Matthew 18:19

The point of this verse is in the idea of the association of two people in prayer. Elsewhere we often read of the value of prayer in general. Here a special efficacy is ascribed to the united prayer of two Christian people. Let us consider the meaning of this. Why is Christ most present to help in united prayer?

I. IT IS UNSELFISH. Two people might be plotting together for some mutual advantage of a low order. But we cannot conceive of their having a prayer meeting about it. Many of our personal prayers are shamefully selfish. They do not seek that God's will may be done; they simply demand a concession to our own will. The same fatal evil may be found in a united prayer, but it is less likely there.

II. IT IS BROTHERLY. We must be on friendly, even on brotherly terms before we can really pray together. The union of two alone in prayer implies very deep mutual confidence. They must agree together. The reason why earth is so cut off from heaven is that earth is too often a scene of discord. When there is agreement on earth, earth is more like heaven, and the wish expressed on earth may be granted in heaven.

III. IT IS DELIBERATE. The conference and agreement of the two imply a careful consideration of the subject of the prayer. Many prayers are too hasty and inconsiderate to deserve any attention. But the grave conference in prayer here described by our Lord would give the weight of deliberation to the petition. Probably it would be less foolish than many private prayers.

IV. IT HONORS THE IDEA OF THE CHURCH. Christ encouraged secret prayer in private devotion (Matthew 6:6). This should be a daily practice. But there are reasons when more is required, viz. in general public worship and in prayer for special objects. Now, while Christ deals with individual souls in the first instance, he is also interested in social religion. He did not found an order of hermits, he founded a Church. He is present in his Church in a peculiar way. This is the real secret of the answer to united prayer. It is difficult to break through the reserve which too often keeps us back from the prayer which our Lord here encourages. But it is our duty to do so.

V. IT SHOWS THE POWER OF THE PEW. We are not heard for our much speaking, our many words; neither are we heard on account of our numerical strength. In listening to prayer God does not count heads; he weighs hearts. One Elijah stands for more in prayer than a cathedral full of listless worshippers. The ideal Church is not the large Church, but the Christ-like Church. Religious statistics encourage a most unspiritual way of valuing Christian work and estimating Church progress. The Church of but two members cannot be a weak Church, if those two members are united in prayer. Further, it is to be noted that the value of a prayer meeting cannot be measured by the numbers that attend it. A small meeting may be a very real one, and if it is truly united it must have power with God. It is foolish, therefore, to despair of such a meeting because it is sparsely attended. The prayer meeting of but two is here commended by Christ. If it be a meeting at all, though reduced to the numerical minimum, it may issue in incalculable results. - W.F.A.

For when two or three are gathered together in My name.
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS PROMISE OR THE DIVINE PRESENCE. God comes not here as to a court of assize, but to a Bethesda, to dispense mercy.


1. TO meet in the Saviour's name is to seek its exaltation.

2. His name must be pleaded as the ground of approach to God.

3. The sole authority of Christ must be recognized if we would meet in His name.


1. The incarnation was substituted for the Shekinah — a symbol.

2. The bodily exercises, carnal ordinances are at an end in the Christian worship.

3. We have the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

4. Let us expect the Divine blessing.

5. If the presence of God be promised, how is it that professors are content with an occasional visit to the sanctuary?

(J. S. Pearsall.)


1. There is a sense in which it is true that Jesus is present with all men at all times.

2. But in the text He meant something different from that to which we have referred. Jacob at Bethel.

3. It implies a readiness on the part of Christ to do for His people what they ask.

4. It implies a gift of those graces which are fitted to sweeten the spiritual intercourse of the soul with Himself, and to enrich it with those Divine ornaments which shall best display the lustre of His own glory.

II. THAT IN ORDER TO REALIZE THE RICHES OF THE PROMISE THE DISCIPLES MUST BE GATHERED TOGETHER. Also to meet in the name of Christ. Acknowledge on our part all fulness and power in Christ.

(W. Willson.)


1. With His authority.

2. Agreeably to His directions.

3. That our expectations of success are founded on the influence which may connect itself with His name.


1. A large number not necessary.

2. A particular class not necessary.

3. A particular place not necessary. Christ once present.


(T. Bradshaw.)


