Matthew Eighteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Matthew 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

called a little child. The phrase “little child” refers to very young children, not much more than toddlers. The same Greek word is translated “young child” in Matthew 2:8, referring to the very young Jesus as seen by the wise men. In essence, these verses (see also Luke 18:16-17) indicate that very young children can have enough understanding to place their faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation. It is testified of young Timothy, for example, that “from a child” he had “known the holy Scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:15). In this verse, the word for “child” is actually the same word as elsewhere translated “babe.”

Matthew 18:3 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.

as little children. One does not receive salvation by bargaining or arguing, although the prior clearing of obstacles to faith is helpful and often necessary. In the last analysis, however, we are saved through faith—unconditional faith—like the unquestioning trust of a little child.

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Matthew 18:6 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.

offend one of these little ones. Any person who tries to undermine the faith of young believers or seeks to lead a child into sin or unbelief, is in grave trouble. “Woe to that man!” (Matthew 18:7).

Matthew 18:7 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!

Matthew 18:8 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.

Matthew 18:9 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.

Matthew 18:10 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.

their angels. All believers seem to have guardian angels (e.g., Psalm 34:7), but those angels which watch believing children evidently have special access to their heavenly Father.

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

come to save. This is one of many times when Jesus reminded us that He came from heaven specifically to save sinners (Luke 19:10; etc.).

Matthew 18:12 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?

Matthew 18:13 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.

Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

little ones. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), but many will perish, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Most people will not come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation. But if “little ones” die physically before they become conscious sinners, they are safe in Christ. Although they inherit the sin-nature of Adam, Christ has covered their inherited sin with His own shed blood, and they have committed no other sin. Therefore, their Father in heaven will not allow them to perish spiritually, if they should die physically. Note David's confidence concerning the death of his infant son (2 Samuel 12:22-23).

Matthew 18:15 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.

Matthew 18:16 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.

Matthew 18:17 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.

hear the church. This is the second mention of the church (see Matthew 16:18), and the subject is, of all things, church discipline! The principles of dealing with an erring brother in the church are outlined in Matthew 18:15-17, yet Jesus was talking only to His disciples (Matthew 18:1). Evidently, He was speaking to them as if they were already, in effect, an organized local church. In fact, they had all been baptized by John the Baptist and were John's organized disciples until he directed them to Christ (compare John 1:35-37; Acts 1:21-22). The church that Christ would build—or at least its first local representative—was thus already organized, but it would not be energized with the Spirit for its great mission until after His resurrection, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Matthew 18:18 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.

bound in heaven. See Matthew 16:19. The commission to bind and loose was for all the disciples, not just Peter.

Matthew 18:19 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.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

in my name. In the context, this statement of Christ indicates that even two or three members, meeting in His name, can constitute a church.

in the midst. The seven representative churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are also shown with Christ “in the midst” (Revelation 1:13, 20).

Matthew 18:21 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 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

Matthew 18:24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

Matthew 18:25 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.

Matthew 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Matthew 18:27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

Matthew 18:28 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.

Matthew 18:29 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 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

Matthew 18:31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

Matthew 18:32 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:

Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

compassion. The words “compassion” and “pity” are translations of the same Greek word, meaning “mercy.” Thus we should show mercy toward others just as Christ did toward us.

Matthew 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

Matthew 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.