Matthew 18: True Greatness

Who will be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Why didn’t Jesus just give the disciples that answer?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 18:1 At that time, the disciples said to Jesus, “Who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
King James
Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

What about children is so important that we can’t enter the Kingdom without it?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 18:3–4 “I tell you for sure, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom are those who humble themselves like this little one.”
King James
Matthew 18:3–4 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. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

What does it mean to be humble?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 18:4 “The greatest in the Kingdom are those who humble themselves like this little one.”
King James
Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Why is welcoming a humble child like welcoming Christ?

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Matthew 18:5 “Anyone who welcomes such a child in my name is welcoming me.”
King James
Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

In what ways can we cause people to stumble?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:6 “But if you cause one who believes in me to stumble, it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck, be thrown into the sea, and drown in its depths.”
Romans 14:13 Therefore, don’t be critical. Instead, be encouraging, seeking to avoid any behavior that might cause another Christian to stumble.
1 Corinthians 8:9 Be careful, though, because you don’t want your liberty in eating to become a stumbling block to those who are weak in faith.
King James
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.
Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

If offenses are so terrible, why does God allow them?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 18:7 “How terrible it will be for the world because of its offenses! Such things must come, but it will be terrible for the one who causes them.”
King James
Matthew 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

What should be our attitude toward our ability to sin?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:8–9 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. You are better off maimed or lame than to keep both hands and feet and be thrown into eternal fire. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. You are better off blind in one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into a fiery Hell.”
King James
Matthew 18:8–9 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. 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.

What is the relationship between angels and children?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:10 “Be careful not to disregard a child. I tell you, their angels are always in my Father’s presence in Heaven.”
King James
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.

How can people be saved when they don’t know they are lost?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:11 “For the Son of Man came to save those who are lost.”
King James
Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

How could a shepherd leave ninety-nine sheep to save one?

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Matthew 18:12–13 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one wanders away, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside to find the one that is lost? Without a doubt, when he finds the stray, he will rejoice more for that one than for the ninety-nine that never wandered.”
King James
Matthew 18:12–13 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? 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.

If God wants none to perish, why won’t he get his way?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:14 “Likewise, your Father in Heaven does not want even one of these little ones to perish.”
King James
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.

Why should an offense be pointed out privately?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:15 “If another believer does you wrong, privately point out the offense. If the person listens, you have gained a friend.”
King James
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Of what value are two or three witnesses?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:16 “But if you are rejected, take one or two people with you so the facts may be established by two or three witnesses.”
King James
Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

Why is the church’s judgment of an offense important?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:17 “If the believer still refuses to listen, take the matter to the church. If he or she will not accept the church’s judgment, treat that person as an unbeliever and foreigner.”
King James
Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

How does Heaven’s standards apply to what happens on Earth?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:18 “Believe what I say. The things on Earth must be either bound or set free according to what is in Heaven.”
King James
Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

What kind of agreement in prayer guarantees God’s action?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:19–20 “Also, I need to say, if two of my followers here on Earth agree in prayer, it will be done by my Father in Heaven because I am present whenever two or three are gathered under my direction and authority.”
King James
Matthew 18:19–20 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

What did Peter think was a reasonable number of times to forgive an offense? How reasonable was Jesus’ answer?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 18:21–22 Simon Peter said to Jesus, “How often should I forgive someone who has wronged me? Seven times?”
“No, that is not enough. Until seventy-seven times, you should keep forgiving.”
Luke 17:4–5 “If he offends you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day he turns to you and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
“Sir,” the apostles said, “we need more faith for that.”
King James
Matthew 18:21–22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Luke 17:4–5 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

What are the most compelling reasons to forgive and keep on forgiving?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 6:14–15 “If you forgive others for the wrongs they have done, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.”
18:23–35 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who decided to collect the debts owed by his subjects. In the accounting, a man owing a million dollars was brought to him. Since he was unable to pay, the king ordered that he and his family and all his possessions be sold for payment of the debt. The man fell to his knees before the king and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay all I owe.’ The king was moved with compassion, released the man, and cancelled the debt. Later, that man met a debtor who owed him a hundred dollars, grabbed him by the throat, and demanded immediate payment. The debtor begged, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay all I owe.’ But the man refused to wait and had the debtor thrown into prison until the debt was fully paid. Others were disturbed by what they saw happen and told the king. The king summoned the man to appear before him. ‘You are a wicked man. You begged me to be patient, and I cancelled all your debt. Shouldn’t you have had compassion for your debtor as I had for you?’ The king was furious, so he sent the man to prison until the million dollars was fully paid. My heavenly Father will deal with you in the same way if you fail to forgive others for the wrongs they have done to you.”
King James
Matthew 6:14–15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
18:23–35 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.