Matthew 18:1 KJV At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Ric: The whole chapter is stressing how we act toward our brethren.
Guzik:Who then is greatest: The disciples were often concerned about the question of greatness. They seem to ask this question thinking that Jesus has already chosen one of them as greatest, or as if they want Jesus to decide among them right then. We can imagine the disciples arguing among themselves about which one was the greatest (as they did in Luk_22:46 and other places), and then saying, “Let’s let Jesus settle this!”
CTR: At the same time — Apparently after the journey back to Capernaum from the Mount of Transfiguration. Shortly after the vision on the mount of transfiguration. Our highest views of heavenly things are quickly followed by earthly trials and difficulties, which serve to test and prove us.
Who is the greatest — Perhaps the fact that Peter, James and John had been favored more led to this query.
Interesting the difference between Matthew’s version and Mark’s. Looking at Mark’s Jesus asked them what they were arguing about and they didn’t want to answer at first—Matthew jumps right to the point.
Mar 9:33 MKJV And He came to Capernaum. And being in the house, He asked them, What was it that you disputed among yourselves in the way?
Clarke–And being in the house – That is, Peter’s house, where he ordinarily lodged. This has been often observed before.
Benson: Being in the house — With his apostles, with a view to introduce the discourse he intended; he asked, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves, &c. — Our Lord’s late prediction concerning his sufferings had made the disciples exceeding sorry, Mat_17:23; but their grief soon went off, or their ignorance quickly got the better of it; for in a day or two after, some of them, forming a separate company, fell a disputing about the chief posts of honour and profit in their Master’s kingdom. This debate Jesus overheard; and though he said nothing to them at the time, yet afterward, when they were alone in the house, he did not fail to inquire about it. They were at first silent, not caring to discover the matter to him. Therefore, he sat down, and called the twelve — Namely, to stand round him, and attend to what he should say and do. It is natural to suppose that twelve persons, travelling together on foot, would form themselves into two or three little companies, while some of them no doubt would be attending Christ and discoursing with him: but our Lord judged it proper, being now in the house, that all the twelve should hear this admonition, though they might not all have been engaged in the dispute which occasioned it.
Mar 9:34 MKJV But they were silent. For in the way they had disputed among themselves who was the greatest.
Guzik: They had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest: It seems that this was the favorite debating topic among the disciples. They all counted on Jesus to take over the world as “King Messiah,” and the debate was about who was most worthy to be Jesus’ chief associate.
But they kept silent: This was an embarrassed silence. It shows that they were ashamed of this obsession with greatness. It was a healthy sense of shame, and proved that some of the message of Jesus was sinking into their hearts.
CTR:They held their peace — They were ashamed to tell the topic of their dispute. Certainly not indefinitely, for that would have been showing disrespect to the Master; but there was a brief silence which indicated some embarrassment.
They had disputed — Because they had not enough love for one another. This spirit disappeared after Pentecost.
Who should be the greatest — The Lord’s prime minister. While the humility of the Lord’s apostles is very Marked in their subsequent career, in the beginning of their course, they were all to some extent influenced by old ideas which it was the object of Christ’s teaching to gradually eradicate. After the selection of the three (Verse 2) their relative prominence in the kingdom was naturally suggested to their minds.
Do you think more highly of yourself and your relationship with God and Jesus than you should?
Do you talk of others are not as enlightened as you are? They don’t have Truth?
Mar 9:35 MKJV And He sat down and called the Twelve and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.
Gill: and called the twelve; all the disciples, who though they might not be all engaged in this dispute, nor equally criminal, yet were all, possessed of the same notion; and therefore Christ calls them all unto him, what he had to say, being pertinent unto them all:
Guzik: He sat down: This is important, because by sitting down Jesus showed that he was going to teach. “When a Rabbi was teaching as a Rabbi, as a master teaches his scholars and disciples, when he was really making a pronouncement, he sat to teach. Jesus deliberately took up the position of a Rabbi teaching his pupils before he spoke.” (Barclay)
The question at hand was “Who would be the greatest?” Jesus could have answered the question, “ I’m the greatest.” But Jesus does not put the focus on Himself. For an example of greatness, Jesus puts forth the last and the servant.
i. Of course, Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom. So when He said last and servant, He was really describing Himself – and He accurately expressed His nature. He was truly first, yet made Himself last of all and servant of all for our sake.
ii. Jesus challenges us to be last of all. The desire to be praised and to gain recognition should be foreign to a follower of Jesus. Jesus wants us to embrace last as a choice, allowing others to be preferred before us, and not only because we are forced to be last.
iii. Jesus challenges us to be the servant of all. In the worldly idea of power, the great man is distinguished by how many people serve him. In ancient China, it was fashionable for wealthy men to grow their fingernails so long that their hands were unusable for basic tasks. This was to demonstrate that they did not need to do anything for themselves; there was always a servant there to wait on them. The world may think of this as greatness, but God does not. Jesus declared that true greatness is shown not by how many serve you, but by how many you serve.
iv. “It was not that Jesus abolished ambition. Rather he recreated and sublimated ambition. For the ambition to rule he substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done for us he substituted the ambition to do things for others.” (Barclay)
v. “How easy a thing had it been for our Saviour, had he intended in any such primacy in the church as the papists contend for, to have said, Peter shall be the greatest!” (Poole)
Benson: Let him serve his brethren in all the offices of humility, condescension, and kindness. In other words, If any man desire to be the greatest person in my kingdom, let him endeavour to obtain that dignity by preferring others in honour, and by doing them all the good in his power. This he said, to signify that in his kingdom, they who are most humble and modest, and zealous in doing good, shall be acknowledged as the greatest persons.
Do you like to be looked up to?
Do you like to serve others?
Matthew 18:2 KJV And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
Ric: He uses a visual aid. It is an offset to what they expect as the greatest. You have the humility, teachableness etc. You have to be converted to be like the child.
Matthew 18:3 KJV And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:4 KJV Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Guzik: Jesus called a little child to Him: We think that Jesus should have answered the question, “who is the greatest?” by saying, “Hey dummies – I’m the greatest.” Instead, Jesus draws their attention to His nature by having them look at a child as an example.
b. Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven: How the disciples’ faces must have fallen when Jesus said this! They knew that in that day, children were regarded more as property than individuals. It was understood that they were to be seen and not heard. Jesus said we have to take this kind of humble place to enter the kingdom, much less be the greatest in the kingdom.
i. Children are not threatening; we aren’t afraid of meeting a five-year old in a dark alley. When we have a tough, intimidating presence, we aren’t like Jesus.
ii. Children are not good at deceiving; they are pretty miserable failures at fooling their parents. When we are good at hiding ourselves and deceiving others, we aren’t like Jesus.
iii. Jesus knew that we must be converted to be like little children. It isn’t in our nature to take the low place and to humble ourselves.
c. Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom: Jesus then addressed the issue of greatness. When we most fulfill the humble place a child had in that culture, we are then on our way to greatness.
i. We know that one Man was actually the greatest in the kingdom: Jesus Christ. This means that Jesus Himself was humble like a little child. He wasn’t concerned about his own status. He didn’t have to be the center of attention. He could not deceive, and He didn’t have an intimidating presence.
