“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.
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.” (Matthew 18: 21-35 KJV)
First let me tell you that context matters greatly when reading difficult verses of Scripture and verse 34-35 are certainly difficult if not using proper context. There are those ignoring the context and focus of the Gospels based on verse 35. You must admit, verse 24-25 are some harsh words from Jesus right? Does this mean if we do not forgive a person as Jesus forgave us that we will be condemned to hell then and lose Salvation? It is so important to understand that the context here matters greatly. And what is the context in Matthew 18?
First we must realize that passages in the Gospels that are before the cross are addressed directly to the Israelites; the Jewish people and Pharisees of that time who were believing that Law keeping is the way to be favored by God. There are certainly learning to be had in this parable for believers about how we should be forgiving others as Christ forgave us but to make verse 34-25 about a believer who loses Salvation is just not in proper context for the Body of Christ.
Jesus is talking to His early disciples (early learners) here. Earlier, Peter is asking Jesus about forgiveness to his brother (fellow believers, starting at verse 22). Just how often am I to forgive a brother who sins against me?
The debt here represents our SINS. It is a debt that we cannot repay. The servant owed 10,000 talents. That is a massive debt, truly massive. That would be like several million dollars today. This shows us just how sinful we are in the God’s sight. We have an absolute impossibility to repay our debt of sins, through our own efforts.
The King/Master is Jesus Christ. This scene looks almost like a court room. The servant is brought in to give an account for his sin debt to God.
The servant owed an enormous debt (had a lifetime of sins) and the King demanded that payment be made but it was such a large debt that the servant could not pay it. The King’s judgement is to sell the servant and his entire family to regain the money owed to him. Not that just the servant will be sold but his entire family. It is a severe judgement. As is judgement for a persons sins. We are all hopelessly guilty before God with no way to repay. God keeps an account of sins and every sin is added to an account and logged.
At the appointed time that God has set, He will open this account to settle it. Each sin debt will either be paid in punishment or forgiven by God. The terms by which this will happen are in perfect alignment to the perfect character of God who never changes. God will ensure that His character remains intact. We have to be accountable to God, but God is accountable to Himself, as there is no other higher being that exists.
In verse 26, the servant pleads to God saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.’ This verse is a tell tale. What I mean is, the servant is saying he will pay back this enormous debt if given more time, as if he could through his own efforts, yet knowing it has already been a long time without repayment because he has been brought before the King.
!! Again, this parable is addressed to the Jewish people who believed their Law keeping would justify them and gain favor with God by their deeds and self righteous efforts; it is not addressed to believers of the New Covenant of the Grace of God through Christ crucified, died and risen. This servant is not a believer on Christ for Salvation. He is a servant because He is one of God’s chosen people; a Israelite. This particular servant is just like all of us in that we have a huge sin debt against God. But this servant, in his plea for mercy, does not seem to admit that he could never pay back this debt. He outright lies about doing so. It is utterly impossible. Then again, when we first come to the Lord Jesus we may not always see just how bad things really are in God’s sight. Isn’t that true? Yes we acknowledge we have a huge sin debt but I am willing to bet you the debt is MUCH LARGER than we think it really is!
So what does this King do? Remember, the King is really God in this parable. The King forgives his entire debt, all of it! Millions of today’s dollars! And then RELEASES and FREES the servant! The King gives him a free pass! This my friends is the very nature of God and shows how much he loves us in His perfect compassion and love, even when we are yet sinners. Now something to also realize is that it was only after the servant cried out and begged for mercy, in fear of the King’s righteous punishment, that the King was moved to compassion and forgave all this servants debts.
Notice that the King did not PAY for the servants debt in this parable; the king forgave the servants debt. Jesus however PAID for our sin debt completely and this is another point showing that this parable is not addressed to saved believers today nor about a believer’s loss of Salvation as some are teaching. It is addressed to God’s chosen people, the Jews who were under the Old Covenant of Law keeping.
