Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Matthew
Book: Matthew
Chapter: 18

The importance of Humility. (1-6) Caution against offences.
(7-14) The removal of offences. (15-20) Conduct towards
brethren, The Parable of the unmerciful servant. (21-35)

1-6 Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of
his Glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the
others. Many Love to hear and speak of privileges and Glory, who
are willing to pass By the thoughts of work and trouble. Our
Lord set a little Child before them, solemnly assuring them,
that unless they were converted and made like little children,
they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do
not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are
free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent On
their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other
dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early Age;
but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems
of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be
daily renewed in the Spirit of our minds, that we may become
simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the
least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our
own spirits.

7-14 Considering the cunning and malice of Satan, and the
weakness and depravity of men's hearts, it is not possible but
that there should be offences. God permits them for Wise and
holy ends, that those who are sincere, and those who are not,
may be made known. Being told before, that there will be
seducers, tempters, persecutors, and bad examples, let us stand
On our Guard. We must, as far as lawfully we may, part with what
we cannot keep without being entangled By it in Sin. The outward
occasions of Sin must be avoided. If we live after the Flesh, we
must die. If we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the
body, we shall live. Christ came into the world to save souls,
and he will reckon severely with those who hinder the progress
of others who are setting their faces heavenward. And shall any
of us refuse attention to those whom the Son of God came to seek
and to save? A Father takes care of all his children, but is
particularly tender of the little ones.

15-20 If a professed Christian is wronged By another, he ought
not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon
report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter
kindly, and show him his conduct. This would generally have all
the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would
be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised
every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too
much neglected By all. But how few try the method which Christ
has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our
proceedings we should seek direction in Prayer; we cannot too
highly prize the promises of God. Wherever and whenever we meet
in the name of Christ, we should consider him as present in the
midst of us.

21-35 Though we live wholly On Mercy and forgiveness, we are
backward to forgive the offences of our brethren. This Parable
shows how much provocation God has from his family On Earth, and
how untoward his servants are. There are three things in the
Parable: 1. The master's wonderful clemency. The Debt of Sin is
So great, that we are not able to pay it. See here what every
Sin deserves; this is the Wages of Sin, to be sold as a Slave.
It is the folly of many who are under strong convictions of
their sins, to fancy they can make God satisfaction for the
wrong they have done him. 2. The servant's unreasonable severity
toward his fellow-servant, notwithstanding his Lord's clemency
toward him. Not that we may make Light of wronging our
neighbour, for that is also a Sin against God; but we should not
aggravate our neighbour's wronging us, nor study revenge. Let
our complaints, both of the wickedness of the wicked, and of the
Afflictions of the afflicted, be brought to God, and left with
him. 3. The master reproved his servant's cruelty. The greatness
of Sin magnifies the riches of pardoning Mercy; and the
comfortable sense of pardoning Mercy, does much to dispose our
hearts to forgive our brethren. We are not to suppose that God
actually forgives men, and afterwards reckons their guilt to
them to condemn them; but this latter part of the Parable shows
the false conclusions many draw as to their sins being pardoned,
though their after-conduct shows that they never entered into
the Spirit, or experienced the sanctifying Grace of the Gospel.
We do not forgive our offending Brother aright, if we do not
forgive from the Heart. Yet this is not enough; we must seek the
welfare even of those who offend us. How justly will those be
condemned, who, though they Bear the Christian name, persist in
unmerciful treatment of their brethren! The humbled sinner
relies only On free, abounding Mercy, through the Ransom of the
Death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing
Grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we Hope for
forgiveness from him.