Mar 9:36 MKJV And He took a child, and embraced it, and set him in their midst. And He said to them,
CTR: And set him — The manner is impressive and solemn; as though he would say, “I want you to take this lesson to heart and ponder it well.”
Gill:And he took a child,…. Which was in the house, and which he called unto him, and set by him, as the other evangelists observe:
and when he had taken him in his arms; and embraced him, to show his great regard to humility, and humble persons:
Matthew 18:5 KJV And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Mar 9:37 MKJV Whoever receives one of such children on My name receives Me. And whoever receives Me does not only receives Me, but Him who sent Me.
CTR: Shall receive — Recognize and show kindness to.
One of such children — Simple of heart, meek, truthful, free from ambition and rivalry, faithful, trusting, loving, obedient, teachable, indifferent to social distinctions and popular opinions, without guile. The least and humblest of God’s children. Such disciples as have this child-like character, the mark of true followers of Jesus.
In my name — Because he is mine.
Receiveth not me — Not me alone.
Him that sent me — They were to receive each other as representatives of Jesus; and more, as representatives of the Father. Showing his disciples that it was not their own greatness that was to be considered, but God’s favor.
Gill: in my name; on account that he belongs to Christ, is one of his, bears his image, partakes of his grace, is loved by him, and shall be glorified with, him: such is Christ’s great regard to his humble followers, that he takes it all one as if done to himself: but him that sent me; for as showing respect to one of Christ’s members, is showing respect to him; so showing respect to Christ, is showing respect to his Father, from whence he came, by whom he was sent, in whose name he acted, and whose work and service he was concerned in.
How do you treat those brethren who don’t quite fit in—are a little slow, a little timid and shy, not quite as knowledgeable?
Ric: We are to consider one another as fellow body members of Christ.
Kingdom of Heaven, the Bride of Christ—embryo kingdom. Those in development to be of that Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 18:6 KJV But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Guzik: Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin: Jesus takes it seriously when one of His little ones is led into sin. Little ones does not only mean children, but those who humble themselves like children as Jesus described.
i. It is a wicked thing to sin, and it is a far greater evil to lead others into sin. But leading one of Jesus’ little ones into sin is far worse, because you then initiate someone into an instance or a pattern of sin that corrupts whatever innocence they had.
c. It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea: A severe punishment is described here. It would be better for the offending one to receive this punishment of the millstone.
Mar 9:41 MKJV For whoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, truly I say to you, He shall not lose his reward.
Benson: For whosoever shall give you a cup of water, &c. — Having answered John, our Lord resumes the discourse, which was broken off at Mar_9:37. And to show the apostles further, that they had been in the wrong to discourage this person, who must have entertained a great veneration for their Master, and was in a fair way to become his follower, he told them, that the lowest degree of respect which any one showed him, though it were but the giving a cup of cold water to one of his thirsty disciples, would be acceptable to him, and should not lose its reward: whereas, on the other hand, the least discouragement of his servants in their duty, come from what quarter it might, should be severely punished. For he added, Whosoever shall offend: και ος αν σκανδαλιση, whosoever shall cause to stumble one of these little ones — The very least Christian. It is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck — See note on Mat_18:5-6.
Clarke — The most indigent may exercise the works of mercy and charity; seeing even a cup of cold water, given in the name of Jesus, shall not lose its reward. How astonishing is God’s kindness! It is not the rich merely whom he calls on to be charitable; but even the poor, and the most impoverished of the poor! God gives the power and inclination to be charitable, and then rewards the work which, it may be truly said, God himself hath wrought.
It is the name of Jesus that sanctifies everything, and renders services, in themselves comparatively contemptible, of high worth in the sight of God.
CTR: For whosoever shall give — Including the worldly man. Whosoever is a big word, and takes in men of all characters. Including the thief on the cross who spoke kindly to the suffering Savior.
Not lose his reward — In the Millennial age. It would indicate their sympathy, and no doubt would bring them eventually, either in the present or in the coming life, some recognition and reward.
Guzik: Nothing could seem more petty than giving a mere cup of water. But God remembers the heart, not only the gift itself.
Do you appreciate those outside your fellowship who are attempting to serve the Lord?
Do you accept that service rendered to you?
Mar 9:42 MKJV And whoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck and he were cast into the sea.
Russell: Whosoever shall offend — Greek: skandalon; scandalize, stumble, entrap, injure, hurt spiritually, thus subjecting himself to certain losses beyond the present life. Beguile and lead astray–from the truth, or holiness of life.
These little ones — These that are little or humble minded, meek and loyal of heart,
Guzik: If a small act of kindness towards others done in Jesus’ name will be eternally remembered, so will any cause for stumbling. And the punishment is severe: it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were throne into the sea.
i. In that day, there were two different sizes of millstones. The smaller one was used by a woman to grind a small amount of grain. The larger one was turned by a donkey to grind a larger amount of grain. Jesus refers to the larger kind of millstone here.
ii. Most Christians don’t take this statement of Jesus seriously enough, and don’t appreciate the great danger there is in doing something to cause another to stumble – especially one of these little ones.
Some Christians think nothing of drawing young, weak Christians into their own little squabbles and divisions. They themselves emerge without much damage, but the little ones they brought with them into the squabble often end up shipwrecked.
Are you careful on how you treat or think about your brethren?
Do you think about how your controversies or actions my stumble another?
Matthew 18:7 KJV Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Mat 18:7 “Misery will come to the one who lures people away into sin. Troubles and obstacles to your faith are inevitable, but great devastation will come to the one guilty of causing others to leave the path of righteousness!
Guzik: (Mat_18:7) Offenses are inevitable, but we are to have no part in offending.
Woe to the world because of offenses! The first woe is a cry of pity for a world in danger of offenses. The second woe is a warning to the one who brings or introduces evil to others.
b. Woe to that man by whom the offense comes: We live in a fallen world, and it is inevitable that sin and hurt and offenses come. Yet the person who brings the offense is guilty before God, and has no excuse.
i. We can imagine Joseph’s brothers saying, “Look at how wonderfully God used it when we sold our brother Joseph into slavery. God used it to send him ahead of us into Egypt and save the whole family. Because God used it for good, it must not have been sin for us.” Jesus would answer, “Not at all. Offenses must come, that is for certain. And God will use the offenses of others in our life. But you are still responsible as the one by whom the offense comes.”
ii. This teaches us that we can let go of the anger and the bitterness for what people have done against us. God promised to deal with those by whom the offense comes.
iii. This teaches us that in Jesus Christ, no other person can wreck our life. If they bring offense in our life, God will deal with them, but not forsake us – not in time or eternity.
Matthew 18:8 KJV Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
Matthew 18:9 KJV And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
We want to consider this so that we can avoid this.
thehand: doing that which would seriously stumble a brother or sister
thefoot: going into forbidden paths—conduct that would cause others to stumble or offend.
The eye: mental processes or means of thinking, that would contribute or lead to causing others to stumble. Leads to bad conduct. We act out according to what we think. We talk according to what we think, we act out according to how we think.
Of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: – hell.
Total KJV occurrences: 12
Guzik: (Mat_18:8-9) In light of the judgment awaiting those who cause others to sin, It is worth it to sacrifice in the battle against sin.
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you: Some people only keep from sin if it is easy or convenient to do it. Jesus warns us that we must be willing to sacrifice in fighting against sin, that nothing is worse than facing the wrath of a righteous God.
