Matthew 18:1-14

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

JESUS’ INSTRUCTION CONCERNING

HUMILITY AND OFFENSES

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Destiny of the King includes the narrative about Jesus (13:54 - 17:27), the meaning and greatness of forgiveness (18:1-35), and the concluding statement, (1) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan. (2) And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there (19:1-2).

 

The meaning of greatness and forgiveness includes Jesus’ instruction concerning humility (18:1-6), His instruction concerning offenses (18:7-14), His instruction concerning the discipline of offenders (18:15-20), and His instruction concerning forgiveness (18:21-35).

 

Parallel passages in Mark and Luke indicate that Jesus’ instruction concerning humility followed the disciples arguing over which one of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Mark 9:33-3433 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

 

Luke 9:46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

We see –

    I.     JESUS’ INSTRUCTION CONCERNING HUMILITY – 18:1-6

 

We note that Jesus asks the disciples –

            A.  WHO IS GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN? – 18:1

 

Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

 

Jesus asked this question in order to instruct His disciples.

 

At the same time is literally in that hour.

 

Came the disciples unto Jesus, saying is the disciples came to Jesus (or approached Jesus), and were asking.

 

What they asked is, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? It is, Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

 

We note that Jesus uses a little child to illustrate the sort of faith needed to enter the kingdom of heaven –

            B.  ONLY THOSE WHO ARE CONVERTED IN CHILDLIKE FAITH WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN – 18:2-3

 

Matthew 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them.

 

And Jesus called a little child unto him may be understood in the sense of after He called a little child unto Him or after He summoned a little child.

 

(Jesus) set him in the midst of them suggests Jesus placed him (i.e. placed the little child) in the midst of them (i.e. in the midst of the disciples).

 

Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

Jesus then told his disciples that unless they are saved, they will never enter the kingdom of heaven. We know that Judas Iscariot was unsaved.

 

And said means and Jesus said.

 

Verily is truly, and when combined with I say unto you (i.e. I am saying to you), suggests, I assure you or I solemnly tell you.

 

Except ye be converted, and become as little children suggests unless you are converted and become like the little children or if you are not converted and do not become like the little children.

 

It is actually the condition in a conditional statement.

 

The conclusion of the condition is ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

Except ye be converted is if you do not turn around or if you do not make a turn-about.

 

It pictures someone heading in the wrong direction who needs to turn around.

 

Except ye become as little children suggests if you do not become like the little children.

 

Become suggests that they will need to turn out to be something they have not been previously.

 

As little children suggests like the little children in that they are trusting.

 

People need to place childlike faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

 

Little children believe what they are told; whereas, adults tend to be skeptical.

 

Ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven contains the strongest negative in the Greek language and implies you will in no wise (i.e. by no means) enter the kingdom of heaven or you will absolutely never under any circumstances enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

This is because entrance into the kingdom of heaven is by faith.

 

If the condition is true and people do not turn around and become like the little children, the conclusion will also be true; and they will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

However, if the condition proves to be false and people do turn around and become like the little children, the conclusion will be false; and they will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

Next, we note Jesus’ statement about those who are greatest in the kingdom of heaven –

            C.  ALL THOSE WHO HUMBLE THEMSELVES IN CHILDLIKE FAITH ARE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN – 18:4

 

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Whosoever is whoever, everyone who, or all those who.

 

Therefore introduces an inference drawn from what Jesus stated in verse 3 that unless you are converted and become as little children you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

Will humble himself as this little child suggests will make himself humble like this little child (the one Jesus had set in their midst).

 

It implies that the little child is humble.

 

One humbles himself by recognizing that he is a sinner who is unable to save himself.

 

The same is this one.

 

Is implies a timeless truth, something which is always true under all circumstances.

 

The one who humbles himself like the little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Inasmuch as no one can ever enter the kingdom of heaven without turning around and becoming like the little child, thus humbling himself, everyone in the kingdom of heaven is actually the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. No one in the kingdom of heaven is greater than anyone else. There is no hierarchy.

