Add parallel Print Page Options

Questions About the Greatest

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, had him stand among them, and said, “I tell you the truth,[a] unless you turn around and become like little children,[b] you will never[c] enter the kingdom of heaven! Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes[d] a child like this in my name welcomes me.

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[e] it would be better for him to have a huge millstone[f] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea.[g] Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It[h] is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come. If[i] your hand or your foot causes you to sin,[j] cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have[k] two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have[l] two eyes and be thrown into fiery hell.[m]

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you do not disdain one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.[n] 12 What do you think? If someone[o] owns a hundred[p] sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray?[q] 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth,[r] he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost.

Restoring Christian Relationships

15 “If[s] your brother[t] sins,[u] go and show him his fault[v] when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.[w] 17 If[x] he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If[y] he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like[z] a Gentile[aa] or a tax collector.[ab]

18 “I tell you the truth,[ac] whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 19 Again, I tell you the truth,[ad] if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.[ae] 20 For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”

21 Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother[af] who sins against me? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times![ag]

The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave

23 “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves.[ah] 24 As[ai] he began settling his accounts, a man who owed 10,000 talents[aj] was brought to him. 25 Because[ak] he was not able to repay it,[al] the lord ordered him to be sold, along with[am] his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. 26 Then the slave threw himself to the ground[an] before him, saying,[ao] ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.’ 27 The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 After[ap] he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 silver coins.[aq] So[ar] he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him,[as] saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’[at] 29 Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him,[au] ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt. 31 When[av] his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had taken place. 32 Then his lord called the first slave[aw] and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! 33 Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ 34 And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him[ax] until he repaid all he owed. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your[ay] brother[az] from your heart.”


