Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Misused Verse #4

     This verse is misused/misquoted so often it's not even funny. Just like the last verse, the misuse of this verse isn't extremely dangerous, but when overused it posts an obstacle to our understanding of prayer and the presence of God. The verse that i am referring to is Matthew 18:20. If you have your Bible, open it and take a look, if not, here is the verse: "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." My friends from New Zealand, my church (the one in Oregon AND the one in Hawai'i), and myself, have all misused this verse at some point in our lifetimes. You may be wondering how this verse could be misused, it is a wonderful picture of how the LORD is present in all of our church gatherings. No, it is not. Remember the first rule of Biblical interpretation?
     ::cough:: context ::cough:: You guessed it, context!
     Starting at verse 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. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.17 If 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. 18 Truly, 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."
     As you can see here, this chapter of Matthew is not about prayer, but about church discipline. If the misused version of this verse WERE true, we would have to hunt down one or two people just to feel the presence of God during our prayers. We know this is not true (I used to feel more of the presence of God while riding the lawn mower and singing worship songs at the top of my lungs than most any other time). On top of our own personal experiences, there are several verses that tell us the same thing. See: Matthew 28:20.
     In essence, God is with us ALWAYS, even when there are less than two or three.
     If this verse is misused, it could provide ammunition for those who argue against the unanimity of the gospel, and it could have drastic affects against young Christians who do not quite know how to defend themselves against the lies of the Enemy. If it takes two or three to summon the presence of the LORD, then why would Christ say he is with us ALWAYS?


Joe Anderson
"Jesus isn't cool. He's God. Cool changes, God doesn't" ~ Kristen Williams


  1. makes you think about it although i am not sure if i fully agree... :)

  2. Well... you may be right :D But I've always taken it to mean that in our /gatherings/, God is present in a special way. What I mean is, no matter how small your church is, even if it's only two people meeting together for worship, the presence of the Lord is there :) But, I can also see what you're saying, and now YOU'VE OVERTURNED EVERYTHING! LOL Ok, yes, it makes sense in the context that it would be talking about discipline. I'll have to show this to my dad :D
    Oh, and I /love/ that quote by Kristen Williams. I am so tired of people saying things like God is cool, or 'Jesus rocks!' Ugh. Don't these people have any reverence for God at all?

  3. @ Cowboy: What are your reservations?

    @ Laura: When you put it that way, that is a view on this verse that I can live with, however, that is not how I see it used. Show your dad! Maybe he can bring some more comments :D
    I'm glad you liked the quote, it's by a friend of mine who does Christian youth conferences all over the place. He said that, and I thought, "Good, biblical, I love it, it's going on the blog."


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