We furthermore note that –

            D.  WHOEVER RECEIVES A LITTLE CHILD IN JESUS’ NAME RECEIVES HIM – 18:5

 

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

 

And whoso is and whoever.

 

Shall receive is receives (or welcomes).

 

One such little child is a little child such as this one or one little child such as this, i.e. like the one Jesus had set in their midst.

 

In my name means in Jesus’ name.

 

It indicates that receiving or welcoming those who are deemed unimportant in society in the name of Jesus is more important than the disciples’ competition in seeking to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Receiveth me suggests receives (or welcomes) Me (i.e. Jesus).

 

This is because he is the one who is truly seeking after Jesus.

 

Finally, we note that –

            E.  WHOEVER CAUSES ONE OF THESE LITTLE CHILDREN WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS TO SIN WILL BE IN BIG TROUBLE – 18:6

 

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

 

But whoso is but whoever.

 

Shall offend is causes to sin.

 

One of these little ones which believe in me is one of these little ones who believe in Me and refers to young children who are believing or trusting in Jesus. It is equivalent to the condition in a conditional statement if anyone will cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin.

 

If this condition is fulfilled, the conclusion is, It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

 

It were better for him implies that it is to his advantage to die a terrible death like this than to cause little children who believe in Jesus to sin.

 

It shows that God takes this very seriously.

 

A millstone is a great millstone. It is not a stone from the small handmill, but one from the large mill, worked by donkey-power. It would be much heavier than the one used by women.

 

If a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and . . . he were drowned in the depth of the sea, it would certainly cause him to sink to the bottom of the sea and would result in his death by drowning.

 

As bad as this sounds, it is better than the consequences he will experience if he causes one little child who believes in Jesus to sin.

Next, we see –

  II.     JESUS’ INSTRUCTION CONCERNING OFFENSES – 18:7-14

 

We note that offenses will come –

            A.  WOE TO THE WORLD BECAUSE OF OFFENSES – 18:7A

 

Matthew 18:7 a – Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come. . . .

 

Jesus pronounces a woe on the world because of stumbling blocks and especially on the person who brings the stumbling blocks.

 

Woe denotes pain or displeasure in the sense of alas.

 

Unto the world is to the world and speaks of humanity in general. It refers to the people comprising the world’s population.

 

Because of offences suggests because of (or as a result of) temptations (or enticements) to sin.

 

For introduces the reason Jesus made the first statement in this verse: it must needs be that offences come, which is literally that temptations (or enticements) to sin come is a necessity.

 

Next we note that the one who causes offenses is in trouble with God –

            B.  WOE TO THE PERSON WHO CAUSES OFFENSES – 18:7B

 

Matthew 18:7 b – . . . But woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

 

But is understood in the sense of nevertheless and introduces a contrast to the statement that temptations to sin come is a necessity.

 

Woe to that man is woe (or alas) to that human being.

 

Man is the generic term for human being and may refer to a female as well as to a male.

 

By whom the offence cometh is through whom the temptation (or enticement) to sin comes.

 

It refers to the person who is the channel through whom the enticement to sin comes rather than to the one who is the source of the enticement, which would appear to be Satan himself.

 

We note that Jesus suggests –

            C.  DRASTIC MEASURES TO KEEP FROM SINNING – 18:8-9

 

Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

 

These verses mean that believers should avoid situations in which they will be tempted to sin.

 

Wherefore is a word ordinarily used to transition to the next thought in the sense of and or now.

 

If thy hand or thy foot offend thee is a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. It may or may not actually be true, however.

 

Its conclusion is cut them off, and cast them from thee.

 

If the condition is true, then this is the suggested action that should take place. If the condition is not true, then this suggested action should not take place.

 

If thy hand or thy foot offend thee is if (i.e. assuming that) your hand or your foot causes you to sin.

 

Cut them off means sever your hand or your foot.

 

And cast them from thee is and throw (them, i.e. throw your hand and your foot) away from you.

 

The language is figurative and is not to be understood literally. It means that decisive action should be taken to keep your hand or your foot from causing you to sin. Believers should be careful to avoid situations in which they will be tempted to sin.