  1. Matthew 18:3 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
  2. Matthew 18:3 sn The point of the comparison become like little children has more to do with a child’s trusting spirit, as well as willingness to be dependent and receive from others, than any inherent humility the child might possess.
  3. Matthew 18:3 tn The negation in Greek (οὐ μή, ou mē) is very strong here.
  4. Matthew 18:5 tn This verb, δέχομαι (dechomai), is a term of hospitality (L&N 34.53).
  5. Matthew 18:6 tn The Greek term σκανδαλίζω (skandalizō), translated here “causes to sin” can also be translated “offends” or “causes to stumble.”
  6. Matthew 18:6 tn Grk “the millstone of a donkey.” This refers to a large flat stone turned by a donkey in the process of grinding grain (BDAG 661 s.v. μύλος 2; L&N 7.68-69). The same term is used in the parallel account in Mark The punishment of drowning with a heavy weight attached is extremely gruesome and reflects Jesus’ views concerning those who cause others who believe in him to sin.
  7. Matthew 18:6 tn The term translated “open” here (πελάγει, pelagei) refers to the open sea as opposed to a stretch of water near a coastline (BDAG 794 s.v. πέλαγος). A similar English expression would be “the high seas.”
  8. Matthew 18:7 tn Grk “For it.” Here γάρ (gar) has not been translated.
  9. Matthew 18:8 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  10. Matthew 18:8 sn In Greek there is a wordplay that is difficult to reproduce in English here. The verb translated “causes…to sin” (σκανδαλίζω, skandalizō) comes from the same root as the word translated “stumbling blocks” (σκάνδαλον, skandalon) in the previous verse.
  11. Matthew 18:8 tn Grk “than having.”
  12. Matthew 18:9 tn Grk “than having.”
  13. Matthew 18:9 tn Grk “the Gehenna of fire.”sn See the note on the word hell in 5:22.
  14. Matthew 18:10 tc The most significant mss, along with others (א B L* Θ* ƒ1, 13 33 892* e ff1 sys sa), do not include 18:11 “For the Son of Man came to save the lost.” The verse is included in D Lmg N W Γ Δ Θc 078vid 565 579 700 892c 1241 1424 M lat syc,p,h, but is almost certainly not original, being borrowed from the parallel in Luke 19:10. The present translation follows NA28 in omitting the verse number as well, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.
  15. Matthew 18:12 tn Grk “a certain man.” The Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) is used here in a somewhat generic sense.
  16. Matthew 18:12 sn This individual with a hundred sheep is a shepherd of modest means, as flocks often had up to two hundred head of sheep.
  17. Matthew 18:12 sn Look for the one that went astray. The parable pictures God’s pursuit of the sinner. On the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, see John 10:1-18.
  18. Matthew 18:13 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
  19. Matthew 18:15 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. All the “if” clauses in this paragraph are third class conditions in Greek.
  20. Matthew 18:15 tn The Greek term “brother” can mean “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.a) whether male or female. It can also refer to siblings, though here it is used in a broader sense to connote familial relationships within the family of God. Therefore, because of the familial connotations, “brother” has been retained in the translation here in preference to the more generic “fellow believer” (“fellow Christian” would be anachronistic in this context).
  21. Matthew 18:15 tc ‡ The earliest and best witnesses lack “against you” after “if your brother sins.” It is quite possible that the shorter reading in these witnesses (א B, as well as 0281 ƒ1 579 sa) occurred when scribes either intentionally changed the text (to make it more universal in application) or unintentionally changed the text (owing to the similar sound of the end of the verb ἁμαρτήσῃ [hamartēsē] and the prepositional phrase εἰς σέ [eis se]). However, if the mss were normally copied by sight rather than by sound, especially in the early centuries of Christianity, such an unintentional change is not as likely for these mss. And since scribes normally added material rather than deleted it for intentional changes, on balance, the shorter reading appears to be autographic. NA28 includes the words in brackets, indicating doubts as to their authenticity.
  22. Matthew 18:15 tn Grk “go reprove him.”
  23. Matthew 18:16 sn A quotation from Deut 19:15.
  24. Matthew 18:17 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  25. Matthew 18:17 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  26. Matthew 18:17 tn Grk “let him be to you as.”
  27. Matthew 18:17 tn Or “a pagan.”
  28. Matthew 18:17 sn To treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector means not to associate with such a person. See the note on tax collectors in 5:46.
  29. Matthew 18:18 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
  30. Matthew 18:19 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
  31. Matthew 18:19 tn Grk “if two of you…agree about whatever they ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.” The passive construction has been translated as an active one in keeping with contemporary English style, and the pronouns, which change from second person plural to third person plural in the Greek text, have been consistently translated as second person plural.
  32. Matthew 18:21 tn Here the term “brother” means “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.a), whether male or female. Concerning the familial connotations, see also the note on the first occurrence of this term in v. 15.
  33. Matthew 18:22 tn Or “seventy times seven,” i.e., an unlimited number of times. See L&N 60.74 and 60.77 for the two possible translations of the phrase.
  34. Matthew 18:23 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 8:9.
  35. Matthew 18:24 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  36. Matthew 18:24 sn A talent was a huge sum of money, equal to 6,000 denarii. One denarius was the usual day’s wage for a worker. L&N 6.82 states, “a Greek monetary unit (also a unit of weight) with a value which fluctuated, depending upon the particular monetary system which prevailed at a particular period of time (a silver talent was worth approximately 6,000 denarii with gold talents worth at least thirty times that much).”
  37. Matthew 18:25 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  38. Matthew 18:25 tn The word “it” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
  39. Matthew 18:25 tn Grk “and his wife.”
  40. Matthew 18:26 tn Grk “falling therefore the slave bowed down to the ground.” The redundancy of this expression signals the desperation of the slave in begging for mercy.
  41. Matthew 18:26 tc The majority of mss (א L W Γ Δ 058 0281 ƒ1, 13 33 565 579 1241 1424 M it syp,h co) begin the slave’s plea with “Lord” (κύριε, kurie), though a few key witnesses lack this vocative (B D Θ 700 lat sys,c Or Chr). Understanding the parable to refer to the Lord, scribes would be naturally prone to add the vocative here, especially as the slave’s plea is a plea for mercy. Thus, the shorter reading is more likely to be authentic.
  42. Matthew 18:28 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  43. Matthew 18:28 tn Grk “one hundred denarii.” The denarius was a silver coin worth about a day’s wage for a laborer; this would be about three month’s pay.
  44. Matthew 18:28 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so.” A new sentence was started at this point in the translation in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences.
  45. Matthew 18:28 tn Grk “and he grabbed him and started choking him.”
  46. Matthew 18:28 tn The word “me” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.
  47. Matthew 18:29 tn Grk “begged him, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant here in contemporary English and has not been translated.
  48. Matthew 18:31 tn Grk “Therefore when.” Here οὖν (oun) has not been translated.
  49. Matthew 18:32 tn Grk “him”; the referent (the first slave mentioned in v. 24) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  50. Matthew 18:34 tn Grk “handed him over to the torturers,” referring specifically to guards whose job was to torture prisoners who were being questioned. According to L&N 37.126, it is difficult to know for certain in this instance whether the term actually envisions torture as a part of the punishment or is simply a hyperbole. However, in light of the following verse and Jesus’ other warning statements in Matthew about “fiery hell,” “the outer darkness,” etc., it is best not to dismiss this as mere imagery.
  51. Matthew 18:35 tn Grk “his.” The pronoun has been translated to follow English idiom (the last pronoun of the verse [“from your heart”] is second person plural in the original).
  52. Matthew 18:35 tn Here the term “brother” means “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.a), whether male or female. Concerning the familial connotations, see also the note on the first occurrence of this term in v. 15.