You would think that after being forgiven the debt and being made completely free that this servant would have had some serious gratitude and a very thankful heart. After having been so forgiven while he was seriously guilty of not paying his debts you would think that he would have such compassion on others as well. Unfortunately, this particular servant shown a complete lack of caring, feeling as we see when he runs into another person who owes him just 100 denari, or in the Greek 100 denarius . A denarius was around the equivalent to a days wage being around $20USD. So that equates to just about $2000 USD in today’s modern economy. Now if yo compare the millions of dollars this servant owed and was forgiven of when he asked the King for mercy, what is a debt of $2000? This forgiven servant in anger grabs the guy an demands that he pay him back NOW. The person that owes him money, “…fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Here we see a fellow servant, another person living under the Law of Moses. And did this forgiven servant remember what it was like to owe a debt that you cannot repay yet? I mean, he could never have paid back the millions. Here it is only about 100 days of work. Surely a payment plan could have been arranged over a couple years or more. But what does he do instead? “And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.” He threw this guy in prison! Not nice at all is it?
When the King finds out what he has done (and God knows everything that we have done!) the reaction is swift and harsh indeed.
“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?”
Does it seem like the King was fair or unfair? Would you say, more than fair? Now we are getting to the bottom of this parable to the disciples. The forgiven servant is now called ‘wicked’. This unforgiving servant has sinned against his fellow Jew and the King’s justice is falling upon him just as the Law requires.
Jesus then says something that we really need to take to heart that is of great importance.
“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
This parable is not saying that once a person is saved and forgiven their sins through the atonement of Jesus Christ that their Salvation can be revoked. That would go against so many Scriptures that show we are secure in Christ from the moment of our Salvation. That would even contradict the words of Jesus Himself many times in Scripture. Again, all of Matthew 18 is Jesus burying the Jewish peoples in their Law keeping to have favor with God. Jesus is not addressing us today who are saved by the blood of Jesus.
The way the servant asks the King for mercy and the request to give him more time (be patient) to pay back the debt shows that this individual does not grasp the reality of the situation. He thinks he can pay back the debt of sin in self effort but we cannot repay for our sins ourselves. Only Christ accomplished this for us on the cross. And being forgiven by the King, he then thinks arrogantly and that he is better than others who are sinning and have a sin debt, as if he does not have sin still. And treats them harshly based on their debt as a sinner. Too full of PRIDE just like Satan is. The King calls this servant ‘wicked’ and that is not a term ever used for the Body of Christ, for believers in Christ’s atonement.
God forgave us with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. It was not just an easy pass. Salvation is a free gift for us to receive without self effort. But for God and Jesus it was hardly free; it was an extremely painful act in love towards us. As a redeemed person we need to have a forgiving heart towards others, even when they sin against you in a vial manner; forgive others to the extreme! Pray that God open their eyes and save them. Only God can do it!
Does Forgive Mean To Forget?
And do not think that to forgive means to forget. Forgive and do not repay them for their wrongdoing, that is forgiveness towards others. It does not mean that you have to go back and continually take abuse of any kind. But just WALK AWAY and know that God is right there with you. Recognize that you too sin against others at times and forgive them. But do not take revenge yourself against such a person,
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 KJV)
Give that task to God but ask Him to forgive them as Stephen did, even while they were stoning him! As Christ did even as they were mocking Him and hanging Him on the cross! Pray for them, pray for even your enemies, and for God to bring them repentance unto Salvation in Christ. In other words, “Let go. And let God.” By doing this you are doing right as a forgiven child of God.
The Tragedy Of The Wicked
“But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” (Psalm 73:2-5 KJV)
Have you ever noticed how the ‘wicked’ and as yet ‘unredeemed’ people of the world tend to have some pretty amazing luck? How many times have you heard a believer ask “I am redeemed through Christ and I try to do good works for the Lord, but why is it I keep having major problems while I see so many wicked evil people doing so well?” It sure does seem that way at times, doesn’t it? This world is being ruled to a certain extent by Satan until Christ’s returns and bounds him for 1000 years. Anything that goes against the world system, or the worlds way, is going against the wind and it causes turbulence.
