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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 18

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-15

24 See Exo_30:11-16 ; Exo_38:25-26 .

24 According to the law every one who was numbered in Israel, being over twenty years of age, paid half a shekel to shelter his soul ( Exo_30:12-14 ). It was used for the temple service, and was known as the temple tribute. This must not be confused with the tribute paid to Caesar. There never was any question as to its payment by a patriotic Jew, until after the destruction of Jerusalem, when it was sent to Rome. The question is peculiarly appropriate at this time. It certainly was not incumbent on the Lord to support the empty forms of an obsolete sacrificial system, when He Himself was the true Temple of God and the real Sacrifice. He could justly demand the tribute, but give it, never. Peter has not yet learned the great truth of His coming sacrifice or he would not have consented so readily to pay such a tribute. Yet, while the Lord does not pay it from the funds, for the sake of His enemies He condescends to submit to law which was far beneath Him. But, in doing so, He gives a little inkling of how the temple ought to be supported and how it will be upheld in the coming eon. The sea represents the gentiles. In that day the riches of the nations will flow to Jerusalem ( Isa_49:22 ; Isa_60:5-11 ; Isa_60:16 ; Isa_61:6 ), and then they will come to the sacred festival of tabernacles each year ( Zec_14:16-19 ). The sons of the kingdom will be free from the payment of tribute or poll tax. They will be ransomed, not with corruptible silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ ( 1Pe_1:18 ). So we see that the miracle was not only a marvel of practical power (for who else could catch a fish with exactly the proper amount in its mouth?), but is an even more marvelous sign, indicating the fiscal policy of the great King.

1-8 Compare Mar_9:33-37 ; Mar_9:42 ; Luk_9:46-48 ; Luk_22:24-26 .

1 It seems very strange and sad that the disciples should choose such a time to inquire about their own greatness. He was trying to engage their hearts with His humiliation. They were sorry when He spoke of it, but His words did not sink in. Little did they dream that the only path to true greatness lay through these very sufferings.

6 Compare Luk_17:2 .

3 See Mar_10:14-15 ; 1Pe_2:2 ; Psa_131:2 .

7 Compare Luk_17:1 ; 1Co_11:19 .

7 The application of these sayings apart from their context can only lead to confusion. The Lord is speaking of a place in the millennial kingdom. There will be much to hinder entrance there, hence He impresses on them the need of thrusting aside everything which would interfere. If anything done by the hand is in the way, it should be abandoned. If their foot is leading them astray, the path should not be longer pursued. If their perception is imperiling the prospect of eonian life, it should be repudiated.

8-9 Compare Mar_9:43-48 . See Mat_5:29-30 .

9 Gehenna, just below the city of Jerusalem, where the city offal was incinerated, will receive the bodies of criminals in the kingdom ( Isa_66:24 ).

10 Such a ministry of messengers is never hinted at outside the favored nation. Israel, in its physical standing, is the only nation, as such, which may claim angelic ministration.

12 See Luk_15:3-7 .

12 This is a beautiful picture of Israel at the time, and of the work in which He was now engaged. Let us not think that the ninety-nine lay safely in the fold. He left them out on the mountains, subject to the storms and to the attacks of wild beasts. Even thus had He left the nation while He went after the sheep which had strayed. To find it, He too must go into the dark ravine of death, where He went on Golgotha. Thus it was that He found the sheep which had gone astray. The rest of the self-righteous nation, who thought they were safe without Him, give Him no joy. But His bewildered, sin-sick disciples, with all their waywardness, are the joy and rejoicing of His heart. When the nations appear in the judgment which takes place at the commencement of the kingdom, they are called kids, in contrast to Israel. The nations are never known as sheep. Nothing in this illustration corresponds with God's present work of grace. The evangel of today is for all. None are left on the mountains. The parable is perfect only in its proper place.

