Matthew 18:15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
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(15) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass.—Better, and if thy brother shall sin. A twofold train of thought is traceable in what follows. (1.) The presence of “offences” implies sin, and the question arises how each man is to deal with those sins which affect himself personally. (2.) The dispute in which the teaching recorded in this chapter had originated implied that the unity of the society which was then represented by the Twelve, had for the time been broken. Each of the disciples thought himself, in some sense, aggrieved by others. Sharp words, it may be, had been spoken among them, and the breach had to be healed.

Go and tell him his fault.—The Greek is somewhat stronger, convict him of his fault, press it home on him in such a way as to reach his reason and his conscience. (Comp. John 16:8.) But this is to be done “between thee and him alone.” Angry words spoken in the presence of others would fail of that result. It is significant that the substance of the precept is taken from the passage in Leviticus (Leviticus 19:17-18) which ends with “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Thou hast gained thy brother.—The words in part derive their force from the subtle use of a word in one sense which men associated commonly with another. “Gain” of some kind, aimed at, or wrongfully withheld, was commonly the origin of disputes and litigation. A man hoped to reap some profit by going to law. In the more excellent way which our Lord points out, he would by sacrificing the lower gain, attain the higher, and win for God (see 1Corinthians 9:19, 1Peter 3:1, for this aspect of the word) and for himself the brother with whom he had been at variance.

Matthew 18:15-17. But if thy brother, &c. — But how can we avoid giving offence to some? or being offended at others? especially suppose they are quite in the wrong? suppose they commit a known sin? Our Lord here teaches us how: he lays down a sure method of avoiding all offences. Whosoever closely observes this three-fold rule will seldom offend others, and never be offended himself. If any do any thing amiss, of which thou art an eye or ear witness, thus saith the Lord, If thy brother — Any who is a member of the same religious community; sin against thee — 1st, Go and reprove him alone — If it may be, in person; if that cannot so well be done, by thy messenger; or in writing. Observe, our Lord gives no liberty to omit this, or to exchange it for either of the following steps. If this do not succeed, 2d, Take with thee one or two more — Men whom he esteems or loves, who may then confirm and enforce what thou sayest; and afterward, if need require, bear witness of what was spoken. If even this does not succeed, then, and not before, 3d, Tell it to the elders of the church — Lay the whole matter open before those who watch over your and his soul. If all this avail not, have no further intercourse with him, only such as thou hast with heathen. Can any thing be plainer? Christ does here as expressly command all Christians who see a brother do evil, to take this way, not another, and to take these steps, in this order, as he does to honour their father and mother. But if so, in what land do the Christians live? If we proceed from the private carriage of man to man, to proceedings of a more public nature, in what Christian nation are church censures conformed to this rule? Is this the form in which ecclesiastical judgments appear in the Popish, or even the Protestant world? Are these the methods used even by those who boast the most loudly of the authority of Christ to confirm their sentences? Let us earnestly pray that this dishonour to the Christian name may be wiped away, and that common humanity may not, with such solemn mockery, be destroyed in the name of the Lord! Let him be unto thee as a heathen — To whom thou still owest earnest goodwill, and all the offices of humanity.

18:15-20 If a professed Christian is wronged by another, he ought not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter kindly, and show him his conduct. This would generally have all the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too much neglected by all. But how few try the method which Christ has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our proceedings we should seek direction in prayer; we cannot too highly prize the promises of God. Wherever and whenever we meet in the name of Christ, we should consider him as present in the midst of us.Moreover, if thy brother - The word "brother," here, evidently means a fellow-professor of religion. Christians are called brethren because they belong to the same redeemed family, having a common Father - God; and because they axe united in the same feelings, objects, and destiny.

Trespass against thee - That is, injure thee in any way, by words or conduct. The original word means sin against thee. This may be done by injuring the character, person, or property.

Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone - This was required under the law, Leviticus 19:17. In the original it is "go and reprove him." Seek an explanation of his conduct, and if he has done wrong, administer a friendly and brotherly reproof. This is required to be done alone:

1. That he may have an opportunity of explaining his conduct. In nine cases out of ten, where one supposes that he has been injured, a little friendly conversation would set the matter right and prevent difficulty.

2. That he may have an opportunity of acknowledging his offence or making reparation, if he has done wrong. Many would be glad of such an opportunity, and it is our duty to furnish it by calling on them.

3. That we may admonish them of their error if they have done an injury to the cause of religion. This should not be blazoned abroad. It can do no good - it does injury; it is what the enemies of religion wish. Christ is often wounded in the house of his friends; and religion, as well as an injured brother, often suffers by spreading such faults before the world.

Thou hast gained thy brother - To gain means, sometimes, to preserve or to save, 1 Corinthians 9:19. Here it means thou hast preserved him, or restored him, to be a consistent Christian. Perhaps it may include the idea, also, thou hast reconciled him to thyself - thou hast gained him as a Christian brother.

15. Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother, &c.—Probably our Lord had reference still to the late dispute, Who should be the greatest? After the rebuke—so gentle and captivating, yet so dignified and divine—under which they would doubtless be smarting, perhaps each would be saying, It was not I that began it, it was not I that threw out unworthy and irritating insinuations against my brethren. Be it so, says our Lord; but as such things will often arise, I will direct you how to proceed. First, Neither harbor a grudge against your offending brother, nor break forth upon him in presence of the unbelieving; but take him aside, show him his fault, and if he own and make reparation for it, you have done more service to him than even justice to yourself. Next, If this fail, take two or three to witness how just your complaint is, and how brotherly your spirit in dealing with him. Again, If this fail, bring him before the Church or congregation to which both belong. Lastly, If even this fail, regard him as no longer a brother Christian, but as one "without"—as the Jews did Gentiles and publicans. See Poole on "Matthew 18:17".

Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee,.... This is said to show, that as on the one hand, if any of those that believe in Christ, should commit a trespass against his fellow Christian, his sin is not to be connived at, for fear of offending him; for what Christ has before said, is not to be taken in such sense, as to prevent private reproof, or public censures, when there is occasion for them; so on the other hand, he is not to be despised and ill used, and treated in the same injurious manner; but gentle reproofs are to be made use of, for his good. This is spoken not to the apostles as such, but as believers in Christ; and concerns everyone that stands in the relation of a brother, or church member to each other, and only such; for they that are without, do not fall under their notice, nor are they obliged to take, nor can they take altogether, the same methods with them. This rule respects sins committed by one brother against another, either in word or deed; or such as are of a private nature, and which one only, or at least but few, are acquainted with: in such cases the advice is,

go and tell him his fault between thee, and him alone; do not wait for his coming to thee, as being the aggressor, to acknowledge his fault, testify his repentance, express his sorrow for his sin, and ask pardon: but go to him, and freely and faithfully lay his sin before him; but do not aggravate it, and reproach him with it, and bear hard on him for it, but gently rebuke and reprove him: let this be done in the most private manner; let none be present, nor any know of it, even the most intimate friend and acquaintance:

if he shall hear thee; patiently, take your reproof kindly, acknowledge his offence, declare his hearty sorrow for it, and desire it might be overlooked, and reconciliation made:

thou hast gained thy brother; recovered him from the error of his ways, restored him to his duty, and secured his friendship, and interest in his favour; nor should any mention be made of this ever after, either to him, or any other, or to the church.

{5} Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against {e} thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

(5) We must strive for agreement, and not to revenge injuries.

(e) If his offence is such that only you know your brother's offence.

Matthew 18:15. The connection with what precedes is as follows: “Despise not one of the μικροί (Matthew 18:10-14); if, however, one offends against thee, then proceed thus.” The subject changes from that of doing injury to the μικροί, against which Jesus has been warning (Matthew 18:10-14), to that of suffering injury, in view of which he prescribes the proper method of brotherly visitation. However, in developing this contrast, the point of view becomes so generalized that, instead of the μικροί, who were contemplated in the previous warning, we now have the Christian brother generally, ὁ ἀδελφός σου—therefore, the genus to which the μικρός as species belongs.

ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σέ] The emphasis is not on εἰς σέ, but on ἁμαρτήση: but if thy brother shall have sinned against thee, which he is supposed to do not merely “scandalo dato” (Bengel), but by sinful treatment in general, by any unbrotherly wrong whatsoever. Comp. Matthew 18:21. Ch. W. Müller in the Stud. u. Krit. 1857, p. 339 ff., Julius Müller, Dogmat. Abh. p. 513 ff., reject the reading εἰς σέ, Matthew 18:15, though on internal grounds that are not conclusive, and which might be met by stronger counter-arguments against the use of ἁμαρτήσῃ without modification of any sort. How can it be supposed that the procedure here inculcated was intended to apply to every sin without any limitation whatever? Would we not have in that case a supervision omnium contra omnes? The reference can only be to private charges, to offences in which the one sins against the other (εἰς σέ), and which, as such, ought to be dealt with within the Christian church. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:1 ff.

ὕπαγε] do not wait, then, till he himself come to thee.

μεταξὺ σοῦ κ. αὐτοῦ μόνου] so that except him no one else is to be present along with thee, so that the interview be strictly confined to the two of you. We must not therefore supply a μόνου after σοῦ as well. But the rebuking agency (Ephesians 5:11) is regarded as intervening between the two parties. The person who reproves mediates between the two parties, of which he himself forms one.

ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ] if he will have listened to thy admonition, will have complied with it. But Fritzsche and Olshausen connect the preceding μόνου with this clause: “Si tibi soli aures praebuerit.” This would imply an arrangement that is both harsh and foreign to New Testament usage.

ἐκέρδησας] usually explained: as thy friend; πρῶτον γὰρ ἐζημιοῦ τοῦτον, διὰ τοῦ σκανδάλου ῥηγνύμενον ἀπὸ τῆς ἀδελφικῆς σου συναφείας, Euthymius Zigabenus. But what a truism would such a result imply! Therefore it should much rather be explained thus: thou hast gained him for the eternal blessedness of my kingdom, to which, from not being brought to a state of repentance, he would otherwise have been lost (Matthew 18:17). But the subject who gains is the party that has been aggrieved by the offence of the brother, because the successful result is understood to be brought about by his affectionate endeavours after an adjustment. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Peter 3:1.

