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Matthew 17:22-23
(22)  Now while they were staying in Galilee,
Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men,  (23)  and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up."
And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Mark 9:30-32
(30) Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. 
(31)  For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day."
 (32)  But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

Luke 9:43-45
(43)  And they were all amazed at the majesty of God.
But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did,
He said to His disciples,  (44)  "Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.
(45)  But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.

Let these words sink down

The Syriac has:  Let it sink down into your hearts.

The Son of Man is being betrayed

The present tense is graphic,  and shows durative action:
"the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men." 
The future act is realized by the Lord as already present,  and is regarded as imminent and indeed in process of accomplishment.  Romans 4:17- "calls those things which do not exist as though they did."
The act on the part of men had not yet been committed,  yet it was already a settled fact in the mind of God.
Jesus had now wandered to the utmost northern limit of the Holy Land,  and He began to turn His steps homewards.  We see from Mark that His return was designedly secret and secluded,  and possibly not along the high roads,  but rather through the hills and valleys of Upper Galilee to the westward of the Jordan.  His object was no longer to teach the multitudes that had been seduced into rejecting Him,  and among whom He could hardly appear in safety,  but to continue that other and even more essential part of His work,  which consisted in the training of His disciples

And now the constant subject of His teaching was His approaching betrayal,  murder,  and resurrection.
But He spoke to dull hearts;

In their deep-seated prejudice they ignored His clear warnings, 
in their faithless timidity they would not ask for further enlightenment.

We cannot see more strikingly how vast was the change which the resurrection wrought in them than by observing with what simple truthfulness they record the extent and inveteracy of their own shortcomings,  during those precious days while the Lord was yet among them.

Three times He referred to His death and resurrection in veiled terms:

Reference Sign His Words His Meaning
John 2:19 The Temple Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Referring to His body -
only physical destruction,
and HE will raise it up!
John 3:14 The Serpent And as Moses lifted up the serpent ... even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. Speaking of His death on the cross as a healing for our sin
Luke 11:29 The Prophet ...no sign will be given to it except  the sign of Jonah the prophet Jonah was in the belly of the wale 3 days, then  was spit out.

Here, He speaks in specific terms:

Being betrayed Speaks of a friend, for betrayal cannot come but at the loss of trust
They will kill Him And He will allow it - the Sacrifice for our sin was Voluntary
He will rise up Because He lives, we will live -  Eph 4:8 says:  He led captivity captive
1 Cor 15:54 says:  Death is swallowed up in victory
The 3rd day A specific time - all was according to a predetermined plan

They had a fond conceit of his temporal kingdom, and that he should reign, and they with him, in secular pomp and power;  and now they thought that this mighty power of  his would easily effect the thing, and his interest gained by his miracles in the people would contribute to it;  and therefore Christ,  who knew what was in their hearts,  takes this occasion to tell them again,  what he had told them before,

that he was so far from having men delivered into his hands
that he must be delivered into the hands of men,
so far from living in honor
that he must die in disgrace;
and all his miracles, and the interest he has by them gained in the hearts of the people, will not be able to prevent it.

They did not understand
They were troubled - exceedingly sorrowful
They did not understand
It was hidden from them

Why was it hidden from them?
Because Jesus had to die

They could not understand the spiritual significance of  the death and sacrifice of Jesus until they were filled with His spirit in Acts 2.
Had they understood the natural significance, they may have tried to prevent His death,
but He had to die!
Therefore, it was hidden from them.


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Matthew 17:24-27
(24)  When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"
(25)   He said, "Yes."
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?"
(26)   Peter said to Him, "From strangers."
Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.  (27)   Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you."

