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Matthew 18 - who are the "witnesses"?

Posted: Wed May 19, 2010 11:22 pm
by will
This is an article I have kept around for a while. It seemed to me to have value and expresses a Bible truth we all need to understand. I think this can have bearing on the Matt 18 Topic and the difficulty of resolving differences where there are no witnesses to the sin -- but only to an accusation (BTW, They don't have to be an elder to be victim of what is dealt with below).
-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Matthew Dockens <>
To: Biblelist <>
Sent: Sun, 10 May 2009 3:34 am
Subject: [biblelist] "The First One To Plead His Cause Seems Right"


Bryan Matthew Dockens

“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Wise Solomon observed the reflexive tendency on the part of man to accept as truth the first version of events presented in a potential controversy.When gossip circulates through the workplace, the neighborhood, or even the church, the first version of events is usually presumed to be true. This is so because “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body” (Proverbs 18:8). Just as a well prepared meal will go untouched by a child who has spoiled his dinner with a bag of candy,similarly the truth holds no interest for those willing to accept rumors.The “other side of the story” may never be heard, and even when it is, it is often disregarded as a weak defense against the supposed facts already established in everyone’s minds.For this reason, it is imperative to refrain from spreading rumors in th efirst place. “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” (Proverbs 26:20).God commanded, “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people”(Leviticus 19:16). The behavior of a “busybody” is described as“disorderly” (2nd Thessalonians 3:11) because “gossips and busybodies” are those who say “things which they ought not” (1st Timothy 5:13). And, Paul exposed the wickedness of “whisperings” (Romans 1:29; 2nd Corinthians 12:20)insomuch as gossip thrives on whispers while the truth demands an open hearing.When a dispute must be resolved, both accounts deserve fair consideration.The Pharisees opposed Jesus, but Nicodemus correctly asked, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:51).The will of God in such cases is plain: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1st Thessalonians 5:21), for “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).

-- Vegas Valley Church Of CHRIST:

A Few Comments re a few passages:

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 10:18 pm
by will
just a few further thoughts:
  • Gal 6:1 "If a brother be overtaken".. seems to me to deal not with the brother who has sinned personally against "You" in a direct way; but rather to the brother who has been overtaken in a generally publicly known manner in matters of weakness such as referred to by context in Gal 5: 17-21- e.g., the brother arrested for DUI / DWI and it becomes generally known to many / most via the town 'news'. It should not be the less well taught that goes to this brother, but they who are 'spiritual". I would not mix this one with MT 18.
  • As to number of witnesses, the "1 or more" of Mt 18 =, i.e., is the same asthe "two or more" of I Tm 5:19.
  • James 5:19-20 May be very similar if not the same as Gal6:1 except for the difference of "wandering from the truth" vs "overtaken in a fault". That is it has become generally known this person is straying morally, spiritually, and in worship practices because they have begun to 'wander from the truth'. The person in Gal knows he's wrong (doesn't so much need teaching as he needs rebuke / encouragement)but has become weak / overtaken; whereas, the person in James has changed his mind or forgotten where he once stood and why (this one needs to be reminded of truth or taught again).
  • Deut 19:15 vs Deut 19:16-20: I think a word here is in order. Deut 19:15 is absolute "A single witness shall not prevail" and requires "evidence from two orthree witnesses" (The presumption for guilt being these are true and knowledgeable witnesses). Vs 15, it is not abrogated or set aside by vs 16ff. Nor does v16ff define a new situation that somehow nullifies vs 15. Rather vs 16ff is I believe addressing the 2 or more case and it still can not be decided (i.e.,., not enough wisdom / knowledge exists at the first level of hearing) then this would be brought before the Lord, the priests, and the judges (this would be identically parallel to bringing the matter before the church as mentioned in Mt 18). InO.T. Israel there was the risk of a false witness (hence the 10th commandment, Ex 20:16, see warning of Prov 6:16-19) ; I believe this is what is addressed in vs 16ff if this is why the case of a charge w/ 2-3 witnesses does not settle the matter is because 1 or more witnesses are false (i.e, truly intent to deceive vs just misunderstanding). Deut 19 :16 ffis dealing with the intentionally , deceptive (i.e., false) witness and how he should be dealt with -note, the accuser could conceivably not have been in collusion with the false witness. If the accuser is false and his supporting witnesses are false, then this evil was not to be tolerated among God's people; in the NT church the parallel would be to withdraw, if they did not repent.
Just some thoughts; do not use if no time to study, confirm same.