Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
STRIFE AMONG THE
GREATEST IN THE
For the exposition, see on
TEACHING ON THE
PARABLE OF THE
10. Take heed that ye despise--stumble.
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--A
difficult verse; but perhaps the following may be more than an
illustration:--Among men, those who nurse and rear the royal children,
however humble in themselves, are allowed free entrance with their
charge, and a degree of familiarity which even the highest state
ministers dare not assume. Probably our Lord means that, in virtue of
their charge over His disciples
the angels have errands to the throne, a welcome there,
and a dear familiarity in dealing with "His Father which is in
heaven," which on their own matters they could not assume.
11. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost--or "is
lost." A golden saying, once and again repeated in different forms. Here
the connection seems to be, "Since the whole object and errand of the
Son of man into the world is to save the lost, take heed lest, by
causing offenses, ye lose the saved." That this is the idea intended we
may gather from
12, 13. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them
be gone astray, &c.--This is another of those pregnant sayings which
our Lord uttered more than once. See on the delightful parable of the
lost sheep in
Only the object there is to show what the good Shepherd will do,
when even one of His sheep is lost, to find it; here the
object is to show, when found, how reluctant He is to lose it.
Accordingly, it is added,
14. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that
one of these little ones should perish--How, then, can He but visit
for those "offenses" which endanger the souls of these little ones?
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, &c.--Probably our Lord had reference
still to the late dispute, Who should be the greatest? After the
rebuke--so gentle and captivating, yet so dignified and divine--under
which they would doubtless be smarting, perhaps each would be saying,
It was not I that began it, it was not I that threw out unworthy
and irritating insinuations against my brethren. Be it so, says our
Lord; but as such things will often arise, I will direct you how to
proceed. First, Neither harbor a grudge against your offending
brother, nor break forth upon him in presence of the unbelieving; but
take him aside, show him his fault, and if he own and make reparation
for it, you have done more service to him than even justice to
yourself. Next, If this fail, take two or three to witness how
just your complaint is, and how brotherly your spirit in dealing with
him. Again, If this fail, bring him before the Church or
congregation to which both belong. Lastly, If even this fail,
regard him as no longer a brother Christian, but as one "without"--as
the Jews did Gentiles and publicans.
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--Here, what had been granted but a short time
before to Peter only (see on
is plainly extended to all the Twelve; so that whatever it means, it
means nothing peculiar to Peter, far less to his pretended successors
at Rome. It has to do with admission to and rejection from the
membership of the Church. But see on
19. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as
touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven.
20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name--or "unto
there am I in the midst of them--On this passage--so full of sublime
encouragement to Christian union in action and prayer--observe, first,
the connection in which it stands. Our Lord had been speaking of church
meetings before which the obstinate perversity of a brother was in the
last resort to be brought, and whose decision was to be final--such
honor does the Lord of the Church put upon its lawful assemblies. But
not these assemblies only does He deign to countenance and honor. For
even two uniting to bring any matter before Him shall find that they are
not alone, for My Father is with them, says Jesus. Next, observe the
premium here put upon union in prayer. As this cannot exist with
fewer than two, so by letting it down so low as that number, He gives
the utmost conceivable encouragement to union in this exercise. But what
kind of union? Not an agreement merely to pray in concert, but to pray
for some definite thing. "As touching anything which they shall
ask," says our Lord--anything they shall agree to ask in concert. At
the same time, it is plain He had certain things at that moment in His
eye, as most fitting and needful subjects for such concerted prayer.
The Twelve had been "falling out by the way" about the miserable
question of precedence in their Master's kingdom, and this, as it
stirred their corruptions, had given rise--or at least was in danger of
giving rise--to "offenses" perilous to their souls. The Lord Himself
had been directing them how to deal with one another about such matters.
"But now shows He unto them a more excellent way." Let them bring all
such matters--yea, and everything whatsoever by which either their own
loving relationship to each other, or the good of His kingdom at large,
might be affected--to their Father in heaven; and if they be but agreed
in petitioning Him about that thing, it shall be done for them of His
Father which is in heaven. But further, it is not merely union in prayer
for the same thing--for that might be with very jarring ideas of the
thing to be desired--but it is to symphonious prayer, the prayer by
kindred spirits, members of one family, servants of one Lord,
constrained by the same love, fighting under one banner, cheered by
assurances of the same victory; a living and loving union, whose voice
in the divine ear is as the sound of many waters. Accordingly, what they
ask "on earth" is done for them, says Jesus, "of My Father which is
in heaven." Not for nothing does He say, "of
FATHER"; as is evident from what follows: "For where two or three are
gathered together unto My name"--the "My" is emphatic, "there am I in the midst of them." As His name would prove
a spell to draw together
many clusters of His dear disciples, so if there should be but two or
three, that will attract Himself down into the midst of them; and
related as He is to both the parties, the petitioners and the
Petitioned--to the one on earth by the tie of His assumed flesh, and to
the other in heaven by the tie of His eternal Spirit--their symphonious
prayers on earth would thrill upward through Him to heaven, be carried
by Him into the holiest of all, and so reach the Throne. Thus will He be
the living Conductor of the prayer upward, and the answer downward.
Parable of the Unmerciful Debtor
21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother
sin against me, and I forgive him?--In the recent dispute, Peter had
probably been an object of special envy, and his forwardness in
continually answering for all the rest would likely be cast up to
him--and if so, probably by Judas--notwithstanding his Master's
commendations. And as such insinuations were perhaps made once and
again, he wished to know how often and how long he was to stand it.
till seven times?--This being the sacred and complete number, perhaps
his meaning was, Is there to be a limit at which the needful forbearance
will be full?
22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times;
but, Until seventy times seven--that is, so long as it shall be
needed and sought: you are never to come to the point of refusing
forgiveness sincerely asked. (See on
Lu 17:3, 4).
23. Therefore--"with reference to this matter."
is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take
account of his servants--or, would scrutinize the accounts of his
24. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which
owed him ten thousand talents--If Attic talents are here
meant, 10,000 of them would amount to above a million and a half
sterling; if Jewish talents, to a much larger sum.
25. 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
26. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him--or did humble
obeisance to him.
saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all--This was
just an acknowledgment of the justice of the claim made against him, and
a piteous imploration of mercy.
27. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and
loosed him, and forgave him the debt--Payment being hopeless, the
master is first moved with compassion; next, liberates his debtor from
prison; and then cancels the debt freely.
28. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow
servants--Mark the difference here. The first case is that of master
and servant; in this case, both are on a footing of equality. (See
which owed him an hundred pence--If Jewish money is intended, this
debt was to the other less than one to a million.
and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat--he seized and
saying, Pay me that thou owest--Mark the mercilessness even of the
29. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him,
saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all--The same
attitude, and the same words which drew compassion from his master, are
here employed towards himself by his fellow servant.
30. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he
should pay the debt, &c.--Jesus here vividly conveys the intolerable
injustice and impudence which even the servants saw in this act on the
part of one so recently laid under the heaviest obligation to their
32, 33. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O
thou wicked servant, &c.--Before bringing down his vengeance upon
him, he calmly points out to him how shamefully unreasonable and
heartless his conduct was; which would give the punishment inflicted on
him a double sting.
34. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors--more
than jailers; denoting the severity of the treatment which he thought
such a case demanded.
till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35. So likewise--in this spirit, or on this principle.
shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts
forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.