Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Matthew 18

Verse 1

The Rev. inserts then after who, thus restoring the Greek ἄρα , which the A. V. overlooks. Who then? Who, as things stand. Since one of our number has been doubly honored in being called “the rock,” and in being appointed to take part in a special miracle, who then is greatest?

Verse 3

Be converted ( στραφῆτε )

The word converted has acquired a conventional religious sense which is fundamentally truthful, but the essential quality of which will be more apparent if we render literally, as Rev., except ye turn. The picture is that of turning round in a road and facing the other way.

Shall not enter ( οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε )

But the double negative is very forcible, and is given in Rev. in nowise. So far from being greatest in the kingdom of heaven, ye shall not so much as enter.

Verse 4

As this little child

Not, as this little child humbles himself, but, shall make himself humble as this little child is lowly; shall willingly become by spiritual process what the child is by nature.

Verse 5

In my name ( ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου )

Lit., upon my name; on the ground of, or on account of; for my sake.

Verse 6

A millstone ( μύλος ὀνικός )

Two kinds of millstones were in use; the one turned by hand, the other, and larger, by an ass ( ὄνος ). Here Jesus says an ass-millstone; or, as Rev., a great millstone; Wyc., millstone of asses.

Verse 12

Leave upon the mountains

The text here is disputed. Both A. V. and Rev. follow a text which reads: “Doth he not, leaving the ninety and nine, go into the mountains?” Rather join leave with on the mountains, and read, “Will he not leave the ninety and nine upon ( ἐκπὶ , scattered over ) the mountains, and go,” etc. This also corresponds with ἀφήσει , leaving, letting out, or letting loose.

Verse 13

If so be ( ἐὰν γένηται )

If it should so come to pass. God's grace is not irresistible.

Verse 14

The will of your Father ( θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν )

Though some read my Father ( μοῦ ). Lit., There is not a will before your (my) Father. So Wyc., It is not will before your Father. Meyer paraphrases, There is not before the face of God any determination having as its object that one of these, etc.

Verse 15

Go ( ὕπαγε )

Do not wait for him to come to you.

Tell him his fault ( ἔλεγξον )

Rev., shew him. The verb means, first, to test, try, search out; therefore, to cross-examine with a view of convincing or refuting; thence to rebuke or chide. The Rev. shew is better than tell, which implies merely naming the fault; whereas the injunction is, go and prove to him how he has erred. Wyc., reprove, with snub as explanation.

Verse 16

In the mouth ( ἐπὶ στόματος )

Better Rev., “at the mouth,” or on the testimony of.

Verse 19

Shall agree ( συμφωνήσουσιν )

From σύν , together, and φωνή , sound or voice. Transcribed in our word symphony. It has so far lost its distinctive character as a concord of voices as to be used for agreement in the deeper and more inward sense.

Concerning anything that they shall ask ( περὶ παντὸς πράγματος οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται )

The literal rendering is, if any thing, stronger: Everything, whatever it be, for which they may have asked. Wyc., Shall consent of everything whatever they shall ask. Tynd., Shall agree in any manner thing whatsoever they shall desire. The word πρᾶγμα , thing, is used like the Latin res; a matter, affair, business; with the meaning at bottom of something to be done, since it is cognate to the verb πράσσω , to do. Shall be done, however, is γενήσεται , it shall come to pass.

Verse 20

In my name ( εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα )

Lit., “into my name.” When two or three are drawn together into Christ as the common centre of their desire and faith.

Verse 22

Seventy times seven ( ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά )

It was a settled rule of Rabbinism that forgiveness should not be extended more than three times. Even so, the practice was terribly different. The Talmud relates, without blame, the conduct of a rabbi who would not forgive a very small slight of his dignity, though asked by the offender for thirteen successive years, and that on the day of atonement; the reason being that the offended rabbi had learned by a dream that his offending brother would attain the highest dignity; whereupon he feigned himself irreconcilable, to force the other to migrate from Palestine to Babylon, where, unenvied by him, he might occupy the chief place (Edersheim). It must, therefore, have seemed to Peter a stretch of charity to extend forgiveness from three to seven times. Christ is not specifying a number of times greater than the limit of seven. He means that there is to be no limit. “Forgiveness is qualitative, not quantitative.

Verse 23

A certain king ( ἀνθρώτῳ βασιλεῖ )

Lit., a man, a king. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a human king.

Take account of his servants ( συνᾶραι λόγον μετὰ τῶν δοούλων αὐτοῦ )

The rendering of the A. V. is loose and inadequate, and might be taken to mean to reckon the number of his servants. The verb συνᾶραι is compounded of σύν , with, and αἴρω , to take up, and means literally to take up together, i.e., cast up, as an account. The A. V. also overlooks the force of μετὰ , with. Therefore, Rev., better, make a reckoning with his servants.

Verse 24

Which owed him ( ὀφειλέτης )

Lit., a debtor of ten thousand talents.

Ten thousand talents

An enormous sum; about twelve millions of dollars.

Verse 25

To be sold

According to the law of Moses: Exodus 2:3; Leviticus 25:39, Leviticus 25:47.

Verse 28


Either went in search of him, as he himself had been sought out by his lord, or came upon him accidentally in the street.

A hundred pence ( ἑκατὸν δηνάρια )

Less than a millionth part of his own debt.

Took him by the throat ( αὐτὸν ἔπνιγεν )

Lit., throttled. Wyc., strangled. Compare were choked, Mark 5:13. Creditors often dragged their debtors before the judge, as the Roman law allowed them to do, holding them by the throat. Thus Livy (4: 53), relates how, a difficulty having arisen between the consul Valerius and one Menenius, the tribunes put an end to the contest, and the consul ordered into prison (collum torsisset, twisted the neck ) the few who appealed. And Cicero (“Pro Cluentio,” xxi.) “Lead him to the judgment-seat with twisted neck (collo obtorto )Compare Cicero, “In C. Verrem,” 4:10.

What thou owest ( εἴ τι ὀφείλεις )

Lit., If thou owest anything. Not that the creditor is uncertain about the fact of the debt, though some uncertainty about the exact amount may be implied. This would agree with found, in the sense of coming upon accidentally. Compare Matthew 13:44. He came suddenly upon him and recognized him as a debtor, though not certain as to the amount of his debt. Meyer remarks, “The if is simply the expression of a pitiless logic. If thou owest anything (as thou dost) pay!” The word pay ( ἀπόδος ) is emphatic in position.

Verse 29

Besought ( παρεκαίλει )

The imperfect has the force of earnestly besought.

Verse 30

Went ( ἀπελθὼν )

Lit. went away: dragging the other with him to judgment.

Verse 31

Told ( διεσάφησαν )

More than merely narrated. The verb is from διά , throughout, and σαφέν , to explain. They explained the circumstances throughout.

Their Lord ( τῷ κυρίῳ ἑαυτῶν )

Lit., “their own Lord;” as befitted their position, and as a mark of their confidence in him.

Verse 34

To the tormentors ( βασανισταῖς )

Livy pictures an old centurion complaining that he was taken by his creditor, not into servitude, but to a workhouse and torture, and showing his back scarred with fresh wounds (ii., 23).

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.