If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you: There are significant problems in taking these words as literal instruction instead of conveying an attitude. The problem is not only from the obvious physical harm that one might bring upon themselves, but more so in the problem that bodily mutilation does not go far enough in controlling sin. We need to be transformed from the inside out.
i. If I cut off my right hand, I can still sin with my left. If my left eye is gouged out, my right eye can still sin – and if all such members are gone, I can still sin in my heart and mind. God calls us to a far more radical transformation than any sort of bodily mutilation can address.
Mar 9:45 MKJV And if your foot offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame than to have two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched
Mar 9:46 MKJV where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mar 9:47 MKJV And if your eye offends you, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes to be cast into hell fire
Mar 9:48 MKJV where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.
Russell: And if thine eye — Anything as precious as a foot or an eye. Any sin we may cherish, be it as precious as a right eye.
There are eyes of the understanding as well as natural eyes. Eye is representative of design or purpose.
A literal eye, hand or foot, could not cause one to stumble in such a way as to affect his eternal welfare. There are eyes of understanding as well as natural eyes. Eyes are also used as representative of design or purpose.
Offend thee — It is not an uncommon thing for many who have professed to have an eye for the glory of God, to have a much larger eye for business, for literature, for fame, etc.
Pluck it out — As God will not accept a divided heart, if part of your powers symbolized by “eye” offend, it would be better to have a single one than two working in opposition.
It is better — Paul echoed the same spirit when he said, “I count all things but loss”; “Let us lay aside every weight–and run.” (Phi_3:8; Heb_12:1)
Expositor’s: If the hand be capacity, resource, and possession, the foot is swift perilous impulse, and also fixed habitude, monotonous recurrence, the settled ways of the world.
Cut off hand and foot, and what is left to the mutilated trunk, the ravaged and desolated life? Desire is left; the desire of the eyes. The eyes may not touch the external world; all may now be correct in our actions and intercourse with men. But yet greed, passion, inflamed imagination may desecrate the temple of the soul. The eyes misled Eve when she saw that the fruit was good, and David on his palace roof. Before the eyes of Jesus, Satan spread his third and worst temptation. And our Lord seems to imply that this last sacrifice of the worst because the deepest evil must be made with indignant vehemence; hand and foot must be cut off, but the eye must be cast out, though life be half darkened in the process.
He added that in such cases the choice is between mutilation and the loss of all. It is no longer a question of the full improvement of every faculty, the doubling of all the talents, but a choice between living a life impoverished and half spoiled, and going complete to Gehenna, to the charnel valley where the refuse of Jerusalem was burned in a continual fire, and the worm of corruption never died.
The metaphors of Jesus, however, are not employed to exaggerate His meaning, but only to express it. And what He said is this: The man who cherishes one dear and excusable occasion of offense, who spares himself the keenest spiritual surgery, shall be cast forth with everything that defileth, shall be ejected with the offal of the New Jerusalem.
And it was not addressed to the outcast or the Pharisee, but to His own. They were called to the highest life…Therefore they needed solemn warning, and the counter-pressure of those awful issues known to be dependent on their stern self-discipline. …And since the need of this solemn warning sprang from their rivalry and partisanship, Jesus concludes with an emphatic charge to discipline and correct themselves and to beware of impeding others: to be searching in the closet, and charitable in the church: to have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.
Matthew 18:10 KJV Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Guzik: (Mat_18:10) Another reference to our responsibility to guard God’s little ones.
Their angels: This is often taken as a reference to “guardian angels.” We certainly do have angels watching over us and ministering to us (Heb_1:14), but there is no need to limit it to only one specific “guardian angel.”
CTR: Ye despise not — Do not hate, or in any way persecute. Or do anything demeaning toward them. They may seem humble and insignificant, but they are God’s friends–yea, God’s children, for whom he cares, and whose every injury is an insult to Him.
These little ones — These humble-minded children of God. God pays careful attention to all the affairs of the weakest and most ignorant of his children.
Their angels — Each son of God has a special angel to care for his interests
“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them” (Psa_34:7) that are his. “Are they not all ministering spirits?” (Heb_1:14)
Perhaps one guardian angel to each saint, perhaps more than one.
In hours of danger and affliction, their services are needed and freely tendered. Our Savior himself, in His earthly life, needed and received the help of angels. The word angel might include all the powers of God, both animate and inanimate, by which he could take knowledge of and render assistance to those who are his.
Do always — These, and only these, may know that their prayers are always heard. We are to get the thought that there is no delay in the bringing of any and everything which pertains to their welfare and interest before the attention of the great King.
Behold the face — Have access to the presence of. Have immediate communication with.
Benson: See that ye despise not one of these little ones — As if they were beneath your notice. Be careful to receive, and not to offend, the very weakest believer in Christ: for, as inconsiderable as some of these may appear to you, the very angels of God have a peculiar charge over them: even those of the highest order, who continually appear at the throne of the Most High. Jerome, and many others of the ancient fathers, considered this as an argument that each pious man has his particular guardian angel: but it may be justly questioned whether this is the meaning of the passage. It seems more probable the sense is, that the angels, who sometimes attend the little ones spoken of, at other times stand in God’s immediate presence; and consequently that different angels are at different times employed in this kind office. The general sense is plain: that the highest angels do not disdain, on proper occasions, to perform services of protection and friendship for the meanest Christian. And as all the angels are ministering spirits, sent forth occasionally, at least, to minister to the heirs of salvation, they may in general be properly called their angels. The expression, They behold the face of my Father, alludes to the custom of earthly courts, where the great men, those who are highest in office and favour, are most frequently in the prince’s palace and presence, and perhaps daily converse with him. The meaning, therefore, of the passage is, that the chief angels are employed in taking care of the saints; and our Lord’s reasoning is both strong and beautiful when on this account he cautions us against despising them. “O what men are they,” says Baxter, “that read and preach this, and yet not only despise them, but first ignorantly or maliciously slander them, and then by this justify their persecuting and destroying them.” But, “what a comfort to the meanest true Christian is it, that angels, who always see God’s face in glory, have charge of them!”
Ric: to offend means to stumble or ensnare.
One can be stumbled from the truth, stumbled from living a life of holiness, from being sanctified.
The Lord is warning: Woe unto the world—offences will come from the world because they are opponents—they are in opposition to God’s Ways. The World is not under trial in this age.
Jesus says that these offenses from the world are expected, but when Jesus says, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
And: it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Or that such a one would go into the Second Death (Pass through the Gehenna fire), He is talking about others who are on trial for life now.
The spirit begotten are the ones who are on trial now, so we are suggesting that “that man” is one who is spirit begotten and so held accountable for their actions (because they are spirit begotten and a certain amount of enlightenment.)
Jesus is building on this saying that is better if they would cut off their hand or foot in order that they wouldn’t stumble one of the Lord’s little ones. If we don’t make the effort to curb ourselves and we stumble one of the Lord’s little ones, we are liable to Second death.
We want to consider this so that we can avoid this.
thehand: doing that which would seriously stumble a brother or sister
thefoot: going into forbidden paths—conduct that would cause others to stumble or offend.
The eye: mental processes or means of thinking, that would contribute or lead to causing others to stumble. Leads to bad conduct. We act out according to what we think. We talk according to what we think, we act out according to how we think.
