Matthew 18:28
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that you owe.
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(28) Which owed him an hundred pence.—Here the calculation is simpler than in Matthew 18:24. The “hundred pence” are a hundred Roman denarii (the denarius being equal to sevenpence-halfpenny), a hundred days’ wages of the labourer and soldier, enough to provide a meal for 2,500 men (John 6:7). There is a considerable truthfulness in the choice of such a sum, which has, perhaps, been too little noticed. Had our Lord been seeking simply a rhetorical antithesis between the infinitely great and the infinitely little, it would have been easy to select some small coin, like the denarius, the as, or the quadrans, as the amount of the fellow-servant’s debt. But to the fishermen of Galilee the “hundred pence” would appear a really considerable sum, and when they came to interpret the parable they would thus be led to feel that it recognised that the offences which men commit against their brothers may, in themselves, be many and grievous enough. It is only when compared with their sins against God that they sink into absolute insignificance.

He laid hands on him.—We are shocked, and are meant to be shocked, by the brutal outrage with which the creditor enforces his claim, but it doubtless was but too faithful a picture of what the disciples had often witnessed, or, it may be, even practised. We are tempted to ask whether this really represents any phenomena of the spiritual life. Can a man who has really been justified and pardoned become thus merciless? The experience of every age, almost of every household, shows that the inconsistency is but too fatally common. The man is not consciously a hypocrite, but he is as yet “double minded” (James 1:8), and the baser self is not conquered. In the language of the later teaching of the New Testament the man’s faith is not one which “worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). He is justified, but not as yet sanctified.

Matthew 18:28-30. But the same servant — Thus graciously freed from such an immense debt; went out — From the presence of his master; and found one of his fellow-servants which owed him a hundred pence — A hundred Roman denarii, each in value about seven pence halfpenny sterling, and the whole amounting only to three pounds two shillings and sixpence. And he took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest — Thus, by demanding this trifling sum in so rough a manner, and that immediately on coming out of the palace where so much lenity and mercy had been shown him in a matter of far greater importance, he manifested a most base, selfish, unfeeling, and cruel disposition. The word επνιγε, rendered, he took him by the throat, implies that he almost strangled him. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet — As he had done at his lord’s feet; and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, &c. — Using the very words which he himself had used but just before on the like occasion. And he would not — Having so soon forgot, or not considering, the much greater mercy that had been shown to himself so lately, in the like circumstances, by their common master; but, being insolent and inexorable, and resolved not to wait a moment, he went with him before a magistrate, and cast him into prison — Protesting he should lie there till he should pay the whole debt.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.But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants which owed him an hundred pence - Greek, δεναριον denarion; Latin, denarius; a Roman silver coin in common use. When Greece became subject to the Romans, and especially under the emperors, the denarius was regarded as of equal value with the Attic drachma - about 7 1/2 d. sterling, or 15 cents (circa 1880's); consequently, this debt was about 15 dollars - a very small sum compared with what had been forgiven to the first servant. Perhaps our Saviour, by this, meant to teach that the offences which our fellow-men commit against us are very small and insignificant compared with our offences against God. Since God has forgiven us so much we ought to forgive each other the small offences which are committed.

Took him by the throat - Took him in a violent and rough manner - half choked or throttled him. This was the more criminal and base, as he had himself been so kindly treated and dealt so mildly with by his lord.

Besought - Entreated, pled with him.

28. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants—Mark the difference here. The first case is that of master and servant; in this case, both are on a footing of equality. (See Mt 18:33, below.)

which owed him an hundred pence—If Jewish money is intended, this debt was to the other less than one to a million.

and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat—he seized and throttled him.

saying, Pay me that thou owest—Mark the mercilessness even of the tone.

