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.
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(35) My heavenly Father.—The adjective is slightly different in form from that commonly used, suggesting rather the thought of the “Father in heaven.”

Do also unto you.—The words cut through the meshes of many theological systems by which men have deceived themselves. Men have trusted in the self-assurance of justification, in the absolving words of the priest, as though they were final and irreversible. The parable teaches that the debt may come back. If faith does not work by love, it ceases to justify. If the man bind himself once again to his old evil nature, the absolution is annulled. The characters of the discharge are traced (to use another similitude) as in sympathetic ink, and appear or disappear according to the greater or less glow of the faith and love of the pardoned debtor.

From your hearts.—A verbal, formal forgiveness does not satisfy the demands of the divine righteousness. God does not so forgive, neither should man.

Every one his brother their trespasses.—The two last words are not in some of the best MSS., and have probably been added to make the verse correspond with Matthew 6:14-15.

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 likewise ... - This verse contains the sum or moral of the parable. When Christ has explained one of his own parables, we are to receive it just as he has explained it, and not attempt to draw spiritual instruction from any parts or circumstances which he has not explained. The following seems to be the particulars of the general truth which he meant to teach:

1. that our sins are great.

2. that God freely forgives them.

3. that the offences committed against us by our brethren are comparatively small.

4. that we should therefore most freely forgive them.

5. that if we do not, God will be justly angry with us, and punish us.

From your hearts - That is, not merely in words, but really and truly to feel and act toward him as if he had not offended us.

Trespasses - Offences, injuries. Words and actions designed to do us wrong.

Remarks On Matthew 18

1. We see that it is possible to make a profession of religion an occasion of ambition, Matthew 18:1. The apostles at first sought honor, and expected office as a consequence of following Christ. So thousands have done since. Religion, notwithstanding all the opposition it has met with, really commands the confidence of mankind. To make a profession of it may be a way of access to that confidence. Thousands, it is to be feared, even yet enter the church merely to obtain some worldly benefit. Especially does this danger beset ministers of the gospel. There are few paths to the confidence of mankind so easily trod as to enter the ministry. Every minister, of course, if at all worthy of his office, has access to the confidence of multitudes, and is never despised but by the worst and lowest of mankind. No way is so easy to step at once to public confidence. Other people toil long to establish influence by personal character. The minister has it by virtue of his office. Those who now enter the ministry are tempted far more in this respect than were the apostles; and how should they search their own hearts, to see that no such abominable motive has induced them to seek that office!

2. It is consummate wickedness thus to prostitute the most sacred of all offices to the worst of purposes. The apostles at this time were ignorant. They expected a kingdom in which it would be right to seek distinction. But we labor under no such ignorance. We know that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, and woe to the man that acts as though it were. Deep and awful must be the doom of him who thus seeks the honors of the world while he is professedly following the meek and lowly Jesus!

3. Humility is indispensable to religion, Matthew 18:3. No man who is not humble can possibly be a Christian. He must be willing to esteem himself as he is, and to have others esteem him so also. This is humility, and humility is lovely. It is not meanness it is not cowardice - it is not want of proper self-esteem; it is a view of ourselves just as we are, and a willingness that God and all creatures should so esteem us. What can be more lovely than such an estimation of ourselves! and how foolish and wicked is it to be proud that is, to think more of ourselves, and wish others to think so, than we really deserve! To put on appearances, and to magnify our own importance, and to think that the affairs of the universe could not go on without us, and to be indignant when all the world does not bow down to do us homage this is hypocrisy as well as wickedness; and there may be, therefore, hypocrites out of the church as well as in it.

4. Humility is the best evidence of piety, Matthew 18:4. The most humble man is the most eminent Christian. He is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The effect of sin is to produce pride. Religion overcomes it by producing a just sense of ourselves, of other people, of angels, and of God. We may therefore measure the advance of piety in our own souls by the increase of humility.

