Matthew 18
Vincent's Word Studies
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
The Rev. inserts then after who, thus restoring the Greek ἄρα, which the A. V. overlooks. Who then? Who, as things stand. Since one of our number has been doubly honored in being called "the rock," and in being appointed to take part in a special miracle, who then is greatest?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Be converted (στραφῆτε)

The word converted has acquired a conventional religious sense which is fundamentally truthful, but the essential quality of which will be more apparent if we render literally, as Rev., except ye turn. The picture is that of turning round in a road and facing the other way.

Shall not enter (οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε)

But the double negative is very forcible, and is given in Rev. in nowise. So far from being greatest in the kingdom of heaven, ye shall not so much as enter.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
As this little child

Not, as this little child humbles himself, but, shall make himself humble as this little child is lowly; shall willingly become by spiritual process what the child is by nature.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
In my name (ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου)

Lit., upon my name; on the ground of, or on account of; for my sake.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
A millstone (μύλος ὀνικός)

Two kinds of millstones were in use; the one turned by hand, the other, and larger, by an ass (ὄνος). Here Jesus says an ass-millstone; or, as Rev., a great millstone; Wyc., millstone of asses.

Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
Leave upon the mountains

The text here is disputed. Both A. V. and Rev. follow a text which reads: "Doth he not, leaving the ninety and nine, go into the mountains?" Rather join leave with on the mountains, and read, "Will he not leave the ninety and nine upon (ἐκπὶ, scattered over) the mountains, and go," etc. This also corresponds with ἀφήσει, leaving, letting out, or letting loose.

And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
If so be (ἐὰν γένηται)

If it should so come to pass. God's grace is not irresistible.

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
The will of your Father (θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν)

Though some read my Father (μοῦ). Lit., There is not a will before your (my) Father. So Wyc., It is not will before your Father. Meyer paraphrases, There is not before the face of God any determination having as its object that one of these, etc.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Go (ὕπαγε)

Do not wait for him to come to you.

Tell him his fault (ἔλεγξον)

Rev., shew him. The verb means, first, to test, try, search out; therefore, to cross-examine with a view of convincing or refuting; thence to rebuke or chide. The Rev. shew is better than tell, which implies merely naming the fault; whereas the injunction is, go and prove to him how he has erred. Wyc., reprove, with snub as explanation.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
In the mouth (ἐπὶ στόματος)

Better Rev., "at the mouth," or on the testimony of.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Shall agree (συμφωνήσουσιν)

From σύν, together, and φωνή, sound or voice. Transcribed in our word symphony. It has so far lost its distinctive character as a concord of voices as to be used for agreement in the deeper and more inward sense.

Concerning anything that they shall ask (περὶ παντὸς πράγματος οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται)

The literal rendering is, if any thing, stronger: Everything, whatever it be, for which they may have asked. Wyc., Shall consent of everything whatever they shall ask. Tynd., Shall agree in any manner thing whatsoever they shall desire. The word πρᾶγμα, thing, is used like the Latin res; a matter, affair, business; with the meaning at bottom of something to be done, since it is cognate to the verb πράσσω, to do. Shall be done, however, is γενήσεται, it shall come to pass.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
In my name (εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα)

Lit., "into my name." When two or three are drawn together into Christ as the common centre of their desire and faith.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Seventy times seven (ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά).

It was a settled rule of Rabbinism that forgiveness should not be extended more than three times. Even so, the practice was terribly different. The Talmud relates, without blame, the conduct of a rabbi who would not forgive a very small slight of his dignity, though asked by the offender for thirteen successive years, and that on the day of atonement; the reason being that the offended rabbi had learned by a dream that his offending brother would attain the highest dignity; whereupon he feigned himself irreconcilable, to force the other to migrate from Palestine to Babylon, where, unenvied by him, he might occupy the chief place (Edersheim). It must, therefore, have seemed to Peter a stretch of charity to extend forgiveness from three to seven times. Christ is not specifying a number of times greater than the limit of seven. He means that there is to be no limit. "Forgiveness is qualitative, not quantitative."

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
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.

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
Which owed him (ὀφειλέτης)

Lit., a debtor of ten thousand talents.

Ten thousand talents

An enormous sum; about twelve millions of dollars.

But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
To be sold

According to the law of Moses: Exodus 2:3; Leviticus 25:39, Leviticus 25:47.

The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
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.

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.

And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Besought (παρεκαίλει)

The imperfect has the force of earnestly besought.

And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Went (ἀπελθὼν)

Lit. went away: dragging the other with him to judgment.

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Told (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.

Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
To the tormentors (βασανισταῖς)

Livy pictures an old centurion complaining that he was taken by his creditor, not into servitude, but to a workhouse and torture, and showing his back scarred with fresh wounds (ii., 23).

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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