The king is in community (Matthew 18:18-20)

How does the world discover her king? In the community that recognizes him.

How does heaven’s reign come to earth? We’re meant to be a kingdom of heaven, so how is heaven’s authority restored to the earth? The kingdom becomes our living reality as people recognize Jesus as heaven’s anointed king, the Son with his Father’s authority.

One person was enough to get this started. The moment Peter recognized Jesus, the king gave him his regal authority:
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you confine on earth will have been confined in heaven, and whatever you set free on earth will have been set free in heaven (16:19).

As the others caught on, the king gave them the same promise. In English it sounds identical, but this time the you is plural:

Matthew 18:18-20 (original translation, compare NIV)
18 I tell you truly, whatever you confine on earth will have been confined in heaven, and whatever you set free on earth will have been set free in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, that if two of you are of one mind on earth about any matter they might raise, it will be granted to them by my Father in the heavens. 20 For where two or three have been brought together under my authority, I am among them.

This is how God’s authority is restored to life on the earth. Don’t imagine that it only arrives when everyone recognizes the Christ. The kingdom is already here wherever there are people living under his kingship.

Note that one person under Jesus’ kingship is not the kingdom. An individual cannot be a kingdom, because an individual is not a community. The bare minimum for the kingdom to be present is two or three, like those who heard to Father’s revelation, “This is my Son … Listen to him!” (17:5).

And the Son who restores his Father’s reign to the earth is absurdly generous with his authority. He gives authority for the smallest possible community to approach the heavenly throne to receive help for the earthly realm (18:19).

For an example of Jesus’ listeners using that authority, see Acts 4:23-35. Competing authorities tried to bind them (as they had done to Jesus), but the servants of King Jesus raised their voices in unison to recognize his authority, lodged their request in heaven, and were empowered to enact his kingship as his community on earth.

All it takes is two or three who recognize Jesus’ authority (his name) to function together as his kingdom, and the king is present among them (18:20). That is how the world discovers its king.

That’s what the church exists for. Jesus only mentioned church twice: his regal authority given to the first person to recognize him as king (16:18-19), and then extending that same authority to the community (18:17-18). The church does not exist to hold meetings on Sundays. It exists to enact Jesus’ kingship as the hope of the world.

The good news is the king. The king is present in the kingdom, even where that community is minimal is size. That’s why maintaining our relationships is the life of the kingdom (18:15-35)

Open Matthew 18:18-20.

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Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

2 thoughts on “The king is in community (Matthew 18:18-20)”

  1. Wonderful Allen especially “Note that one person under Jesus’ kingship is not the kingdom. An individual cannot be a kingdom, because an individual is not a community.” I had never made this connection. How much does this fly in the face of the overwhelming individualism that exists today. I sat through a praise and worship time recently and was, again, so struck with how most Christian ‘worship’ song are not really about the King but rather about me the individual.
    For example:
    This is amazing grace
    This is unfailing love
    That You would take my place
    That You would bear my cross
    You lay down Your life
    That I would be set free
    Oh, Jesus, I sing for
    All that You’ve done for me

    Now we would all agree that God’s grace is amazing and His love is unfailing but these words present such a shriveled gospel, a gospel that does not include the world and the creation, nor for that matter any other person, just me. And yes I realize that this is song/poetry, but for many people their theology is based on the songs they sing.

    So if an individual cannot be the Kingdom maybe we need to push back against this tidal wave of individualism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Graham.
      Yes, the communal framework changes everything, and the kingdom = the community under the king.
      Tomorrow’s post (2020-09-18) will be a classic on how the kingdom framework makes superb sense of passages that don’t make sense when we read them individually.


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