Friday, June 10, 2011

Gentiles and Tax Collectors

Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV)
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [18] Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [19] Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

Let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector… I often wonder what this means. I mean I get it on the surface. Jesus is speaking with Jews who did not have much to do with Gentiles and tax collectors. They were outcasts to say the least. You get the idea in scripture that these types of people were all but shunned. Of course, Jesus does mention that the Pharisees were willing to travel quite some distance to make a convert, but then that convert became twice as bad as they were. The point being though that Jews did interact with gentiles. Tax collectors? Well not in public if they weren’t actually paying taxes. Tax collectors had friends though. They threw lavish parties it seems. Jesus was invited to a couple. Evidently these parties were about good food, fine wine, and loose women, as these are the women always showing up to wash Jesus’s feet and so on. And from this we learn how we are supposed to treat Gentiles and Tax collectors it seems to me.
They aren’t to be shunned, but loved. You are to hold out to them forgiveness. This does not mean you ignore the sin though. As long as they do not repent, they are outside the community. But forgiveness is always there waiting. These are people to be loved and prayed for, and none of this is to be taken lightly. Forgiveness and love must reign. These are people for whom Christ died.


Christy said...

But, who is a Gentile? Here in Utah, I'm considered a Gentile, as is my sister-in-law's boy friend who happens to be Jewish. The rest of the nation considers a Gentile to be anyone who is not Jewish. My question to you actually applies to the rest of the U.S. Why are Gentiles not good in the Bible? Is it because they aren't Jewish? If that's the case, then Jesus' disciples are Gentiles also. Or, are they just referring to the Jewish race? If so, and I believe Jesus died for Gentile and Jew, why is Gentile so bad in the Bible?

Bror Erickson said...

Gentiles are non Jews, and that by race more or less in the N.T.
The word Gentile takes on different connotations in history though.
It comes to mean "those who are not us." Even Christians have used the term this way. There is Irony in calling a Jew a gentile. But in fact that is what they are when you come to realize that the church is the new Israel, and they have excluded themselves from it.