Wednesday Night Bible Survey

January 25, 1995

Matthew 18-19

Matthew 18

:1-6  Being like Children

:1  who is the greatest in the kingdom

This is not being asked because the disciples want to win at Bible Trivia.

They're asking because they all are looking for an important place.

They all want to be important.

:3  Except ye be converted

strepho 1) to turn, turn around

Jesus is telling the disciples that they're headed in the wrong direction, wanting to be first in the kingdom.

They'd better turn their wagons around.

:4  humble himself

The disciples wanted to know who was going to be the greatest.

Jesus turns things upside-down - it's who is the humblest that's the greatest.

What does it mean to be humble as a child?

To be the smallest.

To be the least important.

To be the simplest.


God wants humility from His followers

:5  receive one such little child ... receiveth me

I think it's pretty important to pay attention to the kids.

When church is over and the kids are all running around the building, what do you think of them?

Are they just nuisances in the way?

Or do you try to talk and play with them.

If we say that we really love Jesus, we're going to value the children in our midst.

:6  whoso shall offend one of these little ones


1) to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend 1a) to entice to sin 1b) to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey 1b1) to cause to fall away 1b2) to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I  disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his  authority 1b3) to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another 1c) since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled feels annoyed 1c1) to cause one displeasure at a thing 1c2) to make indignant 1c3) to be displeased, indignant

Application towards children:

I think this could be applicable to people like child pornographers, child molesters, etc.

It could be applicable to people who are trying to keep God out of the schools, or worse yet, to teach children not to believe in God.

I think of this family that sued the Boy Scouts to keep their sons from having to hear about faith in God.

Other applications:

It might apply to people who would cause any believer (who has humbled himself as a child) to stumble or fall into sin.

:6  a millstone

RWP:  {A great millstone} (mulos onikos), literally, "a millstone turned by an ass." The upper millstone was turned by an ass (onos).

The usual millstones were turned by hand, by women grinding wheat.

This is going to have to be a really big millstone, to be one turned by a donkey.

:7-9  Don't be an offender

:7  but woe to that man ...

There will simply be offensive people in the world.  It's inevitable.

But you better pray that you're not the one being offensive.

Don't be the one that causes others to stumble in their faith, or lose their faith in God.

Don't be the one that tempts others to sin.

:8  hand ... cut them off

Do whatever it takes to keep yourself from sin.

:10-14  God's heart for the lost

:10  despise not one of these little ones

Anyone want to volunteer for the Children's Ministry now?

:10  their angels

This is where we find the idea of "guardian angels"

The angels of these little ones are constantly before the throne of God in heaven.

That's why you don't want to offend them, because God will find out about it immediately!

Guardian angels are not just for children though:

Hebrews 1:14-AV Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

:12  leave the ninety and nine

If we're not careful, we can become "ingrown" as a church.

Our entire focus can be only on each other.

When a new person comes to visit, we don't even give them the time of day, because we are already comfortable with each other.

But Jesus' heart is for the lost.

I believe a healthy church is one where there is concern for the lost, where souls are saved.

When we are grown and mature in the Lord, we too will naturally have this same concern for people who aren't saved.

:15-20  Church Discipline

:15  Moreover

NASB translates it "and", NIV & NRSV don't translate it.

This is what's called in grammar a "conjunctive".

That means that it is supposed to connect the next section with the previous one.

In other words, there should be some kind of a connection in our minds between the idea of going after the lost and caring for the perishing with the idea of discipline within the Body of Christ.

The point is that we should always be concerned with rescuing those who are lost, not just punishing them to get rid of them.

:15  if thy brother

We're talking about relationships within the Church.

So often we do these things completely backward.

:15  shall tresspass against thee

Here's the situation where this kind of discipline needs to come to play.

This is a situation where you have been the one sinned against.

It's not uncommon for a person to come up to the Pastor and say, "So and so has hurt me, please talk to them for me!"

It's the person that's been hurt that needs to do the initial confronting.

:15  between thee and him alone

Here's another area where we often blow it.

If we're going to confront someone, we think we'd like to have some support.

Wrong!  You need to do it discreetly, just you and the other person.

If you do it in front of others, you will probably alienate them and drive them away.

