Matthew Chapter 18

(Tap footnote number to read it; tap up arrow (↑) to scroll back up to verse. Simply hover cursor on desktop. - Old Testament quotations/allusions are underlined.)
 
The Greatest in the Kingdom
  1. In that hour, the disciples approached Jesus saying; “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?”
  2. And summoning a young child, He had the child[1]“the child” is more literally “it”.  It’s a neuter personal/possessive pronoun. However, the English Neuter pronoun “it” is dehumanizing, and only applied to objects.  The Greek neuter pronoun can be applied to people. stand in their midst.
  3. And He said; “Truly I tell you: If you don’t change and become like the little children, you definitely won’t[2]“definitely won’t”. In Greek, this is a double negative (no, not) to add emphasis. Since English double negatives cancel each other out (instead of adding emphasis) the word “definitely” was added to keep the emphatic sense of the Greek. enter the kingdom of the heavens.
  4. “Therefore, whoever will humble himself like this young child; this man is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.
  5. “And if anyone[3]literally “whoever” welcomes one such young child in My name, he welcomes Me.
  6. “But whoever lays bait to ensnare[4]“lays bait to ensnare” is a single word in the Greek. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways. one of these little ones who believes in Me, it’s better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
  7. “Woe to the world for the bait that ensnares.[5]“bait that ensnares” is a single word in the Greek. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways. For it’s necessary for the bait that ensnares[6]“bait that ensnares” is a single word in the Greek. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways. to come.  Yet, woe to the man through whom this bait that ensnares[7]“bait that ensnares” is a single word in the Greek. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways. comes.
  8. “But if your hand or your foot ensnares[8]“ensnares” is the same word translated “bait that ensnares” in the previous verses. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways. you, cut it off and throw it from you.  It’s better for you to enter into the life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet and be thrown into the fire of ages.[9]“fire of ages” is literal, though “age-long fire” could be equally accurate. It’s traditionally translated “eternal fire” here.  However the word translated “ages” (αἰώνιον) is merely the adjective form of the Greek word “αἰών” (aion), which is used – for example – in Matthew 24:3 “what are the signs of your coming and the end of the age?”  Virtually all lexicons define αἰών (the noun form) as “age”, but some want to change the adjective form’s meaning to “eternal” instead of “age-long”, “of ages”, or similar.  Further, “fire of ages” captures the severity of the fire, which the traditional interpretation doesn’t.
  9. “And if your eye ensnares[10]“ensnares” is the same word translated “bait that ensnares” in the previous verses. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways. you, pluck it out and throw it from you. It’s better for you to enter into the life with one-eye, than having two eyes and be thrown into the fire of the Valley of Hinnom.[11]Most translations render this “hell” but any lexicon will tell you it’s a proper noun referring to a specific valley – the Valley of Hinnom – just outside Jerusalem. Symbolically, it’s where the Jews believed the wicked were punished in the afterlife.  However, it also has historical significance which is lost when it’s merely translated “hell”.  Two kings of Israel sacrificed babies as burnt offerings to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:30-31) As a result, God sentenced them to judgement through the prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 19:1-11) Their sentence was carried out about 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. He burned almost everything and enslaved all Judah. (2 kings 25:1-12) It was the worst judgement Israel had yet seen. This happened again a few decades after Christ when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  10. “See that you don’t despise one of these little ones. For I tell you: their angels in the heavens continually see the face of My Father in the heavens.
  11. [“For the Son of Man came to save those who were – and are – lost.][12]It’s unclear whether this verse was originally part of Matthew or added later, and there are good arguments on both sides of the debate.  It’s nearly identical to Luke 19:10, so it changes nothing doctrinally.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
  1. “What’s your opinion?  If any man has one hundred sheep and one of them is led astray; won’t he surely[13]“won’t… …surely”  The Greek here is a stronger word for “no” than is typically used and always carries an emphatic sense. When used for negation – instead of a negative question as here – the translation “definitely not” would be ideal. leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and – departing from there – seek the one who was led astray?
  2. “And if he finds it, truly I tell you: he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine who weren’t – and aren’t led astray.
  3. “Thus, it’s not the will of[14]literally “before” your Father in the heavens that one of these little children should perish.
Church Discipline
  1. “Now, if you brother sins [against you],[15]There is a great debate on whether the words “against you” were original to Matthew. Several of the earliest and best manuscripts don’t contain “against you”, but the vast majority of later manuscripts do. Additionally, it’s a rule of thumb that the shorter and/or harder reading is likely – but not certainty – more accurate.  However, the context of verse 21 (with Peter asking how many times to forgive someone who sins “against me”) would support the longer reading.  However, the context of the previous verse is about sheep who are “led astray” and those who hurt “little children”, which wouldn’t include offenses “against you”.  There is also Galatians 6:1, which – though a different book – would seem to support the shorter reading.  On the other hand, the sheer volume of manuscripts that support the longer reading can’t be ignored.  The debate is ongoing. go rebuke him with evidence of his fault[16]“rebuke him with evidence of his fault” is one word in Greek.  It means to correct or expose something (typically bad/wrong), which includes the idea of supporting evidence for the correction or exposition. between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