 

How do you avoid gossiping on the telephone? Don’t talk to certain people, and don’t say much that is not necessary.

 

Where do you look when you go through the checkout lines at the grocery store?

 

Be careful what you read, watch, or listen to.

 

In reality neither someone’s hand nor his foot will ever cause him to commit sin.

 

They are merely instruments in his body which the individual himself uses to commit sin because he chooses to do so.

 

Whatever sin is committed with the hand or the foot is not the fault of the hand or the foot.

 

It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed is literally to enter into life halt or maimed is better for you.

 

For thee is for you and refers to the individual whose hand or foot causes him to sin.

 

To enter into life is in contrast to being cast into everlasting fire.

 

Thus, the picture is of this person entering life in heaven rather than of his being cast into eternal hell.

 

Halt is lame or crippled and suggests having only one foot.

 

Maimed is crippled or deformed and suggests having only one hand.

 

Rather than introduces the comparison.

 

Having two hands or two feet is understood in the sense of while (or although) having two hands or two feet or while (or although) you have two hands or two feet.

 

To be cast into everlasting fire is literally to be cast into the Gehenna of fire and suggests to be thrown into eternal hell.

 

It is interesting that Matthew switches from the singular thee to the plural in having, which suggests that it is better for an individual to enter life in heaven having only one foot or only one hand than to be part of the group of people who will be cast into hell.

 

Matthew 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

 

In verse 9 Jesus advises another drastic measure to keep from sinning. Although the wording differs from verse 8, the structure remains the same as verse 8. The idea taught in verse 8 is repeated in verse 9.

 

And if thine eye offend thee is the condition in a conditional statement whose structure indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true. It will be true for some, but it will be false for others. Therefore, if should be understood in the sense of assuming that.

 

Thine eye offend thee is your eye causes you to sin.

 

Of course, one’s eye never actually commits sin or causes him to sin. It is an instrument used by an individual to commit sin, and it is the individual who is the actual problem rather than his eye. He sins because he chooses to use his eye to do so.

 

The conclusion of the condition is pluck it out, and cast it from thee.

 

If the condition is true, then the conclusion is the course of action this person should take.

 

However, if the condition is false, then the conclusion is not the course of action he should take.

 

Pluck it out means tear it (i.e. tear your eye) out or take it out.

 

Again the implication is that drastic action is necessary to stop sinning.

 

And cast it from thee means throw (it, i.e. throw your eye) away from you.

 

It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye is literally to enter into life with one eye (or one-eyed) is better for you.

 

For thee is for you and refers to the individual whose eye causes him to sin.

 

To enter into life is in contrast to being cast into hell fire.

 

Thus, the picture is of this person entering life in heaven rather than of his being cast into eternal hell.

 

Rather than introduces the comparison.

 

Having two eyes is understood in the sense of while (or although) having two eyes or while (or although) you have two eyes.

 

To be cast into hell fire is literally to be cast into the Gehenna of fire and suggests to be thrown into eternal hell.

 

The wording in the Greek text is identical in both verses 8 and 9.

 

It is again interesting that Matthew switches from the singular thee to the plural in having, which suggests that it is better for an individual to enter life in heaven having only one eye than to be part of the group of people who will be cast into hell although they have two eyes.

 

We also note that we must –

            D.  BE CAREFUL NEVER TO DESPISE ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES – 18:10

 

Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

 

Take heed suggests continue (or keep on) taking heed (i.e. paying attention or seeing to it).

 

That ye despise not one of these little ones who believe in Me (i.e. in Jesus) is that you not look down on (i.e. scorn or treat with contempt) one of these little ones (i.e. one of these little children) who believe in Jesus.

 

For introduces the reason people should be seeing to it that they not treat one of these little ones who believe in Jesus with contempt.

 

I say unto you is I (i.e. Jesus) am saying (i.e. I am asserting or I am declaring) to you.

 

What Jesus is saying takes up the rest of this verse.

