Matthew 18

Who is important in God's kingdom?

1 Soon after this, the disciples came to Jesus and they asked him, ‘Who is the most important person in the kingdom of heaven?’

2 Jesus called a child to come to him. He made the child stand in the middle of them all. 3 He said, ‘I tell you this: You must change and become like little children. If not, you will never come into the kingdom of heaven. 4 This little child does not think that he is very important. You must also think as he does. Whoever does this will be the most important person in the kingdom of heaven. 5 If anyone accepts a child like this because of me, that person also accepts me.’

6 Jesus said, ‘A person who believes in me may not seem important. But you should never make that person do wrong things. Do not do that! It would be better for you if someone tied a big stone round your neck. Then you would sink deep down into the sea and die. 7 Some things in this world will cause people to do wrong things. You can be sure that bad things will happen. But it will be very bad for the person who makes these things happen.

18:6The person might be someone who does not believe well in God. Or he may be a child. It would be better to die than to cause someone to stop obeying God.

8 If your hand or your foot causes you to do wrong things, you should cut it off. You should throw it away. It is better to have only one hand or one foot and to have God's true life. It will be much worse to keep both your hands and both your feet and still do wrong things. Then God will throw you into hell, where the fire always burns. 9 If your eye causes you to do wrong things, then you should take it out. You should throw it away. It is better to have only one of your eyes and to have God's true life. It will be much worse if you keep both your eyes but then God throws you into hell. There the fire always burns.

10 Be careful! Do not think that any of these little people are not important. I tell you this. They have angels who watch over them. Those angels are always close beside my Father in heaven.

18:10God's word teaches us that there are angels. And these angels are servants of God, who watch over his people.

11 [I, the Son of Man, came to look for those who are far away from God.]

18:11Verse 11 is in old Bibles. Many Bible students think that someone put it into Matthew's book later.

12 Think about a man who has 100 sheep. He discovers that one of his sheep is not there with the others. What does he do? He leaves all his other sheep on the hills. He goes to look for the one lost sheep. 13 And I tell you this: If he finds that lost sheep, he will be very happy. All the other sheep are safe together. But they do not make him as happy as this one sheep does. 14 God, your Father in heaven, is like that shepherd. He does not want any of these little people to be lost, not even one of them.’

18:14In this story, God is like the man who takes care of the sheep. The lost sheep is like a person who is not obeying God. God cares that he is lost. He wants to bring him back to himself.

A friend does wrong things against you

15 Jesus said, ‘If your Christian friend has done something wrong against you, you must go and speak to him. When you are alone with him, tell him what he has done that is wrong. He may agree with what you say. If he does, then you can call him your friend again.

16 But maybe he does not want to listen to you. Then take one or two other people with you to speak to him. They will then know what wrong things your friend has done. Remember what the Bible says: “There must be two or three people to say certainly that another person has done something wrong. Two or three people must agree what has happened.” 17 If your friend still will not agree that he has done something wrong, then go and tell the church leaders. If he does not agree with the leaders, stop being his friend. He is like somebody who refuses to obey God.

18:17The word ‘church’ means a group of Christians. They meet together because they are obeying Jesus. It does not mean the building where they meet.
18:17This does not mean that we should only be friends with other Christians. We can be friends with other people too. But perhaps a person says that he follows Jesus. But he does not obey Jesus. Then we should not be a special friend of that person.

18 I tell you this: You will tell people here on earth what is right for them to do. And you will tell them what is not right for them to do. God in heaven will give you this authority. He will agree with what you say.

19 Two people may agree together to ask God for something. If they agree like that, then my Father in heaven will give them what they ask for. 20 Two or more people may meet together because they believe in me. If they do that, I will be there with them.’

18:19People must ask God for the right things. They must be things that God wants to give to them.

Jesus tells the people about the servant who did not forgive

21 Then Peter came to talk to Jesus. He asked, ‘Lord, if my friend does wrong things against me many times, how many times should I forgive him? Must I forgive him as many as seven times for the wrong things that he has done against me?’

22 Jesus replied, ‘I do not say only seven times. I say you should forgive him 77 times!’

18:22Jesus is saying that we must continue to forgive people many, many times.

23 Jesus then said, ‘I will tell you a story to show what the kingdom of heaven is like. A king wanted to check how much money his servants should give to him because of their debts. 24 So the king began to check. His men led a servant to him who had a big debt. He must pay back 10,000 gold coins to the king.

18:24This was a very large amount of money. No man could ever pay all this money to the king.

25 The servant could not pay his big debt to the king. So the king said to his men, “Sell the servant and his wife and his children and all his things. Then I will keep the money to pay his debt.”

26 Then the servant went down on his knees in front of the king. He said to the king, “Please, please give me some more time, then I will pay you everything.” 27 The king felt sorry for his servant. He forgave him for all the debt and let him go free.

28 But then that same servant went away and he met another servant of the king. This other servant had to pay back a debt of 100 silver coins to the first servant. The first servant took hold of the neck of the other servant to hurt him. He said, “Give me the money that is mine.”

29 The other servant went down on his knees in front of the first servant. He said, “Please, please give me some more time, then I will give you the money.”

30 But the first servant would not agree. He put the other servant in prison until he could pay his debt to him. 31 The other servants of the king saw what had happened. They were very upset about it. So they went to see the king. They told him about everything that had happened.

32 When the king heard this, he told the first servant to come to him. “You are a very bad person,” the king said to the servant. “I forgave you the whole of your big debt to me. I did this because you asked me very strongly. 33 I was kind to you. You should have been kind to that other servant in the same way.” 34 The king was very angry with the first servant. He told his men to put him in prison. They punished the servant there very much, until he could pay all his debt to the king.’

35 Then Jesus finished the story and he said, ‘You must forgive your friends completely. If you do not agree to forgive them, then my Father in heaven will do like that king did. He will not forgive you.’