Tribute money

From the Greek  "didrachma". 
The R.V.  has  "They that received the half-shekel."
Every male Israelite of age, including proselytes and manumitted Jews, was expected to pay annually for the temple service a half-shekel, or didrachma, about 35 cents.
This must be paid in the ancient money of Israel, the regular half-shekel of the treasury;  and the money-changers, therefore, were in demand to change the current into the temple coin, which they did at a rate of discount fixed by law, between 4 and 5 cents on every half-shekel.
The annual revenue to the money-changers from this source has been estimated at nearly $45,000 dollars;  a very large sum in a country where a laborer received less than 20 cents for a day's work, and where the good Samaritan left about 33 cents at the inn for keeping the wounded man.  Jesus had attacked a very powerful interest when He overthrew the tables in the Temple.

Then the sons are free

He refers here to the general principle observed by sovereigns,  who do not draw taxes from their own children,  and immediate family.  In other words,  "If the sovereign' s own family be exempt,  you know the inference in My case;"  or to express it more plainly than Jesus though needful,  "This is a tax for upholding My Father's House:  as His Son, then, that tax is not due by Me - I am free."


In order not to offend, or stumble, those ignorant of  His relationship to the Lord of the Temple,  and should misconstrue a claim to exemption into indifference to His honor who dwells in it.

A piece of money

Or a "stater".   The coin was an Attic silver coin equal to two of the didrachmas,  or about 70 cents.
It was enough to pay the exact sum required for both Jesus and Peter.

Excerpts from Farrar
From time immemorial there was a precedent for collecting, at least occasionally, on the recurrence of every census, a tax of "half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary," of every Jew who had reached the age of twenty years, as a "ransom for his soul," unto the Lord (Exodus 33:11-16).
This money was devoted to the service of the Temple, and was expended on the purchase of the sacrifices, scapegoats, red heifers, incense, showbread, and other expenses of the Temple service.
After the return from the captivity this half-shekel became a voluntary annual tax of a third of a shekel; but at some subsequent period it had again returned to its original amount. Every Jew in every part of the world paid this tax, whether rich or poor; and, as on the first occasion of its payment, to show that the souls of all-alike are equal to God.
This tax was only so far compulsory that when first demanded, on the 1st of Adar, the demand was made quietly and civilly; if, however, it had not been paid by the 25th, then it seems the collectors of the contribution might take a security for it from the defaulter. This collection was not made by the collectors from Jesus in this instance until about 6 months late, probably because He had been so frequently absent from Capernaum.
The fact that the collectors inquired of Peter instead of asking Jesus Himself is another of the very numerous indications of the awe that He inspired even into the heart of His bitterest enemies; as in all probability the fact of the demand being made at all shows a growing desire to vex His life, and to ignore His dignity. But Peter, with his usual impetuous readiness, without waiting, as he should have done, to consult his Master, replied, "Yes!"  If he had thought a moment longer - if  he had known a little more - if he had even recalled his own great confession so recently given - his answer might not have come so glibly.
This money at any rate, in its original significance, a redemption-money for the soul of each man;  and how could the Redeemer, who redeemed all souls by the ransom of  His life,  pay this money-ransom for His own?   He was to enter the vail of the Holiest with the ransom of His own blood. But He paid what He did not owe,  to save us from that which we owed, but could never pay.
When Peter entered the house, conscious, perhaps, by this time, that his answer had been premature -perhaps also conscious that at that moment there were no means of meeting even this small demand upon their scanty treasury -Jesus, without waiting for any expression of his embarrassment, at once said to him, "What thinkest thou, Simon? The kings of the earth, from whom do they take tolls and taxes? From their own sons, or from those who are not their children?
There is something beautiful and even playful in this gentle way of showing to the impetuous apostle the dilemma in which his hasty answer had placed his Lord, , We see in it, as Luther says, the fine, friendly, loving relationship which must have existed between Jesus and His disciples. ,
He, in whose steps all ought to walk, calmly added, "Nevertheless, lest we should offend them. ..." In the very act of submission, as Bengel says, 'His majesty gleams forth.' He would pay the contribution to avoid hurting the feelings of any, and especially because His apostle had promised it in His behalf: but He could not pay it in an ordinary way, because that would be to compromise a principle.
In obeying the law of charity, and of  self-surrender,  He would also obey the laws of dignity and truth.  'He
pays the tribute,  therefore,'  says Clarius,  'but taken from a fish's mouth, that His majesty may be recognized.'
(Life of Christ by Dr. Frederic W. Farrar Copyright: 1949)