The goal is to win them back.


Discipline with discretion

We can apply this to our kids too.

When we need to discipline them, it's best get them away from everybody else, and be alone with them.

Then you won't embarass them.

And the discipline is usually much more effective, between just you and the child.

:15  if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother


The goal of discipline is restoration

Galatians 6:1-AV Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted

We're not to get in each other's face just to get even, but to help each other grow closer to Jesus.

I think the best chance a person has of repenting and restoration is when we follow Jesus' order.

:16  if he will not hear thee

It's only after a person rejects the first appeal to repentance that you should bring others in on the situation.

:17  tell it unto the church

The problem with church discipline is that it's often done backward.

Too often the church is dragged into it when it is supposed to be a last resort.

:17  if he neglect to hear the church

Notice that there have been three steps taken before the final rejection takes place.

That's because we need to go as far as we can to try and bring someone back to the Lord.

:17  let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican

This is what is known as "excommunication", when a person is cut off from the fellowship of the church.

Note:  Jesus doesn't say, "Don't ever have anything to do with this person for the rest of your life"

How are we to treat "heathen" and "publican" kinds of people?

We are to love them, and try to reach them for Jesus.

Example:  You invite them to outreach concerts and things like that.

But they are not to be included in things that are reserved for believers.

For example:  They are not allowed in regular church services, or home fellowships.

After all, this is supposed to be discipline.


Paul the apostle had to administer this last step for the Corinthian church.

1Corinthians 5

Paul has to deliver someone to Satan.

He cuts them off from the protection and fellowship of the church.

It's not that we're not to talk to sinners in the world, but people who claim to be believers, yet are living in open, unrepentant sin.

Later, it is believed that this person repented from their sin, and so Paul writes to them later:

2Corinthians 2:6-8AV Sufficient to such a man [is] this punishment, which [was inflicted] of many.  7 So that contrariwise ye [ought] rather to forgive [him], and comfort [him], lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm [your] love toward him.

Remember, the goal is restoration, to have a person repent from their sin, and to restore them to fellowship.

:18  Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth

We saw this promise given to Peter last week.

Matthew 16:19-AV And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The Rabbinical interpretation.

This was the interpretation favored by lots and lots of commentaries.  They basically said that it was VERY common among the Jewish Rabbi's to use this phrase of "binding and loosing" in connection with making rules.  When you said a person had to do something, you were "binding" them to that law.  When you said a person didn't have to worry about doing this other thing, then you were "loosing" them from the law.  Another way of looking at it was to "forbid" and "permit".

It's the idea of binding and loosing people from obligations.

We'll even get the idea later on in the chapter:

Matthew 18:27-AV Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

The servant was loosed from his obligation to pay the debt.

We see Paul exercising this kind of authority with the Corinthian Church:

He bound them:

1Corinthians   5:3-5  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, [concerning] him that hath so done this deed, 4  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

He later loosed them:

2Corinthians 2:6-AV Sufficient to such a man [is] this punishment, which [was inflicted] of many.

Note:  In Mat.16, we saw this authority given to Peter.  Now we see it clearly given to all the disciples as well (see Mat.18:1)

:19  if two of you shall agree on earth

We often like to use this promise as we pray together in prayer groups.

And that's okay, I can see this still applying correctly.

But it's good to keep in mind that the intention of this verse had to do with discipline in the church.

When you agree on earth concerning church discipline, God is in it!

:20  two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them

Here's another promise we like to use, though out of context.

The context of Jesus being in the midst of two or three gathered in His name is with the idea of disciplining someone who is unrepentant in the church.

Jesus being in their midst signifies that He is with them in their decision.

:21-22  Seventy times seven

:21  how oft ...?

Peter is probably trying to sound gracious to the Lord, in that he's willing to forgive someone of the same thing seven times over.

In reality, that is pretty good.

A lot of us don't give others more than a couple of chances before we write them off.

:22  seventy times seven

Or, 490 times!

That's a lot of times!

You might as well say, "Just always forgive them".

I don't think Jesus is expecting you to keep track.


This isn't the only time that this number comes up in the Bible.

