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An often misunderstood text is found in Matt 18: 20, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” I once heard this verse being used as a directive that Christian fellowship with a local church was not needed since all that is necessary for a legitimate worship service to be held is for two or three believers to be present. In this particular case, a couple were under discipline from a church and rather than submitting to the leadership of this congregation, they met in their home and solicited other members of the denomination to join them in worship, out of protest.

The meaning of this verse is not to establish a quorum for the purposes of church business. You do not need a minimum of two believers to ‘guarantee’ the presence of Jesus. He is present with every believer, wherever they are.

The context of this verse is Jesus’ instructions on church discipline. When you are coming to a solution over an offense that has taken place, Christ is present in this reconciliation. In verse 16 you are to take “one or two” unbiased witnesses to hear the matter. Matthew writes that Christ is telling us in verse 20 that when two or three of us are gathered together in this process, He is there and the power of the Holy Spirit is present also. With the Holy Spirit’s help, a solution will be found.

Of course Christ is with His church and with each individual as they go about their lives. We do not need a special verse to tell us that Christ is only going to be there if two or three of us get together. A worship service is not predicated on two or three getting together. God is not saying that there is some special significance or power to two or three getting together.

Ironically, this unrepentant couple had a sinful attitude in their hearts that made genuine worship impossible, no matter how many people rallied around them. They were unwilling to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and are therefore worshipping themselves; alone.

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