Philippians 2:5-8
Let this same attitude and purpose and (humble) mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. - Let Him be your example in humility - Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of  God  (possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God),  did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained;  But stripped Himself  (of all privileges and rightful dignity)  so as to assume the guise of a servant  (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being,  And after He had appeared in human form He abased and humbled Himself (still further) "
(Amplified New Testament)


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This discourse can be divided into three sections

1. Who is Greatest in the Kingdom Matthew 18:1-6 Mark 9:33-42 Luke 9:46-50
2. Beware Offences Matthew 18:7-20 Mark 9:43-50  
3. Lesson on Forgiveness Matthew 18:21-50    

Who is Greatest in the Kingdom

Matthew 18:1-6
(1)  At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
(2)  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,  (3)  and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  (4)  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (5)  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
(6)  "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Mark 9:33-42
(33)  Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?"  (34)  But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 
(35)  And He sat down, called the twelve,
and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.
 (36)  Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them,  (37)  "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me."
(38)  Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us."
(39)  But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.  (40)  For he who is not against us is on our side.  (41)  For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Luke 9:46-50
(46)  Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. 
(47)  And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart,
took a little child and set him by Him,  (48)  and said to them, "Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great."
(49)  Now John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us."
(50)  But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side."

The Question  -  Who is greatest?

The background of this question lay in a dispute among the disciples as they walked toward Capernaum.
Perhaps it had been kindled by:

The prominence given to the three on the Mount (Matt 17:1)
- or  -
The tax incident with Peter (Matt 17:27)
- or  -
The discussion about the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:17-19)

The disciples did not view the kingdom of Christ in any other light than that of a temporal one.
Hence they wished to know whom He would make His Prime Minister - whom His General - whom His Chief Chancellor -whom Supreme Judge, etc.  Who is it?
Would it be:

1. He who You first called?
2. He who is Your nearest relative?
3. He who is the oldest?
4. He who has most often entertained Thee?
5. He who walked on the water with You?
6. He to whom You first gave the keys?
7. They who saw You transfigured in Your glory?

If any would be first --- be servant of  all

Servant diákonos to run errands

As distinguished from other words in the New Testament meaning servant,

diákonos represents the servant in his ACTIVITY
doulos slave, represents him in his CONDITION

A  "diakonos"  may be either a slave or a freeman.
The word  "deacon"  is an almost literal transcription of the original.
It is often used in the New Testament to denote ministers of the Gospel.
The servant here does the same work as a slave,


Called a little child

Mark 9:33 says this took place in Capernaum "when they were in the house."
It is widely agreed that Jesus stayed at Peter's house while in Capernaum.
Could this little child be little "Peter Junior"?
A little boy just like his father that had the habit of speaking up when he should remain quiet?
A little boy that was running around them and irritating them with his boyish pranks and constant questions?
If not Peter's son, it was just such a child Jesus called to him, took him in His arms, and put the child before them as an example to His disciples.

Children had no rights of their own.
Jesus said that those who willingly gave up their "rights" here in this life would be great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Answer - To be great in the kingdom you must voluntarily:

Be Converted Matt 18:3 Be  Changed Give Up Control
Be as a Child Matt 18:3 Be  Dependent  Give Up Your Rights
Humble Yourself Matt 18:4 Be  Last Give Up Your Pride
Be the Least Luke 9:48 Be  Servant Give Up Your Status

If you would be first,
You will be last.

If you are least,
You will be great.

A millstone

The ordinary upper-stone of the Eastern hand-mill was from 18 inches to 2 feet across, and might easily be hung
around the neck of a person to be drowned.
However,  the Greek in both Matthew and Mark may be rendered  "ass-mill-stone,"  which was a stone larger than that used in the ordinary mills.  It was so large as to require brute-power to turn it.  Such a stone would sink a body in the depths of the sea beyond the possibility of recovery.
This method of punishment was actually in use by the ancient Syrians,  Romans,  Macedonians,  and Greeks.
It was inflicted on the worst class of criminals,  especially on parricides (murder parent or close relative),  and those guilty of sacrilege.

