Monday, August 01, 2005

What Makes Church? 3 - Leadership and Authority

Continuing our discussion on Church, leading into our second subheading on leadership and authority, compare the following two passages, one from Matthew 18, and the other from the Talmud tractate, Berachot 6a:

Matthew 18:15-20:
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church (or "the congregation"), treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Talmud, Berachot 6a (remember the Jewish concept of a congregation being a minimum of 10 attendants):
Whence is it that when ten assemble for prayer the Shechinah is in their midst? As it is said, "God standeth in the godly congregation" (Ps. lxxxii. 1). And whence is it that when three sit and judge, the Shechinah is in their midst? As it is said, "In the midst of the judges He judgeth" (ibid). And whence is it that when two sit and occupy themselves with the study of the Torah, the Shechinah is in their midst? As it is said, "Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened and heard" (Mal iii. 16). And whence is it that even if an individual sits and occupies himself with the study of the Torah the Shechinah is with him? As it is said, "In every place where I cause My name to be remembered I will come unto thee and will bless thee" (Exod. xx. 24).
Notice the reference in both passages to the numbers two, three, and the congregation. As an aside, it's also interesting to note that Yeshua identifies Himself as the Shechinah -- which could be a clue to how the concept of the Trinity can be made to fit into Judaism.

When we look at it in the light of the two passages above, it seems clear that in Matthew 18, Yeshua was outlining the authority structure in the church along lines familiar to Jewish understanding.

For a more in depth study on this, read this ...

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