Matthew 18 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Who Is the Greatest?
18 About that time the followers came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in God’s kingdom?”
2 Jesus called a little child to come to him. He stood the child in front of the followers. 3 Then he said, “The truth is, you must change your thinking and become like little children. If you don’t do this, you will never enter God’s kingdom. 4 The greatest person in God’s kingdom is the one who makes himself humble like this child.
5 “Whoever accepts a little child like this in my name is accepting me.
Jesus Warns About Causes of Sin
6 “If one of these little children believes in me, and someone causes that child to sin, it will be very bad for that person. It would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be drowned in the deep sea. 7 I feel sorry for the people in the world because of the things that make people sin. These things must happen, but it will be very bad for anyone who causes them to happen.
8 “If your hand or your foot makes you sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose part of your body and have eternal life than to have two hands and two feet and be thrown into the fire that burns forever. 9 If your eye makes you sin, take it out and throw it away. It is better for you to have only one eye and have eternal life than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Jesus Uses a Story About a Lost Sheep
10 “Be careful. Don’t think these little children are not important. I tell you that these children have angels in heaven. And those angels are always with my Father in heaven. 11 [a]
12 “If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep is lost, what will he do? He will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill and go look for the lost sheep. Right? 13 And if he finds the lost sheep, he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 sheep that were never lost. I can assure you, 14 in the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost.
When Someone Hurts You
15 “If your brother or sister in God’s family does something wrong, go and tell them what they did wrong. Do this when you are alone with them. If they listen to you, then you have helped them to be your brother or sister again. 16 But if they refuse to listen, go to them again and take one or two people with you. Then there will be two or three people who will be able to tell all that happened.[b] 17 If they refuse to listen to them, tell the church. And if they refuse to listen to the church, treat them as you would treat someone who does not know God or who is a tax collector.
18 “I can assure you that when you speak judgment here on earth, it will be God’s judgment. And when you promise forgiveness here on earth, it will be God’s forgiveness.[c] 19 To say it another way, if two of you on earth agree on anything you pray for, my Father in heaven will do what you ask. 20 Yes, if two or three people are together believing in me, I am there with them.”
A Story About Forgiveness
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone[d] won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.[e]
23 “So God’s kingdom is like a king who decided to collect the money his servants owed him. 24 The king began to collect his money. One servant owed him several thousand pounds[f] of silver. 25 He was not able to pay the money to his master, the king. So the master ordered that he and everything he owned be sold, even his wife and children. The money would be used to pay the king what the servant owed.
26 “But the servant fell on his knees and begged, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.’ 27 The master felt sorry for him. So he told the servant he did not have to pay. He let him go free.
28 “Later, that same servant found another servant who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him around the neck and said, ‘Pay me the money you owe me!’
29 “The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.’
30 “But the first servant refused to be patient. He told the judge that the other servant owed him money, and that servant was put in jail until he could pay everything he owed. 31 All the other servants saw what happened. They felt very sorry for the man. So they went and told their master everything that happened.
32 “Then the master called his servant in and said, ‘You evil servant. You begged me to forgive your debt, and I said you did not have to pay anything! 33 So you should have given that other man who serves with you the same mercy I gave you.’ 34 The master was very angry, so he put the servant in jail to be punished. And he had to stay in jail until he could pay everything he owed.
35 “This king did the same as my heavenly Father will do to you. You must forgive your brother or sister with all your heart, or my heavenly Father will not forgive you.”