1. The beaming of His essential glory.

2. How our Lord claims to Himself omnipresence.

3. That our Lord here claims to Himself self-existence, independent existence.

4. Our Lord does not contemplate His own existence as a contingency.


1. Our Lord declares His headship.

2. The declaration which He here makes of His mind towards the Church




1. The amount, "two or three." The Church small in the world.

2. The unobstrusibe, humble character of the Church.

3. The special bond of the Church.


(J. Macdonald, M. A.)


1. In recognizing this, you will get a clue to the advantages to be derived from united prayer as an agency for personal and relative spiritual advancement.

2. United prayer strongly tends to draw out the souls of those engaged therein in sympathy and care, and love for one another, and for Christians generally.

II. UNTIED PRAYER IS AN INSTRUMENT OF SERVICE FOR CHRIST. Some phases of service to which Christians are called. The cultivation of personal spiritual life. The development and maintenance of the true nature, status, and influence of the Church of Christ. Effort to save souls.

III. How SHALL WE, AS CHRISTIANS, AVAIL OURSELVES TO THIS MEANS OF GRACE and instrument of service for Christ? Exercise united prayer for the outpouring of God's Holy spirit upon the Church, etc. For the conversion of men, women, and children. For the agencies employed, that they may accomplish the devout ends they have in view.

(John, Thomas.)

I. THE RELIGION OF JESUS CHRIST IS SOCIAL. "Two or three." Man is a social being. The gospel raises men to considerations of the highest nature, and to a uniting order of things. The servants of God have similarity of views; a common ground of dependence, a common relation to Christ; the same object of endeavour; oneness as to cause and interest, look for the same blessed end. We are not surprised that they "meet together."


1. It is His word, grace, and spirit that forms the Church.

2. It is the love of Christ that prompts and influences them.

3. This subject constitutes a criterion of discipleship.

4. It may serve to encourage us when few in number.

5. It animates our thought in view of the eternal world. In heaven there will be a great gathering.

(J. Rift.)

I. THE PLACE. "Where," etc. A meeting place is intended; simple; it may be lonely.

II. THE PRESENCE. A spiritual presence. The world sees Him not. Time was when He granted sensible tokens of His presence to man; burning bush, Jacob; Christ incarnate; now the Comforter is come.

III. THE PURPOSE. He is in the midst for

(1)inspection, "His eyes are as a flame of fire;"

(2)for protection;


(4)probation. He is in the midst to try with means and mercies —


(J. Basley.)

More than the numbers stated here have thus met. Christ is here. If we had met this evening to discuss questions concerning geography, we should probably have felt ourselves honoured with the presence of such a man as Sir Roderick Murchison or Dr. Livingstone. Had the discussion related to history, to antiquity, to chemistry, with what elatedness and bated breath should we have listened to that prince of historians, the late Lord Macaulay, to the world-renowned Layard, and to the wonder-working Faraday. Had this been a congress of nations — a meeting of crowned heads — planning the course of politics, disposing of the destinies of nations, and marking the limits of empires, how important should we have deemed the occasion! Notable visitors from other climes, men of mark and might from other lands, would have attracted our observation-have riveted our attention; our interest would have risen with the occasion. But we meet with other ends in view. We come together about our souls' affairs; our present peace, and our everlasting salvation, are the matters which concern us. Compared with these other things are temporary and trivial.

(J. Basley.)

"Where two or three are gathered together." There is evidently a meeting-place intended. Proud mortals love display. When Henry of England and his neighbour monarch of France met with friendly greetings, it was amid the most gorgeous glitter on the Field of Cloth of Gold. Christ makes no demand for parade or ostentatious display. It forms no condition in the terms upon which He will visit us. We have not a tesselated pavement; we can worship God without it. We have no encaustic tiles: Christ does not want them.

(J. Basley.)

