For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.Matthew 18:20 (KJV)
Two or three – When two or more people gather together in the name of Yeshua, He is there among them. I’ve heard this verse used always in reference to two or more people praying together. It carries such a strong, beautiful picture of unity and community. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that accurate.
This verse in Matthew completes the message being taught about repentance and accountability from the beginning of the chapter. It’s a nod to a Torah commandment from Deuteronomy.
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.Deuteronomy 19:15
At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.Deuteronomy 17:6
It’s about bearing true or false testimony. The whole chapter in Matthew is building up to this teaching. When there is an offense, make sure there are two or three witnesses and these witnesses should be addressed in the judgement of the offender.
This whole lesson put forth by Yeshua is the teaching of the law. It’s the Jewish Beit Din. This should integrate our understanding with the Jewish culture and give context to the message being preached. It’s not about two or three joining hands in prayer. It’s about witnesses, trials, and judgment.
An example of this can be found in Joshua.
13 And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,Joshua 22:13-16
14 And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
15 And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,
16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the Lord, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the Lord?
Turns out, even in the New Testament, Yeshua is still teaching the law of God as the righteous way of living. His teaching wasn’t new, it was given to Him by the Father. It was given to everyone by the Father nearly 2500 years prior to Yeshua being born. All we need to do is commit ourselves to the Father’s words, and then we too can say…
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.John 12:49