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Matthew Chapter 18

Memory verses for this week:  Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 

Introduction: In last week’s lesson, Christ was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, and God again confirmed that it was Christ in whom He was well pleased.  They were to hear him.   Later in the chapter, we studied how we must have great faith to accomplish works for the Lord, and we finished with Jesus commanding Peter to go and get the tribute money to pay the taxes from a fish. 

I.    The Need for Child-Like Faith 

Mat 18:1  At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Mat 18:2  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

Mat 18:3  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.

Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

It is amazing how that even when we are walking with the Lord, we can find the human tendencies surfacing.    The disciples ask Jesus who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.    Human ambition can get in our way of our service to the Lord.  The reality is after this life, it won’t matter who is greatest as long as we are in the presence of the Lord.   I can’t know who will be significant in heaven but one... and that one, the Lord Jesus Christ will be the centerpiece of our existence.   Christ will be glorified forever through the church. 

Jesus uses a small child as an example of sincere humbleness.  If we want to enter into heaven, we must come as a little child.   Children are tender hearted, and they believe you when you tell them things.   God wants us to have that same child-like faith where we don’t doubt the Lord… but trust Him for all things.   Christ says in verse 4 that the one who will humble himself as a little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Mat 18:5  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Mat 18:6  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. 

To receive a little child in the name of the Lord is to receive the Lord.    And we see the seriousness of offending a child.   I pity those who might discourage a child from serving the Lord, or abuse a child in anyway when they face God one day. 

J. Vernon McGee said this about offending the little ones. 

The word offend means “to cause to stumble”; that is, to lead into sin. Jesus warns against it in strong language! It seems to me that what He is doing in this section is making the evangelism of children a divine imperative. He gives top priority to winning the children to Christ. I commend anyone who is working with children today. There is nothing as important as that.

The story is told of Dwight L. Moody concerning his coming home one night after a meeting. His family asked him how many converts he had that night, and he said, “Two and a half.” His family said, “Oh, you had two adults and one child who accepted the Lord as Savior.” Moody replied, “No, no, two children and one adult accepted the Lord.” He continued, “The adult was an old man and he had only half a life to give. He was just half of a convert.” The little children are important.

A pastor of a Scottish church turned in his resignation years ago, and as he did so, the elders asked him why. “Well,” he replied, “for this past year I’ve had but one convert, wee Bobby Moffat.” Bobby Moffat was the man who opened up Africa to missionary work. It was the biggest year that preacher ever had! In these verses the Lord is putting a great emphasis upon children.   [i] 

Mat 18:7  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!

Mat 18:8  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.

Mat 18:9  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. 

Jesus declares that the world is full of temptations and occasions of stumbling, but He warns his followers not to stumble that we make others to fall.    He says it would be better to go through life without a hand or a foot than to have all our physical parts and wind up in hell.   

Mat 18:10  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. 

These little ones have an angel in heaven beholding the face of the Father.   I think God clearly watches out for the children, and he also protects the believer in ways we may not even comprehend. 

II.  The Lost Sheep – Jesus Seeks Lost Sheep 

Mat 18:11  For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Mat 18:12  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?

Mat 18:13  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.

Mat 18:14  Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. 

Jesus uses the example of a shepherd watching over his sheep to prove God’s concern for lost souls.   Even if there are 99 saved, Jesus seeks after that one that is lost, just like a good shepherd would do his flock.  It is not the will of the heavenly Father that even one soul perish.   But we have to go forth and preach the gospel for the lost to hear and be saved. 

2 Pet 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


III.  Scriptural Procedure for Church Discipline 

Mat 18:15  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.

Mat 18:16  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.

Mat 18:17  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 a heathen man and a publican. 

We should make every effort to try and make reconciliation with those that are offended.  Unfortunately, some are very hard to be won back.   We should do our very best to not offend others if we possibly can. Many people desire to get vengeance rather than getting things right with their brother or sister. 

Rom 12:17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Rom 12:18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Rom 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Rom 12:20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Rom 12:21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.


Prov 18:19  A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. 

It is good that we are given instructions as to how to correct situations that may arise between brethren.   Paul gave several instructions in I Corinthians about church discipline and what we should do as a church when people are not willing to follow the Lord’s commands.   If you go and attempt to reconcile with a person and they will not get things right, their heart is not right with the Lord.  And in that day, we are to take 2 or 3 others with us that we might be able to get through to the other person.   But if they won’t here those, then it says we are to tell it to the church.   If that does not correct the problem, and the offended will not hear the church, it says we are to turn that person out of fellowship.  Pray this never happens, but if it ever does, we should be like the Lord is to us when we get out of fellowship with Him.   When our heart is right, we are restored to our prior fellowship.   Same should hold true with us.   All should be forgiven, and we should go forth together to do the work of the Lord. 

