, "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research," 2d ed. (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1914), 848-851.

25 - C. F. D. Moule, "An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek," (Cambridge: University Press, 1953), 20-21, 135-136.

26 - James Hope Moulton, "A Grammar of New Testament Greek," Vol. 2, Accidence and Word Formation (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1963), 75.

27 - Ibid., 76.

28 - Ibid., 74.

29 - Ibid.

30 - Ibid., 77.

31 - It must be admitted that often there are tense mixes that do not comply with the common Aktionsart. This is particularly true with many asyndetons and such a case could be made in reference to the first two imperative verbs in this passage. But, it is still just as possible that all the verbs of this passage do have deliberate and instructive Aktionsart of the common nature.

32 - Colin Brown, gen. ed., "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), s.v. "Guilt, 'elencho,'" by Hans-Georg Link, 140.

33 - Gerhard Kittel, ed., "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), s.v. "elencho," by Friedrich Buchsel, 473.

34 - Link.

35 - Buchsel.

36 - Ibid.

37 - Link.

38 - Ibid.

39 - Ibid

40 - Buchsel; Link, 140, 141.

41 - Link, 141.

42 - Buchsel, 474.

43 - Colin Brown, gen. ed., "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), s.v. "Recompense, 'kerdos,'" by Burghard Siede, 136.

44 - Gerhard Kittel, ed., "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), s.v. "Kerdos, kerdaino," by Heinrich Schlier, 672.

45 - Siede, 137.

46 - Gerhard Kittel, ed., "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), s. v. "lego," by Albert Debrunner, 75.

47 - Ibid.

48 - Ibid.

49 - Colin Brown, gen, ed., "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology," (Grand Rapids, Michigan ; Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), s.v. "Word, 'rhema,'" by Otto Betz, 1119-1121.

50 - Ibid., 1119,

51 - Gerhard Kittel, ed., "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), s.v. "akouo," by Gerhard Kittel, 223.

52 - Ibid.

53 - Colin Brown, gen. ed., "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology," (Grand Rapids, Michigan ; Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), s.v. "Hear, Obey," by Wilhelm Mundle, 175.

54 - "The Analytical Greek Lexicon," 304.

55 - Rudolf Bultmann, "Jesus and The Word," trans. Louise Pettibone Smith and Erminie Huntress (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934), 125.

56 - Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), s.v. "Matthew," by D. A. Carson, 369.

57 - Rudolph Bultmann, "The History of the Synoptic Traditions," trans. John Marsh (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), 146.

58 - Walter E. Bundy, "Jesus and the First Three Gospels: An Introduction to the Synoptic Tradition," (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1955), 325.

59 - Gerhard Kittel ed., "Theologica1 Dictionary of the New Testament," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), s.v. "ekklesia," by Karl Ludwig Schmidt, 526.

60 - Alfred Plummer, "An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), 253.

61 - Harold Fowler, "The Gospel of Matthew," Bible Study Textbook Series (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1978), 3:747.

62 - Schmidt, 531.

63 - Thayer, 196.

64 - For examples of various uses, see Walter Bauer, "Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature," trans. F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 240.

65 - Robertson, 427.

66 - Ibid.

67 - Ibid., 428.

68 - Moulton, Vol. 3, Syntax, 342.

69 - Moulton, Vol. 2, Accidence, 467.

70 - Robertson,842.

71 - Dana and Mantey, 198.

72 - Robertson.

73 - Ibid., 649.

74 - Ibid., 604.

75 - John Gibson, "An Exposition of the Bible," (Hartford, Connecticut: S. S. Scranton Co., 1904), 4:762.

76 - As an example, when I was a brand new Christian, the choir director of our church heard me singing one evening. He became convinced that I was supposed to be part of his choir. I had no desire to join the choir, but over the months he made it clear he felt I was burying talents, being unresponsive to his eldership (rebellious), etc. He gradually took offense at me (made known in several ways over the next three years). That was over a decade ago, and to this day I have no doubt in my mind that his offense was ungrounded. If he had been committed to this procedure, and if accompanying witnesses had been objective spiritual people, I am confident my reasons for nonparticipation would have been acknowledged favorably and my liberty in Christ would have been extended me in his presence. Conversely, had I been aware of this procedure and pursued it (he did malign me on a couple of occasions) I could have exposed his error. In my defense though, not only was I very young in the faith, I also did not initially realize he was really offended at me over this. My point here is that I believe unfounded offenses towards other saints have abounded throughout history - and continue to do so today. Christians have gone to their graves offended at some Christian - only to then find out they were unrighteously judging and/or censuring their brother or sister. I believe that proper use of this procedure would expose much more Christian pettiness and self-righteousness than we would like to believe is so.

77 - Robertson, 1027.

78 - Ibid., 1026.

