Matthew Chapter Eighteen
In chapter 18 the great principles proper to the new order of things are made known to the disciples. Let us search a little into these sweet and precious instructions of the Lord.
They may be looked at in two ways. They reveal the ways of God with regard to that which was to take the place of the Lord upon earth, as a testimony to grace and truth. Besides this, they depict the character which is in itself the true testimony to be rendered.
This chapter supposes Christ rejected and absent, the glory of chapter 17 not yet come. It passes over chapter 17 to connect itself with chapter 16 (except so far as the last verses of chapter 17 give a practical testimony to His abdication of His true rights until God should vindicate them). The Lord speaks of the two subjects contained in chapter 16, the kingdom and the church.
That which would be proper for the kingdom was the meekness of a little child, which is unable to assert its own rights in the face of a world that passes it by-the spirit of dependence and humility. They must become as little children. In the absence of their rejected Lord this was the spirit that became His followers. He who received a little child in the name of Jesus received Himself. On the other hand, he who put a stumbling-block in the way of one of those little ones who believed in Jesus  should be visited with the most terrible judgment. Alas! the world do this; but woe unto the world on that account. As to the disciples, if that which they most valued became a snare to them, they must pluck it out and cut it off-must exercise the utmost carefulness in grace not to be a snare to a little one believing in Christ, and the most unrelenting severity as to themselves, in whatever might be a snare to them. Loss of what was most precious here was nothing, compared with their eternal condition in another world; for that was in question now, and sin could have no place in God's house. Care for others, even the weakest, severity with self was the rule of the kingdom that no snare or evil might be. As to offence, full grace in forgiveness. They were not to despise these little ones; for if unable to force their own way in this world, they were the objects of the Father's special favour, as those who, in earthly courts, had the peculiar privilege of seeing the king's face. Not that there was no sin in them, but that the Father did not despise those that were far from Him. The Son of man was come to save the lost.  And it was not the Father's will that one of these little ones should perish. He spoke, I doubt not, of little children like those whom He took in His arms; but He inculcates on His disciples the spirit of humility and dependence on the one hand, and on the other, the spirit of the Father, which they were to imitate in order to be truly the children of the kingdom; and not to walk in the spirit of man, who seeks to maintain his place and his own importance, but to humble themselves and submit to contumely; and at the same time (and this is true glory) to imitate the Father, who considers the lowly and admits them into His presence. The Son of man was come on behalf of the worthless. This is the spirit of grace spoken of at the end of chapter 5. It is the spirit of the kingdom.
But the assembly more especially was to occupy the place of Christ on earth. With respect to offences against oneself, this same spirit of meekness became His disciple; he was to gain his brother. If the latter would hearken, the thing was to be buried in the heart of the one whom he had offended; if not, two or three more were then to be taken with him by the offended person to reach his conscience, or serve as witnesses; but if these appointed means were unavailing, it must be made known to the assembly; and if this did not produce submission, he who had done the wrong should be to him as a stranger, as a heathen and a publican was to Israel. The public discipline of the assembly is not treated of here, but the spirit in which Christians were to walk. If the offender bowed when spoken to, even seventy times seven times a day, he was to be forgiven. But though church discipline be not spoken of, we see that the assembly took the place of Israel on earth. The without and within henceforth applied to it. Heaven would ratify that which the assembly bound on earth, and the Father would grant the prayer of two or three who should agree together in making their request; for Christ would be in the midst wherever two or three should be gathered together in or to His name.  Thus, for decisions, for prayers, they were as Christ on the earth, for Christ Himself was there with them. Solemn truth! immense favour, bestowed on two or three when really gathered together in His name; but which forms asubject of the deepest grief when this unity is pretended to, while the reality is not there. 