Natural Child Young physically Immature and easily influenced
If  by my example I cause a natural child to sin and turn against Jesus, I would be better off  to die the death of a criminal rather than to harm the little one.
Spiritual Child Young spiritually Spiritually immature and easily influenced
If  my example and thoughtless words I cause a spiritual child to sin and turn against Jesus, the young believer may turn and loose their soul, and I will be held liable for that soul.
It would be better to die the death of a criminal rather than to harm the little (spiritually immature) one.

Do not forbid him

There are some who are so outrageously wedded to their own creed,  and religious system,  that they would rather
let sinners perish than suffer those who differ from them to become the instruments of their salvation.
Even the good that is done they either deny or suspect,  because the person does not  "follow them."

Here, we are reminded that we must check our motives.

Do we sincerely want to be a witness for Jesus -
Or do we want to prove our point and just convince people that we are right?

There is a parallel case to this mentioned in Numbers 11:26-29:

But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp.  And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."
So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, "Moses my lord, forbid them!"
Then Moses said to him,  "Are you zealous for my sake?  Oh,  that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!"     (NKJV)

Jesus could very well have asked John,  "Are you zealous for my sake?"

Beware Offences

Matthew 18:7-20
(7)  Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
(8)  "If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 
 (9)  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
(10)   "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.  (11)  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
(12)  "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  (13)  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  (14)  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
(15)  "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  (16)  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'   (17)  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
(18)  "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
(19)  "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  (20)  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
Mark 9:43-50
(43)  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched --  (44)  where 'Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.'
(45)  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire  that shall never be quenched --  (46)  where
'Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.'
(47)  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire --  (48)  where
'Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.'
(49)  "For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.  (50)  Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it?  Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another."


If your hand or foot causes you to sin  -  CUT  IT  OFF

Jesus made the same suggestion in Matthew 5:29  in the Sermon on the Mount.
The only difference between the words there and here is that:

1. There they refer to impure inclinations
2, Here they refer to impure ambitions, an irascible or quarrelsome temper

The injunction is, to strike at the root of such dispositions and cut off  the source of them.
Once again, this goes to motive.  For it is from the motives that actions proceed.

To be cast into hell fire

Hell géennan Gehenna

The word  "Gehenna"  is the name of a ravine starting from the northwest of  Jerusalem,  which sweeps around the southwest angle of the city, then meets the Kedron below the Pool of Siloam. This valley is the traditional site of the fire-worship that began in the reign of Ahaz,  and after its desecration by Josiah,  became a common receptacle for the garbage of the city,  and a symbol of the place of future punishment. The city garbage, where worms gnawed and first burned continually,  is a vivid picture of everlasting punishment.

5 times in this passage it is stated here that the fire in Gehenna never will be quenched or extinguished:

Mark 9:43 It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched
Mark 9:44 Where 'Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.'
Mark 9:45 It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched
Mark 9:46 Where 'Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.'
Mark 9:48 It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire where 'Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.'

Their worm does not die

The word  "worm"  is used of man several times:

Job 25:6 And a son of man, who is a worm?"
Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man
Isaiah 41:14 Fear not, you worm Jacob
Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me.   For their worm does not die,  and their fire is not quenched.

It is the living, conscious, ever dying part of  the human being that will feel eternal torments.
It is that part that feels and knows,  the inner man that dwells in the resurrected body,  both of which will be cast into hell at the judgment  (Matthew 10:28;  Revelation 20:11-15).

Even as eternal life is living forever,
so is eternal death a dying forever.

Seasoned with salt

Every sacrifice was offered with salt as a symbol of preservation (Leviticus 2:13).
Mark 9:49,   taken in its context,  reaches back to the unquenchable fire of Gehenna,  and forward to the
self-discipline of verse 50.
Every one must be salted somehow,  either with the unquenchable fire of Gehenna
or with the severe fire of self-discipline.