So, in order to curb these fleshly ways of thinking that might cause us to stumble our brethren requires us to educate our conscience and learn how to discipline our thinking so that we can overcome these habits of thoughts that we find could cause our brethren to stumble. These are serious matters, not some insignificant irritants. This is something very serious that could lead one into second death.
Example: One becomes jealous of another brother or sister. In that jealousy they begin to develop malicious patterns of thought of how to undermine that individual so that they might have the opportunities of service or the praise, the friendship of certain ones, or recognition
The Adversary and the flesh find ways in which we can have corrupting thought patterns.
We need to study the Lord’s principles and ways and apply them to our lives, and we need to study and scrutinize our own patterns of thinking to know what is proper thinking according to God’s standard. It is a lifetime process.
Where there is no repentance the progress stops—that is the problem.
We don’t want to look at this and think its hopeless, but Jesus gave this to us to consider and take seriously.
Want to point out some scriptures in a different place that seems similar but there are some differences.
Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Mat 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Mat 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
It is not that the thought would be suggested to the mind, but that the thought is entertained by the mind. The only reason the individual didn’t carry out the act of adultery is because they lacked opportunity. This is the seriousness of these verses. Bad thoughts have to be resisted when they come to the mind.
The difference here in context, is sinning in ourselves, not necessarily against another. We have to take control discipline our own thinking and our own conduct and our own words to be successful in being sanctified.
In Matthew 18, the context is that if we would stumble one of our brothers or sisters that we should take this measure. Though there is a relationship there is a distinction. Matthew 18 has to do with our relationship with one another.
The Apostle Paul talks about the proper use of our liberty or the curbing of our liberty so we wouldn’t stumble our brethren.
1 Corinthians 8:9 KJV
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
Galatians 5:13-15 KJV
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
We have the opportunity to stop doing something that we feel that would be legitimate before God and ourselves, but if it would stumble our brethren, Paul would cut off doing something so as not to stumble his brethren.
This should help us to help develop an appreciation of one another.
Matthew 18:11 KJV For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Benson: For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost — As if he had said, Another, and yet a stronger reason for your not despising them is, that I myself came into the world to save them: and I, who came to save them, will require it at your hands, if you wrong or persecute them, or hinder them in the way of their salvation.
Barnes: For the Son of man … – This is a second reason why we should not despise Christians. That reason is, that the Son of man came to seek and save them. He came in search of them when lost; he found them; he redeemed them. It was the great object of his life; and, though they may be obscure and little in the eye of the world, yet that cannot be an object of contempt which the Son of God sought by his toils and his death.
Gill:For the Son of man is come to seek that which was lost. This is another, and stronger reason, why these little ones should not be despised; because Christ, who is here meant by the Son of man, came into this world to save these persons; who were lost in Adam, and had destroyed themselves by their transgressions, and carries great force in it: for if God had so great a regard to these little ones, as to send his Son to obtain eternal salvation for them, when they were in a miserable and perishing condition; and Christ had so much love for them, as to come into this world, and endure the sorrows, sufferings, and death itself for them, who were not only little, but lost; and that to obtain righteousness and life for them, and save them with an everlasting salvation; then they must, and ought to be, far above the contempt of all mortals; and the utmost care should be taken not to despise, grieve, offend, and injure them in any form or shape whatever; see Rom_14:15.
Matthew 18:12 KJV How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
Matthew 18:13 KJV And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Matthew 18:14 KJV Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Guzik:Does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? This story demonstrates the value God places on individuals. Jesus exhorts us to reflect the same care.
Ric: shows the importance of even one of these sheep. “One of the little ones” may be one of the ones who may have been offended by us. The Lord would go forth and try and bring them back so that the flock is whole again.
Let’s look at it in Luke
Luke 15:1-7 KJV
1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The audience is different—a mixed audience (whereas in Matthew it is just the disciples)
Similar but different
One thought on this parable is that is shows that 100 were the house of Israel and the lost sheep were the publicans and sinners separated from God. John the Baptist’s mission was to bring them back. The other 99 thought they were just (Scribes and Pharisees)
In Luke this is the 1st of the series of 5 parables: Lost coin, Prodigal Son, Unjust Steward and then The Rich Man and Lazarus parable.
In Matthew 18 there is a distinction—the Lost sheep went astray—has the thought that is has roamed away from virtue or truth.
In Matthew these sheep could have gone astray because we have offended them and they need to be regained, whereas in Luke those are lost (don’t have life in the Lord) and he comes to give them life.
Benson: that one of these little ones should perish — He loves them certainly infinitely better than the shepherd loves his sheep, and therefore will not fail to watch over them in order to their preservation: and will judge all those that would deter, or drive away from his duty, the meanest believer. Observe, reader, the gradation: the angels (vs 10), the Son (vs 11), the Father (vs 14)!
Barnes: To show still further the reason why we should not despise Christians, he introduced a parable showing the joy felt when a thing lost is found. A shepherd rejoices over the recovery of one of his flock that had wandered more than over all that remained; so God rejoices that man is restored: so he seeks his salvation, and wills that not one thus found should perish. If God thus loves and preserves the redeemed, then surely man should not despise them.
Matthew 18:15 KJV 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.
Guzik: (Mat_18:15) If you are sinned against, go and confront the guilty party directly.
Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone: It is essential that we go to the offending brother first – not griping and gossiping to others, especially under the guise of “sharing a prayer request” or “seeking counsel.” Instead, speak to the party directly.
i. It would be wrong for anyone to take Jesus’ word here as a command to confront your brother with every sin they commit against you. The Bible says we should
b. If he hears you, you have gained your brother: You have gained him in two ways. First, the problem has been cleared up. Perhaps you realized that he was right in some ways and he realized you were right in some ways, but the problem is resolved. Second, you have gained him because you have not wronged your brother by going to others with gossip and half the side of a dispute.
Barnes: Trespass against thee – That is, injure thee in any way, by words or conduct. The original word means sin against thee. This may be done by injuring the character, person, or property.
Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone – This was required under the law, Lev_19:17. In the original it is “go and reprove him.” Seek an explanation of his conduct, and if he has done wrong, administer a friendly and brotherly reproof. This is required to be done alone:
1. That he may have an opportunity of explaining his conduct. In nine cases out of ten, where one supposes that he has been injured, a little friendly conversation would set the matter right and prevent difficulty.
2. That he may have an opportunity of acknowledging his offence or making reparation, if he has done wrong. Many would be glad of such an opportunity, and it is our duty to furnish it by calling on them.
3. That we may admonish them of their error if they have done an injury to the cause of religion. This should not be blazoned abroad. It can do no good – it does injury; it is what the enemies of religion wish. Christ is often wounded in the house of his friends; and religion, as well as an injured brother, often suffers by spreading such faults before the world.
Thou hast gained thy brother – To gain means, sometimes, to preserve or to save, 1Co_9:19. Here it means thou hast preserved him, or restored him, to be a consistent Christian. Perhaps it may include the idea, also, thou hast reconciled him to thyself – thou hast gained him as a Christian brother.
Leviticus 19:16-17 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
CTR: Moreover — There are no exceptions to the rule here laid down. We must not only scrutinize our motives; but, after finding good motives, we must scrutinize our methods and square them all with the Word of the Lord.
