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Matthew 18

18
The Most Important Person in the Kingdom
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2Jesus called a little child over and had them stand in the middle of the group. 3Jesus then said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you’ll never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And anyone who welcomes a child like this one in my name welcomes me.
Don’t Cause People to Sin
6“But what if someone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin? It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around their neck and drown at the bottom. 7Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Things like that must come. Woe to the person who causes them! 8If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter life with only one hand or foot than to go with two hands or two feet into hell, where the fire burns forever. 9If your eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter life with one eye than to be thrown into the fire of hell with two eyes.
The Story of the Lost Sheep
10-11“Make sure you don’t look down on one of these little ones. I tell you, their angels in heaven see face to face my Father who is in heaven.
12“What do you think? Suppose a man owns 100 sheep and one of them wanders away. Won’t he leave the 99 sheep on the hills and go look for the one that wandered off? 13Truly I tell you, if he finds that sheep, he’ll be happier about it than about the 99 that didn’t wander off. 14It’s the same with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.
When Someone Sins Against You
15“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and tell them privately what they’ve done wrong. If they listen to you, you’ve won them back. 16But if they won’t listen to you, return with one or two others. Scripture says, ‘Every matter must be proved by the words of two or three witnesses.’ 17If they still refuse to listen, then tell it to the community of believers. And if they refuse to listen even to the community, then treat them the way you would treat an unbeliever or a traitor.
18“Truly I tell you, what you tie up on earth will be tied up in heaven, and what you set free on earth will be set free in heaven.
19“Again, I tell you truly, if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20Where two or three people gather in my name, I am there with them.”
The Servant Who Had No Mercy
21Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive a brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus answered, “Not seven times, I tell you, but 77 times.
23“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to collect all the money his servants owed him. 24First, they brought him a man who owed 10,000 bags of gold. 25Since he wasn’t able to pay, his master ordered the man, his wife, his children, and everything he owned to be sold to pay back the debt.
26“Then the servant got down on his knees in front of him. ‘Give me time,’ he begged, ‘and I’ll pay everything back.’ 27His master felt sorry for him, so he forgave him what he owed and let him go.
28“But then that servant went out and found another servant, who owed him 100 silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29“The other servant got down on his knees. ‘Give me time,’ he begged him, ‘and I’ll pay it back.’
30“But the first servant refused. Instead, he went and had the man thrown into prison until he paid back what he owed. 31When the other servants saw this, it made them very angry. They went and told their master everything that had happened.
32“Then the master called the first servant back in. ‘You ungrateful servant,’ he said. ‘I forgave you everything you owed because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on the other servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34The master was so angry that handed him over to the jailers to be punished until he paid back everything he owed.
35“That’s how my Father in heaven will treat each of you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
18
Rank in the Kingdom
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a little child and set him before them, 3and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever #I.e. turns his back on self-righteous pride and adopts a realistic self-view.humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever receives and welcomes one #I.e. new, childlike believer.child like this in My name receives Me; 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin [by leading him away from My teaching], it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Stumbling Blocks
7 “Woe (judgment is coming) to the world because of stumbling blocks and temptations to sin! It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to the person on whose account or through whom the stumbling block comes!
8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off and throw it away from you [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into everlasting fire. 9If your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; it is better for you to enter life with only one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fiery hell.
10 “See that you do not despise or think less of one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven [are in the presence of and] continually look upon the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11#Early mss do not contain this verse.[For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]
Ninety-nine Plus One
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost? 13And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. 14So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost.
Discipline and Prayer
15 “If your brother sins # Late mss add against you. , go and show him his fault in private; if he listens and pays attention to you, you have won back your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the #Gr ecclasia, the word means a gathering and may be translated congregation, assembly, or church.church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile (unbeliever) and a tax collector. 18I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth #Gr estai lelumenon, future perfect passive.shall have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth #Gr estai lelumenon, future perfect passive.shall have [already] been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two # Lit of you. believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them.”
Forgiveness
21Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered him, “I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the accounting, one who owed him 10,000 #A talent was a measurement of weight, usually 58-80 pounds. One talent of silver was worth more than 15 years’ wages. One talent of gold was worth even more. 10,000 talents would be an inconceivable amount of debt for a slave in the king’s service to repay.talents was brought to him. 25But because he could not repay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27And his master’s heart was moved with compassion and he released him and forgave him [canceling] the debt. 28But that same slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him #About 100 days’ wages for a laborer.a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began choking him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe!’ 29So his fellow slave fell on his knees and begged him earnestly, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30But he was unwilling and he went and had him thrown in prison until he paid back the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and they went and reported to their master [with clarity and in detail] everything that had taken place. 32Then his master called him and said to him, ‘You wicked and contemptible slave, I forgave all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave [who owed you little by comparison], as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (jailers) until he paid all that he owed. 35My heavenly Father will also do the same to [every one of] you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”