Have salt in yourselves

From Matthew Henry:

1. It was appointed by the law of Moses, that every sacrifice should be salted with salt, not to preserve it (for it was to be immediately consumed), but because it was the food of God's table, and no flesh is eaten without salt; it was therefore particularly required in the meat-offerings.  (Lev 2:13)
2. The nature of man, being corrupt, and as such being called flesh (Gen 6:3;  Ps 78:39) ... must be salted,  in order to its being a sacrifice to God.
3. Our chief concern is to present ourselves living sacrifices to the grace of God (Rom 12:1),  and,  in order to our acceptableness,  we must be salted with salt,  our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified,  and we must have in our souls a savior of grace.  Thus the offering up or sacrificing of the Gentiles is said to be acceptable,  being sanctified by the Holy Ghost,  as the sacrifices were salted
(Rom 15:16).
4. Those that have the salt of grace must make it appear that they have it;  that they have salt in themselves,  a living principle of grace in their hearts,  which works out all corrupt dispositions,  and every thing in the soul that tends to putrefaction,  and would offend our God,  or our own consciences,  as unsavory meat does.  Our speech must be always with grace seasoned with this salt,  that no corrupt communication may proceed out of our mouth,  but we may loathe it as much as we would to put putrid meat into our mouths.
5. As this gracious salt will keep our own consciences void of offence,  so it will keep our conversation with others so,  that we may not offend any of Christ's little ones,  but may be at peace one with another.
6. We must not only have this salt of grace,  but we must always retain the relish and savior of it; for if this salt lose its saltiness,  if a Christian revolt from his Christianity,  if he loses the savior of it,  and be no longer under the power and influence of it,  what can recover him, or wherewith will ye season him?
This was said Matt 5:13.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Have peace with one another

Referring back to the sins of verses 34-50  that destroy unity and peace among brethren:

1. (vs. 34) Self-Exaltation
2. (vs. 38,39) Bigotry
3. (vs. 42) Offences
4. (vs. 43-48) Sinful Lusts of the Body

In Matthew 5:13,  Jesus told His disciples that they are the salt of the earth.
So here we find that if the salt has lost its saltiness  (the "saltiness of self-discipline and humility"),  peace and unity are impossible.

That which was lost

"Lost" is Apoloolos.
In Rev 9:11,  Satan is called Apolluoon -  the destroyer,  or him who lays waste.
This name bears a near relation to that state in which our Lord tells us he finds all mankind-lost, desolated, ruined. So it appears that Satan and men have the nearest affinity to each other:

Satan - Apolluoon Man - Apoloolos
the destroyer the destroyed
the desolator the desolated
the loser the lost

But the Son of man came to save the lost.  Glorious news!  May every lost soul feel it!

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost
Luke 9:56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.
Luke 19:10 ...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost
John 12:48 ... I did not come to judge the world but to save the world
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls

If your brother sins against you

After the rebuke - so gentle and captivating,  yet so dignified and Divine - under which they would doubtless be smarting,  perhaps each would be saying,  "It was not I that began it,  it was not I that threw out unworthy and irritating insinuations against my brethren."  Be it so,  says the Lord;  but as such things will often arise,  I will direct you how to proceed:

Don't harbor a grudge against your offending brother,
nor break forth upon him in presence of the unbelieving,
but take him aside,
show him his fault,
and if he own and make reparation for it,
you have done more service to him than even justice to yourself.
If this fail,
take two or three to witness how just your complaint is,
and how brotherly you spirit in dealing with him.
If this fails,
bring him before the Church or congregation to which both belong.
If even this fail,
regard him as no longer a brother Christian,
but as one "without" -
as the Jews did the Gentiles and publicans.
But this is all to be done in tenderness and humility.