If thy brother — This instruction is given only to the brethren, the Church. Those not brethren, not children of light, but children of darkness associating with the brethren, must be dealt with along the divine direction here laid down. These instructions given only to the Church; but whoever learns to apply this rule to the brethren will find that it commends itself as a wise course of conduct in all the affairs of life.
Shall trespass — We should put on love (Col_3:14) and overlook much of what others do.
The true Christian will cultivate the disposition to think charitably of the works and actions of others, and to suppose that their intentions are good, until he has positive evidence to the contrary.
Against thee — Not what he does against some one else, but against “thee.”
Go — This law should be understood in the smallest details and followed without any modification.
Tell him his fault — Without judging or condemning him beforehand. Not to make him ashamed or to berate him, but to secure cessation of the wrong and, if possible, some recompense for injuries received.
Not the trivial matters, evil surmisings, rumors, fancied insults, but positive wrongs done us. If the matter is too small to mention, it should be forgotten.
Not in a dictatorial way to show him there is something wrong, but in a kindly way, to be reconciled. You have no authority to punish him; that belongs to God.
Thee and him alone — Privately, without previous conference or talking with anyone. Thus did our Lord guard against the insidious sin of slander, which stops growth in the truth and its spirit of love.
Even with positive evidence, go to the offender alone.
The adversary will use every means to turn us aside from the plainly stated rule of love; he will endeavor to make us think that it cannot be applicable to the difficulty which troubles us. The usual sophistry by which the “old man” sets aside this divine rule is to conclude that it is not applicable in this instance, or to be persuaded that he does not know how to apply it in this case and must ask counsel of others, the very thing here forbidden.
To have a desire to tell of the weaknesses or faults of another is an intimation of lovelessness on our own part. Not even to ask advice should the matter be told. We have the Lord’s advice, and we should follow it. And not so much as mentioned to others, unless offenders refuse to hear, refuse to correct the fault.
Disobedience to this command results in roots of bitterness, misunderstandings, anger, malice, hatred, strife.
If the matter is something against the Church or outwardly immoral, the elders would be the better able to judge, and know better how to approach the matter.
If he shall hear thee — The Lord did not say anything about his apology. But if he recognizes that he is wrong and fails to apologize, he is doing himself injury.
Gained thy brother — Recovered him. The matter is settled, peace prevails, the threatened break has been averted and no one is the wiser.
Matthew 18:16 KJV 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.
Russell: If he will not hear — Unless the trouble is serious, the matter ought to stop with the personal appeal to the erring one, whether he hears or forbears to hear, to yield. Alone, privately.
Then take with thee — Make sure the matter is of sufficient importance. Only after deliberate thought and prayer. If occasion require, take the subsequent steps.
One or two more — Unprejudiced brethren, not necessarily elders. Those called in should be “wise” (1Co_6:5); such as both the accuser and the accused would recognize, and whose judgment they would respect and follow. Without any explanation whatever to them before they meet together with the accused.
Be established — If the witnesses disagree with you, you should acknowledge that you have erred. If we are in error, we should be more anxious to be corrected ourselves than to have the other corrected.
If these give their verdict against the accuser, that should settle the matter; the accuser should recognize his error. Not do do so would imply that he was not seeking to ascertain the truth, but that he had judged his brother personally.
Matthew 18:17 KJV 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.
Ric: In the context, this is how we can regain brethren who are offended or if we are offended.
We should try to regain our brother in a very humble way—and when ones come to us, we should also be receptive.
If one neglects –turn over to Azezel or over to the destruction of the flesh that their flesh might be saved. Treat like not one of the family of God so they will repent. It protects the rest of the flock as well.
The key is that there has to be a repentance. We see that in verse 15 “if he shall hear thee”—he heard and repented.
CTR: If he shall neglect to hear — But not sooner. The advice of these brethren should be followed by both.
In the event of the concurrence of the brethren that the wrong is being done and of the refusal of the wrong-doer to desist. Even if the witnesses agree with us and the wrong-doer is not corrected, we are still not at liberty to make mention of the case to others.
Tell it — Facts, evil deeds or evil doctrines, and not evil surmisings nor rumors, are the basis of Scriptural disfellowship.
Unto the church — The consecrated.
To patiently hear definite, positive charges of sufficient importance. In the presence of the accused. In the case that the matter had gone beyond the individual, and had somehow involved the whole congregation. There must be brought evidence to show that there is really a matter to come before the Church, and that it is not merely a case of busybodying.
Up to this time, the case should not be discussed outside of these witnesses. In proportion as they are saints they will desire to say no more to anyone respecting the weaknesses or sins of anybody.
The two witnesses should say to the elders of the Church that they have a case to present for a hearing, but they should not make charges. The elders should call a special meeting to inform the Church of the case, and the Church should decide when to call a meeting to consider it.
For the one to state his trouble and the other to answer. At no stage of the proceedings should unkind words be permitted.
The Church’s decision of the question is to be final, binding upon both.
Neglect to hear the church — By not repenting and reforming.
This is the highest tribunal. Brother should not go to law with brother in the worldly courts, however much he may feel himself aggrieved. If either still have doubts as to the justice of the matter, he will surely obtain a blessing by giving full and hearty consent to the Lord’s arrangements.
The vote of the Church should be unanimous, if possible, ignoring all partisanship. The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only, but of the entire Church.
Their advice must not carry with it any penalty whatever.
Let him be unto thee — In carrying out the findings of the Church court, the matter rests with each individual; each must discern the justice of the decision for himself.
As an heathen — In that we can no longer have Christian fellowship with such. We would treat a heathen with justice and kindness and the love of pity, but not with the love of affection due to a brother in Christ. Outside of your religious and social company, but not outside of your love, care and desire to help. (Rom_12:19-20) A complete separation from the Church. Until he has made a complete reform he should be thoroughly disowned by the Church. The most would be to withdraw fellowship, refuse to visit their homes or to invite to our homes, and not appoint to any office in the class. Lest our continued fellowshipping cause our influence to oppose the truth and favor the error, and thus make us sharers in the evil being done. His punishment is not the object, but to secure repentance and reform.
And a publican — He is a brother still, but not in the best standing. Deprived of any and all manifestations of brotherhood. Not appointing him to any position or honor in the Church. Not to be asked to offer prayer. To be debarred from participation in the Lord’s Supper.
Treated in the kindly, courteous way in which we would treat any publican or Gentile, withholding the special rights, greetings or voting opportunities that belong to the Church. Not to be harshly spoken of even after the separation, just as we are not to berate or rail against heathen men and publicans.
Disfellowshipped until he recognizes his wrong and makes amends to the extent of his ability.
Taking heed to “speak evil of no man.” (Tit_3:2)
We are to distinguish between avoidance and appointment to honorable positions in the Church and the still different matter of disfellowship and cutting off from the body of Christ, the Church.
Guzik: (Mat_18:16-18) If one among the church is adamantly unrepentant, they are to be removed from fellowship.
If he will not hear, take with you one or two more: The circle of people in the situation only becomes wider as the offending party refuses to listen. If the stubborn, unrepentant attitude remains they are to be refused fellowship (let him be to you like a heathen).
i. This sense of being refused full standing and participation in the body of Christ is what Paul meant when he said to deliver such a one to Satan (1Co_5:1-8). There is a sense in which the unrepentant one is chastened by their being placed outside of the “protection” of fellowship.
b. Like a heathen and a tax collector: Even so, the unrepentant one must be treated just as we should treat a heathen and a tax collector – with great love, with the goal of bringing about a full repentance and reconciliation.