Another element of the character proper to the kingdom, which had been manifested in God and in Christ, is pardoning grace. In this also the children of the kingdom are to be imitators of God, and always to forgive. This refers only to wrongs done to oneself, and not to public discipline. We must pardon to the end, or rather, there must be no end; even as God has forgiven us all things. At the same time, I believe that the dispensations of God to the Jews are here described. They had not only broken the law, but they had slain the Son of God. Christ interceded for them, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In answer to this prayer, a provisional pardon was preached by the Holy Ghost, through the mouth of Peter. But this grace too was rejected. When it was a question of shewing grace to the Gentiles, who, no doubt, owed them the hundred pence, they would not hear of it, and they are given up to punishment,  until the Lord can say, "They have received double for all their sins."
In a word, the spirit of the kingdom is not outward power, but lowliness; but in this condition there is nearness to the Father, and then it is easy to be meek and humble in this world. One who has tasted the favour of God will not seek greatness on earth; he is imbued with the spirit of grace, he cherishes the lowly, he pardons those who have wronged him, he is near God, and resembles Him in his ways. The same spirit of grace reigns, whether in the assembly or in its members. It alone represents Christ on the earth; and to it relate those regulations which are founded on the acceptance of a people as belonging unto God. Two or three really gathered together in the name of Jesus act with His authority, and enjoy His privileges with the Father, for Jesus Himself is there in their midst.
 The Lord here distinguishes a believing little one. In the other verses, He speaks of a little child, making its character, as such, a model of that of the Christian in this world.
 As doctrine, the sinful condition of the child, and its need of the sacrifice of Christ, are dearly expressed here. He does not say, "Seek," as to them. The employing the parable of the lost sheep is striking here.
 It is important to call to mind here, that-while the Holy Ghost is personally fully recognised in Matthew, as in the birth of the Lord, and (chapter 10) as acting and speaking in the disciples in their service, as a divine Person, as it is ever from Him alone we can act rightly-the coming of the Holy Ghost, in the order of divine dispensation, forms no part of the teaching of this gospel, though recognised as a fact in chapter 10. The view of Christ in Matthew closes with His resurrection, and the Jewish body are sent out from Galilee as an accepted body to the world to evangelise the Gentiles, and He declares He will be with them to the end of the age. So here He is in the midst of two or three gathered to His name. The church here is not the body by the baptism of the Holy Ghost; it is not the house where the Holy Ghost dwells on earth; but where the two or three meet to His name, there Christ is. Now I do not doubt that all good from life on, and the word of life, comes from the Spirit, but this is another thing, and the assembly here is not the body, nor the house, through the coming down of the Holy Ghost. This was a subsequent teaching and revelation, and remains blessedly true; but it is Christ in the midst of those assembled to His name Even in chapter 16 it is He builds, but that is another thing. Of course it is spiritually He is present.
 It is very striking to find here, that the only succession in the office of binding and loosing which Heaven sanctions is that of two or three assembled in Christ's name.
 This giving up, and the formal opening into the intermediate heavenly place connected with the Son of man in glory are in Acts 7, where Stephen recites their history from Abraham, the first called as root of promise, to that day.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Matthew》
The importance of humility. (1-6) Caution against offences. (7-14) The removal of offences. (15-20) Conduct towards brethren, The parable of the unmerciful servant. (21-35)
Commentary on Matthew 18:1-6
(Read Matthew 18:1-6)
Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of his glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the others. Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, who are willing to pass by the thoughts of work and trouble. Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our own spirits.
Commentary on Matthew 18:7-14
(Read Matthew 18:7-14)
Considering the cunning and malice of Satan, and the weakness and depravity of men's hearts, it is not possible but that there should be offences. God permits them for wise and holy ends, that those who are sincere, and those who are not, may be made known. Being told before, that there will be seducers, tempters, persecutors, and bad examples, let us stand on our guard. We must, as far as lawfully we may, part with what we cannot keep without being entangled by it in sin. The outward occasions of sin must be avoided. If we live after the flesh, we must die. If we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live. Christ came into the world to save souls, and he will reckon severely with those who hinder the progress of others who are setting their faces heavenward. And shall any of us refuse attention to those whom the Son of God came to seek and to save? A father takes care of all his children, but is particularly tender of the little ones.
Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20
(Read Matthew 18:15-20)
If a professed Christian is wronged by another, he ought not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter kindly, and show him his conduct. This would generally have all the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too much neglected by all. But how few try the method which Christ has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our proceedings we should seek direction in prayer; we cannot too highly prize the promises of God. Wherever and whenever we meet in the name of Christ, we should consider him as present in the midst of us.
Commentary on Matthew 18:21-35
(Read Matthew 18:21-35)
Though we live wholly on mercy and forgiveness, we are backward to forgive the offences of our brethren. This parable shows how much provocation God has from his family on earth, and how untoward his servants are. There are three things in the parable: 1. The master's wonderful clemency. The debt of sin is so great, that we are not able to pay it. See here what every sin deserves; this is the wages of sin, to be sold as a slave. It is the folly of many who are under strong convictions of their sins, to fancy they can make God satisfaction for the wrong they have done him. 2. The servant's unreasonable severity toward his fellow-servant, notwithstanding his lord's clemency toward him. Not that we may make light of wronging our neighbour, for that is also a sin against God; but we should not aggravate our neighbour's wronging us, nor study revenge. Let our complaints, both of the wickedness of the wicked, and of the afflictions of the afflicted, be brought to God, and left with him. 3. The master reproved his servant's cruelty. The greatness of sin magnifies the riches of pardoning mercy; and the comfortable sense of pardoning mercy, does much to dispose our hearts to forgive our brethren. We are not to suppose that God actually forgives men, and afterwards reckons their guilt to them to condemn them; but this latter part of the parable shows the false conclusions many draw as to their sins being pardoned, though their after-conduct shows that they never entered into the spirit, or experienced the sanctifying grace of the gospel. We do not forgive our offending brother aright, if we do not forgive from the heart. Yet this is not enough; we must seek the welfare even of those who offend us. How justly will those be condemned, who, though they bear the Christian name, persist in unmerciful treatment of their brethren! The humbled sinner relies only on free, abounding mercy, through the ransom of the death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we hope for forgiveness from him.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Matthew》
 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And Jesus calling to him a little child — This is supposed to have been the great Ignatius, whom Trajan, the wise, the good Emperor Trajan, condemned to be cast to the wild beasts at Rome! Mark 9:36; Luke 9:47.
 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.
Except ye be converted — The first step toward entering into the kingdom of grace, is to become as little children: lowly in heart, knowing yourselves utterly ignorant and helpless, and hanging wholly on your Father who is in heaven, for a supply of all your wants. We may farther assert, (though it is doubtful whether this text implies so much,) except ye be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God:, except ye be entirely, inwardly changed, renewed in the image of God, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of glory. Thus must every man be converted in this life, or he can never enter into life eternal.
Ye shall in no wise enter — So far from being great in it. Matthew 19:14. 5, 6. And all who are in this sense little children are unspeakably dear to me. Therefore help them all you can, as if it were myself in person, and see that ye offend them not; that is, that ye turn them not out of the right way, neither hinder them in it. Matthew 10:40; Luke 10:16; John 13:20.
 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.
 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!
Wo to the world because of offences — That is, unspeakable misery will be in the world through them; for it must needs be that offences come - Such is the nature of things, and such the weakness, folly, and wickedness of mankind, that it cannot be but they will come; but wo to that man - That is, miserable is that man, by whom the offence cometh. Offences are, all things whereby any one is turned out of, or hindered in the way of God. 8, 9.
If thy hand, foot, eye, cause thee to offend — If the most dear enjoyment, the most beloved and useful person, turn thee out of, or hinder thee in the way Is not this a hard saying? Yes; if thou take counsel with flesh and blood. Matthew 5:29; Mark 9:43.
 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.
 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.
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 thee, 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. To behold the face of God seems to signify the waiting near his throne; and to be an allusion to the office of chief ministers in earthly courts, who daily converse with their princes.
 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Another, and yet a stronger reason for your not despising them is, that I myself came into the world to save them. Luke 19:10.
 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?
