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Matthew 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.”
1 AT THAT time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is [really] the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all].
4 Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this for My sake and in My name receives and accepts and welcomes Me.
6 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in and acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin [that is, who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought], it would be better (more expedient and profitable or advantageous) for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe to the world for such temptations to sin and influences to do wrong! It is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the person on whose account or by whom the temptation comes!
8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is better (more profitable and wholesome) for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into everlasting fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you; it is better (more profitable and wholesome) for you to enter life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the hell (Gehenna) of fire.
10 Beware that you do not despise or feel scornful toward or think little of one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always are in the presence of and look upon the face of My Father Who is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man came to save [from the penalty of eternal death] that which was lost.
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray and gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost?
13 And if it should be that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost.
14 Just so it is not the will of My Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost and perish.
15 If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.
16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
17 If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector. [Lev. 19:17; Deut. 19:15.]
18 Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven.
19 Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven.
20 For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. [Exod. 3:14.]
21 Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?
22 Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven! [Gen. 4:24.]
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants.
24 When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10,000,000],
25 And because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made.
26 So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.
27 And his master's heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [cancelling] the debt.
28 But that same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about twenty dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, Pay what you owe!
29 So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, Give me time, and I will pay you all !
30 But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him put in prison till he should pay the debt.
31 When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master.
32 Then his master called him and said to him, You contemptible and wicked attendant! I forgave and cancelled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to.
33 And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you?
34 And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed.
35 So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.