Matthew 18


Verses 1-4

Despite the teachings of Jesus regarding the spiritual aspect of the kingdom, the disciples had not understood. Hence they asked the question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”


To answer their question Jesus called a little child to Him.


When they had gathered round Him, Jesus revealed two great principles,

(1) For men to be converted and enter this spiritual kingdom they must become childlike in their faith.

(2) Those that would be great in this kingdom must live humbly as a little child.


The Lord is the great example. John 13 and Philippians 2. Note that these standards and values are the exact opposite of those practiced in the natural world. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3.


In verses 5-6 there seems to be a switch from the natural to the spiritual. Blessed thought, that those who receive and care for a newborn babe in Christ actually receive Christ Himself.


Conversely, those who cause a new Christian to sin, it would be better for that person to be drowned in the deep sea, with a great weight around his neck.


Verses 7 through 9. These verses apply to unconverted adults. In verse six those referred to are converted adults. In verse 7 they are unconverted adults. The Lord warns them that it would be better for them to cut off their hands or a foot than to be guilty of using them to lead a young convert away from Christ. They are also instructed to pluck out their eye, lest they should take advantage of a new believer.


It is better to be disadvantaged in life, than to be cast into Gehena (Eternal ???).


Verse 10 and 11 are interesting. Quote. Godly men have written several interpretations of these verses. Some believe that each child has a guardian angel who appears before God’s face on His behalf. If this is so, then it is dangerous for anyone to despise or neglect that little one.


On the other hand, there are those who believe that the word “angels” should be spirits, the spirits of departed children appearing before God’s face.


Whatever is meant here in the context is not clear but the full concept of the Scriptures lead me to believe that both truths are true. This raises an interesting question. Where do children go who die too young to believe?


According to John 3:18, those who are lost are those who refuse to believe. That charge cannot be laid against a child. See 2 Samuel 12:21-23. David distinctly declares, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”


Verse 11 also seems to indicate that children go to heaven when they die. In Luke 19:10 the word “seek” is included in the verse. All men are in view of the one---sinners who have gone astray and need to be sought.


In our present study the verse says that “the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost.” Infants and little children have not strayed, they are saved by the fact that Christ died for them. See also verse 14.


This is comforting to us for we have a little one already in heaven.


Verses 12-14

These verses tell us of the great value that the Lord places upon a child. “He leaves the ninety and nine and goeth after the last one.” He rejoices more over the found one, than over the ninety-nine.


Verse 14 It is God’s will and desire that all young children should be saved.


Verses 15-20.   Discipline in the local church.


Discipline has always been a difficult area in the local church. There has been much controversy, conflict and division over it.


I have come to the conclusion that this fault has been caused, not because we do not know the principles involved, but we are afraid of the consequences.


Verses 15-17

These verses contain explicit instructions concerning the responsibility of a believer who has been wronged by another believer.

Step number 1, is to go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.

Step 2, if he will not hear thee, then take two other believers along in the hope that he

            will repent and be restored.

Step 3, if he will not hear them, then take it to the church. If he refuses to hear the church,

            he has to be put out of fellowship.


Verse 18 is closely linked with the aforementioned assembly action. When an assembly moves prayerfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in obedience to the Word, excommunicates an unrepentant believer, this action is honored in heaven.


On the other hand, when the disciplined person has repented and confessed his sin and the assembly restores him to fellowship, that action also is ratified by God.


An example of this procedure is found in 1 Corinthians 5. The assembly was urged by Paul to put away the incestuous brother. This action was ratified by God.


In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 Paul again instructs the assembly to receive this repentant believer back to the fellowship. This man was loosed from his sin, in heaven and should be on earth.


Verse 19. This verse primarily must be interpreted within the framework of the context. The prayer mentioned here is in connection with assembly discipline.


There are times when believers are perplexed and unsure as to what course of action should be taken. Our verse tells us, that wherever two brethren agree, and come to God in prayer, being directed by the Holy Spirit, God will act for them and show them His will.  Note the certainty of the promise.


Verse 20. Primarily this verse refers to a meeting where the church, small or larger, is seeking to bring about the reconciliation of two brethren, estranged through some sin.


To meet in “His name” means by and under His authority. In humility of spirit, acknowledging this authority, and in obedience to the Word. Those who meet in this fashion are assured of the Lord’s presence.


In a “secondary” way this could refer to the composition of a New Testament church in its simplest form.


It also could refer to the “prayer meeting” and to “all meetings” of believers where Christ is the gathering center.


No group can claim exclusive rights to this privilege for “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”


Verse 21-22 The Question of Forgiveness

Peter asks the Lord as to how often he should forgive a brother who has sinned against him. The old Jewish teaching was that three times was enough.


Peter was attempting to be generous in doubling the usual limit of forgiveness.


Jesus answered in verse 22 “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” This probably is a figurative number. Peter - Israel. The inference is that we should forgive indefinitely. The Lord’s prayer.


From verse 23 to the end of the chapter, the Lord illustrates the necessity of forgiveness on the human level, in the light of the grace of God in forgiving us sinners. As sinners we have been forgiven an enormous amount by God. Therefore it is unreasonable that any believer should refuse to forgive a small amount.


The Lord illustrates His point by telling of a king who wanted to clear His books of bad debts.


The first debtor brought to justice owed 10,000 talents. This was equal to ten million dollars. The man was bankrupt. Verse 25. So the king ordered that he and his family should be sold into slavery until his debt was paid.


Verse 26 The condemned debtor pleaded and begged for time, promising to pay all.


Verse 27 When the king saw his apparent distress and contrite attitude he forgave him his entire debt. This was not justice, but a display of grace at its highest and best. Matthew 21.


Verses 28-30 When this man was released, he went to one who owed him 20 dollars, and demanded payment. He grabbed him by the throat. The man pled for an extension of time. It was not granted, and he was thrown in jail.


Verse 31 Other servants of the king were infuriated and reported this inconsistent behavior to him.


Verses 32-35 He was furious with this ungrateful and merciless lender. He had been forgiven such a huge debt, and yet refused to forgive such a pittance.


The application is clear. God is this King.


We his servants had amassed a huge debt which we were unable to pay. See Luke 7. Then in wonderful grace and compassion the Lord paid the debt and forgave us all our sin. Isaiah 53:6 “Jehovah hath laid upon Jesus” etc.


In view of this, God says, that if you have been wronged and the one who has wronged you, really and sincerely apologizes and asks forgiveness for his 20-dollar sin. Then forgive him. If you who have been forgiven by God for your ten million dollar sin, refuse to forgive him. Such behavior will not go unpunished. Such as one will be chastened in this life, and will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.


See Ephesians 4:32 “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.”