 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
So it is not the will of your Father — Neither doth my Father despise the least of them. Observe the gradation. The angels, the Son, the Father.
 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.
But how can we avoid giving offence to some? or being offended at others! Especially suppose they are quite in the wrong? Suppose they commit a known sin? Our Lord here teaches us how: he lays down a sure method of avoiding all offences. Whosoever closely observes this threefold rule, will seldom offend others, and never be offended himself. If any do any thing amiss, of which thou art an eye or ear witness, thus saith the Lord, If thy brother - Any who is a member of the same religious community: Sin against thee, 1.
Go and reprove him alone — If it may be in person; if that cannot so well be done, by thy messenger; or in writing. Observe, our Lord gives no liberty to omit this; or to exchange it for either of the following steps. If this do not succeed, 2.
Take with thee one or two more — Men whom he esteems or loves, who may then confirm and enforce what thou sayest; and afterward, if need require, bear witness of what was spoken. If even this does not succeed, then, and not before, 3. Tell it to the elders of the Church - Lay the whole matter open before those who watch over yours and his soul. If all this avail not, have no farther intercourse with him, only such as thou hast with heathens. Can any thing be plainer? Christ does here as expressly command all Christians who see a brother do evil, to take this way, not another, and to take these steps, in this order, as he does to honour their father and mother. But if so, in what land do the Christians live? If we proceed from the private carriage of man to man, to proceedings of a more public nature, in what Christian nation are Church censures conformed to this rule? Is this the form in which ecclesiastical judgments appear, in the popish, or even the Protestant world? Are these the methods used even by those who boast the most loudly of the authority of Christ to confirm their sentences? Let us earnestly pray, that this dishonour to the Christian name may be wiped away, and that common humanity may not, with such solemn mockery, be destroyed in the name of the Lord! Let him be to thee as the heathen - To whom thou still owest earnest good will, and all the offices of humanity. Luke 17:3.
 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.
Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth — By excommunication, pronounced in the spirit and power of Christ.
Whatsoever ye shall loose — By absolution from that sentence. In the primitive Church, absolution meant no more than a discharge from Church censure.
Again I say — And not only your intercession for the penitent, but all your united prayers, shall be heard. How great then is the power of joint prayer! If two of you - Suppose a man and his wife. Matthew 16:19.
 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Where two or three are gathered together in my name — That is, to worship me.
I am in the midst of them — By my Spirit, to quicken their prayers, guide their counsels, and answer their petitions.
 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Till seventy times seven — That is, as often as there is occasion. A certain number is put for an uncertain.
 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
Therefore — In this respect.
 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
One was brought who owed him ten thousand talents — According to the usual computation, if these were talents of gold, this would amount to seventy-two millions sterling. If they were talents of silver, it must have been four millions, four hundred thousand pounds. Hereby our Lord intimates the vast number and weight of our offences against God, and our utter incapacity of making him any satisfaction.
 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.
As he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold — Such was the power which creditors anciently had over their insolvent debtors in several countries.
 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Went with him before a magistrate, and cast him into prison, protesting he should lie there, till he should pay the whole debt.
 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
His lord delivered him to the tormentors — Imprisonment is a much severer punishment in the eastern countries than in ours. State criminals, especially when condemned to it, are not only confined to a very mean and scanty allowance, but are frequently loaded with clogs or heavy yokes, so that they can neither lie nor sit at ease: and by frequent scourgings and sometimes rackings are brought to an untimely end.
Till he should pay all that was due to him — That is, without all hope of release, for this he could never do. How observable is this whole account; as well as the great inference our Lord draws from it: 1. The debtor was freely and fully forgiven; 2. He wilfully and grievously offended; 3. His pardon was retracted, the whole debt required, and the offender delivered to the tormentors for ever. And shall we still say, but when we are once freely and fully forgiven, our pardon can never be retracted? Verily, verily, I say unto you, So likewise will my heavenly Father do to you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Matthew》
CHRIST AND THE CHILDREN.
“ It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish: (Matt.18:14).