He is Light. He is the Searcher of hearts, the great Revealer. He visits thus all His Churches. He knows them all — their constitution, their practice, their state. He visits them as the florist visits his garden, to watch the progress of choice plants and flowers. He visits them as the shepherd does his flock, to inspect the condition of his sheep. He visits them as the officer does his soldiers, to see if they are at their post, if their discipline is as it should he, and their arms in good condition. What a sight for Christ do some churches professedly Christian present! How must His holiness loathe the worldliness, selfishness, pride, and the many foul abominations that are covered with a Christian name! Christ is here for inspection. .No member, no character, no practice, no thought, word, wish, or feeling, escapes the notice of His eye. Christian professor! Christ sees thee. Thou art fully and thoroughly known to Him.

(J. Basley.)

When it was decided to close the prayer-meeting m a certain village, a good woman declared that she would be there if no one else was. She was true to her word, and when the next morning some one said to her rather jestingly, "Did you have a prayer-meeting last night?" "All! that we did," she replied. "How many were present? .... Four," she said. "Why," said he, "I heard that you were there all alone." "No," she said; " I was the only one visible. but the Father was there, and the Son was there, and the Holy Spirit was there, and we were all agreed in prayer." Before long there was a revival prayer-meeting and a prospering church.

(J. Basley.)

I. THE PLACE WHICH THE NAME OF JESUS OCCUPIES IN CHRISTIANITY. The subject of knowledge. The object of faith and love. Doctrines, duties, precepts permeated with His name. Does not imply nominality, as the name of a book; but He is the substance of the thing. He is the life of Christianity.


1. The Father's appointment.

2. On His own authority as Messiah.

3. His Divine nature.

4. His perfect manhood.

5. His mediatorship.

1. The central force of Christianity.

2. The radiating glory of Christianity.

3. The attractive power of Christianity.

4. The ultimate victory of Christianity.

5. Who then will be ashamed of the name of Jesus?

(J. Bate.)

No doubt the prayers which the faithful put up to heaven from under their private roofs were very acceptable unto Him. But if a saint's single voice in prayer be so sweet to God's ear, much more the church choir. His saints' prayers in consort together. A father is glad to see any one of his children, and makes him welcome when he visits him, but much more when they come together; the greatest feast is when they all meet at his house. The public praises of the Church are the emblem of heaven itself, where all the angels and saints make but one consort. There is a wonderful prevalency in the joint prayers of His people. When Peter was in prison, the Church meets and prays him out of his enemies' hands. A prince will grant a petition subscribed by the hands of a whole city, which may be he would not at the request of a private subject, and yet love him well, too. There is an especial promise to public prayer "Where two or three," etc.


Jesus, Peter
Agree, Agreement, Anything, Assuredly, Boon, Heaven, Heavens, Matter, Request, Solemnly, Touching, Whatever, Whatsoever
1. Jesus warns his disciples to be humble and harmless,
7. to avoid offenses,
10. and not to despise the little ones;
15. teaches how we are to deal with our brothers when they offend us,
21. and how often to forgive them;
23. which he sets forth by a parable of the king who took account of his servants,
32. and punished him who showed no mercy to his fellow servant.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 18:19

     5783   agreement
     8607   prayer, God's promises

Matthew 18:15-20

     5201   accusation
     7026   church, leadership

Matthew 18:19-20

     5042   name of God, significance
     7032   unity, God's people
     7923   fellowship, in gospel
     8112   certainty

