“If the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” St. Matthew 18:17
There is very little direct teaching in the Gospels about the church and its life. What there is, though, is found in Jesus’ discussion with his disciples in the central chapters of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, from which this evening’s lesson is taking. These chapters have come to take on a kind of special importance, especially among Christians who try to base everything the church does on a literal interpretation of the Bible.
For example, this three step process that Jesus describes for dealing with a member of the church who sins against another has been treated by some as judicial proceeding. First, confront the person with the sin. Then bring some witnesses. Then present the person for judgment before the entire congregation. One commentator compared it to reading someone his Miranda rights—did you “Matthew 18 him?” one Christian might ask another in talking about how an inter-church controversy unfolded.