  2. “But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you so that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word they speak[17]“word they speak” is a single word in Greek.  It’s a noun here, which specifically refers to words that are spoken, not written. may be confirmed.”[18]quotation/allusion to Deuteronomy 19:15
  3. “But if he disregards them, tell the church assembly.  But if he also disregards the church assembly, let him be exactly like a pagan and tax collector.
  4. “Truly I tell you: Whatever you bind[19]“Binding and Loosing” were recognized legal terms in the Jewish faith.  Binding and loosing meant to “forbid” or to “permit” a practice in the faith.  Josephus says that that the Pharisees “became the administrators of all public affairs so as to be empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind.”  Jesus gave the church assembly to the authority to do what previously only the Pharisees – the religious elite – had been permitted to do.  Given the context here, it likely means to bind (forbid) or to loose (permit) associating with someone who has fallen into sin.  However, it could also refer to forbidding or permitting religious practices, though that idea isn’t contained in the immediate context. on earth will be, has been – and is – bound[20]“will be, has been – and is – bound” is two words in the Greek.  The first is exactly equivalent to the English word “is”, though here it’s in the future tense, so “will be”.  The second word means to “bind”.  Here it’s in the perfect tense which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses. in heaven. And whatever you loose[21]“Binding and Loosing” were recognized legal terms in the Jewish faith.  Binding and loosing meant to “forbid” or to “permit” a practice in the faith.  Josephus says that that the Pharisees “became the administrators of all public affairs so as to be empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind.”  Jesus gave the church assembly to the authority to do what previously only the Pharisees – the religious elite – had been permitted to do.  Given the context here, it likely means to bind (forbid) or to loose (permit) associating with someone who has fallen into sin.  However, it could also refer to forbidding or permitting religious practices, though that idea isn’t contained in the immediate context. on earth will be, has been – and is – loosed[22]“will be, has been – and is – loosed” is two words in the Greek.  The first is exactly equivalent to the English word “is”, though here it’s in the future tense, so “will be”.  The second word means to “loosen” or to “relax”.  Here it’s in the perfect tense which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses. in heaven.
  5. Again, truly I tell you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter – if they ask – it will become so through[23]literally “by the power of” My Father in the heavens.
  6. For where two or three are – or were – gathered[24]“are – or were – gathered” is literally “are were – or are – gathered” and is two words in Greek.  The first is the Greek word exactly equivalent to the English words is/are.  The second is the word which means “gather”, which is in the Greek perfect tense here.  The perfect tense is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses. in My name, I’m there in their midst.
Forgiveness and the Unforgiving Slave
  1. Then approaching Jesus, Peter said to Him; “How often will I forgive my brother when he sins against Me? Up to seven times?”
  2. Jesus said to him; “I tell you, not up to seven times; but seventy times seven.
  3. “Because of this, the kingdom of the heavens has become like a man – a king – who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
  4. Then beginning to settle his accounts, one was brought to him; a debtor who owed ten thousand talents.[25]A “talent” is not a coin but a measure of weight.  It was about 75lbs, or 3000 silver shekels in weight. A talent of silver was worth about 6,000 denarii, which was the going rate for a day’s worth of unskilled labor.  However, the Greek word translated “ten thousand” here can also mean “countless”, so the exact number isn’t important.  It’s rather like how American’s use “a million” today to mean any large but indefinite number.
  5. “Now, since he had nothing to repay the debt, the lord ordered him to be sold, and his wife and children – and all that he had – and the debt to be repaid.
  6. “Then falling down, the slave was bowing at his feet,[26]“was bowing at… …feet” is one word in Greek, often translated “worship”. It comes from the Greek words: “pros” (meaning “towards”) and “kyneo” (meaning “to kiss”). It literally refers to bowing down on your hands and knees and kissing the ground in front of a superior or authority figure. Some Egyptian pictographs have the hand outstretched, as if to send the “kiss” toward the one being revered. saying; “Have patience with me and I will repay everything to you.”
  7. “And being moved with compassion, that slave’s lord released him and forgave his debt.
  8. “But after departing, that slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii.[27]A denarius (plural “denarii”) was an ancient silver coin.  It was the going wage for a day’s worth of unskilled labor. And seizing him, he was choking him, saying; “If you owe anything, pay it back!”
  9. “Then falling down, his fellow slave was begging him, saying; “Have patience with me and I will pay you back.”
  10. “But he wasn’t willing.  Rather, after departing, he threw him into prison until he might paid back what was owed.
  11. “Then seeing what happened, his fellow slaves were extremely grieved.  And going to their lord, they explained everything that happened.
  12. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him; “You wicked slave! I forgave all that debt because you begged me.
  13. “Weren’t you required[28]“required” is literal.  The Greek word here specifically refers to “what is necessary” or “right and proper”.  It can also refer to what needs to be done, as Jesus uses this word to say His death was necessary. to have mercy on your fellow slave, just like I had mercy on you?
  14. “And being provoked to anger, his lord handed him over to the prison torturer[29]“prison torturer” is one word in Greek.  It refers to a prison guard whose job it was to extract information from prisoners. until he paid back all that he owed.
  15. “And My heavenly Father will do likewise[30]literally “in this manner” to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from your heart.

