A Comprehensive Verse
“For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
“FOR” – A Divine Conclusion
The conjunction “For” connects verse 20 with verse 19 preceding it. The two should be read together to obtain the complete utterance of our Lord on the subject which commences with the “Again I say unto you,” of verse 19.
If two of those forming His assembly were in agreement on earth concerning any matter, they were to ask, and the petition would be granted by His Father in the heavens, “for” His presence—His authority, was with them on such occasions.
Solemn the consideration! The voice of two in feebleness here, supplicating in His Name, would be responded to by the Father of omnipotent power and unlimited resources.
“WHERE” – A Divine Locality
The geography of the place matters not at all. “Neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem” shall men “worship the Father,” said the Lord at Sychar’s well, His worship would not depend on earthly position, it must be in Spirit and in truth. It was such worshippers that the Father sought (John 4:21-23). The land or nationality was of no account.
So it is with regard to the coming together of “His own.” In any place from the torrid tropics to the frozen Arctic, amid waving palms in sweltering heat, or wintry winds and ice and snow. All “the habitable earth,” in which He rejoiced (because His loved Ones found there their home), was under His eye. Where such came together He would be found, if they came “in His Name,” in His interests and concerns.
“TWO OR THREE” – A Divine Limitation
“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Two or three gave competent testimony. Against an elder no accusation was to be listened to save where there were two or three witnesses.
“Two or three” standing in witness for Christ in the world of His rejection are part of His august assembly on the face of the earth. Greater far is it than any of earth’s gatherings; Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, have not such an assembly as the assembly of God.
Broken it is as to outward witness, but the eyes of our Lord looked down the vista of centuries and provided for His own in the last days of the church’s testimony on earth. “Two or three,” out of the vast throng soon to be “gathered together” as one in glory, “two or three” should have His recognition.
“ARE” – A Divine Power
The Holy Spirit is the power by which we come together. “By one Spirit are we all baptized unto one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Whatever religious, national or social distinctions were ours, as believers now upon the Son of God, we are formed into a divine unity and as such our spiritual instincts draw us into one another’s company and by the Holy Spirit we are led to seek mutual edification and the enjoyment of the things of God.
The sheep of Christ like the natural sheep are gregarious. An unseen power, a spiritual instinct, impels them to seek to associate in a flock, in the one flock of which He is the One Shepherd. A sheep seeking to isolate itself is ill. Is it not so in the spiritual world? Men may seek to keep saints apart. A grieved Holy Spirit is hindered, in gathering saints. But we are taught of God to love one another.
“GATHERED TOGETHER” – A Divine Assembling
“TOGETHER” is one of the key words of the great church letter—the epistle to the Ephesians. It is used of our association with Christ in resurrection life and of our association with our fellow believers. The middle wall of partition has been broken down. Both Jewish and Gentile believers now are in Christ—one new man and as such are linked with one another in time and for eternity. One in nearness and dearness in Christ, we have through Christ “access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
Though in a world of opposition we should acknowledge this and “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is and so much the more as we see the day approaching.” “Gathered together” is the actual coming together in assembly, gathered together into one place (see 1 Cor. 5:4; 9:18).
It is not a gathered out from other sets of Christians as is sometimes erroneously stated, but two or three who are actually gathered in, or unto, the Lord’s presence.
“IN MY NAME” – A Divine Bond
“Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” The family of faith in those antediluvian days were marked by this calling upon the name of the Lord, distinguished them from others.
And so it has been down the ages. So it was with the Psalmist, who cried, “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord, I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.”
The public recognition of the Name of the Lord was called for in those other days and it is called for now. Thus Christians are written of as those “that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). And we are to “follow with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
It is His Name alone in which the Spirit of God gathers believers. Not in the name of a nation or a great leader or of an important doctrine, or of a form of procedure. No, all these are to be set aside—our gathering together is in the Name of the Lord Jesus alone (see again 1 Cor. 5:4).
“THERE AM I” – A Divine Presence
It is His presence which glorifies and gives importance to the gathering together. It is He Himself who is there before the heart. This gives a foretaste of the great gathering to Him at His coming.
It may be but “two or three.” There may be no eloquent sermon, or exquisite song. There may be evidence of weakness and poverty and illiteracy. But He is there and this gives a quality to everything of which nothing could take the place.
“We’re going to meet the Son of God,” said a servant of God to me on one occasion, when we were about gathering together with some of “His own” to partake of the Lord’s Supper. If this were recognized what solemnity and reverence would mark us when gathered.
His presence known by us will ever draw out our love to Him and praise will rise through Him to the Father (whose Name He makes known to His brethren) as in the midst of the assembled ones He sings praise (Hebrews 2).
“IN THE MIDST OF THEM” – A Divine Centre
Yes, He has the central place. It is He who is prominent. Not a choir with their thrilling music. Not an organist with his instrumental accomplishments. Not a rite or ceremony however Scriptural. None of these is to engage our thoughts. It is Himself in the midst.
So will it be in a future day when gathered together in the glory of God. A Lamb as it had been slain is seen in the midst of the throne and to Him rise the praises of the redeemed from their glad hearts, as they cry “Thou art worthy . . . for Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation.”
Wonderful grace it is that we—some of the redeemed to God—may know Him “in the midst” now and may give Him the worship of our renewed being in spirit and in truth.