Whatever you shall bind - whatever you shall loose

It is plain by what occurs in numberless places dispersed throughout the Mishnah, and from thence commonly used by the later rabbins when they treat of ritual subjects that

"binding" signified, and was commonly understood by the Jews at that time to be  "a declaration that any thing was unlawful to be done;"
"loosing" signified "a declaration that any thing may be lawfully done."

Jesus spoke to His disciples in a language that they understood,  so that they were not in the least at a loss to comprehend His meaning.
We have an example of this in Acts 15 when Barnabas and Saul went up to Jerusalem to find out from the apostles whether the Law should bind the Gentiles, or loosed from it.

If two of you agree

This is "symphonesosin,"  literally,  symphonize,  or harmonize.
It is a metaphor taken from a number of musical instruments set to the same key,  and playing the same tune.
Here,  it means a perfect agreement of the hearts,  desires,  wishes,  and voices,  of two or more persons praying to God.

It also intimates that as a number of musical instruments,  skillfully played,  in a good concert,  are pleasing to the ears of men,  so a number of persons united together in warm,  earnest,  cordial prayer,  is highly pleasing in the sight and ears of the Lord.

I am there in the midst of them

None but God could say these words,  to say them with truth,  because God alone is everywhere present,  and these words refer to His Omnipresence.  Notice,  also,  that Jesus spoke these words in the first person and in the present tense.

The Importance of Attitudes and Motives

Matthew 18:15-17 The Two Divided Division, Turmoil, Ruin, Separation
Matthew 15:18-20 The Two Together Harmony, Power, Satisfaction, Unity

Lesson on Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35
(21)  Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
(22)  Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  (23)  Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  (24)  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  (25)  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  (26)  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  (27)  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
(28)  "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'  (29)  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  (30)  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  (31)  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  (32)  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  (33)  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'  (34)  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
(35)  "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

Up to seven times?

It was a maxim among the Jews never to forgive more than 3 times.
Peter enlarged this charity by more than double.
He thought he was being quite generous to his brother.

Seventy times seven

There is something very remarkable in these words,  specially if collated with Genesis 4:24,  where the very same words are used  - "If any man kill Lamech,  he shall be avenged seventy times seven."
Sinful man,  who is exposed to the stroke of  Divine justice,  should be  ABUNDANT  in forgiveness,  especially as only the merciful shall find mercy.

The sum  "seventy times seven"  makes 490.
Now an  "offence," or sin,  properly taken,  is that which is given wantonly,  maliciously,  and without any provocation. And these offences come all from the same person.
But forgiveness continues.

He means that there is to be no limit.  "Forgiveness is qualitative, not quantitative."

Forgiveness is one of the most widely misunderstood doctrines of Scripture.
It is not to be confused with human forgiveness that merely remits a penalty or charge.
Divine forgiveness is one of the most complicated and costly undertakings,  demanding complete satisfaction to meet the demands of God's outraged holiness.

In the Old Testament

"The priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven"  (Lev 4:20).
However, sacrifices had only a typical significance and served as a covering  (Heb. kapar,  "to cover, to aid," Deut 21:8; Gen 50:17; etc.)  from sin until the appointed time when God should deal finally with sin through the death of Christ.

For the Unsaved

Forgiveness under this consideration is never an isolated operation but is always connected as an integral part of the whole divine undertaking for man called  "salvation."
Forgiveness is only one of the many transformations wrought by God in the unsaved in response to simple faith in Christ.
Thus forgiveness of sin is not equivalent to salvation.
It is merely negative.
All else in the comprehensive term salvation is gloriously added (John 10:28; Rom 5:17).

For the Believer Who Sins

The great foundational truth respecting the believer in relationship to his sins is the fact that his salvation comprehends the forgiveness of all his trespasses past,  present,  and future so far as condemnation is concerned (Rom 8:1; Col 2:13; John 3:18; 5:24).
Since Christ has vicariously borne all sin and since the believer's standing in Christ is complete,
he is perfected forever in Christ.
When a believer sins,  he is subject to chastisement from the Father but never to condemnation with the world (1 Cor 11:31-32).
By confession the Christian is forgiven and restored to fellowship (1 John 1:9).
It needs to be remembered that were it not for Christ's finished work on the cross and His present intercession in heaven, the least sin would result in the sinner's banishment from God's presence and eternal ruin.
But mixed with this must be remembered the words of the Lord: "Go, and sin no more."

