Our Thursday posts focus on material from the New Testament. As part of our fourfold priority of history, integrity, truth, and Scripture we consider it important to read and review significant scholarly work with both the Old and New Testaments. Matthew chapter 18 gives us a detailed picture of interactions and peacemaking in the early Church. Dr. David Scaer explores these themes in some detail.
Scaer, David P. Discourses in Matthew: Jesus Teaches the Church. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 11, “The Fourth Discourse: Life in the community of the Followers of Jesus (18:1-19:2)” Loc. 6480-7015.
Scaer ties Matthew 18 to the Sermon on the Mount, seeing this passage as the explanation of the way the Sermon goes to work (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6480). The end of this discourse seems to be at Matthew 19:1 as Jesus “finished these sayings” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6489). Though in general the principles of life in community are laid out in the Gospels, often the actual interpretation shows itself in the Epistles (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6506).
Scaer digresses to discuss Matthew 17:24-27, where Peter is given a coin in the mouth of a fish (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6531). Scaer concludes that Matthew was convinced the narrative was true, or else he would not have said something so unlikely (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6539). Scaer considers this as evidence of a relatively early composition of Matthew (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6581). The underlying issue is that Christians should be willing to submit to some unnecessary burdens to avoid offense (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6606).
In Matthew 18:1-9 the theme of avoiding offence continues as Jesus warns his followers not to offend children (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6623). Peter’s role as a spokesman for the disciples in chapters 16 and 17 is supplanted as Jesus here makes a child his spokesman (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6631). The elevation of the child and his need shows Jesus’ care for those easily bypassed (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6665). Scaer affirms that Jesus clearly expects children to be received into his kingdom like anybody else, i.e., by baptism (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6673). Jesus emphasizes the importance of his teaching with the graphic illustration of drowning (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6698). The hyperbole involved in removal of a hand or eye, also never practiced, pales before being cast into the sea with a millstone (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6707). On the contrary, Jesus is the one who would rescue the lost sheep (18:10-14) (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6715). Likewise, Jesus’ people are to seek to return people to the community (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6756). The restorative nature of discipline i central to the chapter in context (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6764). Scaer continues with a detailed exegesis of the passage. The end of the exhortation points up the need of the Church to forgive, thus completing restoration (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6846).
Finally, those who do not forgive others remain unforgiven (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6863). The requirement of God in Matthew 18:21 and following is that of constant forgiveness (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6872). This is possible because Jesus is the forgiving king who also imposes judgment on those who do not forgive (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6905).
Scaer adds comments on three answers Jesus gives to specific problems, found in Matthew 19 (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6913). Jesus affirms the permanence of marriage, shows that children are welcome in his kingdom, and shows the impermanence of wealth.
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