5. We see the danger of despising and doing injury to real Christians, and more especially the guilt of attempting to draw them into sin, Matthew 18:6. God watches over them. He loves them. In the eye of the world they may be of little importance, but not so with God. The most obscure follower of Christ is dear, infinitely dear, to him, and he will take care of him. He that attempts to injure a Christian, attempts to injure God; for God has redeemed him, and loves him.


35. So likewise—in this spirit, or on this principle.

shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Ver. 23-35. All these verses (except the last) are but a parable, which (as I before showed) is a similitude brought from the usual actions of men, and made use of to open or apply some spiritual doctrine. The main scope, or the proposition of truth, which our Saviour designs to open or press, is that which is first and principally to be considered and intended; and that, as I before showed, is to be known, either by the particular explication given by our Saviour, or by what went immediately before, or followeth immediately after. The scope of this parable is plainly expressed, 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. Nor is it obscurely hinted to us in what went before, where our Saviour was instructing Peter in the great duty of forgiving men their trespasses. This being agreed, as we use to say, that similitudes run not on four feet, so we are not to expect that all the actions of men, mentioned in the parable, should be answered by some correspondent actions of God: As similitudes always halt, so never more than when by them God’s actions are expressed and represented to us. The main points which this parable instructs us in are;

1. That it is our duty, especially theirs who have received forgiveness from God, to forgive their brethren.

2. That if they do not, they may justly question whether God hath forgiven them, and expect the same severity from him which they show unto their brethren.

These being the main things for instruction in which this parable is brought, and which we ought chiefly to eye as the things taught us by this parable, nothing hindereth but that it may also instruct us in some other things, though we cannot raise a proposition of truth from every branch of the parable, and some things be put in according to the passions and usual dealings of men, which possibly are in them unrighteous actions, and may follow from their ungoverned passions, which will by no means agree to the pure and holy nature of God. I will first open such terms in the parable as may be less intelligible to vulgar readers.

The kingdom of heaven; my administration of my kingdom: I am come to purchase remission of sins, and to dispense out remission of sins to those who are indebted to the justice of my Father; but in the application of my blood to men and women for the remission of their sins, both my Father and myself will do as a king, that took account of his servants, &c. Men must look for pardon from my Father, and benefit from me as their Redeemer, upon the following terms: see Matthew 6:15.

Ten thousand talents; a certain for an uncertain number; a very great sum. Those who have computed it, say it amounts to a million eight hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds. He

commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had; a thing which our law will not suffer, but in use amongst other nations, and amongst the Jews in particular, as may be learned from 2 Kings 4:1.

And delivered him to the tormentors; that is, to the keepers of the prison; so the next words teach us, and the Greek word often signifieth no more, though it doth indeed sometimes.

An hundred pence, Matthew 18:28, signifieth a small sum, hardly exceeding in our money fifty shillings. This parable excellently instructs us in these truths:

1. That as men, by the law of nature and God, and the laws of men, may be debtors to us, to our reputation, to our estate; so we are all debtors to the glory, honour, and justice of God.

2. That it is a vast debt we owe to God’s honour and justice, to which no debt owing by any to us can bear any proportion.

3. That we have nothing to pay to God, in satisfaction for our debt.

4. That God hath a right to demand a full satisfaction of us.

5. That God, for Christ’s sake, upon our application to him for mercy, will forgive us our debts.

6. That we are not so ready to forgive our brethren their little injuries, as God is to forgive us.

7. That our difficulty to forgive our brethren, after God’s liberality in forgiving us, is a great charge, or will be a great charge against us in the court of heaven.

8. That we ought to set before us God’s compassion towards us, and free love in forgiving us, potently to move us to forgive those who have done us injury, and to forgive them out of that consideration.

9. That we ought from our hearts to forgive men their trespasses; that is, so as not to hate them, bear them any grudge or malice, seek any private revenge upon them, or public satisfaction, beyond what they are able to give, but be ready to do them what common offices of kindness in their straits are in our power.