God loves people unconditionally right? Does he not love a person that is yet, unredeemed and who has not accepted Christ? The Bible is clear that God loves everyone, sinners included, unconditionally. And you know what? If a person is not recognizing their sinfulness and is asking God for mercy, saying to God “I WILL pay you back”, that person is trying to buy their way to freedom from their sin debt. That will NOT save that person. However, does God have the right to help them from their financial situation in compassion? Look at this Scripture,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 43-48 KJV)
These are the very words of Jesus instructing us how to behave and live for God. This is how our attitude should be. He tells us here that God loves the unredeemed too and He sends good things to both the wicked and the good. Jesus is telling us plainly that this is how we should be treating others, both believers and non believers, after our Salvation. Where would we be without the forgiveness that God obtained for us through Jesus Christ? We would be hell bound for eternity my friend. Thank God for His forgiveness, now go and forgive others and God will highly respect that as He works through you to a lost world.
You have trouble while the wicked seem not to have troubles? Understand that God has given you ALL THINGS through Christ. You are Heaven bound forever. But what of the wicked and unredeemed? They may be having it good now but it is fleeting. Be encouraged because Christ said ,
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 KJV).
The word ‘tribulation’ used here in the original Greek is the word ‘thlipsis’ which has a meaning of ‘pressure (what constricts or rubs together), used of a narrow place that “hems someone in”; tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined, a feeling of no way to escape” .
With the Holy Spirit residing within us we are bound to go against the grain of the world system as it is today because it is an ungodly world system right now. And it will continue to be until Jesus returns to Earth to rule and reign. As believers in Christ, the Holy Spirit guides us and renews our minds over time and we start to see things through God’s eyes and not the worlds eyes. We need to have a heart for the lost. Do you not remember that you were once lost too?
One side of the coin is that the wicked prosper because God is good to the unbeliever and the believer. The other side of the coin at work is Satan and his fallen angels. The Bible calls Satan ‘the ruler of this world’ (John 12:31) And Satan is perfectly fine with a person that either rejects God altogether, or a person that bases his status with God on their own self effort and good works. Satan loves it when people do all kinds of ‘religious things’ and ‘rituals’ and ‘penance for sins’. He loves it when people compare themselves with others as a standard of righteousness instead of comparing against the true standard, our Holy God. He loves it because these people are having the same sin that Satan has; the sin of pride. It is all about self effort and self righteousness. If you think about it a moment; will Satan and his fallen angels work to continue them in prosperity and keep their mind off God, or give them troubles in life?
You see, it is a funny thing about life troubles. Many times it is only in these life troubles that people tend to cry out to God for help. We realize the trouble is way out of our control. When we are at the very bottom , there is only ONE way to look and that is UP! Up to God for help. Satan does not want people turning to God or thinking that maybe there is a God who will help me, who loves me. So, as ruler of this world Satan and his fallen angels may be assisting these people in being successful in the worldly and unGodly system, in which we live. And this being the case, if you are having troubles in life that just seem to gnaw at you and you are fighting one battle and then into another. You need to know where it is coming from. It is like Jesus says,
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12 KJV)
Rejoice when you are being persecuted and people say all kinds of evil things about you? When they gossip about you and falsely accuse you? Why rejoice in that? Because God has given you ALL THINGS.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32 KJV)
At the Rapture you will be as Jesus is! Immortal. Blessed for ever. The wicked do not have this long term blessed hope. All they have is FEAR in what is coming for them. But believers in Christ do! Jesus says to be exceedingly GLAD! GREAT is your reward in heaven!
This world and world system is fleeting. Most people have a life span of maybe 90 years? Most only around 70-80 years. What is that amount of time verses forever and ever and ever in the presence of God, with no more fleshly sinful mind in people? Where everything is a pure blessing. Where there will be no more tears even? At the moment of a persons Salvation our inner nature became a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) A heaven bound creation. We are just waiting for our bodies to be changed and then ZAP!.. we are in the presence of Jesus forever in immortality.
Forgive everyone that sins against you!
Even when it is very hard!
Especially when it is very hard!
Give it to God.
You do the RIGHT thing and leave all the rest to God.