In order to protect a person from false accusation, the law of Moses stipulated that the testimony of two or three witnesses was necessary to establish the matter (Deut 19:15). This became a part of the early church's procedure of discipline (Mt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1). Paul's readers are probably already embroiled in controversy surrounding accused elders, and when he invokes the well-known regulation it is to protect the accused and instill some order into the process. Thus the protective device is not lacking; but in the church there continue to be strong-willed, self-seeking individuals who would use their influence and even underhanded means to shape others' opinions about one person or another. It falls to the leadership to ensure that as far as possible this injustice is avoided.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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