10. That the not doing of this will be an ill evidence to our souls, that God hath not indeed forgiven us, as well as a bar against such forgiveness; and an ill omen, that some punishment from God expects us in this life, to bring us to a temper more conformable to the gospel, and if not, this life, yet in the life which is to come.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father,.... This is the accommodation and application of the parable, and opens the design and intent of it; showing that God, who is Christ's Father, that is in heaven, will act in like manner towards all such persons, who are cruel and hard hearted to their brethren, and are of merciless and unforgiving spirits; for so it is said,

he will do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. The phrase, "their trespasses", is omitted by the Vulgate Latin, the Arabic, and the Ethiopic versions, but is in all the Greek copies; and designs not pecuniary debts, though these are to be forgiven, and not rigorously exacted in some cases, and circumstances; but all injuries by word or deed, all offences, though ever so justly taken, or unjustly given; these should be forgiven fully, freely, and from the heart, forgetting, as well as forgiving, not upbraiding with them, or with former offences, and aggravating them; and should also pray to God that he would forgive also. It is certainly the will of God, that we should forgive one another all trespasses and offences. The examples of God and Christ should lead and engage unto it; the pardon of sin received by ourselves from the hands of God strongly enforces it; the peace and comfort of communion in public ordinances require it; the reverse is contrary to the spirit and character of Christians, is very displeasing to our heavenly Father, greatly unlike to Christ, and grieving to the Spirit of God.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Matthew 18:35. Application.—οὕτως: so, mutatis mutandis, for feelings, motives, methods rise in the moral scale when we pass to the spiritual sphere. So in general, not in all details, on the same principle; merciless to the merciless.—ὁ πατήρ μ. ὁ οὐρ.: Jesus is not afraid to bring the Father in in such a connection. Rather He is here again defining the Father by discriminating use of the name, as One who above all things abhors mercilessness.—μου: Christ is in full sympathy with the Father in this.—ὑμῖν: to you, my own chosen disciples.—ἕκαστος: every man of you.—ἀπὸ τῶν καρδιῶν: from your hearts, no sham or lip pardon; real, unreserved, thoroughgoing, and in consequence again and again, times without number, because the heart inclines that way.

35. from your hearts] A different principle from the Pharisee’s arithmetical rules of forgiveness.

their trespasses] The MS. authority is against these words.

Matthew 18:35. Ἀπὸ τῶν καρδιῶν ὑμῶν, from your hearts) A wrong is recalled to the mind: it must be dismissed from the mind and from the heart. Things which are thus done, are done with unwearied frequency [But if not, whenever the debtor unexpectedly meets us, our indignation is liable to revive.—V. g.]; cf. σπλαγχνισθεὶς, (being moved with compassion) in Matthew 18:27.

Verse 35. - So likewise. This points to the moral of the parable intended by Christ. It is not a lesson against ingratitude, but against unmercifulness. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." But want of charity makes a man incapable of retaining God's pardon; the Holy Spirit cannot abide in an unforgiving soul. My heavenly Father. He says, not "your" (Matthew 6:14, 26), nor "our," but "my heavenly Father," the Father of Christ, the God of all mercies. He cannot join himself in mention with such as are not children of God. From your hearts. Forgiveness must be real, sincere, not pretended, nor merely outward. There must not only be no outward act of revenge, but no malice in the heart, no storing up of evil passions for future outlet, as occasion may arise. The heart must be in harmony with the conduct, and both must evidence a true spirit of charity. This alone enables one to continue in a state of grace and in reconciliation with God; this alone makes prayer acceptable; and we are assured that, as our heavenly Father requires us to forgive without limit, so his mercy is infinite and will be extended to us in measure unbounded. Their trespasses. These words are omitted by many manuscripts, the Vulgate, and most modern editors; and they are not required by the sense. They have been, perhaps, added to obviate a certain abruptness in the conclusion of the parable.

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