The expression, “ The kingdom of heaven,” is far more comprehensive than “ The Church of God.” There are many that are in the kingdom who are not in the Church, while all who are in the Church are in the kingdom. The Church has to do with heavenly things (Eph.2:6; Phil.3:20). The kingdom has to do with earthly things (Matt.10:7). The Church is made up of those who are the members of Christ’s body (Eph.1:23). The kingdom is composed of those who profess to be the followers of Christ.
Ⅰ. Conversion is the door of the Kingdom (verse 3). Conversion means a turning round. In the Biblical sense conversion means a turning to God, which necessitates a turning from that which has occupied His place before (1.Thess,1:9). This is far more than a change of opinion or religious views. “ God forbid that I should change my religion!” said an ignorant old woman, when she was exhorted to leave her self-righteousness and to believe in Christ. “ You object to change your religion,” said the friend who was speaking to her, “ but has your religion changed you?”
Ⅱ. Humility is the law of the Kingdom (verse 4). As there are certain great laws in the realm of nature which govern this earth, such as the law of gravitation, so there are certain laws in the kingdom of heaven ,and chiefest among them is humility. Humility is the grace that holds all the other graces together. “ The Greek word imports that humility is the ribbon or string that ties together all those precious pearls, the rest of the graces, If this string breaks they are all scattered.” Augustine was once asked, “ What is the first article in the Christian religion?” and he replied, “ Humility.” “What is the second?” “ Humility.” “And what is the third?” And again he answered, “ Humility.” Humility is the evidence that we have learnt of Christ (Matt.11:29). Humility is the attitude to receive more grace (Jas.4:6). Humility is the garment that the Lord loves to see us wear (1.Peter 5:5). Humility is the place where God can reach us to exalt us (Luke 18:14).
Ⅲ. Doing good to others is the evidence of being in the Kingdom (verse 5). To receive one of the little ones, is to receive Christ Himself; that is, anything that is done for Christ’s sake to one of the little ones, Christ reckons it as being done to Himself. What an incentive this should be to do good to others！ For there is nothing done as to the Lord, which escapes His notice. A cup of cold water given (Matt.10:42), a prophet received (Matt.10:41), a garment made (Acts 9:39), alms given (Acts10:4), a sick one visited (Matt.25:36), a hungry one supplied (Matt.25:35), and an offering sent (Phil.4:18), will always be noted by Christ, and shall surely be rewarded.
Ⅳ. Offences, the excluder from the Kingdom (verses 6-10). The word rendered “ offence” in verse 7, is translated “fall” in Romans 14:13, and “stumbling-block” in Rev.2:14. Its meaning is evident if we take the latter Scripture. As Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block in the way of Israel ( Num. 25), in causing them to fall by the sin into which he led them, so to cast an offence in the way of a child is to cause it to sin, and he who does so has the “ woe” of Christ resting upon him.
Ⅴ. Angelic ministry, the privilege of the Kingdom ( verse 10). Children are the special regard of heaven, in that they have the angels to watch over them, and to care for them, who evidently give a report of all that men do in relation to them.
Ⅵ. Salvation, the purport of the Kingdom (verse 11-13). Even the children are “ lost,” hence, the needs be, that the Son of Man should come and save them. All have sinned( Rom.3:23), all have gone astray (Isaiah liii.6), all are under sin (Gal.3:22),and, therefore, all are lost; but God sent His Son to save (Jno.3:17), Christ has come to save (1.Tim.1:15), He died to bring us to God (1.Pet.3:18), He has made peace by the blood of His cross (Col.1:20), and receiving Christ as our Saviour we are “ saved” (Eph.2:5), made new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Cor.5:17), and become the children of God (John 1:12).
The word “ save,” in verse 11, is translated “ healed” in Mark 5:23; “ made whole,” in Mark 5:34; “ do well,” in John 11:12; and “ preserve” in 11. Tim.4:18. Sin is a disease; therefore, Christ heals us. Sin has broken us; therefore, Christ makes us whole by re-making us. Sin made us do ill; therefore, Christ makes us do well. Sin made us perverse in self-doing, Christ preserves us by His doing.
