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Matthew 18 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Who Is the Greatest in the Kingdom Realm?

18 At that time the disciples came to ask Jesus, “Who is considered to be the greatest in heaven’s kingdom realm?”[a]

Jesus called a little one[b] to his side and said to them, “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself[c] to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm. And if you tenderly care for this little one[d] on my behalf, you are tenderly caring for me. But if anyone abuses[e] one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him to have a heavy boulder tied around his neck and be hurled into the deepest sea than to face the punishment he deserves![f]

“Misery will come to the one who lures people away into sin. Troubles and obstacles to your faith are inevitable, but great devastation will come to the one guilty of causing others to leave the path of righteousness! If your hand clings to sin, cut it off and throw it away. If your foot continually steps onto sin’s path, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better for you to enter into heaven crippled and maimed than to have both hands and both feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye is always focusing on sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is better for you to enter into heaven with one eye than to be thrown into hell fire with two.[g]

10 “Be careful that you not corrupt[h] one of these little ones. For I can assure you that in heaven each of their angelic guardians[i] have instant access[j] to my heavenly Father.”

A Parable of the Lost Lamb

11 “The Son of Man has come to give life to anyone who is lost.[k] 12 Think of it this way: If a man owns a hundred sheep and one lamb wanders away and is lost, won’t he leave the ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go out and thoroughly search for the one lost lamb? 13 And if he finds his lost lamb, he rejoices over it, more than over the ninety-nine who are safe.[l] 14 Now you should understand that it is never the desire of your heavenly Father that a single one of these humble believers should be lost.”[m]

Restoring Broken Relationships

15 “If your fellow believer sins against you,[n] you must go to that one privately and attempt to resolve the matter. If he responds, your relationship is restored.[o] 16 But if his heart is closed to you, then go to him again, taking one or two others with you. You’ll be fulfilling what the Scripture teaches when it says, ‘Every word may be verified by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[p] 17 And if he refuses to listen, then share the issue with the entire church in hopes of restoration. If he still refuses to respond, disregarding the fellowship of his church family, you must disregard him as though he were an outsider, on the same level as an unrepentant sinner.[q]

18 “Receive this truth: Whatever you forbid on earth will be considered to be forbidden in heaven,[r] and whatever you release on earth will be considered to be released in heaven. 19 Again, I give you an eternal truth: If two of you agree to ask God for something in a symphony of prayer,[s] my heavenly Father will do it for you. 20 For wherever two or three come together in honor of my name,[t] I am right there with them!”

Unlimited Forgiveness

21 Later Peter approached Jesus and said, “How many times do I have to forgive my fellow believer who keeps offending me? Seven times?”[u]

22 Jesus answered, “Not seven times, Peter, but seventy times seven times![v] 23 The lessons of forgiveness in heaven’s kingdom realm can be illustrated like this:

“There once was a king who had servants who had borrowed money from the royal treasury. He decided to settle accounts with each of them. 24 As he began the process, it came to his attention that one of his servants[w] owed him one billion dollars.[x] So he summoned the servant before him and said to him, ‘Pay me what you owe me.’ 25 When his servant was unable to repay his debt, the king ordered that he be sold as a slave along with his wife and children and every possession they owned as payment toward his debt. 26 The servant threw himself facedown at his master’s feet and begged for mercy. ‘Please be patient with me. Just give me more time and I will repay you all that I owe.’ 27 Upon hearing his pleas, the king had compassion on his servant, and released him, and forgave his entire debt.

28 “No sooner had the servant left when he met one of his fellow servants, who owed him twenty thousand dollars[y] He seized him by the throat and began to choke him, saying, ‘You’d better pay me right now everything you owe me!’ 29 His fellow servant threw himself facedown at his feet and begged, ‘Please be patient with me. If you’ll just give me time, I will repay you all that is owed.’ 30 But the one who had his debt forgiven stubbornly refused to forgive what was owed him. He had his fellow servant thrown into prison and demanded he remain there until he repaid the debt in full.