Mat 18:18  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.

Mat 18:19  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. 

We see the power God has placed in the church.  What we bind on earth is bound in heaven.    Does that mean if we exclude a person from the church, that we can send that person to hell and remove their salvation?   Some religions teach this, but it is not backed up by the bible.   Salvation is wholly of the Lord, and we don’t take away the gift of God.  That person that is out of fellowship with the church is out of fellowship with God, and when they get things lined out with the church, God will restore that fellowship with the Heavenly Father. 

IV.  The Simplest Form of a Local Church 

Mat 18:20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 

God promises to come and be in our midst when we gather as a church, even if there are only 2 or 3 gathered together in God’s name.  That is a blessing to know God is with the smallest group as well as the largest.  It is wonderful when we come together, and God’s presence is so clear that you can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.  When we worship the Lord in sincerity and truth, I promise that God is with us. 

Remember what the Lord told the Samaritan woman when she said their fathers believed it was in this mountain where we were to worship the Lord, whereas the Jews said it was Jerusalem. 

John 4:19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

John 4:20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

John 4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

John 4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

John 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

John 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

It is CRUCIAL that every church have the presence of Christ.   If He is not being lifted up, something is wrong.  The church has gotten their priorities out of whack. 

V.  The Law of Forgiveness 

Mat 18:21  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Mat 18:22  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 

The customs and traditions taught in these days stated that basically we were to forgive three times.  The rabbis said that if you forgave two or three times, that was sufficient.   So Peter was really going overboard to ask if we were to forgive a brother who sinned against us seven times.   Many multiply out 70 times 7 and come up with 490, but they miss the meaning of Christ’s teaching.  No matter how many times we are sinned against, if that person asks to be forgiven, we are to forgive them.  Just like God is with us, we should be with our brothers and sisters.   Those who say “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget” have not understood what forgiveness means.  It means forgiving and totally forgetting about it as if it had never happened. 

Matthew Henry said this about forgiveness. 

Christ’s direct answer to Peter’s question; I say not unto thee, Until seven times (he never intended to set up any such bounds), but, Until seventy times seven; a certain number for an indefinite one, but a great one. Note, It does not look well for us to keep count of the offences done against us by our brethren. There is something of ill-nature in scoring up the injuries we forgive, as if we would allow ourselves to be revenged when the measure is full. God keeps an account (Deu. 32:34), because he is the Judge, and vengeance is his; but we must not, lest we be found stepping into his throne. It is necessary to the preservation of peace, both within and without, to pass by injuries, without reckoning how often; to forgive, and forget. God multiplies his pardons, and so should we, Ps. 77:38, 40. It intimates that we should make it our constant practice to forgive injuries, and should accustom ourselves to it till it becomes habitual.  [ii] 

Mat 18:23  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

Mat 18:24  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

Mat 18:25  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.

Mat 18:26  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Mat 18:27  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.


In these verses, Jesus shows what it is to have brotherly compassion.  The man asks for patience and mercy and was granted his request.     He owed a large sum, 10,000 talents.  And he had no way of repaying this debt.   But the master had compassion and loosed him from the debt.  That is the way it is in salvation.  We come to God a lost sinner, with no way to pay for the sins we have committed.  But when we come humbly, repent of our sins, and turn to Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Master forgives our debt.   Someone has to pay for our sin.   If in this life we come to Christ, he will abundantly pardon.  But if we put it off, one day we will stand before God and have no way to pay.   Those who don’t know Christ will wind up in the flames of hell if they don’t come to him in this life. 

Mat 18:28  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.

Mat 18:29  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Mat 18:30  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

Mat 18:31  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 

This is so sad.  The servant who had just had this compassion showed upon him with his great debt, comes and has a fellowservant who owed him a small debt, but will not give him time to even repay.   He casts him into prison, rather than showing love and compassion as he had just experienced.   If we have been forgiven, we should forgive those who sin against us.   God help us to be men and women known for our love and compassion for others. 

Mat 6:14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Mat 6:15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mat 18:32  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:

Mat 18:33  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

Mat 18:34  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

Mat 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. 

From these verses, Christ makes it VERY clear that he expects us to forgive just as he has forgiven us.   Those verses we read there in Chapter 6 of Matthew are very clear, as is verse 35 of this chapter.  If we are unwilling to forgive others, we can not expect God to forgive us.  Our hearts need to be right. 

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[ii]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.