The Biblical Principles For Church Discipline

In the early years of our life and ministry we attended a Church where the pastor was a wonderful Bible teacher. The church grew rapidly and became one of the largest Bible teaching ministries in the area. Then the pastor was accused of having an affair with one of the young ladi … More

Church Discipline

What should we do when another Christian has sinned against us? The most important thing is to guard against snap judgments. Scripture insists that we listen to two or three witnesses precisely so we don’t make hasty judgments (Deut. 19:15; II Cor. 13:1; I Tim. 5:19). In this passage our Lord gave three guiding principles for every Christian to follow:

  1. Go to the person in private (v. 15). Above all else, go to him with the idea of winning your brother, not winning an argument. When you do it in strict privacy it will make it easier for him to confess the sin.
  2. Ask for the help of others (v. 16). Only after we have prayerfully followed step 1 should we go to step 2. If the sinning brother refuses to listen we may then share the facts as we see them with one or two dependable believers and ask them for their prayerful counsel. It is possible that we are wrong. If they feel the cause is right, then together we can go to the offender and try once again to win him.          
  3. Ask the church for  help (vv. 17-20) After you have followed steps one and two and the sinning brother still fails to recognize his error, the situation should be brought before the entire Church.  However we must keep in mind that our goal is not the winning of a case but the winning of a brother. If this person still refuses to acknowledge his sin he is to be treated as an outsider but not hated.


I believe that all discipline in the Church needs to be carried out according to the Biblical principles outlined in Matthew 18. Lord, help me to support those who follow these principles.

Matthew 18:15-20 (English Standard Version)

"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. 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. 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. 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. 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. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »