Key Verse: 18:3 You must change "strepho" (KJV: convert) to a relationship from religion.
Personal Application: Respond to God’s word in obedience. Don’t assess it and make yourself judge of it.
Outline: Matthew 18 is the fourth of five discourses by Jesus in Matthew, paralleling the five-fold book of the Torah. This discourse addresses relationships in the Kingdom (18:1-35) and resulting greatness in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is built on relationship, first with the Lord, then with others. The underlying principle is responsiveness to the Master’s call (18:1-5). Relationships with the state (17:24-27), the spouse (19:1-9), and children (19:13-16) surround this section on the church. Matthew 18 specifically addresses relationships of the disciples. They are to watch out for one another, be patient with the spiritually young, restore the straying, gently discipline the erring, and forgive the penitent.
18:1-9: Greatest in the Kingdom: Serving as a little one
Unless you change strepho, turn or repent.
Ultimately, living as kingdom citizens is to respond to him immediately like a child to servanthood and obedience.
Jesus had taught three years among these people, and still they hold him at arm’s length. The child immediately stood among them as an example.
18:6-9 – Jesus uses hyperbole to emphasize the importance of simple obedience. We must do nothing to discourage others from responding as a child to God’s word.
Principles: Kingdom status is inverse to worldly status (18:1-4)
When we embrace the weak, we embrace Christ (18:5)
God will avenge the little ones (18:6-7) be they arrogant professors, Islamic torturers, or church gossips.
18:10-14: Parable of the Lost Sheep
18:10-11 – We are called to care, not look down on. Their angels: Some disagreement on existence of guardian angels, but majority view is that these are guardian angels, who enjoy the presence of the throne room in heaven. Scripture does not prove whether there are guardian angels, but they do minister to God on our behalf (Hebrews 1:14), protect us (Psalm 91:11; Matthew 4:6), oversee worship (1 Corinthians 11:10); will help separate the wicked from the righteous (Matthew 13:41; 24:31).
We are called to welcome back those who have gone astray, not write them off with recriminations. By an ingenious arrangement, Matthew shows that overbearing leaders unwilling to forgive the repentant fall into the same category as those who caused the stumbling in the beginning. Matthew opposes religious leaders who are more concerned with their own reputation and position than the needs of the people (20:25-28; 23:5-12; 24:45-51).
Also – children dying go to heaven: 2 Samuel 12:23
18:15-20: Brother in Sin
We are a family as well as a flock, and sin hurts others, not just ourselves. Jesus here emphasizes the necessity of reconciliation. When an offender will not acknowledge sin, it is our duty to help them into reconciliation with God and others through forgiveness and confession. To preserve the little oneness in the church, we must insist that the offender face the fault and the problem be loved back into reconciliation.
v. 16: Two or three witnesses establish testimony in Jewish law (Deuteronomy 19:15) Christians continued this tradition (2 Corinthians 13:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:19-20).
See 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Philemon is a prime example.
Binding and loosing: Often used of prayer, but here the context is a Chrisitan judicial assembly following these procedures. It suggests that the earthly action follows the heavenly decree. Bind and loose refer to the judicial authority of gathered Christians to decide on cases on the basis of God’s law. Congregational government. Most scholars recognize this passage as dealing with church discipline. The two or three are called to be the first to pray.
18:21-35: Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
We are to extend love unconditionally and unlimited forgiveness to others. That can only take place in a community of loving people who are committed to love and forgiveness.
18:23-35: 10,000 talents = 30-100 million day wages or 275,000 years wages. In modern terms, this is a US$3 billion debt. A few hundred denarii would be almost $5000 today. In contrast, the tribute collected at the death of Herod the Great was 200 talents. This poor guy owes more money than existed in the whole country. Selling him as a slave would get only one talent even if the most expensive, most getting 1/20 to 1/5 of a talent. This is why the king canceled the debt. He could never pay, and he could never get the money any other way either.
18:35: God’s compassion is not won by forgiving, but it is unthinkable that being forgiven we will not forgive. This man did not receive the forgiveness. The wicked act this way.
Principle: Forgiveness must issue from the heart and must be sincere.