Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Matthew 18:15 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.

16 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 word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.


MEMORY VERSE: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:1-2


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The Bible instructs us what we should do if we have offended someone, if someone has sinned against us, or if one of the brethren has been overtaken in a fault. Reconciliation and restoration are the goals for which we should strive if at all possible.




Proverbs 18:19 “Offended”: from a root meaning to break away; to transgress, rebel, offend. There is also another meaning given to the verse by the Septuagint and other translations: “A brother assisted by a brother, is like a fortified city; and their decisions are like the bars of a city.” Either meaning presents a true statement about relationships in a family or in God’s family.

Matthew 5:22 “Raca”: empty-headed; stupid; foolish. An expression of contempt. “Thou fool”: dull; stupid; foolish; brainless. The Greek word is the root for the English word “moron.”

Matthew 5:23 “Ought”: a certain thing.

Matthew 5:24 “Reconciled”: I change; end needless hostility; exchange enmity for friendship. “By our brother, here, we are to understand any person…for we are all made of one blood. Raca, is a scornful word and comes from pride: Thou fool, is a spiteful word, and comes from hatred. Malicious slanders and censures are poison that kills secretly and slowly. Christ told them that how light soever they made of these sins, they would certainly be called into judgment for them. We ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with all our brethren; and if at any time there is a quarrel, we should confess our fault, humble ourselves to our brother, making or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed: and we should do this quickly; because, till this is done, we are unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances. And when we are preparing for any religious exercises, it is good for us to make that an occasion of serious reflection and self-examination!” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary).

Matthew 18:17 “A heathen and a publican”: a Gentile (pagan) and a tax collector.

Galatians 6:1 “Overtaken”: caught; taken by surprise. “Fault”: false step; trespass; lapse or deviation from truth; an error; “slip-up”; wrongdoing that can be relatively unconscious. (Some commentators think this means “caught in the act” of transgression, while others contend for a meaning of non-deliberate trespass.) “Restore”: an allusion to the setting of a broken bone or a limb out of place or of the disciples mending their nets. “Meekness”: gentleness; kindness; properly, temperate; displaying the right blend of force and reserve; avoiding unnecessary harshness, yet without compromising or being too slow to use necessary force.




The early morning church faced all kinds of people problems. Sorcerers, hypocrites (false brethren), heretics (false prophets), law- spirited Jews, hundreds of former idolaters who were ignorant of God’s moral law, people in it for the money, demon-possessed troublemakers, curiosity-seekers looking for a thrill, slackers looking for a hand-out.

To these, Jesus and the apostles issued stern rebukes. They told them what behavior was forbidden and exactly what they must do to escape eternal judgment. Today’s lesson deals with what they were to do when a brother—one who had been a fellow-believer, one who had walked along-side, had been a partaker of the Lord’s supper, and had been baptized and filled with the Spirit―had fallen into transgression. I notice that the tone here is gentler; there is a definite end in mind, that of reconciliation and full restoration.

The verse from Proverbs lets us know that one who has stepped aside must be dealt with in wisdom. Wounded hearts easily turn to disappointment, disillusionment and rebellion. Once there, satan can build up contentions and reasons that are nearly invincible.

Jesus let us know that if we have caused an offense, we need to reconcile our brother quickly. That was more important than giving an offering; one needed to lay aside the sacrifice, take care of the offense, and then come and offer the gift. The passage also includes warnings about words of contempt that endanger our standing before God at the judgment. It is a great offense in God’s sight to belittle a brother!

Jesus then deals with what we must do if a brother sins against us. First, it must be dealt with privately; one-on-one. Most of the time, if we are wise and gentle, we can take care of the matter at that point, and no damage is done. If that doesn’t happen, He then advises to deal with the erring brother with two or three witnesses. Once again, with the assuring care of a small group of brothers, the erring one can be won to repentance.

However, at last resort, when the transgressor is resistant to the first and second admonitions, we are to take him before the congregation. I still see a motive here of reconciliation. All words and deeds are to that end! If it still does not avail, then and only then is the transgressor to be pronounced as someone who is not a believer, not a part of the church, anymore.

Our memory verse reinforces this gentle, yet firm, effort for restoring an erring brother to the fold. Gentleness and meekness are enjoined, and why? Because the temptation that tripped up our brother or sister could very likely cause us to fall as well. How very necessary to this procedure are the heart-qualities of gentleness and humility!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




  1. A Brother Offended: What are two possible interpretations of this verse in Proverbs?
  2. Danger of Judgment: What words cause this? What English word comes from this Greek root?
  3. First Things First: What is the first step toward a brother that transgresses?
  4. What Comes Next? After the brother isn’t persuaded, one-on-one, then what?
  5. Two or Three Witnesses: And if he doesn’t hear them?
  6. Tell it to the Church: What are the last steps to take? Why?






This lesson seemed to be a natural follow-up to the lessons on offenses and forgiveness. As in the lesson on biblical division, there is a time when a judgment or distinction must be made if a person persists in error or sin after admonition and attempts for reconciliation.

Jesus doesn’t spell out all the things we must NOT do when a brother does us wrong, but they are quite obvious. First of all, when He says to go to the brother privately, we can know that spreading the news of a brother’s transgression before we ever go to him is the most hurtful thing we can ever do. How any of us ever justify such behavior is incomprehensible. All avenues toward restoration of the brother are totally blocked. This action establishes the “bars” of his “castle” of contention.

Secondly, Jesus didn’t say that the entire congregation must play “freeze out” with the offending brother before all the required steps of loving and reaching out are taken. This again will extinguish all hopes of reconciliation. I’m afraid this premature judgment and separation has been the cause of many a division, for when one member has been dealt with in this way, it is a human reaction for others to take sides as well, and very soon you have a schism in the making, which could have been avoided had Jesus’ words been obeyed.

Another way a transgression is unwisely dealt with is to “preach the Word, brother, and let the chips fall where they will.” Jesus didn’t say to deal with it like that. I can’t think of a time where this has successfully brought restoration, which should be the set goal and intent of all who deal with the problem.

Both sides of a problem can be greatly helped by the gentleness and compassion enjoined here. Lord, help us to deal with each other in Your loving way!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




During a time when most houses were built of wood and heated by open hearths and fireplaces, the danger of raging fires was a real risk. After a large fire in Philadelphia in 1736, Benjamin Franklin advised Philadelphians that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. He was instrumental in starting the first fire department that same year—The Union Fire Company—and specific guidelines were implemented of how they would, in the event of a fire, attempt to put out flames, save goods, and protect from looters.

In the language of that day, this is what he purportedly said referable to fire risks: “I would advise ‘em to take care how they suffer living coals in a full shovel, to be carried out of one room into another, or up or down stairs, unless in a warmingpan shut; for scraps of fire may fall into chinks and make no appearance until midnight; when your stairs being in flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your windows, and hazard your necks to avoid being oven-roasted.” The lessons for us in those words when it comes to dealing with our offenses are many!

Clearly, preventing offenses is better than trying to “fix them” afterwards. But what if they have already happened? What about the small, every-day-kind-of-annoyances—scraps of fire, if you will— that we face with people? What about the “big” hurts and offenses— the heart-breaking, painful kinds of things that cause us to wet our pillows with tears at night and cause heartache? Jesus knew we would face these kinds of things, knew the potential for damage they could cause, but also yearned for harmony between His children. He not only first showed us what reconciliation looks like when he carried His cross to Calvary, He also gave us clear and specific guidelines on how to most effectively “fight our fires” in order to affect the greatest possibility of reconciliation with those with whom we have conflict.

–Sis. Julie Elwell