Sin unto Death

Persistent or scandalous sin in the believer in face of divine grace and his perfect standing in Christ may eventuate in a sin resulting in physical death.
"If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death,  he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death.  There is a sin leading to death;  I do not say that he should make request for this"  (1 John 5:16; cf. 1 Cor 5:1-5).
Both John 15:2 and 1 Cor 11:30 point out that God reserves the right to cut off the physical life of a believer who has ceased to be a worthy witness in the world.

The Unpardonable Sin

A person who attributes to Satan the power of the Holy Spirit,  so visibly and openly manifested,  when that person knows the power is of the Holy Spirit, is guilty of this peculiar sin.
For this reason there could be no forgiveness in the age then present or in the age to come (Matt 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30).

Forgiveness as an Obligation Among Men

The believer is exhorted to be kind to believers and unbelievers,
tenderhearted and forgiving to one another  "as God in Christ also has forgiven you"  (Eph 4:32).
The basis of the plea for such forgiveness is that one has been himself so graciously forgiven.
(from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

Ten thousand talents

A talent in gold is about $29,085.00.
10,000  Talents would be  $290,850,000.00  (two hundred ninety million, eight hundred fifty thousand dollars).

Commanded him to be sold - and his wife and children

An ancient custom among the Hebrews - selling a man and his family to make payment of contracted debts.

A hundred denarii

One denarii = 17 cents.
100 denarii = $17.00.

Took him by the throat

Creditors often dragged their debtors before the judge,  as the Roman law allowed them to do,  holding them by
the throat.
Livy 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  (twisted the neck)  the few who appealed.
And Cicero:  "Lead him to the judgment-seat with twisted neck."

The torturers

The  "tormentors"  are the jailers,  who were allowed to scourge and torture the poor debtors in their care in order
to get money from them for the creditors,  or else to excite the compassion of friends,  and obtain the amount of the debt from them.

Trench says  "In early times of Rome there were certain legal tortures, in the shape, at least, of a chain weighing fifteen pounds, and a pittance of  food barely sufficient to sustain life,  which the creditor was allowed to apply to the debtor for the purpose of bringing him to terms;  and no doubt they often did not stop here."

This parable illustrates the necessity of forgiveness and godly treatment of fellow Christians in the kingdom of heaven,  and may be divided into 4 natural parts:

The King and his Servant (Matthew 18:23-27)
Vs. 23,24 The Reckoning
(v.24) The Great Debt: $290,850,000.00
(v. 25) The Impossibility of Payment
(v. 25) The Judgment Pronounced
(v. 26) Mercy Asked - Promise Given
(v. 27) The King's Compassion
(v. 27) Cancellation of the Debt
The Servant and his Fellow servant (Matthew 18:28-30)
(v. 28) The New Freedom
(v. 28) The Reckoning
(v.28) The Small debt: $17.00
(v. 28) Possibility of Payment
(v. 30) The judgment Pronounced
(v. 29) Mercy Asked
(Vs. 28-30) No Mercy Shown
The Kink and his Servants (Matthew 18:31-34)
(v. 31) The Knowledge of the Fellow servants
(v. 31) The Compassion of the Fellow servants
(v. 31) The Report of the Fellow servants
(v. 32) The Reckoning
(Vs. 32,33) The Reproof for Cruelty
(v. 34) The King's Wrath
(v. 34) The Judgment Pronounced
The Application (Matthew 18:35)
(Vs. 23-27,35) God cancels all the debt for penitent sinners as this king did for his servant
(Vs. 26-30,35) God demands fair treatment between believers
(v. 35) God will not forgive us unless we forgive others

Next Section  (Lesson 16 Continued)
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