Matthew 18

Listen to Matthew 18

Who Is the Greatest?

1 1At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them
3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you 2turn and 3become like children, you 4will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 5Whoever humbles himself like this child is the 6greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 7"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,
6 but 8whoever causes one of these 9little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Temptations to Sin

7 "Woe to the world for 10temptations to sin![b]11For it is necessary that temptations come, 12but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!
8 13And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into 14the eternal fire.
9 15And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the 16hell[c] of fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 "See that you do not despise 17one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven 18their angels always 19see the face of my Father who is in heaven.[d]
12 20What do you think? 21If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
14 So 22it is not the will of my[e] Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

15 23"If your brother sins against you, 24go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have 25gained your brother.
16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established 26by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
17 If he refuses to listen to them, 27tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, 28let him be to you as 29a Gentile and 30a tax collector.
18 Truly, I say to you, 31whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[f] in heaven.
19 Again I say to you, if two of you 32agree on earth about anything they ask, 33it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are 34gathered in my name, 35there am I among them."

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often 36will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? 37As many as seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.[g]
23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished 38to settle accounts with his servants.[h]
24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him 39ten thousand 40talents.[i]
25 41And since he could not pay, his master ordered him 42to be sold, with his wife and 43children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 So the servant[j]44fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'
27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and 45forgave him the debt.
28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred 46denarii,[k] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.'
29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'
30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.
32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33 47And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'
34 48And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[l]49until he should pay all his debt.
35 50So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother 51from your heart."

Images for Matthew 18

Matthew 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

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)

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Cross References 51

  • 1. Matthew 17:24; For ver. 1-5, see Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48; [Matthew 20:20-28]
  • 2. See Luke 22:32
  • 3. Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; [Psalms 131:2; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Peter 2:2]
  • 4. [Matthew 5:19, 20]
  • 5. Matthew 20:27; Matthew 23:11, 12
  • 6. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 7. [Matthew 10:40, 42]
  • 8. Mark 9:42
  • 9. Luke 17:2; [1 Corinthians 8:12]
  • 10. See Matthew 13:41
  • 11. Luke 17:1; See 1 Corinthians 11:19
  • 12. Matthew 26:24
  • 13. Matthew 5:29, 30; Mark 9:43-48
  • 14. See Matthew 25:41
  • 15. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 16. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 17. [Matthew 6:29; Matthew 25:40, 45; Luke 15:7, 10]
  • 18. Acts 12:15; [Psalms 34:7; Psalms 91:11; Hebrews 1:14]
  • 19. Luke 1:19; Revelation 8:2; [Esther 1:14]
  • 20. Matthew 17:25; Matthew 21:28
  • 21. For ver. 12-14, [Luke 15:4-7]
  • 22. John 6:39; John 10:28; [John 17:12]
  • 23. Luke 17:3
  • 24. 2 Thessalonians 3:15; [Titus 3:10; James 5:19]; See Leviticus 19:17
  • 25. 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; 1 Peter 3:1
  • 26. Deuteronomy 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1; [Numbers 35:30; John 8:17; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28]
  • 27. [1 Corinthians 5:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 6:1-6]
  • 28. [Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14; 2 John 10]
  • 29. Matthew 5:46, 47
  • 30. Matthew 5:46, 47
  • 31. [Matthew 16:19; John 20:23]
  • 32. [Acts 12:5, 12; Philemon 22]
  • 33. See Matthew 7:7
  • 34. [Acts 4:30, 31; 1 Corinthians 5:4]
  • 35. [Matthew 28:20; John 12:26; John 20:20, 26]
  • 36. ver. 15
  • 37. Luke 17:3, 4; [Colossians 3:13]
  • 38. Matthew 25:19
  • 39. Esther 3:9
  • 40. Matthew 25:15
  • 41. [Luke 7:42]
  • 42. Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:39
  • 43. 2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:5
  • 44. Acts 10:25; See Matthew 8:2
  • 45. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 46. Matthew 20:2; Matthew 22:19; Mark 6:37; Mark 14:5; Luke 7:41; Luke 10:35; John 6:7
  • 47. [Matthew 6:12; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; 1 John 4:11]
  • 48. See James 2:13
  • 49. ver. 30; [Matthew 5:25, 26]
  • 50. Matthew 6:15; [Proverbs 21:13]
  • 51. 1 Peter 1:22; [Romans 6:17]

Footnotes 12

  • [a]. Greek causes... to stumble; also verses 8, 9
  • [b]. Greek stumbling blocks
  • [c]. Greek Gehenna
  • [d]. Some manuscripts add verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost
  • [e]. Some manuscripts your
  • [f]. Or shall have been bound... shall have been loosed
  • [g]. Or seventy-seven times
  • [h]. Greek bondservants; also verses 28, 31
  • [i]. A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years' wages for a laborer
  • [j]. Greek bondservant; also verses 27, 28, 29, 32, 33
  • [k]. A denarius was a day's wage for a laborer
  • [l]. Greek torturers

Matthew 18 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.