Daniel 9:24-27  AV Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.  25 Know therefore and understand, [that] from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince [shall be] seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.  26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof [shall be] with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.  27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

490 seems to have to do with patience, forgiveness.

It also seems to be connected with the coming of the Messiah.

:23-35  The forgiven/unforgiven servant

:24  ten thousand talents

Maybe around $10 million dollars

:28  an hundred pence

Some think around $18.

:29  Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all

Note:  These are the same words used by the first servant to the Master.

:30  and he would not

He wouldn't forgive him the lousy $18.

:34  delivered him to the tormentors

Some might look at this as being a person loosing their salvation.

But it might just be the idea that there is going to be some severe discipline in that person's life.

:35  likewise shall my heavenly Father do also uno you

Wow!  What a heavy warning!


1.  If God has forgiven you, you should forgive others

This is the only way we can really learn to forgive, is to remember how much we've been forgiven.

Ephesians 4:32-AV And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Have you been holding a grudge against someone?

Then maybe you better spend some time thinking about how much God has forgiven you.

Maybe you need to learn to experience God's forgiveness?

2.  If you don't forgive others, you'll face discipline

Now we need to be careful about making up doctrines from a single, obscure verse.  Right???

But, how about:

Matthew 6:12-AV And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6:14-15 AV For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

1John 4:20-21AV If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

These aren't just obscure little verses, God is serious about this.

Do we want to mess with any of these warnings?  I don't think so!

Matthew 19

:1-2  Heading south

So, Jesus moves away from the northern part of the country, south to Judea.

:3-9  Divorce

:3  put away his wife

Or, divorce

:3  for every cause

or, "for just any old reason?"

:6  What therefore God hath joined together ...

Jesus' argument is based on Genesis 2, and He quotes from there in verse 5.

Jesus is saying that the model marriage is found in the first marriage, the one that God created.

In the first marriage, God made one man and one woman.

They were married when they cleaved together and became "one flesh"

If God has joined two people together into one flesh, then no human should be trying to split up what God has made.

In other words, Jesus is saying, "No divorce".


God wants permanence in marriage.

:7  Why did Moses then command ...

The Pharisees are responding to Jesus.

If Jesus is saying there should be no divorce, then how come Moses gave permission for it?

Moses' law:

Deuteronomy  24:1-4 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's [wife]. 3  And [if] the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth [it] in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her [to be] his wife; 4  Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is

defiled; for that [is] abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

:1  uncleanness - Some interpreted this to be just about anything a man wanted it to be.  If your wife burnt the toast, out she goes!  Some gave this a stricter interpretation, such as adultery.  The Hebrew word actually has a kind of sexual tone to it.

Once divorced, a woman could marry another man.  But if she ends up divorced or widowed again, she was forbidden to go back to the first husband.

:8  because of the hardness of your hearts

It was by way of concession that God, through Moses, allowed man a way out of a marriage.

But originally, God intended man and woman to stay married.

Even today, God's best is still for husband and wife to stay married.

Even when there's been unfaithfulness in a marriage, God would rather have the offending party confess and repent, and the offended party to forgive, rather than for divorce.

God Himself, as shown in Hosea, has put up with all our unfaithfulness, and He still takes us back.

But if a person just can't handle the unfaithfulness, God allows for divorce.

Proverbs   6:32-35  [But] whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he [that] doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33  A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. 34  For jealousy [is] the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35  He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

God understands when a person gets to the point where they can't get over the hurt.

:9  except it be for fornication

Biblical reasons for divorce:

1.  Immorality

Here is the reason Jesus gives for divorce

porneia  defined as:

1) illicit sexual intercourse 1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse  with animals etc. 1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12

What I believe Jesus is doing here, is defining what should be meant as "uncleanness" in Deut.24:1.

He defines it as sexual immorality.

2.  Abandonment

We do believe there is one other justification for divorce, abandonment:

1Corinthians 7:15-AV But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such [cases]: but God hath called us to peace.

:9  whosoever shall put away his wife, except ...

So what do I do if I've been divorced and remarried, and it wasn't for Biblical reasons?

1.  Confess your sin to God.

Admit to God that you've blown it.

Ask God to forgive you!

2.  Stay with your current spouse!

According to Deut.24:1-4, it would be an abomination for you to go back to your former spouse now.