May 31. "Whosoever Therefore Shall Humble Himself as this Little Child" (Matt. xviii. 4).
"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child" (Matt. xviii. 4). You will never get a humble heart until it is born from above, from the heart of Christ. For man has lost his own humanity and alas, too often has a demon heart. God wants us, as Christians, to be simple, human, approachable and childlike. The Christians that we know and love best, and that are nearest to the Lord, are the most simple. Whenever we grow stilted we are only fit for a picture gallery, and we are only good
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Lost Sheep and the Seeking Shepherd
If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth Into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray!--MATT. xviii. 12. We find this simple parable, or germ of a parable, in a somewhat more expanded form, as the first of the incomparable three in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel. Perhaps our Lord repeated the parable more than once. It is an unveiling of His inmost heart, and therein a revelation of the very heart of God.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Persistence of Thwarted Love
'If so be that he find it.'--MATT. xviii. 13. 'Until he find it.'--LUKE xv. 4. Like other teachers, Jesus seems to have had favourite points of view and utterances which came naturally to His lips. There are several instances in the gospels of His repeating the same sayings in entirely different connections and with different applications. One of these habitual points of view seems to have been the thought of men as wandering sheep, and of Himself as the Shepherd. The metaphor has become so familiar
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Forgiven and Unforgiving
'Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.' --MATT. xviii. 22. The disciples had been squabbling about pre-eminence in the kingdom which they thought was presently to appear. They had ventured to refer their selfish and ambitious dispute to Christ's arbitrament. He answered by telling them the qualifications of 'the greatest in the kingdom'--that they are to be humble like little children; that they are to be placable; that they are to use all means
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Law of Precedence in the Kingdom
'At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2. And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, 3. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Six Sweeping Statements.
Jesus' own words make this very clear. There are two groups of teachings on prayer in those three and a half years as given by the gospel records. The first of these groups is in the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus preached about half-way through the second year of His ministry. The second group comes sheer at the end. All of it is in the last six months, and most of it in the last ten days, and much of that on the very eve of that last tragic day. It is after the sharp rupture with the leaders that
S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon—Quiet Talks on Prayer

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 15, "If Thy Brother Sin against Thee, Go, Shew Him his Fault Between Thee and Him Alone;" And
1. Our Lord warns us not to neglect one another's sins, not by searching out what to find fault with, but by looking out for what to amend. For He said that his eye is sharp to cast out a mote out of his brother's eye, who has not a beam in his own eye. Now what this means, I will briefly convey to you, Beloved. A mote in the eye is anger; a beam in the eye is hatred. When therefore one who has hatred finds fault with one who is angry, he wishes to take a mote out of his brother's eye, but is hindered
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 7, Where we are Admonished to Beware of the Offences of the World.
1. The divine lessons, which we have just heard as they were being read, warn us to gather in a stock of virtues, to fortify a Christian heart, against the offences which were predicted to come, and this from the mercy of the Lord. "For what is man," saith Scripture, "saving that Thou art mindful of him?" [2694] "Woe unto the world because of offences," [2695] saith the Lord; the Truth says so; He alarmeth and warneth us, He would not have us to be off our guard; for surely He would not make us desperate.
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Forgiveness of Sins.
(Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity.) S. MATTHEW xviii. 28, "Pay me that thou owest." The Gospel shows us in a parable a picture of a king who called his servants to a reckoning. That King is the Lord God Almighty. We are His servants, and He calls us to account every day. All we possess we owe as a debt to God. Day by day He gives us our food, and supplies our wants by His good Providence. On every hour of our existence is written, Jehovah-Jireh--The Lord will provide. Day by day God takes
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

Fourth Day. Forgiveness of Injuries.
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."--Luke, xxiii. 34. Many a death-struggle has been made to save a friend. A dying Saviour gathers up His expiring breath to plead for His foes! At the climax of His own woe, and of human ingratitude--man-forsaken, and God-deserted--His faltering voice mingles with the shout of His murderers,--"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!" Had the faithless Peter been there, could he have wondered at the reply to a former
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Lix. The Preacher and his Hearers.
22nd Sunday after Trinity. S. Matthew xviii. 23. "The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants." INTRODUCTION.--I have been a good deal abroad, over the Continent of Europe, and whenever I am in a little country inn, I make a point of going into the room where the men are smoking and drinking wine or beer, and hearing their opinions on the politics of the day, and of their country. Now, my experience tells me that in country taverns in France, and
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

The Wicked Servant
ST. MATTHEW xviii. 23. The kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants. This parable, which you heard in the Gospel for this day, you all know. And I doubt not that all you who know it, understand it well enough. It is so human and so humane; it is told with such simplicity, and yet with such force and brilliancy that--if one dare praise our Lord's words as we praise the words of men--all must see its meaning at once, though it speaks of a state of
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

