The Law of Christ

Scripture references: Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 17:3-4, and Matthew 5:21-26

General Comments

Biblical Context

Under the old covenant

The church stems from the old covenant. It is a reality that had been promised to Israel and Judah for centuries. We mustn't consider it as an altogether new entity that came about in the time of Jesus as a "replacement" for Israel. Rather, it is the natural continuation of the relationship between God and Israel under the old covenant. It fulfils in their entirety all the promises that had been given to the people of Israel. As such, the whole ministry of Jesus and of his apostles must be considered against the historical background of the old covenant.

Read Deut. 17:2-13, Numbers 35:30, and John 8:17

New Testament References

Nowadays, the church as a body has received this authority that had previously been given to the leaders of Israel: the power to bind and to loose, to forgive or to refuse forgiveness. Read Matthew 16:19; John 20:21-23.

It's interesting to note that the term "church" (eklesia) only appears twice in the four gospels: in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17, and in both instances, it's in the context of the authority of a group of believers to bind and to loose (that is, to execute a judgement holding divine authority).

Binding and Loosing

Mutual Forgiveness

The subject of forgiveness would warrant a study of its own, but let's merely point out a few aspects that are relevant to our present study.

The Social Aspect


Learning to interact with other members of the church teaches us something about the nature of God and his relations with humanity. After all, the first offence was perpetuated by man against his Creator. It was then that, in his love, God took the first step by coming to man to restore him and save him. Thus, at our human level, God puts us in situations where we can extend our forgiveness and our love to others, to those who have offended us, in much the same way that He did towards us. God didn't wait for man to come to Him: He sent his Son first; He took the initiative of redemption. Read 2 Corinthians 5:19, 1 John 4:9-11, Galatians 4:3-5.

As humans, we have to learn to face relational conflicts. Accepting this reality and handling conflicts with faith allows us to open a dialogue of redemption another. The moment we initiate this process, we know that God intervenes personally by our side. The result is that we obtain far more than just a solution to the problem at hand — we take a path that reveals truth and builds brotherhood and love within the community.

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