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.
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(31) They were very sorry.—The fellow-servants are, of course, in the inner meaning of the parable, those who are members of the same spiritual society. Our Lord appeals as by anticipation to the judgment which Christians in general, perhaps even to that which mankind at large, would pass upon such conduct. It is suggestive that He describes them, not as being angry or indignant (though such feelings would have been natural enough), but as “exceeding sorry.” Sorrow, rather than anger, is the mood of the true disciple of Christ as he witnesses the sins against love which are the scandals of the Christian society. Anger, the righteous wrath against evil, belongs rather, as in Matthew 18:32, to the Lord and Judge.

Matthew 18:31-35. When his fellow-servants saw what was done — When they beheld such inhumanity, in such circumstances, and from such a man; they were very sorry — Exceedingly grieved at such an instance of unexampled cruelty from a man who had himself experienced such mercy; and came and told their lord — Gave their lord the king an exact and faithful account of the whole matter. Then his lord said, O thou wicked servant — Hard-hearted and unmerciful; I forgave thee all that debt — The vast sums due to me; because thou desiredst me — Didst acknowledge the debt, fell down at my feet, and humbly begged me to have patience with thee; shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant

Who in like manner acknowledged his debt, and promised payment, showing thee, in his supplication, though thine equal, as much respect as thou showedst to me, thy lord and king? And his lord was wroth — Was exceedingly enraged; and delivered him to the tormentors — Not only revoked the grant of remission which he had just before made, as forfeited by so vile a behaviour; but put him in prison, commanding him to be there fettered and scourged; till he should pay all that was due unto him — That is, without any hope of release, for the immense debt which he owed he could never be able to pay. Instead of tormentors, here, Dr. Campbell reads jailers, observing that “the word βασανιστης, here used, properly denotes examiner, particularly one who has it in charge to examine by torture. Hence it came to signify jailer, for on such, in those days, was this charge commonly devolved. They were not only allowed, but even commanded, to treat the wretches in their custody with every kind of cruelty, in order to extort payment from them, in case they had concealed any of their effects; or, if they had nothing, to wrest the sum owed from the compassion of their relations and friends, who, to release an unhappy person for whom they had a regard from such extreme misery, might be induced to pay the debt; for the person of the insolvent debtor was absolutely in the power of the creditor, and at his disposal.” But it must be observed that imprisonment is a much severer punishment in the eastern countries than in ours. State criminals especially, when condemned to it, are not only confined to a very mean and scanty allowance, but are frequently loaded with clogs or heavy yokes, so that they can neither lie nor sit at ease; and by frequent scourgings, and sometimes rackings, are brought to an untimely end. How observable is this whole account; as well as the great inference our Lord draws from it! 1, The debtor was freely and fully forgiven; 2, He wilfully and grievously offended; 3, His pardon was retracted, the whole debt required, and the offender delivered to the tormentors for ever. And shall we still say, that when we are once freely and fully forgiven, our pardon can never be retracted? Verily, verily I say unto you, So likewise will my heavenly Father do to you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

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.So when his fellow-servants ... - This is a mere circumstance thrown into the story for the sake of keeping, or making a consistent narrative. It cannot be intended to teach that other Christians should go and tell God what a brother has done; for God well knows all the actions of his children, and does not need us surely to inform him of what is done. It is abusing the Bible, and departing from the design of parables, to press every circumstance, and to endeavor to extract from it some spiritual meaning. Our Saviour, in this parable, designed most clearly to exhibit only one great truth - the duty of forgiving our brethren, and the great evil of not forgiving a brother when he offends us. The circumstances of the parable are intended only to make the story consistent with itself, and thus to impress the general truth more fully on the mind. 30. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt, &c.—Jesus here vividly conveys the intolerable injustice and impudence which even the servants saw in this act on the part of one so recently laid under the heaviest obligation to their common master. See Poole on "Matthew 18:35".

So when his fellow servants saw what was done,.... What hard usage, and ill treatment, their fellow servant met with; the Syriac reads, "their fellow servants", being the fellow servants both of the creditor and the debtor:

they were very sorry; they were greatly grieved and troubled at the cruelty of the one, and the unhappiness of the other; being more tenderhearted, and of a more forgiving spirit than he:

and came and told unto their Lord all that was done; to their fellow servant, by one that had so lately received such favours from him: this may be expressive of the concern of some members of churches at such conduct: who, though they may not have strength and number sufficient to oppose such measures, yet being secretly grieved at such cruel methods, go to the throne of grace, and spread the case before the Lord, tell him all that is done by way of complaint; which, is no impeachment of his omniscience, only shows their trouble for such malpractices, and the sense they have, by whom only such grievances can be redressed.

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Matthew 18:31 f. Ἐλυπήθησαν] They were grieved at the hard heartedness and cruelty which they saw displayed in what was going on (τὰ γινόμενα, see critical notes).

διεσάφ.] not simply narrarunt (Vulgate), but more precisely: declararunt (Beza); Plat. Prot. p. 348 B; Legg. v. p. 733 B; Polyb. i. 46. 4; ii. 27 3; 2Ma 1:18; 2Ma 2:9.

τῷ κυρίῳ ἑαυτῶν] The reflective pronoun (see critical notes) indicates that, as befitted their position, the σύνδουλοι addressed themselves to their own master. Their confidence in him led them to turn to him rather than to any one else.

ἐπεὶ παρεκάλ. με] because thou entreatedst me. And he had not gone so far as to beg for entire remission of the debt, but only for forbearance!

Matthew 18:31. ἰδόντες οἱ σ. ἐλυπήθησαν: the other fellow-servants were greatly vexed or grieved. At what? the fate of the poor debtor? Why then not pay the debt? (Koetsveld). Not sympathy so much as annoyance at the unbecoming conduct of the merciless one who had obtained mercy was the feeling.—διεσάφησαν: reported the facts (narraverunt, Vulg[107]), and so threw light on the character of the man (cf. Matthew 13:36, W. and H[108]).—τῷ κ. ἑαυτῶν, to their own master, to whom therefore they might speak on a matter affecting his interest.

[107] Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of old Latin version).

[108] Westcott and Hort.

31. when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry] This seems to point to the common conscience of mankind approving or anticipating the divine sentence.

Matthew 18:31. Ἐλυπήθησαν σφόδρα, καὶ ἐλθόντες διεσάφησαν, κ.τ.λ., they were very sorry, and came and told, etc.) Their sorrow and their information were righteous.—λύπη, sorrow, frequently includes the idea of indignation.

Verse 31. - Fellow servants. Those in the same condition of life as the incarcerated debtor. Mystically, they would be the angels, who, like those in the parable of the tares, tell the Lord what was done; or the saints who plead with God against oppression and injustice. They were very sorry. It is well remarked that anger against sin is God's attribute (ver. 34), sorrow appertains to men. These have a fellow feeling for the sinner, in that they are conscious that in their own heart there are germs of evil which, unchecked, may develop into similar wickedness. Told (διεσάφησαν); told clearly. They took the part of their comrade, and, not in revenge or malice, but as an act of justice, gave their lord full information of what had happened. The just cannot hold their peace at the sight of oppression and wrong, and God confirms their judgment. Matthew 18:31Told (διεσάφησαν)

More than merely narrated. The verb is from διά, throughout, and σαφέν, to explain. They explained the circumstances throughout.

Their Lord (τῷ κυρίῳ ἑαυτῶν)

Lit., "their own Lord;" as befitted their position, and as a mark of their confidence in him.

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