 

Next: Matthew chapter 19

Previous: Matthew chapter 17

Up: BOS Bible Main Navigation

 

Note: If you think a word, phrase, or passage could be better translated - or is wrong - then Please Say Something. This is an open source Bible that's accountable to all Christians. See this link for details.

Legal Use: Please feel free to quote the BOS Bible, but follow the guidelines on the Legal Use page when doing so. They are easy and mostly common sense.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. “the child” is more literally “it”.  It’s a neuter personal/possessive pronoun. However, the English Neuter pronoun “it” is dehumanizing, and only applied to objects.  The Greek neuter pronoun can be applied to people.
2. “definitely won’t”. In Greek, this is a double negative (no, not) to add emphasis. Since English double negatives cancel each other out (instead of adding emphasis) the word “definitely” was added to keep the emphatic sense of the Greek.
3. literally “whoever”
4. “lays bait to ensnare” is a single word in the Greek. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways.
5, 6, 7. “bait that ensnares” is a single word in the Greek. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways.
8, 10. “ensnares” is the same word translated “bait that ensnares” in the previous verses. It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached. Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim.  It can also refer to offending someone or someone stumbling, and is often used those ways.
9. “fire of ages” is literal, though “age-long fire” could be equally accurate. It’s traditionally translated “eternal fire” here.  However the word translated “ages” (αἰώνιον) is merely the adjective form of the Greek word “αἰών” (aion), which is used – for example – in Matthew 24:3 “what are the signs of your coming and the end of the age?”  Virtually all lexicons define αἰών (the noun form) as “age”, but some want to change the adjective form’s meaning to “eternal” instead of “age-long”, “of ages”, or similar.  Further, “fire of ages” captures the severity of the fire, which the traditional interpretation doesn’t.
11. Most translations render this “hell” but any lexicon will tell you it’s a proper noun referring to a specific valley – the Valley of Hinnom – just outside Jerusalem. Symbolically, it’s where the Jews believed the wicked were punished in the afterlife.  However, it also has historical significance which is lost when it’s merely translated “hell”.  Two kings of Israel sacrificed babies as burnt offerings to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:30-31) As a result, God sentenced them to judgement through the prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 19:1-11) Their sentence was carried out about 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. He burned almost everything and enslaved all Judah. (2 kings 25:1-12) It was the worst judgement Israel had yet seen. This happened again a few decades after Christ when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.
12. It’s unclear whether this verse was originally part of Matthew or added later, and there are good arguments on both sides of the debate.  It’s nearly identical to Luke 19:10, so it changes nothing doctrinally.
13. “won’t… …surely”  The Greek here is a stronger word for “no” than is typically used and always carries an emphatic sense. When used for negation – instead of a negative question as here – the translation “definitely not” would be ideal.
14. literally “before”