Matthew 18:18 KJV Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Guzik: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven: If this process is done humbly and according to the Word, this is quite binding in the eyes of God, even if the unrepentant ones just go to another church.
Barnes: Whatsoever ye shall bind … – See the notes at Mat_16:19. These words were spoken to the apostles. Jesus had before addressed the same words to Peter, Mat_16:19. He employs them here to signify that they all had the same power; that in ordering the affairs of the church he did not intend to give Peter any supremacy or any exclusive right to regulate it. The meaning of this verse is, whatever you shall do in the discipline of the church shall be approved by God or bound in heaven. This promise, therefore, cannot be understood as extending to all Christians or ministers, for all others but the apostles may err.
Clarke:Whatsoever ye shall bind, etc. – Whatever determinations ye make, in conformity to these directions for your conduct to an offending brother, will be accounted just, and ratified by the Lord. See on Mat_16:19 (note); and, to what is there said, the following observations may be profitably added.
Οσα εαν δησητε – και οσα εαν λυσητε. Binding and loosing, in this place, and in Mat_16:19, is generally restrained, by Christian interpreters, to matters of discipline and authority. But it is as plain as the sun, by what occurs in numberless places dispersed throughout the Mishna, and from thence commonly used by the later rabbins when they treat of ritual subjects, that binding signified, and was commonly understood by the Jews at that time to be, a declaration that any thing was unlawful to be done; and loosing signified, on the contrary, a declaration that any thing may be lawfully done. Our Savior spoke to his disciples in a language which they understood, so that they were not in the least at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and its being obsolete to us is no manner of reason why we should conclude that it was obscure to them. The words, bind and loose, are used in both places in a declaratory sense, of things, not of persons. It is ὁ and ὃσα, in the neuter gender, both in chap. 16, and here in this: i.e. Whatsoever thing or things ye shall bind or loose. Consequently, the same commission which was given at first to St. Peter alone, (Mat_16:19), was afterwards enlarged to all the apostles. St. Peter had made a confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. God made choice of him among all the apostles, that the Gentiles should first, by his mouth, hear the word of the Gospel, and believe. He first opened the kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles, when he preached to Cornelius.
Matthew 18:19 KJV Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
PNT: Shall agree on earth. This agreement could only be wrought by the Holy Spirit, selfish ends being excluded from the nature of the case. An encouragement to united prayer.
CTR:Two of you shall agree — The Lord is pleased to reward the united efforts and prayers of his people
Barnes: Again I say unto you, That if two of you … – This is connected with the previous verses. The connection is this: The obstinate man is to be excluded from the church, Mat_18:17. The care of the church – the power of admitting or excluding members – of organizing and establishing it – is committed to you, the apostles, Mat_18:18. Yet there is not need of the whole to give validity to the transaction. When two of you agree, or have the same mind, feelings, and opinion, about the arrangement of affairs in the church, or about things desired for its welfare, and shall ask of God, it shall be done for them. See Act_1:14-26; 15:1-29. The promise here has respect to the apostles in organizing the church. It cannot with any propriety be applied to the ordinary prayers of believers. Other promises are made to them, and it is true that the prayer of faith will be answered, but that is not the truth taught here.
Clarke:If two of you shall agree – ΣυμφωνηϚωσιν, symphonize, or harmonize. It is a metaphor taken from a number of musical instruments set to the same key, and playing the same tune: here, it means a perfect agreement of the hearts, desires, wishes, and voices, of two or more persons praying to God. It also intimates that as a number of musical instruments, skilfully played, in a good concert, are pleasing to the ears of men, so a number of persons united together in warm, earnest, cordial prayer, is highly pleasing in the sight and ears of the Lord. Now this conjoint prayer refers, in all probability, to the binding and loosing in the preceding verse; and thus we see what power faithful prayer has with God!
It shall be done for them – What an encouragement to pray! even to two, if there be no more disposed to join in this heavenly work.
Guzik: (Mat_18:19-20) The power and blessing in fellowship that is denied the unrepentant.
If two of you agree on earth: There is real power in agreement in prayer and in the presence of Jesus. This is exactly what the unrepentant ones miss out on.
i. In the ancient Greek, agree is literally “to symphonize.” Jesus wants us to complement each other like a great orchestra.
b. It will be done for them by My Father in heaven: We must take advantage of the power of agreement, which works on the principle related in Deu_32:30, where one sets a thousand enemies to flight, but two set ten thousand enemies to flight. There is real power the prayer of agreement.
Matthew 18:20 KJV For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Guzik:Where two or three are gathered together in My name: Gathering in the name of Jesus means gathering according to His character and will, and gathering in a manner Jesus would endorse. This is when Jesus is really present (I am there in the midst of them).
JFB:there am I in the midst of them — On this passage – so full of sublime encouragement to Christian union in action and prayer – observe, first, the connection in which it stands. Our Lord had been speaking of church meetings before which the obstinate perversity of a brother was in the last resort to be brought, and whose decision was to be final – such honor does the Lord of the Church put upon its lawful assemblies. But not these assemblies only does He deign to countenance and honor. For even two uniting to bring any matter before Him shall find that they are not alone, for My Father is with them, says Jesus. Next, observe the premium here put upon union in prayer. As this cannot exist with fewer than two, so by letting it down so low as that number, He gives the utmost conceivable encouragement to union in this exercise. But what kind of union? Not an agreement merely to pray in concert, but to pray for some definite thing. “As touching anything which they shall ask,” says our Lord – anything they shall agree to ask in concert. At the same time, it is plain He had certain things at that moment in His eye, as most fitting and needful subjects for such concerted prayer. The Twelve had been “falling out by the way” about the miserable question of precedence in their Master’s kingdom, and this, as it stirred their corruptions, had given rise – or at least was in danger of giving rise – to “offenses” perilous to their souls. The Lord Himself had been directing them how to deal with one another about such matters. “But now shows He unto them a more excellent way.” Let them bring all such matters – yea, and everything whatsoever by which either their own loving relationship to each other, or the good of His kingdom at large, might be affected – to their Father in heaven; and if they be but agreed in petitioning Him about that thing, it shall be done for them of His Father which is in heaven. But further, it is not merely union in prayer for the same thing – for that might be with very jarring ideas of the thing to be desired – but it is to symphonious prayer, the prayer by kindred spirits, members of one family, servants of one Lord, constrained by the same love, fighting under one banner, cheered by assurances of the same victory; a living and loving union, whose voice in the divine ear is as the sound of many waters. Accordingly, what they ask “on earth” is done for them, says Jesus, “of My Father which is in heaven.” Not for nothing does He say, “of MY FATHER” – not “YOUR FATHER”; as is evident from what follows: “For where two or three are gathered together unto My name” – the “My” is emphatic, “there am I in the midst of them.” As His name would prove a spell to draw together many clusters of His dear disciples, so if there should be but two or three, that will attract Himself down into the midst of them; and related as He is to both the parties, the petitioners and the Petitioned – their symphonious prayers on earth would thrill upward through Him to heaven, be carried by Him into the holiest of all, and so reach the Throne. Thus will He be the living Conductor of the prayer upward, and the answer downward.