Stay in the condition you're in when God calls you!

1Corinthians 7:20-AV Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

1Corinthians 7:27-AV Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

What if I'm separated from my spouse, or divorced, but neither of us are remarried?

Hold out for your marriage until:

Either the other spouse remarries

Or it is clear they've abandoned you and have no plans to come back.

:10-12  Eunuchs

:10  it is not good to marry

In other words, the disciples are so bummed with Jesus' strictness on divorce, they are thinking that maybe nobody should ever bother getting married!

:11  All men cannot receive this saying

Hey guys, not everybody can do this kind of thing, celebacy.

:12  eunuchs ...

Jesus gives three types of people who can get away with not having sex:

1.  From the womb

People who were born with some kind of physical limitation.

2.  Made eunuchs of men

Ancient kings would castrate the servants who waited on their queens.

3.  Made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake

People who have been given the ability, by God, to abstain from marriage.

This is a "gift".  (vs.11, "to whom it is given")

It's not for everybody.

1Corinthians 7:7-9AV For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.  8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.  9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Help!  I'm afraid God's going to make me a eunuch!

Some of you are probably afraid of that, I was once too!

It doesn't work that way.

If you don't want to be a eunuch, then that's proof that you're not gifted by God to be a eunuch.

:13-15  Jesus and the children

:14  forbid them not

Do you sense Jesus' heart for the children?

We as parents need to understand that Jesus wants us to bring our children to Him.

Some nights, being too tired, we don't read the Bible storybooks.

But David or Daniel say, "Can we read the Bible stories tonight?"


Children's Ministry should be a big priority for us.

This verse is why I feel we need to make our Children's Ministry a priority.

Sunday School is not about "babysitting".

It's about leading these precious little ones to Jesus, and letting Him put His hands on them.

This is why I do silly things like have a "name that kid" contest at Sunday night's potluck.

Our children are precious to Jesus, and it is our desire that they love Him and love coming to church.

:16-22  The Rich Young Ruler

:17  there is none good but one, that is, God

Pay close attention here.

Jesus isn't saying that He's not good.

He is fascinated by the fact that the man hit it right on the head!

Jesus is Good.  Jesus is God.

:21  go and sell

Many people have had problems with this through the centuries.

We think that Jesus is saying that the way to get into heaven is to sell all you own and give it to the poor.

But I don't think Jesus is giving the normal requirements here.

He's just nailing this guy with his own personal problem.

This guy had a problem with money.

His money was getting in the way of following Jesus.

And Jesus very skillfully gets right to the point.

To another Jesus would say:

Matthew 10:37-AV He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.


Don't let anything keep you from Jesus

What is keeping you from following Jesus?

Is it drugs or sex?

You don't want to give them up?

Is it bitterness against someone?

"There's too many hypocrits in the church"

Are you saying that you're going to let those stupid hypocrits stand between you and God?

:23-26  The difficulty of riches and believing

:24  camel ... eye of a needle

Who says Jesus doesn't have a sense of humor?

The point is that it's VERY difficult for a rich person to be saved.


Because their money can be their god.

:25  amazed ... who then can be saved?

To the disciples, this was incredible.

After all, the rich people could have anything they wanted.

Doesn't money buy anything?

:26  with God all things are possible

God can even save a rich person.  Amazing!

:27-30  Rewards

:27  what shall we have therefore?

Peter wants to know what kinds of rewards they're going to get, since they have given up everything to follow Jesus.

:28  sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel

This judging of Israel would seem to be something specific to the twelve disciples.

Since there is a specific number tying them together.

But we too will sit upon thrones and judge:

Revelation 3:21-AV To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

:29  shall receive an hundredfold

Mark adds to this:

Mark 10:30-AV But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

In other words, it's not just in heaven that we'll receive some of the rewards, but here as well.

How do we receive a hundredfold houses, brethren, sisters, etc.?

I think some of it is here right now.

God has made us a family.

For some of you, God's family is easily far better than any family you've ever known.

Welcome to the family!!!!!!

:30  first shall be last ...

This mysterious saying probably is kind of a rebuke to Peter and refers to ranks in the kingdom.

The following parable illustrates it.

We'll get that next week.