Ⅶ. Love is the basis of the Kingdom (verse 14). God’s will is our welfare. He could never desire that any should perish. This is plainly stated by Christ in John iii.16. But, on the other hand, there is a possibility of even one of the little ones perishing, if he lives in the ways of sin and self. Love’s provision for all is salvation; well for all if they accept the provision.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Chapter 18. Humbleness and Forgiveness
Two or Three Are Gathered
The Lord Is with Them
I. Converted and Become as Little Children
II. Partaking Is Better than One Alone
III. Forgive One Another
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Jesus And The Children (18:1-14)
1. One of the more touching and endearing scenes during the life of
Jesus was when He used a little child to teach His disciples some
lessons - Mt 18:1-14
2. For all who would be true disciples of Jesus, there are valuable
lessons to be gleaned from this passage
[The first thing we are taught is...]
I. THE NECESSITY OF CONVERSION (1-4)
A. WITHOUT CONVERSION, THERE IS NO SALVATION...
1. "Unless you are converted", Jesus said
a. "You will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven"
b. Without conversion, we cannot have our sins blotted out
- cf. Ac 3:19
c. And we will not enjoy "times of refreshing from the Lord"
- cf. Ac 3:19
2. Note that the process of conversion is passive: "be converted"
a. I.e., it is something you must allow to be done to you
b. It begins when we in faith submit to "the working of God"
1) That is, in baptism - cf. Co 2:12
2) Wherein by God's mercy we experience "regeneration",
"renewal" - Ti 3:5
c. It continues as we live the Christian life
1) God continues His working in us - cf. Ph 1:6; 2:12-13
2) He will do so until the coming of Christ - 1 Th 5:23-24
-- Have you, indeed are you, submitting to the working of God in
your life so as to be truly converted?
B. A CONVERSION INVOLVING CHILDLIKE HUMILITY...
1. This was the concern of Jesus in Mt 18:4
a. For His disciples had asked who would be greatest in the
b. Jesus used a child to illustrate the sort of humility one
2. Paul later used Jesus as an example of humility - Ph 2:3-5
-- Those who submit to the working of God in their lives will
produce this kind of humility necessary for salvation - cf.
[The next thing we learn from this passage is...]
II. THE SIN OF STUMBLING BLOCKS (5-7)
A. WHO ARE THE "CHILDREN"?
1. Some think Jesus used an infant to make his point about
humility, and is now discussing His adult disciples
2. But the Greek word for "child" (paidion) can refer to one as
old as twelve years - cf. Mk 5:39-42
-- I understand Jesus to be discussing children old enough to
believe, old enough to sin - Mt 18:6
B. THE TERRIBLENESS OF CAUSING CHILDREN TO SIN...
1. It would be better to be killed by drowning - Mt 18:6
2. "Woe to that man..." - Mt 18:7
3. Why so terrible? Because it is a sin against Christ Himself!
a. Note Mt 18:5 and consider its opposite
b. Paul learned this lesson on the road to
- Ac 9:4-5 Damascus
c. He taught this truth to brethren in
- 1 Co 8:9-13 Corinth
C. HOW ONE CAN PUT STUMBLING BLOCKS IN A CHILD'S WAY...
1. By doing anything to keep them from serving Christ freely
2. Directly, by persecuting, ridiculing, opposing, or dissuading
them from serving the Lord
3. Indirectly, by living a life inconsistent with what we claim
-- Are we putting stumbling blocks before our children, even
[The next thing we can glean from these verses is...]
III. THE REALITY OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT (8-9)
A. SOME DENY PUNISHMENT AFTER DEATH, BUT NOT JESUS...
1. E.g., Seventh-Day Adventists and Members of the Watchtower
2. Yet Jesus, more than any other, taught the reality of an
eternal, suffering place of torment!
a. The word "Gehenna" is used twelve times in Scripture, all
but once by Jesus!
b. Elsewhere He mentions "everlasting fire" and "everlasting
punishment" - Mt 25:41,46
c. And so did His disciples - He 10:26-29; Re 21:8
3. Consider the implication of Mt 18:6 and He 10:28-29...
a. What could be worse than drowning in the sea or dying
b. Acc. to those who deny punishment after death...nothing!
