Who Is the Greatest in the Kingdom Realm?
1At that time the disciples came to ask Jesus, “Who is considered to be the greatest in heaven’s kingdom realm?” # 18:1 The Aramaic is “Who will reign in the kingdom realm of heaven?”
2Jesus called a little one # 18:2 Or “toddler.” The Greek word is paidion, either a boy or a girl. to his side and said to them, 3“Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable like a little child # 18:3 The word Jesus used in Aramaic is talitha, which comes from the word for “wounded lamb.” Those hearing Jesus would have heard both meanings: “a little child” and “a wounded lamb.” , you will never be able to enter in. 4Whoever continually humbles himself # 18:4 This means “to see yourself as unimportant in your own eyes.” to become like this little child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm. 5And if you tenderly care for this little one # 18:5 The Greek uses the word for hospitality. The “little child” becomes a representative of unimportant people in general. Treating the least with care and respect makes us truly great. on my behalf, you are tenderly caring for me. 6But if anyone abuses # 18:6 The Greek word is skandalizō and can also mean “to scandalize,” “to put a stumbling block before them,” “to offend,” or “to cause to sin.” one of these little ones who believes in me, it would be better for him to have a heavy boulder tied around his neck and be hurled into the deepest sea than to face the punishment he deserves! # 18:6 The Hebrew Matthew adds, “It would be better for him to never have been born!”
7“Misery will come to the one who lures people away into sin. Troubles and obstacles to your faith are inevitable, but great devastation will come to the one guilty of causing others to stumble! 8If your hand clings to sin, cut it off and throw it away. If your foot continually steps onto sin’s path, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better for you to enter into heaven crippled and maimed than to have both hands and both feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. 9And if your eye is always focusing on sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is better for you to enter into heaven with one eye than to be thrown into hell fire with two. # 18:9 Although the language Jesus uses is hyperbolic, the drastic measures he instructs us to take in order to stay pure remain valid. The last phrase is literally “into the Gehenna of fire!”
10“Be careful that you not corrupt # 18:10 As translated from the Aramaic, which uses a figure of speech (“to bring down”) that is best translated “to corrupt” or “degrade.” The Greek is “despise,” or “look down upon.” one of these little ones. For I can assure you that in heaven each of their guardian angels # 18:10 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is simply “angels.” always sees the face of my heavenly Father.”
A Parable of the Lost Lamb
11“The Son of Man has come to give life to all who are lost. # 18:11 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew, the Aramaic, and a few Greek texts. Many reliable Greek manuscripts do not have this verse, and it is missing in many modern translations. See Ezek. 34:16. 12Think of it this way: If a man owns a hundred sheep and one lamb wanders away and is lost, won’t he leave the ninety-nine grazing the hillside and thoroughly search for the one lost lamb? 13And if he finds his lost lamb, he rejoices over it, more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14Now you should understand that it is never the desire of your heavenly Father that a single one of these little ones should be lost.”
Restoring Broken Relationships
15“If your fellow believer sins against you, # 18:15 Although the words “against you,” are not found in the most reliable Greek manuscripts, they are included in the Hebrew Matthew and Aramaic, along with a number of Greek texts. The Hebrew Matthew indicates that Jesus addressed these words to Peter directly: “At that time Jesus said to Simon, called Keefa . . .” you must go to that one privately and attempt to resolve the matter. If he responds, your relationship is restored. # 18:15 See Lev. 19:17. 16But if his heart is closed to you, then go to him again, taking one or two others with you. You’ll be fulfilling what the Scripture teaches when it says, ‘Every word may be verified by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ # 18:16 See Deut. 19:16. 17And if he refuses to listen, then share the issue with the congregation in hopes of restoration. If he still refuses to respond, even to the church, then you must disregard him as though he were an outsider, on the same level as an unrepentant sinner. # 18:17 Or “a pagan or a tax collector.” Again, this is in hope of ultimate restoration. For even pagans and tax collectors can be saved. God is able to turn the wandering one back, as Jesus taught in the parable of the lost lamb (see vv. 11–14).
18“Receive this truth: Whatever you forbid on earth will be considered to be forbidden in heaven, # 18:18 Or “Whatever you bind [Aramaic ‘harness’] on earth will have been bound in heaven.” See Matt. 16:19 and footnote. and whatever you release on earth will be considered to be released in heaven. 19Again, I give you an eternal truth: If two of you agree to ask God for something in a symphony of prayer, # 18:19 The Greek word used here is sumphoneo, from which we get our English word “symphony.” The Aramaic is “if you are deserving of what you pray for.” The implication is that God will not give you what you are not yet ready for, just as an earthly father would not give his eight-year-old a car to drive. my heavenly Father will do it for you. 20For wherever two or three come together in honor of my name, # 18:20 Or “in my name.” I am right there with them!”
21Later Peter approached Jesus and said, “How many times do I have to forgive my fellow believer who keeps offending me? Seven times?” # 18:21 The Hebrew Matthew is “Seven times in one day?”
22Jesus answered, “Not seven times, Peter, but seventy times seven times! # 18:22 Or “seventy-seven times.” This is a metaphor for an attitude of forgiveness that is limitless. 23The lessons of forgiveness in heaven’s kingdom realm can be illustrated like this:
“There once was a king who had servants who had borrowed money from the royal treasury. He decided to settle accounts with each of them. 24As he began the process, it came to his attention that one of his servants # 18:24 Although the Greek uses the word for “servant,” it means someone who ruled under the king, perhaps one of his magistrates or cabinet members who had authority over finances. owed him one billion dollars. # 18:24 Or “ten thousand talents,” an unbelievable amount of money. A talent could be compared to the wages earned over decades. The number ten thousand is a Hebrew metaphor for “myriad.” The point is, the servant owed a huge amount of money that he was simply unable to repay. So he summoned the servant before him and said to him, ‘Pay me what you owe me.’ 25When his servant was unable to repay his debt, the king ordered that he be sold as a slave along with his wife and children and every possession they owned as payment toward his debt. 26The servant threw himself facedown at his master’s feet and begged for mercy. ‘Please be patient with me. Just give me more time and I will repay you all that I owe.’ 27Upon hearing his pleas, the king had compassion on his servant, and released him, and forgave his entire debt.
28“No sooner had the servant left when he met one of his fellow servants, who owed him twenty thousand dollars # 18:28 Or “one hundred silver coins.” This would be a denarii, which is about a day’s wages. So the servant owed his friend about three months’ wages. He seized him by the throat and began to choke him, saying, ‘You’d better pay me right now everything you owe me!’ 29His fellow servant threw himself facedown at his feet and begged, ‘Please be patient with me. If you’ll just give me time, I will repay you all that is owed.’ 30But the one who had his debt forgiven stubbornly refused to forgive what was owed him. He had his fellow servant thrown into prison and demanded he remain there until he repaid the debt in full.
31“When his associates saw what was going on, they were outraged and went to the king and told him the whole story. 32The king said to him, ‘You scoundrel! # 18:32 The Hebrew Matthew is “You servant of Belial!” Is this the way you respond to my mercy? Because you begged me, I forgave you the massive debt that you owed me. 33Why didn’t you show the same mercy to your fellow servant that I showed to you?’ 34In a fury of anger, the king turned him over to the prison guards to be tortured until all his debt was repaid. 35In this same way, my heavenly Father will deal with any of you if you do not release forgiveness from your heart # 18:35 The Hebrew Matthew is “with a perfect heart.” toward your fellow believer.”