15. There is a great debate on whether the words “against you” were original to Matthew. Several of the earliest and best manuscripts don’t contain “against you”, but the vast majority of later manuscripts do. Additionally, it’s a rule of thumb that the shorter and/or harder reading is likely – but not certainty – more accurate.  However, the context of verse 21 (with Peter asking how many times to forgive someone who sins “against me”) would support the longer reading.  However, the context of the previous verse is about sheep who are “led astray” and those who hurt “little children”, which wouldn’t include offenses “against you”.  There is also Galatians 6:1, which – though a different book – would seem to support the shorter reading.  On the other hand, the sheer volume of manuscripts that support the longer reading can’t be ignored.  The debate is ongoing.
16. “rebuke him with evidence of his fault” is one word in Greek.  It means to correct or expose something (typically bad/wrong), which includes the idea of supporting evidence for the correction or exposition.
17. “word they speak” is a single word in Greek.  It’s a noun here, which specifically refers to words that are spoken, not written.
18. quotation/allusion to Deuteronomy 19:15
19, 21. “Binding and Loosing” were recognized legal terms in the Jewish faith.  Binding and loosing meant to “forbid” or to “permit” a practice in the faith.  Josephus says that that the Pharisees “became the administrators of all public affairs so as to be empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind.”  Jesus gave the church assembly to the authority to do what previously only the Pharisees – the religious elite – had been permitted to do.  Given the context here, it likely means to bind (forbid) or to loose (permit) associating with someone who has fallen into sin.  However, it could also refer to forbidding or permitting religious practices, though that idea isn’t contained in the immediate context.
20. “will be, has been – and is – bound” is two words in the Greek.  The first is exactly equivalent to the English word “is”, though here it’s in the future tense, so “will be”.  The second word means to “bind”.  Here it’s in the perfect tense which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses.
22. “will be, has been – and is – loosed” is two words in the Greek.  The first is exactly equivalent to the English word “is”, though here it’s in the future tense, so “will be”.  The second word means to “loosen” or to “relax”.  Here it’s in the perfect tense which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses.
23. literally “by the power of”
24. “are – or were – gathered” is literally “are were – or are – gathered” and is two words in Greek.  The first is the Greek word exactly equivalent to the English words is/are.  The second is the word which means “gather”, which is in the Greek perfect tense here.  The perfect tense is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses.
25. A “talent” is not a coin but a measure of weight.  It was about 75lbs, or 3000 silver shekels in weight. A talent of silver was worth about 6,000 denarii, which was the going rate for a day’s worth of unskilled labor.  However, the Greek word translated “ten thousand” here can also mean “countless”, so the exact number isn’t important.  It’s rather like how American’s use “a million” today to mean any large but indefinite number.
26. “was bowing at… …feet” is one word in Greek, often translated “worship”. It comes from the Greek words: “pros” (meaning “towards”) and “kyneo” (meaning “to kiss”). It literally refers to bowing down on your hands and knees and kissing the ground in front of a superior or authority figure. Some Egyptian pictographs have the hand outstretched, as if to send the “kiss” toward the one being revered.
27. A denarius (plural “denarii”) was an ancient silver coin.  It was the going wage for a day’s worth of unskilled labor.
28. “required” is literal.  The Greek word here specifically refers to “what is necessary” or “right and proper”.  It can also refer to what needs to be done, as Jesus uses this word to say His death was necessary.
29. “prison torturer” is one word in Greek.  It refers to a prison guard whose job it was to extract information from prisoners.
30. literally “in this manner”