-- Dare we "water down" what Jesus and the Bible teaches about
the destiny of the wicked?
B. WE SHOULD THEREFORE TAKE SIN SERIOUSLY...
1. So much so, that we remove whatever is close and dear to us if
it causes us to sin!
2. Jesus is using hyperbole, of course, for what good would it be
to pluck out only one eye?
-- Sin is like cancer; sometimes "radical surgery" is the only
[Finally, we are taught in this passage about...]
IV. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF GOD'S CHILDREN (10-14)
A. THEIR ANGELS ALWAYS BEHOLD GOD'S FACE...
1. What this may involve, one can only speculate
a. Many think this refers to "guardian angels" - cf. Psa 91:
b. We do know that angels are "ministering spirits sent forth
to minister for those who will inherit salvation" - He 1:14
2. Our text speaks of their presence before God - Mt 18:10
a. Which some take to refer to their readiness to carry out
the Father's wishes (Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke)
b. At the very least we know there is joy in their presence
when sinners repent - Lk 15:10
c. Will they not be dismayed when one of God's children sin,
or is made to stumble by others?
-- Their close proximity to God in heaven suggest the honor God
has toward those children who believe!
B. THE SON OF MAN CAME TO SAVE THEM...
1. Jesus came to die for them, too! - Mt 18:11
2. Jesus illustrated His concern for them with the parable of the
lost sheep - Mt 18:12-13
-- If Jesus was willing to give His life for them, dare we
despise or neglect them?
C. THE FATHER DOESN'T WANT TO LOSE EVEN ONE...
1. It is not His will - Mt 18:14
2. Notice: He does not want to lose "one" of these little ones!
-- If both the Father and Son think so highly of these little
ones, should not we?
1. The words of Jesus should motivate us to take children seriously...
a. For parents: how important to bring your child up in the nurture
and admonition of the Lord!
b. For teachers: How serious and noble is your task of teaching our
c. For all of us: We are examples and role models, whether good or
bad...and God will hold us accountable for the effect we have on
2. And for those who would enter the kingdom...
a. Heed the necessity of being converted!
b. Let the example of child-like trust and humility be a guide as to
how we should serve God and one another!
Have you humbled yourself in obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
The Unmerciful Servant (Mt 18:21-35)
1. "The Parables Of Jesus" we have considered so far have centered
around the kingdom of heaven itself...
a. How the "seed" of the kingdom would be received ("The Sower")
b. Its mixed character and future consummation ("The Wheat And The
Tares", "The Dragnet")
c. Its growth and development ("The Mustard Seed", "The Leaven")
d. Its exceeding value ("The Hidden Treasure", "The
Of Great Pearl
2. The next parable we shall consider is one that describes "the
character of the citizens" which are to make up the kingdom...
a. It is commonly called "The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant"
b. It is recorded in Mt 18:21-35
[We begin our study by noticing...]
I. THE PARABLE AND ITS MESSAGE
A. THE OCCASION WHICH LED TO ITS TELLING...
1. Peter's question about forgiving a brother - Mt 18:21
a. He probably thought he was being very gracious
b. For many Jewish rabbis taught that three (3) times was
2. Jesus' initial response - Mt 18:22
a. His answer is not to be taken literally
b. Rather, "Jesus confronts Peter with the truth that the
spirit of forgiveness really knows no boundaries."
(Believers' Study Bible)
3. To reinforce His point, Jesus proceeds to tell the parable...
B. THE PARABLE ITSELF...
1. A king shows mercy to his servant by canceling his huge debt
- Mt 18:23-27
a. How large amount was 10,000 talents?
