“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. 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. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ•). And if he refuses to listen even to the church (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ•), let him be to you as a Gentile (ὁ ἐθνικὸς ) and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18: 15 – 18)
I looked up a few translations and realized that McCall is using the New American Standard version. I think it helps to look at several translations. Let me help: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matt%2018:17&version=NIV;KJV;ASV;NASB;AMP
Notice that other translations do not translate ἐθνικὸς as "Gentile" but "Pagan" More on this later.
Here we have a Jesus doing no miracles, but just talking to his disciples about how to deal with a sinful brother. So an excellent question would be to ask why is a Jewish Jesus –who was not a Christian and never attended a religious meeting called a church (Greek word “the church” (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ))- giving Church Discipline?
Hold up and let's get rid of this when McCall attempts to butcher answering the question.
Secondly, why are gentiles (non-Jews) and tax collectors (Jews who worked for Rome) excluded from salvation by having committed some unpardonable sin?
Looking at the Greek of the text makes these issues much clearer. ἐθνικὸς means more than just "gentile". McCall erroneously and humorously thinks that Jesus hated Gentiles. The word means the following:
- adapted to the genius or customs of a people, peculiar to a people, national
- suited to the manners or language of foreigners, strange, foreign
- in the NT savouring of the nature of pagans, alien to the worship of the true God, heathenish
- of the pagan, the Gentile
For Jews, Gentiles were people who were godless. No where does the Bible tell us that all Gentiles are godless and by godless I mean not worshiping the one true God.
The word church (ἐκκλησίᾳ) only occurs three times in the Gospels. Of these, all three occurrences are in Matthew (twice in this pericope and once in Jesus’ statement to Peter (Matt. 16: 18 which scholars feel has been interpolated (added) into the story give Peter authority). Yet, it's an acknowledged fact that Jesus was a Jew who attended the synagogue (never the Church) plus, thelingua franca of Jesus was Palestinian Aramaic which had no word for church as Greek did (a term taken over from Greek philosophical schools).
I disagree that Matthew 16:18 is an extrapolation but that is a rabbit trail I will avoid for now. There wasn't a church for Jesus to go to because He started Christianity. The word church (ἐκκλησίᾳ) does not have solely a Christians context. The word church (ἐκκλησίᾳ) has the lexiconical entry:
a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assemblyThere was not yet a Christian sense when Jesus said this so I see no reason to assume such a context.
- an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating
- the assembly of the Israelites
- any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously
- in a Christian sense
- an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
- a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake
- those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
- the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
- the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven
Apologetically, one pastor tried to explain some of the contradiction by telling me that Jesus (as both God and all knowing) knew the Church would appear after his ascension to Heaven (Acts 1), so he was simply prophesying Church Discipline.
My counter to his response was that if Jesus (as an all knowing God) really did know the Church was coming, then why didn’t Jesus also know that gentiles would be a major part of it? Why did JesusNOT know about the strong conflicts between Peter and Paul over gentiles? What was the whole purpose of the “pillars” council concerning gentiles in Acts 15 headed by Jesus’ brother James?
I think McCall is missing something. Although the word church (ἐκκλησίᾳ) is not in Aramaic, I wondered how the passage would work in Aramaic? You can find out. http://www.peshitta.org/ Remember to read it right to left!! You will see that there is a word being used "Congregation". And it's used in the Old Testament.
- Psalm 26:12
My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
- Psalm 68:26
Praise God in the great congregation; praise the LORD in the assembly of Israel.
Congregations is what God's people had before we had churches.
Like the conflicts and contradictions in the Birth Narratives and the Resurrection Stories; what we have in this pericope is a firsthand look at how the Jesus tradition was put together though totalcreative fabrication (lies). What we have in Matthew’s Gospels a total anachronistic screw up of the facts in order to give credence and total truth to the Church!
Yeah just like the conflicts and contradictions in the Birth Narratives and the Resurrection stories, this one is also bogus. Also the Bible does not teach that the total truth is the Church. Some churches teach that. The Bible teaches total and complete truth is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Debunking Christianity: The Gospel of Matthew Caught In A Lie