Matthew 18:21 KJV Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Matthew 18:22 KJV Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Guzik: Up to seven times? Peter, in light of what Jesus said about agreement and unity, tries to sound extremely loving by suggesting forgiving a repentant brother up to seven times when three times was the accepted limit taught by the Jewish rabbis of that time.
Up to seventy times seven: Jesus answers unexpectedly, saying we are to forgive the repentant an unlimited number of times. Surely, Jesus didn’t mean to have us count to 490.
JFB:Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? — In the recent dispute, Peter had probably been an object of special envy, and his forwardness in continually answering for all the rest would likely be cast up to him – and if so, probably by Judas – notwithstanding his Master’s commendations. And as such insinuations were perhaps made once and again, he wished to know how often and how long he was to stand it.
till seven times? — This being the sacred and complete number, perhaps his meaning was, Is there to be a limit at which the needful forbearance will be full?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven — that is, so long as it shall be needed and sought: you are never to come to the point of refusing forgiveness sincerely asked. (See on Luk_17:3, Luk_17:4).
Barnes: Then came Peter … – The mention of the duty Mat_18:15 of seeing a brother when he had offended us, implying that it was a duty to forgive him, led Peter to ask how often this was to be done.
Forgive him – To forgive is to treat as though the offence was not committed – to declare that we will not harbor malice or treat unkindly, but that the matter shall be buried and forgotten.
Till seven times? – The Jews caught that a man was to forgive another three times, but not the fourth. Peter more than doubled this, and asked whether forgiveness was to be exercised to so great an extent.
I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but, Until seventy times seven – The meaning is, that we are not to limit our forgiveness to any fixed number of times. See Gen_4:24. As often as a brother injures us and asks forgiveness, we are to forgive him. It is, indeed, his duty to ask forgiveness, Luk_17:4. If he does this, it is our duty to declare that we forgive him, and to treat him accordingly. If he does not ask us to forgive him, yet we are not at liberty to follow him with revenge and malice, but are still to treat him kindly and to do him good, Luk_10:30-37.
CTR: Jesus saith — This is not merely advice, it is a command.
Until seventy times seven — No limit. How it tells us of the loving mercy and forgiveness of him with whom we have to do.
“If thy brother trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times a day shall say, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.” (Luk_17:4)
Forgiveness is obligatory when asked for. Even though fully forgiven, we may not put such a one into the same place of responsibility previously held until we see a stronger and truer character developed in him.
We may not decide that any transgression against us is unforgivable. Our imperfect knowledge, as well as our imperfect judgment, forbids such a decision.
Clarke:Till seven times? – Though seven was a number of perfection among the Hebrews, and often meant much more than the units in it imply, yet it is evident that Peter uses it here in its plain literal sense, as our Lord’s words sufficiently testify. It was a maxim among the Jews never to forgive more than thrice: Peter enlarges this charity more than one half; and our Lord makes even his enlargement septuple, see Mat_18:22. Revenge is natural to man, i.e. man is naturally a vindictive being, and, in consequence, nothing is more difficult to him than forgiveness of injuries.
Benson: Until seventy times seven — That is, as often as there is occasion; a certain number being put for an uncertain: for it is not the number of times in which a person may offend that is to be here regarded, but his true repentance. In short, the precept is unbounded, and you must never be weary of forgiving your brethren, since you are so much more indebted to the divine mercy than your fellow-creatures can be to yours.
Matthew 18:23 KJV Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
PNT: Therefore. Because this readiness of forgiveness is the Christian principle.
Aman that is a king. Perhaps in antithesis to the heavenly king, what is true of the former is much more true of the latter.
Would, ‘desired to,’ make a reckoning with his servants, represented as stewards over his property, or collectors of his revenues. The special application is to those enjoying high trusts in the Church. The final reckoning will be at the final judgment, but there is also a continual reckoning which God’s justice makes respecting the conduct of men.
CTR:Of his servants — Tax-collectors: representing the justified and consecrated children of God, entrusted with the stewardship of the Lord’s goods. This parable does not relate to dealings between God and the world of sinners; but between God and his covenanted children, called here, as elsewhere, “bond-servants.” The only ones God recognizes as servants are such as come back into relationship with him through Jesus.
Matthew 18:24 KJV And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
Matthew 18:25 KJV But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Guzik:Who owed him ten thousand talents: Though commentators list the modern value of 10,000 talents as anywhere between $12 million and $1 billion, the figure clearly represents an unpayable debt.
b. His master commanded that he be sold: The master would sell the man who could not pay, his family, and all he had. But this would do virtually nothing to pay off the debt, because slaves at their top price were sold at a talent apiece.
Matthew 18:26 KJV The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Matthew 18:27 KJV Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
Guzik: The master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt: The master shows mercy prompted by compassion, forgiving a debt that obviously could never be repaid, no matter what promises the servant made.
d. One of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii: The forgiven servant confronts another man about a debt of 100 denarii (which was equal to 100 day’s wages). This was not an insignificant amount, but it was almost nothing compared to the debt forgiven by his master.
e. Have patience with me, and I will pay you all: The man who owed 100 denarii uses the exact same plea that brought man forgiven the great debt mercy. But it gains nothing, because the forgiven servant puts the man into a debtor’s prison.
f. You wicked servant . . . delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him: The master hears of this and is angry. He then gives the first servant what he deserved – justice instead of mercy.
Matthew 18:28 KJV But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
Matthew 18:29 KJV And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Matthew 18:30 KJV And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Hawker: The kingdom of heaven is well known to mean the Church of Christ in the present dispensation. The parable saith, that the Lord of this kingdom, would take account of his servants: that is, his people, his Church, his chosen. Not the whole world: For though by creation the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is therein; yet here the Lord is speaking of his redeemed. The one brought to him in debt is the representative of all. And his debt was so great, that the everlasting slavery of himself, and all the race to which he belonged, could never cancel the debt nor pay it. In this state, the Lord forgives him. …
But the sense of the Parable seems to be this: How truly undeserving must be all those who are made partakers of the rich, full, and free salvation of God, who in the view of their ten thousand talents forgiven, are unkind and unforgiving to their fellow creatures. … The general scope of our Lord’s meaning by it, is evidently this; to shew, that as we hope for mercy, we are supposed to shew mercy: and the consciousness of sins pardoned in Christ should prompt us, and will prompt the heart of grace to be merciful to everyone who bears the image of Christ, and to forgive from our heart, everyone his brother their trespasses.
CTR: Pay the debt — If our standard in dealing with others be one of exact justice–requiring others to measure up to our standard by some sort of penance before we forgive them–we may expect no mercy at the Lord’s hands.
Gaidelis: 1 Denarus a day is the excepted wage for a common worker would take off 2 to 3 years to work off the dept. (100 days value) paying 1 denari a week or less.
If we assume a 300 day work year, 6 days per week for 50 weeks (2 weeks off for holidays). A common worker would get 300 deneri a year for work.
10K talents is 60 million dracma or denari, divide that by 300 we come up with 200 thousand years.
10k talents of Silver: 200K years to work off it off
10k talents of Gold: 3million years to 6 million years
If servant paid 100x better than the common worker the time would be down to 2 thousand years if the talent was silver, or 30 thousand years if God (only working on the debt and nothing else)
We see this is a very long time to pay the debt and no one could pay it.