79 - Richard B. Gardner, "Matthew," Believers Church Bible Commentary, eds. Elmer A. Martens and Howard H. Charles (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1991), 281.

80 - Ibid.

81 - Orrin Root, ed., "Matthew," Standard Bible Commentary (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing, 1967), 146.

82 - William Hendriksen, "New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1973), 701.

83 - John J. Collins, ed., An Abstract on R. Loria's, "'Legare e sciogliere' nella Chiesa primitiva alla luce della dottrina del Corpo Mistico," Palcler 46 (15-16, 1967): in, New Testament Abstracts 12, no. 2 (Winter 1968):187.

84 - Laney, 361.

85 - Beulah Stauffer Hostetler, "Defensive Structuring and Codification of Practice: Franconia Mennonite Conference," The Mennonite Quarterly Review 20, no. 3 (July 1986):443.

86 - Ibid., 442.

87 - Harold Fowler, "The Gospel of Matthew," Bible Study Textbooks Series (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1978),3:749.

88 - Jack P. Lewis, "The Gospel According to Matthew: Part II: 13:53 - 28:20," The Living Word Commentary, ed. Everett Ferguson (Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company, 1976), 58-59.

89 - Robert H. Gundry, "Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 368.

90 - Ibid.

91 - R. C. H. Lenski, "The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel," (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), 702.

92 - John Calvin, "Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Re1igion," vol. 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics, vol. 21 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1960), 1231.

93 - Ibid.

94 - Ibid., 1234.

95 - Ibid.

96 - Ibid.

97 - Ibid.

98 - John B. Lightfoot, "A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica," vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979), 255.

99 - Ibid., 256.

100 - Ibid.

101 - Ibid.

102 - Matthew Henry, "Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible," (McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d. ), 5 :258.

103 - Ibid.

104 - Ibid.

105 - Ibid., 260.

106 - Calvin, 1231.

107 - Thayer, 682,

108 - Ibid., 680.

109 - Ibid,, 682.

110 - The reason for the qualifiers above ("almost" and "just about any") is due to at least one scenario with which I am not comfortable. On one occasion, a married Christian woman sinned against me. She had slanderously reported a situation to the Chairman of the Board of a home mission in which I was employed. The Chairman of the Board proceeded to demand an accounting from the Director, and the Director came to me, visibly shaken, demanding an accounting as well. In reality the Chairman of the Board and the Director were both in the wrong for their handling of the situation, but the root of the problem was the slander by the married Christian woman. As I pieced together the incident, it became clear that I needed to confront the offending woman. The amazing thing is I had never met her and I really felt I needed to talk to her and her husband. Maybe a married male is to go in private to a married female (and in some situations relationships have been familiar enough that I felt comfortable with that) but on this occasion I at least wanted the husband present so he would be able to know his wife was not being "attacked." To be sure, this thinking on my part would be viewed by many as sexist, and if so ... so be it. But I believe it is appropriate to acknowledge at this point that even though this paper has been purged of all sexist language, it still stands that Matthew 18:15-17 was addressed to males and the passage is masculine in vocabulary and gender use. It is obvious that the third person singular verbs, in isolation, could be given a feminine rendering and several of the plural pronouns could be rendered feminine, but the only feminine noun in the passage is the word for "church." My point is that there may indeed be an appropriate exception to this first "private" meeting when opposite sexes are involved, especially if married and if the parties are unacquainted or very nominally so. I think it would be proper for a church or mission work that seeks to employ this offense addressing procedure to look into this "exception clause" I am here forwarding and decide if it is valid or not. I believe it to be so.

111 - Alexander Campbell, "The Christian System," (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1901), 71.

112 - Gerhard Kittel, ed., "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), s.v. '"Agapao," by Ethelbert Stauffer, 36.

113 - Ibid.

114 - Joseph Henry Thayer, "Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament," corrected ed., (New York: American Book Company, 1889), 653.

115 - James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, "The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament," (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930), 2.

116 - Thayer.

117 - Abbott-Smith, "A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament," (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1981), 3.

118 - Ibid., 470.

119 - Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., "Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains," (New York: United Bible Societies, 1988), s.v. "25. Attitudes and Emotions."

Selected Bibliography

Abbott-Smith, G. "A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament." Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1981.

Aland, Kurt, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce Metzger, Allen Wikgren, eds. "The Greek New Testament." West Germany: United Bible Societies, 1975.

"The Analytical Greek Lexicon." Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.

Bauer, Walter. "A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature." Translated by F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.

Betz, Otto. See Brown, Colin.

Brown, Colin, gen. ed." The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology." Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1976. S.v. "Guilt, 'elencho,'" by Hans-Georg Link.

__. S.v. "Hear, Obey," by Wilhelm Mundle.
__. S.v. "Recompense, 'kerdos,'" by Burgard Siede.
__. S.v. "Word, 'rhema,'" by Otto Betz.

