If Your Brother Sins Against You: What Does Matthew 18:15 Mean?


Matthew 18:15 reads, “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.” King James Version (KJV)

TranslationMatthew 18:15
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.
NASB“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
NIV“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
NLT“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

If Your Brother Sins Against You: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

18:15-20 If a professed Christian is wronged by another, he ought not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter kindly, and show him his conduct.

This would generally have all the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too much neglected by all.

But how few try the method which Christ has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our proceedings we should seek direction in prayer; we cannot too highly prize the promises of God. Wherever and whenever we meet in the name of Christ, we should consider him as present in the midst of us.

Matthew 18:15 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

15. 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, &c.—Probably our Lord had reference still to the late dispute, Who should be the greatest?

After the rebuke—so gentle and captivating, yet so dignified and divine—under which they would doubtless be smarting, perhaps each would be saying, It was not I that began it, it was not I that threw out unworthy and irritating insinuations against my brethren.

Be it so, says our Lord; but as such things will often arise, I will direct you how to proceed. First, Neither harbor a grudge against your offending brother, nor break forth upon him in presence of the unbelieving; but take him aside, show him his fault, and if he own and make reparation for it, you have done more service to him than even justice to yourself.

Next, If this fail, take two or three to witness how just your complaint is, and how brotherly your spirit in dealing with him. Again, If this fail, bring him before the Church or congregation to which both belong. Lastly, If even this fail, regard him as no longer a brother Christian, but as one “without”—as the Jews did Gentiles and publicans.

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