Matthew 18:31 KJV So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Gill:So when his fellow servants saw what was done,…. What hard usage, and ill treatment, their fellow servant met with; the Syriac reads, “their fellow servants”, being the fellow servants both of the creditor and the debtor:
they were very sorry; they were greatly grieved and troubled at the cruelty of the one, and the unhappiness of the other; being more tenderhearted, and of a more forgiving spirit than he:
and came and told unto their Lord all that was done; to their fellow servant, by one that had so lately received such favours from him: this may be expressive of the concern of some members of churches at such conduct: who, though they may not have strength and number sufficient to oppose such measures, yet being secretly grieved at such cruel methods, go to the throne of grace, and spread the case before the Lord, tell him all that is done by way of complaint; which, is no impeachment of his omniscience, only shows their trouble for such malpractices, and the sense they have, by whom only such grievances can be redressed.
Clarke:His fellow-servants saw what was done – An act of this kind is so dishonorable to all the followers of Christ, and to the spirit of his Gospel, that through the respect they owe to their Lord and Master, and through the concern they feel for the prosperity of his cause, they are obliged to plead against it at the throne of God.
Matthew 18:32 KJV Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Gill:said unto him, O thou wicked servant! Munster’s Hebrew Gospel reads, “thou servant of Belial”; thou cruel and hard hearted man to thy fellow servant, and ungrateful creature to me, on whom my goodness to thee has not made any impression, nor taken any effect:
I forgave thee all that debt: all that vast debt of ten thousand talents, and that freely:
because thou desiredst me: not to forgive the debt, but to have patience, and give time, and therefore unasked forgave the whole sum, every farthing of it; which was such an instance of pure goodness, as was enough to have wrought upon an heart of stone, and engaged the most tender concern and pity for a fellow creature, as well as filled with thankfulness to the kind benefactor. The favour so lately bestowed on him is justly observed as an aggravation of his wickedness.
Matthew 18:33 KJV Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Meyer: The difference between the two amounts of debt named in the parable sets forth the vast difference between our indebtedness to man and to God; and the free pardon of the king teaches us that God desires not only to forgive us, but to wipe out all memory of our sins. We could never pay all, but God will forgive all. Yet, notice that this servant forfeited the king’s pardon, so that it ceased to operate. Similarly we may shut ourselves out of the benefits of Christ’s death-though it has reconciled the world unto God-by an unforgiving and merciless spirit.
JFB:Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, etc. — Before bringing down his vengeance upon him, he calmly points out to him how shamefully unreasonable and heartless his conduct was; which would give the punishment inflicted on him a double sting.
CTR: Compassion — The trespasses of others against us are trifling indeed in comparison to our obligations to the Lord.
I had pity on thee — As we remember and appreciate our own weaknesses and blemishes, it will make us sympathetic with the brethren and with all mankind
Matthew 18:34 KJV And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
CTR:To the tormentors — The jailers of Oriental countries were accustomed to torment their prisoners. These doubtless represent Satan, to whom will be turned over for the destruction of the flesh all true servants of the Lord who fail to come willingly into accord with his spirit.
Illustrating earthly disciplines. This might mean financial difficulties or losses, or physical ailments, disease or what-not. To trouble and distress in the present life, sufficient to make them sympathetic with the weak and erring.
The Great Company must wash in the blood of the lamb, in the “great tribulation.” These tribulations correspond to the tormentors of the parable. (Rev_7:14)
All that was due — The full consecration promised.
It might represent the original debt resting upon the human family–from which the Lord redeemed all; hence the unmerciful servant’s penalty would signify second death. We are inclined to think that the uttermost farthing signifies a hopeless case–second death–in the case of the Lord’s people who fail to exercise forgiveness toward the brethren.
Or if the debt represents the obligations of his covenant as a new creature, he would be required to comply to his vow by going into the great time of trouble.
Matthew 18:35 KJV So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Guzik: (Mat_18:35) Jesus applies the story: genuine forgiveness, from the heart, is required of all who have been forgiven.
So My heavenly Father also will do to you: God has forgiven you such a great debt, that any debt owed to you is absolutely insignificant in comparison. No man can possibly offend me to the extent that my sins have offended God. This principle must be applied in the little things done to us, but also to the great things done unto us.
b. If each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses: In context, Jesus is speaking only of forgiving the repentant. When a person is unrepentant or unaware of their sin against us, we can’t really forgive them, though we can (and must) make a promise of forgiveness to God (as Jesus did in Luk_23:34). We must keep our hearts open for reconciliation at the slightest true repentance and keeping ourselves free from bitterness.
c. However, we are under strict obligation to forgive the repentant, and without judging the validity of their repentance (Luk_17:4). When we do not, we pay a terrible price for our unforgiveness.
i. Much of the chastening that we as Christians undergo can be traced to our hard and oftentimes relentless attitude toward those who offend us. Who knows how much blessing and fruit is hindered because of unforgiveness?
ii. They may not deserve forgiveness, but for your sake, it is best to forgive. You are the one most hurt by your unforgiveness.
d. Can we lose our salvation from unforgiveness? Unforgiveness is not the “unforgivable sin”, but forgiveness is the mark of one truly forgiven. Habitually unforgiving heart shows a bitterness that may mean that such a person’s heart has never really been touched by the love of Jesus.
CTR:So likewise — What I am seeking in you, my servant, is perfection in my character-likeness.
My heavenly Father — We are too inclined to look at the justice of his character and copy it, and deal severely with our debtors. He wishes to make clear that the grandest elements of his character are love, sympathy, kindness and forbearance.
Do also unto you — Whatever our faith and works, they amount to nothing if we do not have love which is merciful, generous, long- suffering, patient toward those who injure us. Not that he wishes to retaliate, but to prepare us for a special service; he desires that we learn the lesson of forgiveness and mercy. If we are harsh, unsympathetic, unforgiving toward our brethren, the heavenly Father will so deal with us and not forgive us our trespasses.
From your hearts — Not merely from our lips. If at heart we treasure up resentment against others, our heavenly Father will not forgive us.
Not only forgive; but forgive gladly, freely, heartily. Heart forgiveness leaves no sting, no animosity, no grudge. We should harbor no other feeling than that of forgiveness and good will toward all, no matter how seriously they may have transgressed against us.
Not a lip-forgiveness and a heart-hatred.
Forgive not — God will be no more generous to you and your imperfections than you are toward your brethren in their imperfections. Let every Christian, in approaching the throne of grace daily, inquire of his own heart whether or not he has forgiven those who are indebted to him.
Barnes:So likewise … – This verse contains the sum or moral of the parable. When Christ has explained one of his own parables, we are to receive it just as he has explained it, and not attempt to draw spiritual instruction from any parts or circumstances which he has not explained. The following seems to be the particulars of the general truth which he meant to teach:
1. That our sins are great.
2. That God freely forgives them.
3. That the offences committed against us by our brethren are comparatively small.
4. That we should therefore most freely forgive them.
5. That if we do not, God will be justly angry with us, and punish us.
From your hearts – That is, not merely in words, but really and truly to feel and act toward him as if he had not offended us.
Trespasses – Offences, injuries. Words and actions designed to do us wrong.