“But if you are not listened to,
Or two others
Along with you.
Every word may be confirmed
By the evidence
Or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen
Tell it to the church.
If he refuses
To listen even to the church,
Let him be to you
As a gentile
And a tax collector.”
ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ, παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο, ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα·
ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν, εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ, ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης.
This saying about the brother who would not listen to reprimands is unique to Matthew. This exchange seems to imply a solid structure with specific rules and regulations, not a band of itinerant healing preachers. If you were not successful with reprimanding your brother, because he would not listen to you (ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ), you were to take one or two others with you (παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο). This is almost like a Jewish religious court case based on Deuteronomy, chapter 19:15, where a single witness would not be enough to convict a person of any crime or wrong-doing. They needed the evidence of two or three witnesses, since one person was not sufficient enough to convict anyone of any crime. There had to be at least 2 or 3 witnesses to sustain a charge. Thus, the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses might strengthen or confirm every word (ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα). If your brother still refused to listen to them (ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν), then you should bring him to the church or the congregation (εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ). Along with chapter 16:18, where Peter was the rock of the new church, this indicates a church structure at the time that Matthew was writing this gospel. If your brother still refused to listen to the church congregation (ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ), he should become like a gentile or a tax collector (ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης), an outcast from the community. This indicates that the disciples of Jesus still thought like Jewish people with no room for gentiles and foreign Roman tax collectors.
“But when Jesus
‘Those who are well
Have no need
Of a physician,
But those who are sick
Do need one.’”
ὁ δὲ ἀκούσας εἶπεν Οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες ἰατροῦ ἀλλ’ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες
This response of Jesus is almost the same as in Mark, chapter 2:17, and Luke, chapter 5:31-32. Jesus heard (ὁ δὲ ἀκούσας) what the Pharisees were saying to his disciples. He responded that the well people or strong ones do not need (εἶπεν Οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες) a physician or medical doctor (ἰατροῦ), but the sick do (ἀλλ’ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες). As Pope Francis likes to say, the Church is a mobile ambulance, not a hospital waiting for people to come in.
Theology is an interaction. First Arius gave a theological interpretation on the role of Christ and God. Second the leaders of the Church considered it carefully and came up with their decision. Then Arius did not accept the decision. He then was removed and excommunicated or cut off from the communion of the Church. This problem led to discussion and consensus. The lived faith in the worship service experience led to a consensus about the most appropriate expression. The final result was the Nicene Creed, the oldest and most important creed. Most dogmas came out of disputes. Over the last two thousand years there have been many more disputes within Christianity.
For Christian Catholics there is a formation of conscience that is a lifelong task. This development of a moral sense of right and wrong starts in the family with your parents. This conscience formation continues as you have contacts with Church leaders and teachers. Finally, the role of peers leads to a personal synthesis. What should I do in this particular case? I will act based on what my conscience has decided. If it is poorly formed, I must still follow it. If I differ from the teachings of the Church, I must try to figure out why I differ from the group. We always need an informed conscience.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetime. There was little motivation to write anything down for future generations. However, as the various eyewitnesses began to die, there was more concern. The missionary needs of the church grew, so that there was a demand for written versions of the founder’s life and teachings. The stages of this process included this first oral tradition stage. Then the stories and sayings of Jesus were passed on largely as separate self-contained units, but not in any order. There were some written collections of miracle stories, parables, and sayings, with the oral tradition continuing alongside these. Finally, there were the written proto-gospels that served as the sources for the canonical gospels. The final gospels were formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition. All four gospels use the Hebrew Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages. They interpreted texts or alluded to various biblical themes. Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint, since they did not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.
Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202) stated that there must be 4 gospels and only 4 because there were 4 corners of the earth. Thus, the Church should have 4 pillars. This indicated that as early as 200, there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the 27 books of the New Testament, including the 4 gospels. However, most of our oldest manuscripts of the New Testament come from the 4th century when Christianity was the recognized religion of the Roman Empire.