31 “When his associates saw what was going on, they were outraged and went to the king and told him the whole story. 32 The king said to him, ‘You scoundrel![z] Is this the way you respond to my mercy? Because you begged me, I forgave you the massive debt that you owed me. 33 Why didn’t you show the same mercy to your fellow servant that I showed to you?’ 34 In a fury of anger, the king turned him over to the prison guards to be tortured until all his debt was repaid. 35 In this same way, my heavenly Father will deal with any of you if you do not release forgiveness from your heart[aa] toward your fellow believer.”


  1. Matthew 18:1 The Aramaic is “Who will reign in the kingdom realm of heaven?”
  2. Matthew 18:2 Or “toddler.” The Greek word is paidion, either a boy or a girl.
  3. Matthew 18:4 This means “to see yourself as unimportant in your own eyes.”
  4. Matthew 18:5 The Greek uses the word for hospitality. The “little child” becomes a representative of unimportant people in general. Treating the least with care and respect makes us truly great.
  5. Matthew 18:6 The Greek word is skandalizō and can also mean “to scandalize,” “to put a stumbling block before them,” “to offend,” or “to cause to sin.”
  6. Matthew 18:6 The Hebrew Matthew adds, “It would be better for him to never have been born!”
  7. Matthew 18:9 Although the language Jesus uses is hyperbolic, the drastic measures he instructs us to take in order to stay pure remain valid. The last phrase is literally “into the Gehenna of fire!”
  8. Matthew 18:10 As translated from the Aramaic, which uses a figure of speech (“to bring down”) that is best translated “to corrupt” or “degrade.” The Greek is “despise,” or “look down upon.”
  9. Matthew 18:10 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is simply “angels.”
  10. Matthew 18:10 Or “who always see the face of my heavenly Father.”
  11. Matthew 18:11 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew, the Aramaic, and a few Greek texts. Many reliable Greek manuscripts do not have this verse, and it is missing in many modern translations. See Ezek. 34:16.
  12. Matthew 18:13 The Aramaic is “the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”
  13. Matthew 18:14 Implied in the context.
  14. Matthew 18:15 Although the words “against you,” are not found in the most reliable Greek manuscripts, they are included in the Hebrew Matthew and Aramaic, along with a number of Greek texts. The Hebrew Matthew indicates that Jesus addressed these words to Peter directly: “At that time Jesus said to Simon, called Keefa . . .”
  15. Matthew 18:15 See Lev. 19:17.
  16. Matthew 18:16 See Deut. 19:16.
  17. Matthew 18:17 Or “a pagan or a tax collector.” Again, this is in hope of ultimate restoration. For even pagans and tax collectors can be saved. God is able to turn the wandering one back, as Jesus taught in the parable of the lost lamb (see vv. 11–14).
  18. Matthew 18:18 Or “Whatever you bind [Aramaic ‘harness’] on earth will have been bound in heaven.” See Matt. 16:19 and footnote.
  19. Matthew 18:19 The Greek word used here is sumphoneo, from which we get our English word “symphony.” The Aramaic is “if you are deserving of what you pray for.” The implication is that God will not give you what you are not yet ready for, just as an earthly father would not give his eight-year-old a car to drive.
  20. Matthew 18:20 Or “in my name.”
  21. Matthew 18:21 The Hebrew Matthew is “Seven times in one day?”
  22. Matthew 18:22 Or “seventy-seven times.” This is a metaphor for an attitude of forgiveness that is limitless.
  23. Matthew 18:24 Although the Greek uses the word for “servant,” it means someone who ruled under the king, perhaps one of his magistrates or cabinet members who had authority over finances.
  24. Matthew 18:24 Or “ten thousand talents,” an unbelievable amount of money. A talent could be compared to the wages earned over decades. The number ten thousand is a Hebrew metaphor for “myriad.” The point is, the servant owed a huge amount of money that he was simply unable to repay.
  25. Matthew 18:28 Or “one hundred silver coins.” This would be a denarii, which is about a day’s wages. So the servant owed his friend about three months’ wages.
  26. Matthew 18:32 The Hebrew Matthew is “You servant of Belial!”
  27. Matthew 18:35 The Hebrew Matthew is “with a perfect heart.”
The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com


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