Buchsel, Friedrich. See Kittel, Gerhard.

Bultmann, B. Rudolf. "The History of the Synoptic Tradition." Translated by John Marsh. New York: Harper and Row, 1963.

__. "Jesus and the Word." Translated by Louise Pettibone Smith and Erminie Huntress. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934.

Bundy, Walter E. "Jesus and the First Three Gospels: An Introduction to the Synoptic Tradition." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1955.

Calvin, John. "Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion." Vol. 2. Edited by John T. McNeill. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. The Library of Christian Classics, Vol. 21. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1960.

__. "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries: A New Translation," Vol. 1. Translated by A. W. Morrison. Edited by David W. Torrence and Thomas F. Torrence. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Campbell, Alexander. "The Christian System." Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1901.

Carson, D. A. See Gaeblein, Frank E.

Coad, F. Roy. "The New Layman's Bible Commentary in One Volume." Edited by G. C. D. Howley, F. F. Bruce, and H. C. Ellison. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979.

Collins, John J. "New Testament Abstracts" 12, no. 2 (Winter 1968): 187.

Dana, H. E. and Mantey, Julius R. "A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament." New York: MacMillan Publishing Corporation, Inc., 1955.

Debrunner, Albert. See Kittel, Gerhard.

Fowler, Harold. "The Gospel of Matthew," Vol. 3. Bible Study Textbooks Series. Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1978.

Gaeblein, Frank E., gen. ed. "The Expositor's Bible Commentary," Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984. S.v. "Matthew" by D. A. Carson.

Gardner, Richard B. "Matthew." Believers Bible Church Commentary. Edited by Elmer A. Martens and Howard H. Charles. Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1991.

Gibson, John. "An Exposition of the Bible," Vol. IV. Hartford, Connecticut: S. S. Scranton Co., 1904.

Gundry, Robert H. "Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art." Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.

Hendriksen William. "NewTestament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew." Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1973.

Henry, Matthew. "Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible." Vol. 5. McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d.

Hostetler, Beulah Stauffer. "Defensive Structuring and Codification of Practice: Franconia Mennonite Conference." The Mennonite Quarterly Review 20, no 3 (July 1986): 429-444.

Johnson, Sherman E. "The Interpreter's Bible." Vol 7 Edited by Nolan B. Harmon. New York: Abingdon Cokesbury Press, 1951.

Kent, Homer A., Jr. "The Wycliffe Bible Commentary." Edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison Chicago: Moody Press, 1962.

Kittel, Gerhard, ed. "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament." Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromily, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964. S. v. "agapao," by Ethelbert Stauffer.

__. S.v. "akouo," by Gerhard Kittel.

__. S.v. "ekklesia," by Karl Ludwig Scmjdt.

__. S.v. "elencho," by Friedrich Buchsel.

__. S.v. "kerdos, kerdaino," by Heinrich Schlier.

__. S.v. "lego," by Albert Debrunner.

Laney, J. Carl. "The Biblical Practice of Church Discipline." Bibliotheca Sacra 143 (Oct.-Dec. 1986): 353-364.

Lenski, R. C. H. "The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel." Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943.

Lewis, Jack P. "The Gospel According to Matthew: Part II: 13:53-28:20." The Living Word Commentary. Edited by Everett Ferguson. Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company, 1976.

Lightfoot, John B. "A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica." Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979.

Link, Hans-Georg. See Brown, Colin.

Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene A. Nida, eds. "Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains." New York: United Bible Societies, 1988. S.v. "25. Attitudes and Emotions."

Machen, J. Gresham. "New Testament Greek for Beginners." Toronto, Ontario: The MacMillan Company, 1951.

Metzger, Bruce M. "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament." London: United Bible Societies, 1975.

Moule, C. F. D. "An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek." Cambridge: University Press, 1953.

Moulton, James Hope. "A Grammar of New Testament Greek." "Vol. II: Accidence and Word Formation" and "Vol. III: Syntax." Edinburgh: T.and T. Clark, 1963.

__. and George Milligan. "The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament." London: Hodder and Stoughton, Limited, 1930.

Mundle, Wilhelm. See Brown, Colin.

Plummer, Alfred. "An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew." Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdrnans Publishing Company, 1963.

Robertson, A. T. "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research." 2d ed. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1914.

Root, Orrin, ed. "Matthew." Standard Bible Commentary. Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing, 1967.

Schlier, Heinrich. See Kittel, Gerhard.

Schmidt, Karl Ludwig. See Kittel, Gerhard.

Siede, Burghard. See Brown, Cohn.

Stamm, Raymond T. "The Interpreter's Bible." Vol. 10. Edited by Nolan B. Harmon. New York: Abingdon Cokesbury Press, 1951.

