Nazarene Space

So often in this movement we hear people speak about the Matthew 18 process, yet so few really understand how this process works.

The process involved is outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 and is suggested by Matt. 18:6f.

The Matthew 18 process is nothing new, it was a restatement and a clarification of the Deut. 19:15 process (as Mt. 18:16 quotes Deut. 19:15). It is a description of how a Beit Din functions.

STEP 1 “And if your brother sins against you, go and reprove him between you and him alone, and if he will hear you, you have won your brother.” (Mt. 18:15).

Two important elements here. First in order to bring a case, you yourself must be a victim of the offense yourself. Secondly you must approach him PRIVATELY about the matter, and finally, if he repents the case is dropped there. Also the matter must be an actual “sin” i.e. a violation of Torah, not just something that they did that you did not like.

STEP 2 “But if he will not hear you, take to yourself one witness or two that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Mt. 18:16)

The next step is to approach him privately with the witnesses. Torah requires that a matter must be verified by two or more witnesses (Deut. 19:15). In this step you are establishing to the “brother who sins against you” that you have the Torah required witnesses to bring the matter to a Beit Din. These must be valid “witnesses” according to Torah. They must be upstanding Torah observant individuals themselves in good standing with the community, and they must have ACTUALLY WITNESSED all elements of the sin take place.

This does not mean, as some practice it, to bring two more people that agree with the first person that something the “target” did was a sin, they must be witnesses of all elements of the sin itself as it transpired.

It is not always possible to escalate a case to STEP 2 because oftentimes there are not two or more Torah observant witnesses.

STEP 3 “And if he will not hear them, speak to him in the assembly” (Mt. 18:17a)

This is NOT a license to commit Lashon HaRa. The Assembly here is NOT the Assembly of Israel. In context the “Assembly” here is the Beit Din “the judges who serve in those days” (Deut. 19:17) who have the power to “bind” and “loose” (Mt. 18:18) which are terms used in Hebrew and Aramaic to refer to halachic ruling allowing or forbidding activities.

STEP 4 “but if he neglects to hear in the Assembly, let him be to you as a Goy or a transgressor” (Mt. 18:17)

The Assembly/Beit Din does not immediately disfellowship even if they find a man guilty. The Beit Din passes a judgment, and if the alleged sinner refuses to accept that judgment then he is to be disfellowshipped.

Verse 19-20 is poorly understood, notice it says “again…” meaning it is repeating and elaborating, not adding a whole new idea. “if two of you [witnesses] will agree on earth as touching any thing that they [the Assembly] will ask, it will be for them [the Assembly] of my Father which is in heaven. For in any place where two or three [witnesses] will assemble [come before the Beit Din] in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

This tells us the two witnesses must agree.

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Comment by James Trimm on May 27, 2009 at 10:05pm
YahSpace Administrator Rav Mordecai (Tom Mitchell) wrote on the YahSpace version of this blog:

I know you believe that MattithYahu 18 concens "sin" and you are correct -- the basic principle applies to solving or resolving any misunderstanding or disagreement between brethren. The principle of MattithYahu 18 may be applied to any situation not necessarily involving "sin." Period.
Rav. Mordecai (Tom)
Comment by James Trimm on May 27, 2009 at 10:51pm

I would have responded on YahSpace where you posted this reply, but as you know my YahSpace account was frozen, effectively banning me from YahSpace.

Your post does point out the fact that people will be expecting to interact with me at YahSpace and will not realize why I am not responding.

For the record my YahSpace account was frozen (effectively disfellowshipping me). The next day I was sent an email by YahSpace notifying me that my account had been frozen for violating a rule against “disagreeing” with YahSpace administration.

You see I was effectively disfellowshipped from YahSpace for suggesting that YahSpace by its very name is HeKdesh (set apart, Yah’s property), that banning one from YahSpace amounts to disfellowshipment, that disfellowshipment requires a Matthew 18 process, that a Matthew 18 process requires the core issue to be a “sin” (Mt. 18:15) and that a sin is a “transgression of the Torah” (1Jn. 3:4).

Yes the Matthew 18:15 concept might be applied to any disagreement, but certainly cannot be escalated through the whole Matthew 18:15-20 process to disfellowshipment as we do not disfellowship over “disagreement” or “misunderstanding” as such is the sin of sectarianism.

The manner in which YahSpace effectively disfellowshipped me was a clear cut case of sectarianism ( and of “lording over the sheep” (

We are setting the example by making this part of the rules:
Comment by James Trimm on May 28, 2009 at 1:55am
If we can apply the Matthew 18 process to things other than sin/Transgression of Torah such as "disagreement" then we could simply disfellowship people from the community for disagreeing with us. This is the very problem with YahSpace, a person can be disfellowshipped/banned simply for disagreeing with YahSpace administration (that actually in the fine print of those YahSpace rules- and was the basis for which my account was frozen). That is the very definition of Sectarianism and Lording over the sheep.
Comment by James Trimm on May 28, 2009 at 2:01am
BTW the "sin" could be the teaching of false doctrine that is in the area of a point of fellowship. That goes beyond a simple "disagreement" and to avoid Sectarianism should be invoked with great caution.


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