See Poole on "Matthew 18:35" The Roman penny is the eighth part of an ounce, which after five shillings the ounce is seven pence half penny. (Matthew 20:2). But the same servant went out,.... From his Lord's palace and presence, immediately, directly, after he had got his pardon and liberty:

and found one of his fellow servants; a fellow creature and Christian; not only one of the same nature and species; but of the same profession of religion, and in the service of the same kind and generous master:

which owed an hundred pence; which, if understood of Roman pence, each penny being seven pence halfpenny of our money, amounted to no more than three pounds and half-a-crown; a small sum, in comparison of the ten thousand talents which had been just now forgiven him: for so sins committed against men, against fellow creatures, or fellow Christians; are but small, when compared with those which are committed against God. All which circumstances, as that it was immediately after he had been forgiven himself; that it was a fellow servant he found: and the sum he owed him so inconsiderable, greatly aggravate his inhuman carriage, next related:

and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest; he laid hold on him in a violent manner, and used him with great inhumanity: he took him by the collar, and shook him, and griped him so hard about the neck, that he almost throttled, and strangled, or choked him, as the word signifies, and is so rendered in most versions. It answers to the Hebrew word which is used by the Jews (l) in the same sense:

he that throttles anyone (who is indebted to him) in the streets, and his friend comes up and says, let him go, and I will pay thee, he is free, &c.''

This man insisted on payment of the whole debt; which expresses the rigour and severity used by some professors of religion to their fellow Christians; who, having offended them, in ever so small a matter, will not put up with the affront, nor forgive the injury, without having the most ample satisfaction, and avenging themselves upon them to the uttermost.

(l) Apud Castell. Lexic. Polyglott. col. 1314.

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 18:28. A hundred denarii, about forty Rhenish Gulden, or 23 thalers [about £3, 9s. sterling] (a denarius being not quite equal to a drachma), what a paltry debt compared with those talents of which there were a hundred times a hundred!

ἔπνιγε] Creditors (as the Roman law allowed them to do) often dragged their debtors before the judge, holding them by the throat. Clericus and Wetstein on this passage.

ἀπόδος, εἴ τι ὠφείλεις] εἴ τι is not to be taken, as is often done, as though it were equivalent to , τι. For where εἴ τι, like si quid, is used in the sense of quicquid (see Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 10. 18), εἰ always has a conditional force, which would be out of place in the present instance; but, with Fritzsche and Olshausen, to trace the expression to Greek urbanity, would be quite incongruous here. Neither, however, are we to affirm, with Paulus and Baumgarten-Crusius, that the conditional expression is rather more severe in its tone, from representing the man as not being even certain in regard to the debt; for the certainty of the debt is implied in the terms of the passage, and, moreover, in the κρατήσας αὐτ. ἔπνιγε was necessarily to be presupposed on the part of the δοῦλος. No, the εἰ is simply the expression of a pitiless logic: PAY, if thou owest anything (ἀπόδος being emphatic). From the latter the former follows as matter of necessity. If thou owest anything (and such is the case), then thou must also pay,—and therefore I arrest thee!Matthew 18:28-34. The other side of the picture.28. found] perhaps, even sought him out.

one of his fellowservants] By this is meant the debt of man to man, offences which men are bound to forgive one another.

an hundred pence] i. e. denarii. The Denarius was a day’s wages (ch. Matthew 20:2). The sum therefore is about three months’ wages for an ordinary labourer, by no means a hopeless debt as the other was; see note ch. Matthew 26:7.Matthew 18:28. Ἐξελθὼν, having gone forth) being now released from his difficulties. Before the accounts had been examined, he treated his fellow-servant more tenderly; the very joy of recovered liberty, or restored health, etc., is accompanied by a greater danger of sin:[844] see John 5:14; 2 Kings 20:13.[845]—ἑκατὸν δηνάρια, a hundred denarii)[846] The names of coins are neuter in Greek. This was a sufficiently large debt for a fellow-servant: but nothing in comparison with even a single talent, and ten thousand is a hundred times a hundred.—ἈΠΌΔΟς, Κ.Τ.Λ., pay, etc.) An importunate demand.—εἰ, if)[847] a particle of some force for since.

