Matthew 18

The greatest is like a little child 1
Receive children or humble ones in Christ 5
Offenses by people, situations, or body parts 7
Even one out of ninety-nine is important 12
How to deal with people who offend you 15
Heaven approves proper church discipline 18
Forgive 490 times 21
The king forgives a large debt but the debtor is unforgiving 23
True greatness. Luke 9:46-50; Matthew 18:1-35; Mark 9:33-50.
.1 ¶ At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
 2  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
.3  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.
.4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
  1 - Who is the greatest The disciples did not yet understand.
  3 - Converted This indicates a complete change as a Gentile would need to make! They would need to be like children in depending on Christ. People today adore chosen sports heroes, movie stars, and political leaders. These are like gods to them. And to be one of these people whom the world considers as great would be the highest goal of many. Jesus said that we won't even be in the kingdom unless in the humility of an innocent child.
.5  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
 6  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.
  5 - Little ones Including believers who are not spiritually mature ro1401.
.7 ¶ 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!
 8  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.
.9  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.
 10  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.
.11  For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
  8 - If thy foot offend thee Although the direct meaning is clear enough preparing for eternal life is the only good choice the text must also be understood in the light of v7. How do we cut off an offending person or situation? By a forgiving spirit or by being content with our circumstances v15ff; he1110. And by a spirit of loving acceptance v10.
  10 - Hell fire See r14p. The weak ones are precious in the Lord's sight. They have angels who associate with the throne of heaven. The Greek word for "hell" is gehenna. It was a place near Jerusalem. See jos1508 and the note with Mark 9.
  11 - The NIV omits this verse which expresses Christ's mission. Also it challenges the idea of salvation through the sacraments of the church. Salvation is only through acknowledging Christ ac0412 . "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
.12  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?
 13  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.
 14  Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
.15 ¶ Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
.16  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
.17  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
  15 - If thy brother trespass The previous verse gives us the mindset for dealing with our brother.
  17 - As an heathen This does not mean rejection as a soul to be saved. The heathen (Gentiles) were to be reached. Compare nu1920. Before dropping a person from church membership or subjecting him to discipline, he needs to be visited and the situation explained. He may be invited to repent. Apologies for things that may have offended him are often appropriate. Then he may be considered a friend of the church.
.18  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.
.19  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.
.20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
  18 - Whatsoever ye shall bind This authority given to the church, not to Peter alone, was never independent of the higher authority of heaven. As the church prays for God's will, acting in harmony with counsel about changing someone's church status, heaven will recognize the decision. Acting on a person's relationship to the church is far different from deciding a person's eternal destiny. The latter judgment is only in the hands of Christ jn0522
  19 - If two of you shall agree Jesus invites us to pray together. Praying alone is also important mt0606.
  20 - Two or three are gathered What about one? The word, gathered, applies only to more than one. Jesus is encouraging fellowship. When we can't meet with others we may ask for fellowship with Christ through the Spirit mt2820.
.21 ¶ Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
 22  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
  21 - Till seven times? "Peter, seeing that the language of Jesus called for large forbearance, asked the Lord to fix the bounds. If we accept the Talmud as probably representing the ideals of forgiveness which pertained among the Jews of that age, we find that Peter was striving to be liberal, for the Talmud limits forgiveness to three times." (The Fourfold Gospel Commentary)
  22 - Seventy times seven In practice, we would lose count before going this long or we would get old and die. Jesus here is drawing attention to the end of forgiveness for the nation of Israel which was seventy symbolic weeks or seventy times seven da0924. The scriptures know of no gap, placing the 70th week at some distant point in the future.
.23  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
 24  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
 25  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.
 26  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
 27  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

"Penny" - Silver Denarius of Tiberius
.28  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.
29  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
 30  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
 31  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
 32  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:
 33  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
 34  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
 35  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

  32-35 - A lesson on forgiveness which is more than accepting an apology. We forgive in our hearts as part of loving our enemies. lu0627, mt0612.
 Image from The Ministry of Healing, 1909.

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