Stauffer, Ethelbert. See Kittel, Gerhard.

Thayer, Joseph Henry. "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament." Corrected Edition. New York: American Book Company, 1889.

Sources Consulted

Black, Matthew, ed. "Peake's Commentary on the Bible." New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962.

Booty, John E., ed. "The Divine Drama in History and Liturgy." Allison Park, Pennsylvania: Pickwick Publications, 1984. S.v. "Worship and Discipline: Context of Independent Church Order
in the Westminster Assembly," by Robert S. Paul.

Bultmann, D. Rudolf. "Primitive Christianity in its Contemporary Setting." Translated by R. H. Fuller. New York: Meridian Books, 1957.

Caiger, B. J. "Doctrine and Discipline in the Church of Jean Gerson." The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 41 (July 1990): 389-407.

Calvin, John, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries: A New Testament Translation," Vol. 2. Translated by A. W. Morrison. Edited by David W. Torrence and Thomas F. Torrence. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Fuller, Reginald C., gen. ed. "A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture." Camden, New Jersey: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1969.

Godsey, John D. and Geffrey B. Kelley, eds. "Ethical Responsibility: Bonhoeffer's Legacy to the Churches." Toronto Studies in Theology, Vol. 6. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1981. S.v. "Freedom and Discipline: Rhythms of a Christocentric Spirituality," by Geffrey B. Kelly.

Murphy, Roland E. "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible." Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1965.

Schiffman, Lawrence H. "Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Courts, Testimony and the Penal Code." Chico, California: Scholars Press, 1983.

Stanton, G., ed. "The Interpretation of Matthew." Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1983. S.v. "The Authority to 'bind' and 'loose' in the Church in Matthew's Gospel: The Problem of Sources in Matthew's Gospel," by Gunther Bornkamm.

Wernberg-Moller, P. "The Manual of Discipline: Translated and Annotated with an Introduction." Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah Series, ed. J. Van Der Ploeg, vol. 1. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1957.

Wilson, Edmund. "The Scrolls from the Dead Sea." London, England: Fontana Books, 1957.

Yadin, Yigael. "The Message of the Scrolls." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957.


As my thesis advisor, Dr. Bruce Shields has performed a major role in the completion of this work. He has corrected grammar, questionable vocabulary, and also identified areas that needed more comprehensive attention, either in exegesis or general theology. But in my estimation, probably the most important contribution Dr. Shields made was his challenge to present some practical suggestions (in the Conclusion) as to how this procedure for addressing offenses might be applied in the local setting at the present time. Also, if this paper does have comprehensible flow from beginning to end, Dr. Shields deserves much credit for that.

I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Robert Hull as he was the second reader of this thesis. With even a very limited opportunity to examine the content of this work, he presented several thoughtful and relevant questions and waved several "yellow flags" particularly in reference to my handling of the text itself. Rather than rewrite and/or rework some of the areas which concerned him (at some point this must simply be printed and bound), I have chosen to include some of his primary concerns in content footnotes 7, 19, and 31. I am quite convinced if he had been granted greater opportunity in time and attention to this labor, he would have identified other points that needed refinement or correction. I believe it should also be noted that there should be several content footnotes credited to Dr. Shields' observations, but his comments were absorbed by the various drafts of this project.

With the mentioning of several "drafts" leading to this final copy, there is one more person to acknowledge. I have never learned to type, and this thesis represents only a small fraction of the typing requirements of my seminary career. Carol, my wife, was pressed into service early on and has provided timely and efficient labors. She has worked through piles of my hen-scratched drafts and edits and produced presentable papers. This thesis is one example.

I do hope that God will find some way that this thesis can be used in the promotion of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. If so, each person who contributed to this work will receive a gracious recompense on the Final Judgment of the Great Day.

Matthew 18:15-17 as a Procedure for Addressing Offenses Between Christians

By Robin C. Calamaio

A master's thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Divinity Degree Dr. Bruce Shields, Advisor

Emmanuel School of Religion Johnson City, Tennessee 1992

Table Of Contents

1 .... Introduction
1 .... Offenses in General
4 .... The Pattern Of Matthew 18:15-17
16 ... Resultant Translation And Conclusion
22 ... Appendix
24 ... End Notes
32 ... Selected Bibliography
36 ... Sources Consulted
37 ... Acknowledgments


Name: Robin Carl Calamaio

Date of Birth: May 5, 1953

Place of Birth: Wichita, Kansas


Associate of Divinity: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas, 1986.

Business Administration, B.A.: Milligan College Milligan College, Tennessee, 1990.

Master of Divinity: Emmanuel School of Religion Johnson City, Tennessee, 1992.

International Society of Theta Phi: An Honor Society for Theological Students, Scholars in the Field of Religion, and Outstanding Religious Leaders, Founded November 14, 1935. Elected to April 23, 1992.

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