[844] So that it is even then in particular, that one becomes liable to anger.—V. g.

[845] See Jeremiah 34:8-16.—(I. B.)

[846] E. V. “An hundred pence.” The denarius was about sevenpence three farthings.—(I. B.)

[847] Bengel reads εἴ τι ὀφείλεις, which he interprets, IF, i.e. SINCE thou owest me something. E. M. has ὅ τι ὀφείλειςthat which, or whatsoever thou owest.—(I. B.)

BCD Orig. 3,622a read εἴ τι. But abc Vulg. Lucifer support the ὅ τι of Rec. Text.—ED.

Εὗρεν, he found) After you have experienced the divine free favour, soon the opportunity will present itself to thee of adopting either a similar, or else a different mode of action.—V. g.

Ἕνα, one) It sometimes happens that one wishes well to all (other) men, and yet remains inimical and hostile at least to one particular person.—V. g.Verse 28. - Went out - straightway from his lord's presence, where he had been so mercifully treated, while the remembrance of his free and undeserved forgiveness must have been still fresh. Found. Lighted upon by chance, as it were. Here, rather, was providentially offered an opportunity of showing that his lord's goodness was not thrown away, but had entered his heart and controlled his conduct towards others. One of his fellow servants. An official of the king, but probably in an inferior position to that which he himself occupied. Seeing this man, he is reminded of a paltry debt which this person owed him. He remembers this fact; he forgets his late experience. An hundred pence (denarii; see on Matthew 20:2); equivalent to some £3 of our money, and a sum not a millionth part of his own debt to his master; the proportion, as some say, may be stated more accurately as 1 to 1,250,000. The enormous difference between these two amounts represents the disproportion between the offences of our neighbours against us and those of which we are guilty towards God; and how small is the forgiveness on our side compared with that which God freely accords to our infinite debt to him! We must consider also the parties to whom these debts are owing - on one side, the worm man; on the other, Almighty God. Took him by the throat (ἔπνιγε); was throttling him. Thus precluding all prayer and remonstrance. Such brutal treatment was not what he himself had experienced. Pay me that thou owest; ὅτι ὀφείλεις: quod debes. Many manuscripts and late editors (e.g., Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford, Westcott and Hort) soften the demand by reading εἴ τι ὀφείλεις, si quid debes, "if thou owest aught," as though the creditor were ashamed of mentioning the paltry sum due; or else it is simply a fashion of speaking, not to be pressed as if any doubt was intimated concerning the debt. It might almost be rendered, "Pay, since thou owest something." Not thus had his lord addressed him in the first instance. Found

Either went in search of him, as he himself had been sought out by his lord, or came upon him accidentally in the street.

A hundred pence (ἑκατὸν δηνάρια)

Less than a millionth part of his own debt.

Took him by the throat (αὐτὸν ἔπνιγεν)

Lit., throttled. Wyc., strangled. Compare were choked, Mark 5:13. Creditors often dragged their debtors before the judge, as the Roman law allowed them to do, holding them by the throat. Thus Livy (4:53), relates how, a difficulty having arisen between the consul Valerius and one Menenius, the tribunes put an end to the contest, and the consul ordered into prison (collum torsisset, twisted the neck) the few who appealed. And Cicero ("Pro Cluentio," xxi.) "Lead him to the judgment-seat with twisted neck (collo obtorto)." Compare Cicero, "In C. Verrem," 4:10.

What thou owest (εἴ τι ὀφείλεις)

Lit., If thou owest anything. Not that the creditor is uncertain about the fact of the debt, though some uncertainty about the exact amount may be implied. This would agree with found, in the sense of coming upon accidentally. Compare Matthew 13:44. He came suddenly upon him and recognized him as a debtor, though not certain as to the amount of his debt. Meyer remarks, "The if is simply the expression of a pitiless logic. If thou owest anything (as thou dost) pay!" The word pay (ἀπόδος) is emphatic in position.

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