1) "If the Attic talent is intended, about 6,000 denarii
were involved in just one Attic talent." (BSB)
2) "Remembering that a denarius was a day's normal wage,
the poor fellow owed something like 60,000,000 denarii."
3) Using the rate of $50 as one day's wage, the amount
would be $3,000,000,000 (3 billion dollars!)
b. The mercy of the king goes beyond the actual request
1) The request was for patience to pay the debt
2) Yet the king was willing to forgive the debt entirely!
2. That servant in turn then refuses to cancel a fellow servant's
petty debt - Mt 18:28-30
a. How much was a hundred denarii?
1) Remember, a "denarii" was equivalent to a day's wage
2) Using the same rate above ($50/day), the amount would be
b. The unmerciful servant refuses to heed the same plea made
earlier by himself
3. The final result: Upon this cruel servant the king imposes
the former sentence, even adding to it! - Mt 18:31-34
a. Before, he, his family, and his possessions were only going
to be sold
b. But now, he is to handed over to the "torturers"
C. THE LESSON OF THE PARABLE...
1. As stated by Jesus Himself - Mt 18:35
a. "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you,
from his heart, does not forgive his brother his
b. Failure to forgive a brother will bring severe punishment!
2. "Prompted by gratitude the forgiven sinner must always yearn
to forgive whoever has trespassed against him" (unknown)
3. We can also draw several subsidiary lessons:
a. We are all God's debtors - Mt 18:23; cf. Ro 3:23
b. None are able to pay what is owed - Mt 18:25
c. But by Christ's atoning sacrifice, the debt is paid - Mt
18:27; cf. Mt 20:28
d. Only those who are willing to forgive others can be assured
that they are indeed forgiven - Mt 18:35; cf. Mt 6:14-15
e. It should be easy to forgive others, for what we owe God is
infinitely more than what others owe us - Mt 18:32,33
f. The unforgiving person is destined for everlasting
punishment! - Mt 18:34,35; cf. Ro 1:31
[Perhaps the most important point we learn from this parable is that
the kingdom of heaven is to consist of people who are both forgiven and
forgiving, who have both received mercy and are merciful. - cf. Ja 2:13
Understanding the importance of forgiving others, how can we develop a
II. DEVELOPING A FORGIVING SPIRIT
A. FOCUS ON GOD'S FORGIVENESS OF YOU...
1. This is where the unmerciful servant went wrong
2. This is how Paul suggested we develop a forgiving spirit - Ep
4:32; Co 3:13
B. ALLOW THE LORD TO HELP US TO "FORGIVE AND FORGET"...
1. Some may protest and say "It is impossible to forget!"
2. But let's first define "forget"
a. To be unable to remember (something)
b. To treat with thoughtless inattention; neglect: forget
c. To leave behind unintentionally
d. To fail to mention
-- The American Heritage Dictionary
3. When I think of forgiving and forgetting, it is the last three
definitions I have in mind
a. Technically, we may be able to recall the offense to our
b. But for all practical purposes, we so disregard the offense
that it is "out of mind"
4. Is this possible? By the grace of God, yes!
a. The example of Joseph - Gen 41:51
b. The attitude of Paul - Ph 3:13
-- Both these men had plenty of things done to them that could
have made them resentful, but God helped them to "forget"
5. Can a person who says "I will forgive but not forget", truly
6. "If I say, 'Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,' as though
the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all shores of
all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then
I know nothing of Calvary love." (Amy Carmichael)
1. I believe that when we truly contemplate the love, mercy, and
forgiveness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus...
a. It is indeed possible to forgive and forget
b. At least in the sense of removing it from the attention of our
2. And from "The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant"...
a. We should learn that it is essential that we do so
b. For the citizens of the kingdom of heaven are to be characterized
by the attitudes of mercy and forgiveness towards others
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father
will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
- Jesus (Mt 6:14-15)
Have we allowed the mercy of God to melt our hearts? Have we even
accepted the mercy of God into our lives by obeying Jesus Christ? Allow
"The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant" to remind us that both are