 

That introduces Jesus’ statement.

 

In heaven indicates where this activity takes place.

 

Their angels speaks of the angels of these little ones who believe in Jesus. Do people have guardian angels? This verse indicates that they do.

 

Do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven is are continually (or always) seeing the face of My Father which is in heaven.

 

It means that the angels of the little ones have constant access to God the Father and are able to report anything and everything which happens to these little ones who believe in Jesus.

 

As a result, God the Father knows all about any despising, scorning, or treating with contempt of these little ones who believe in Jesus; so, it had better not be done.

 

In addition, we note that –

            E.  JESUS HAS COME TO SAVE THE LOST CHILDREN – 18:11

 

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

 

No one should get in the way of Jesus’ mission of saving the lost children by causing them to sin.

 

For introduces another reason people should be seeing to it that they not treat one of these little ones who believe in Jesus with contempt.

 

The Son of man is Jesus Himself.

 

Is come is simply came, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

To save that which was lost is simply to save the lost and implies the lost (child) inasmuch as the lost is neuter gender in the Greek text as is the Greek word for child in this context.

 

Finally, we note that –

            F.  IT IS NOT GOD’S WILL FOR ANY OF THE LITTLE ONES TO PERISH – 18:12-14

 

Matthew 18:12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

 

Although someone may have many sheep, he will seek one which has wandered off.

 

How think ye? is literally what does it seem to you? and implies, What do you think? In the rest of this verse and all of the next one, Jesus suggests something which would normally be expected if a particular situation were to arise.

 

If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray is a condition in a conditional statement.

 

It may or may not happen; but if it does, the conclusion will follow: doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

 

If a man have an hundred sheep is if a certain man has one hundred sheep.

 

And one of them be gone astray is and one of them (i.e. one of his sheep) wanders about aimlessly (or goes astray). It wanders off from where it is supposed to be and cannot find its way back.

 

The structure of doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? implies that a positive answer is expected and is understood in the sense he will leave the ninety-nine, and go into the mountains, and seek the one which wandered away, won’t he and implies, Yes, he will.

 

Doth . . . leave the ninety and nine sheep which did not wander off.

 

And goeth into the mountains where he expects the sheep has gone. He goes to where the sheep is. It could be in the mountains, on the mountains, or toward the mountains.

 

And seeketh that which is gone astray is and seeks (or looks for) the one (i.e. the one sheep) which wandered aimlessly about (or went astray).

 

 

Matthew 18:13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

 

And if so be that he find it is the condition in a conditional statement.

 

Its conclusion is he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

 

If so be that he find it is if he happens to find it (i.e. the sheep which wandered away), if it comes about that he finds it, or if he actually finds it.

 

He may or may not find it.

 

Verily I say unto you is truly I say to you, I assure you that, or I solemnly tell you that.

 

What Jesus tells them is that he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

 

He rejoiceth more of that sheep is he rejoices (or he is glad) more over it. It suggests that he is happier over this one sheep which wandered off.

 

Than of the ninety and nine which went not astray is a comparison of his happiness with the one lost sheep which he finds than he is with the rest of his sheep which were not lost. It is than over the ninety-nine (sheep) which have not gone astray (or which have not wandered aimlessly away).

 

Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

 

Even so suggests thus.

 

It introduces the moral of Jesus’ illustration of the man whose one sheep wandered off from the rest who then did all he could to find it.

 

The content of it is that one of these little ones should perish.

 

Should perish is simply perish. It is the same term used in John 3:16 and means be lost in the sense that he dies in his sins and spends eternity in the lake of fire.

 

This contradicts the unscriptural thought that God has elected some to hell and that there is never any chance of their being saved.

 

Is indicates that this is a timeless truth, something which is true at all times.

 

That one of these little ones should perish is not the will of your Father which is in heaven means that God does not wish this to happen, but He will allow it if they refuse to believe the gospel message.

CONCLUSION:

 

Have you believed the gospel message, that Christ died for your sins on the cross and that He was raised again from the dead on the third day?

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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