15 Compare Luk_17:3 . See Lev_19:17 .

15 Our instructions, in such a case, are found in the latter parts of Paul's epistles ( Gal_6:1 ). There is no need to go to the writings intended for the Circumcision under circumstances entirely foreign to us. It can only lead to confusion. This course of procedure is clearly confined to one nation, for there is no point to the punishment should we be treated as “one of the nations”, or a gentile, for such we are. Neither is it unpatriotic or criminal to be classed among tax collectors. The ecclesia here spoken of was composed of His kingdom disciples who had been called out of the nation of Israel. They were just as prejudiced against the gentiles as the other Jews. And they were even more antagonistic to tribute collectors, though Matthew himself had been one.

Verses 16-35

16 See Deu_19:15 ; Joh_8:17 ; 2Co_3:1 .

18 See Mat_16:19 .

19 The Lord continues in the same vein. If we should attempt to apply these privileges and promises now it would only bring reproach on His name and His word. Our actions are not ratified in heaven. Two or three may solemnly agree in their request, yet now, in this secret administration of God's grace, of which our Lord breathed not a single syllable, and for which He gave no instructions, we sink our own requests and agreements in a profound appreciation of the will of God and acquiescence in the ways of God.

21-22 Compare Luk_17:4 . See Mat_6:14-15 .

21 A more harmonious note is struck in our Lord's answer to Peter. Pardon, or forgiveness, is extended almost to the beginnings of grace. Singularly, the verb, pardon or forgive , does not even occur in Paul's epistles except as a quotation from the Hebrew Scriptures ( Rom_4:7 ). A term is used which goes beyond the seventy times seven of this passage. We are to deal graciously with one another even as God, in Christ , deals graciously with us ( Eph_4:32 ; Col_3:13 ). There are no limits to such grace.

33 The parable of the ten thousand talent debtor is a most graphic illustration of the true meaning of pardon or forgiveness. Though so great a debt was remitted, the pardon was afterwards recalled. The permanence of pardon depends on the conduct of the one receiving it. It may be withdrawn. Our “pardon” of sins is in the kingdom of the Son of His love. We are justified or vindicated or acquitted, in our judicial standing, for there is no charge against us. God, as Judge, has cleared us of guilt by the blood of Christ ( Rom_3:24 ). A judge cannot pardon. That is the prerogative of a governor or king. Only when a kingdom is in view can the pardon of sins be proclaimed. Justification puts us beyond the sphere of condemnation. It is based entirely on the blood of Christ, is received by faith, apart from works, in order that it may accord with grace ( Rom_8:1 ; Rom_4:5 ; Rom_4:16 ). Pardon leads to probation. Unbecoming conduct causes it to be withdrawn. God cancelled it in every case where it was not extended to others. Those who were pardoned in the Pentecostal era are the ten thousand talent debtor. They had crucified Christ, the Lord of glory, and were under incalculable obligations to God. Nevertheless, out of the compassion of His heart He pardoned their sins, as Peter proclaimed at Pentecost ( Act_2:38 ). The nations, who had none of the light and privilege which was Israel's special portion, did not owe nearly so much. They are the debtor who owed only one hundred denarii. But the pardoned believers in Israel had no thought of sharing the mercy they had received with the despised aliens. It took much persuasion before Peter would go to Cornelius, a convert who was already a proselyte to Judaism (Acts.10). And when he did he found his brethren most antagonistic to the very thought ( Act_11:3 ). But they are far more antagonistic to Paul's ministry among the nations. At his final appearance in Jerusalem these pardoned believers sought to stone him for the very mention of the name of the gentiles. Paul in his speech to them gets as far as the word “nations” ( Act_22:21 ), and they refuse to listen further. Consequently their pardon is revoked. It is important to note that this does not apply to the unbelieving part of the nation, for they had not been pardoned. It was true only of those who had “believed”. Pardon is probational because it is based on behaviour. Justification is irrevocable because it is based on the blood of Christ, which is ever precious and potent.

35 See Mat_6:12-15 ; Jam_:2:13: .

1-2 Compare Mar_10:1 ; Joh_10:40-42 .

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 18". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/matthew-18.html. 1968.
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