Meetings for Prayer.
Text.--"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."--Matthew xviii. 19. HITHERTO, in treating of the subject of Prayer, I have confined my remarks to secret prayer. I am now to speak of social prayer, or prayer offered in company, where two or more are united in praying. Such meetings have been common from the time of Christ, and even hundreds of years before. And it is probable
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Necessity and Effect of Union.
Text.--Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.--Matthew xviii. 19. SOME weeks since, I used this text, in preaching on the subject of prayer meetings. At present I design to enter more into the spirit and meaning of the text. The evident design of our Lord in this text was to teach the importance and influence of union in prayer and effort to promote religion. He states the
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Mission of Little Children
"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them." Matthew xviii.2. Everything has its mission. I speak not now of the office which each part of the great universe discharges. I speak not of the relation between these parts,--that beautiful ordinance by which the whole is linked together in one common life, by which the greatest is dependent upon the least, and the least shares in the benefactions of the greatest. In this sense, everything has, strictly, its mission.
E. H. Chapin—The Crown of Thorns

False Ambition Versus Childlikeness.
(Capernaum, Autumn, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XVIII. 1-14; ^B Mark IX. 33-50; ^C Luke IX. 46-50. ^c 46 And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them was the greatest. ^b 33 And he came to Capernaum: ^c 47 But when Jesus saw the reasoning of their heart, ^b and when he was in the house [probably Simon Peter's house] he asked them, What were ye reasoning on the way? 34 But they held their peace: for they had disputed one with another on the way, who was the greatest. [The Lord with his disciples was
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Sin and Forgiveness Between Brethren.
(Autumn, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XVIII. 15-35. ^a 15 And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [Having warned against giving offense, Jesus now shows how to act when offense is received. The fault is to be pointed out to the offender, but for the purpose of gaining him--not from a desire to humiliate him. The offended is to seek the offender, and the offender is likewise to seek the offended (Matt. xv. 23, 24),
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Unmerciful Servant.
"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

Jesus Christ, the Divine Teacher of Prayer
A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him! He knocks again. "Friend! lend me three loaves?" He waits a while and then knocks again. "Friend! I must have three loaves!" "Trouble me not: the door is now shut; I cannot rise and give thee!" He stands still. He turns to go home. He comes back. He knocks again. "Friend!" he cries. He puts his ear to the door. There is a sound inside, and then the light of a candle shines through the hole of the door. The bars of
Edward M. Bounds—The Reality of Prayer

Fifteenth Lesson. If Two Agree
If two agree;' Or, The Power of United Prayer Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.--Matt. xviii. 19, 20. ONE of the first lessons of our Lord in His school of prayer was: Not to be seen of men. Enter thy inner chamber; be alone with the Father. When He has thus taught us that the
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

The Third Wall.
The third wall falls of itself, as soon as the first two have fallen; for if the Pope acts contrary to the Scriptures, we are bound to stand by the Scriptures, to punish and to constrain him, according to Christ's commandment; "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

Gerhard Ter Steegen Matt. xviii. 12 O God, through Christ the living way, My Father and my God, So near, and I so far astray, Brought nigh Thee by His Blood. Myself, and this, and that, I sought Behind, around, before-- And yet the nearest found I not, Until I sought no more. O Love, Thou deep eternal tide, How dear are men to Thee! The Father's heart is opened wide By Jesus' Blood to me. It was Thyself, O God, who sought, With tender yearnings deep, The loveless sould who sought Thee not, The
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

The School
Gerhard Ter Steegen Matt. xviii. 3 Where is the school for each and all, Where men become as children small, And little ones are great? Where love is all the task and rule, The fee our all, and all at school, Small, poor, of low estate? Where to unlearn all things I learn, From self and from all others turn, One Master hear and see? I learn and do one thing alone, And wholly give myself to One Who gives Himself to me. My task, possessing nought, to give; No life to have, yet ever live-- And ever
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

Commentary on Matthew. Introduction.
According to Eusebius (H. E. vi. 36) the Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew were written about the same time as the Contra Celsum, when Origen was over sixty years of age, and may therefore be probably assigned to the period 246-248. This statement is confirmed by internal evidence. In the portion here translated, books x.-xiv., he passes by the verses Matt. xviii. 12, 13, and refers for the exposition of them to his Homilies on Luke (book xiii. 29). Elsewhere, he refers his readers for a fuller
Origen—Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

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