Matthew 18:15-17. How to deal with an erring brother.—The transition here is easy from warning against giving, to counsel how to receive, offences. The terms are changed: μικρὸς becomes ἀδελφός, giving offence not suiting the idea of the former, and for σκανδαλίζειν we have the more general ἁμαρτάνειν.

15. go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone] See Leviticus 19:17, where the words “not suffer sin upon him,” mean “thou shalt not incur sin through him,” i. e. by letting him go on unrebuked in his sin. Tell him his fault, rather, convict him; the same Greek word is translated rebuke, Levit. loc. cit. St Luke has a different Greek word with a similar meaning.

gained] i. e. won over to a better mind,—to Christ. Cp. 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, and 1 Peter 3:1.

15–35. Forgiveness of Sins. Luke 17:3-4God’s forgiveness of sinners suggests the duty of forgiveness among men.

Matthew 18:15. Ἐὰν δὲ, κ.τ.λ., but if, etc.) The sum of this chapter is as follows: Every one is under an obligation, not to place obstacles before himself and others, but to aid both on the way of salvation Also: we ought to respond to the Divine will, expressed in Matthew 18:14. Also: do not offend thy brother; cure thy brother’s offence.—ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ, sin against thee) sc. by giving offence; see 1 Corinthians 8:12.—ὕπαγε, go) (cf. πορευθεὶς, having gone, in Matthew 18:12). That will be derogatory to no one. Even Christ came to us and sought us.—ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν, reprove him)[824] Afterwards our Lord speaks of witnesses. In the present instance, the matter takes place in the presence of only two [sc. the parties themselves]; in the latter, of more.—ΑὐΤῸΝ, him) sc. thy brother. He is reproved and forgiven because he is a brother.—μόνου, alone) Solitary reproof is gracious.—ἐκέρδησας, thou hast gained) Therefore thy brother had previously been lost through his sin. A gain, and a blessed one. The body of the sick man does not become the property of the physician who cured it; the burning house does not become the property of him who extinguished the fire: that is, they are not gained. But the man whom I have gained becomes in some sort my own, as amongst the Romans a conquered people became bound, by the ties of clientship, to the general who had conquered them; cf. Luke 19:24; Luke 19:17; Philemon 1:19, and Gnomon on 1 Corinthians 9:19.

[824] E. V. “Tell him his fault.”—(I. B.)

The margin of both Editions observes that this verb is brought into prominence by the absence of the copula between it and ὕπαγε, “Go, tell him his fault.” This has not been noticed in the Vers. Germ.—E. B.

Rec. Text has καὶ, with abc Vulg. Hilary, and Lucifer. But BD Orig. omit καὶ.—ED.

Verses 15-20. - Correction of an offending brother. Verse 15. - Hitherto the discourse has warned against offending the young and weak; it now teaches how to behave when the offence is directed against one's self. Moreover (δὲ, "now," introducing a new subject) if thy brother shall trespass against thee (εἰς σέ). The brother is a brother in the faith, a fellow Christian. The words, "against thee," are omitted in the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts, and by some modern editors, on the ground that it is a gloss derived from Peter's question (ver. 21). The words are retained by the Vulgate and other high authorities. Without them, the passage becomes one of a general nature, applying to all offences. Retaining them, we find a direction how to treat one who offers personal offence to ourselves - which seems to suit the context best. In the case of private quarrels between individual Christians, with the view of reconciliation, there are four steps to be taken. First, private remonstrance: Go. Do not wait for him to come to you; make the first advances yourself. This, as being the more difficult course, is expressly enjoined on one who is learning the lesson of humility. Tell him his fault; ἔλεγξον αὐτόν,: corripe eum. Put the fault plainly before him, show him how he has wronged you, and how he has offended God. This must be done in private, gently, mercifully. Such treatment may win the heart, while public rebuke, open denunciation, might only incense and harden. Plainly, the Lord primarily contemplates quarrels between individual Christians; though, indeed, the advice here and in the sequel is applicable to a wider sphere and to more important occasions. Thou hast gained thy brother. If he shall own his fault, and ask for pardon, thou hast won him for God and thyself. A quarrel is a loss to both parties; a reconciliation is a gain for both. The verb "to gain" (κερδαίνω) is used elsewhere in this high sense (see 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Peter 3:1). Matthew 18:15Go (ὕπαγε)

Do not wait for him to come to you.

Tell him his fault (ἔλεγξον)

Rev., shew him. The verb means, first, to test, try, search out; therefore, to cross-examine with a view of convincing or refuting; thence to rebuke or chide. The Rev. shew is better than tell, which implies merely naming the fault; whereas the injunction is, go and prove to him how he has erred. Wyc., reprove, with snub as explanation.

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