Matthew 18:23
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened . . .—Over and above the direct teaching of the parable it has the interest, as regards its form, of being, in some sense, an advance on those of chapter 13, i.e., as more fully bringing out human interests, and so more after the pattern of those that are characteristic of St. Luke.

Matthew 18:23. Therefore — In this respect; the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king — Here our Lord illustrates the excellent morality of the preceding verse by a lively parable; in which is shown “the necessity of forgiving the greatest injuries in every case where the offending party is sensible of his fault, and promises amendment; a necessity of the strongest kind, arising from this law of the divine government, that it is the condition on which God forgives our offences against him.” — Macknight.18:21-35 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.Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened ... - The phrase, "the kingdom of heaven," here has reference to the church, or to the way in which God will deal with his people. "It shall be in my church as it was with a certain king; or God will deal with the members of his church as a certain king did with his servants." See the notes at Matthew 3:2. This parable (see Matthew 13:3) is related to show the duty of forgiving others. It is not necessary to suppose that it was a true narrative, but only that it illustrated the truth which he was teaching. At the same time it may be true that such an occurrence really took place.

Would take account of his servants - To take account means to reckon, to settle up affairs. The word "servants" here means, probably, petty princes, or, more likely, collectors of the revenue or taxes. Among the ancients kings often farmed out, or sold for a certain sum, the taxes of a particular district or province. Thus, when Judea was subject to Egypt or Rome, the kings frequently sold to the high priest the taxes to be raised from Judea on condition of a much smaller sum being paid to them. This secured to them a certain sum, but it gave occasion to much oppression in the collection of the taxes. It is probable that some such persons are intended by the word servants.

23. Therefore—"with reference to this matter."

is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants—or, would scrutinize the accounts of his revenue collectors.

See Poole on "Matthew 18:35". Therefore is the kingdom of heaven,.... The Gospel church state, or the church of Christ under the Gospel dispensation, and the methods of God's dealings in it;

likened unto a certain king: or "a man", "a king", pointing either to Christ, the king Messiah, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, the King of saints and churches; who, as God, has a natural kingdom of providence, and as man and Mediator, a kingdom of grace; and will have a more visibly glorious one, both in this world and in the other; or rather, the Father of Christ, as appears from the application of the parable, in Matthew 18:35, who is the living God, and everlasting King: whose is the kingdom of nature, grace, and glory:

which would take account of his servants; not all mankind, though these are all in a sense his servants, and accountable to him; nor only ministers of the Gospel, who are so in an eminent and peculiar sense, and must give an account to God of their time and talents, and souls committed to them; but all that bear the Christian name, that are professors of religion, that are either really or nominally the subjects and servants of God. These, it is sometimes the will and pleasure of God, to "take account of": not of their persons, or number, but of their conduct and behaviour; which, as it will be more fully done at death, or at judgment, so sometimes is taken in this life: God sometimes calls, and brings, professors of religion to an account, and reckons with them by afflictive dispensations of providence; when he puts them upon reflecting how they have spent their time, made use of their talents and gifts, and have behaved in their families, and in the world, and church; or by dealing roundly with men's consciences, awakening and convincing them of their sins, of omission and commission, which seems to be intended here.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 18:23. Διὰ τοῦτο ] must refer to the reply to Peter’s question, for a new scene was introduced at Matthew 18:21. Therefore to be explained thus: “because I have enjoined such unlimited forgiveness” (not merely a conciliatory disposition generally, in answer to de Wette and Bleek). The duty of unlimited forgiveness proves any shortcoming in regard to this matter to be but the more reprehensible, and to point this out is the object of the parable which follows.

ὡμοιώθη ἡ βας. τ. οὐρ. ] See note on Matthew 13:24.

The δοῦλοι are the king’s ministers who are indebted to him through having received money on loan (δάνειον, Matthew 18:27), or, relatively, as treasurers, land stewards, or the like. But it is not without reason that ἀνθρώπῳ is joined to βασιλεῖ, seeing that the kingdom of heaven is likened to a human king. Comp. the ἀνὴρ βασιλεύς of Homer.

συναίρειν λόγον] to hold a reckoning, to settle accounts, occurs again in Matthew 25:19, but nowhere else. Classical writers would say: διαλογίζεσθαι πρός τινα, Dem. 1236. 17.Matthew 18:23-35. Parable of unmerciful servant.23. a certain king, which would take account of his servants] The picture is drawn from an Oriental Court. The provincial governors, farmers of taxes, and other high officials are summoned before a despotic sovereign to give an account of their administration.

would] “chose,” “resolved:” all is subject to his sole will.

servants] i. e. subjects, for all subjects of an Eastern monarch are “slaves.” The scholar will remember how often Demosthenes makes a point of this.Matthew 18:23. Διὰ τουτο, therefore) understand, “I say.”—ἠθελησε, willed, determined) of His own free will, by His supreme authority.Verses 23-35. - Christ illustrates his precept by the parable of the unmerciful servant, and the stern lesson which he himself enunciates at its close. Verse 23. - Therefore; i.e. because such is the infinite nature of the pardon to be meted out to an offending brother. The kingdom of heaven. The rule observed in the government of Christ's kingdom with regard to forgiveness is represented by the procedure of a certain earthly king. The picture supposes some great Oriental potentate, with numerous viceroys or satraps, who have to render to him an account of revenues received. These are called servants in the sense that, though they are high officials, they are the monarch's subordinates and dependents. Both Herodotus and Xenophon apply the term "slave" (δοῦλος) to the great officers of state. Immense sums of money would pass through their hands. This accounts for the enormous debt of the officer in the parable. Webster and Wilkinson compare the East India Company's collectors, who are high civil servants of the company, that is, now, of the government. If we regard the parable in a general light, as illustrating God's dealings with sinful man, we must see in the "taking account of his servants," not the judgment of the last day, but those many occasions when God makes a man turn his eyes inward and learn how he stands in the sight of his Lord. Such occasions are sickness, misfortune, great change of circumstances, a new year, reproach of conscience, however aroused, - these and such like incidents awaken a man to his true position, show him his delinquencies and misery. A certain king (ἀνθρώτῳ βασιλεῖ)

Lit., a man, a king. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a human king.

Take account of his servants (συνᾶραι λόγον μετὰ τῶν δοούλων αὐτοῦ)

The rendering of the A. V. is loose and inadequate, and might be taken to mean to reckon the number of his servants. The verb συνᾶραι is compounded of σύν, with, and αἴρω, to take up, and means literally to take up together, i.e., cast up, as an account. The A. V. also overlooks the force of μετὰ, with. Therefore, Rev., better, make a reckoning with his servants.

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