Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.
“Matthew 18” pp. 456-477.
Morris observes that the text of Matthew 18 is challenging. The material does not divide neatly into separate narratives. The overall theme is that of living in the community of the Messiah. Morris treats the entire chapter as one unit (Morris 1992, 456). At the outset, the disciples ask Jesus who would be great in the kingdom of God. Jesus’ response of showing them a child points to humility (Morris 1992, 458). Those who become as children and welcome the seemingly insignificant are great in God’s kingdom, as they receive Jesus (Morris 1992, 461). This attitude leads to caring for all who believe in Jesus (Morris 1992, 462).
This discussion leads Jesus in 18:8 to speak of the need to avoid sin of any kind (Morris 1992, 463). It is better to be disabled physically than to be bound by sin. Jesus then speaks again of children as those who are cared for by God so are deserving of our care as well (Morris 1992, 464). This in turn leads to the urgent care that a shepherd has for a lost sheep (Morris 1992, 465).
In verse 15 Jesus moves on to the situation of a brother who offends another (Morris 1992, 466). The first recourse is to confront the offender in privat e (Morris 1992, 467). The emphasis is to privately bring repentance and restoration. If it does not happen ,a small group makes the same attempt (Morris 1992, 467). In the event that restoration is not accomplished the conflict is brought to the church (Morris 1992, 46). Morris does not see this as a reference to a later date and more fully organized church as some do. The assembly was an established idea before the resurrection (Morris 1992 468). If repentance is not completed the offender is treated as an unbeliever (Morris 1992, 469). The church as a whole has authority in binding or loosing, though what they do is to affirm God’s settled opinion (Morris 1992, 469). Verses 18-20 speak of the binding or loosing. Morris sees a shift in topic, considering that Jesus is not now speaking of restoration and forgiveness but of prayer in general (Morris 1992, 470). Peter goes on to ask about the number of times a brother might forgive. Jesus’ response is that forgiveness must go as far as can be imagined (Morris 1992, 471).
The example of forgiveness given by Jesus points to royal forgiveness on a vast scale. Morris considers a debt of 10,000 talents to be likely an amount that not even a major tax official would collect in a year (Morris 1992, 473). The king cannot collect the debt but is willing to impose a serious penalty (Morris 1992, 474). However, he forgives the repentant man. This, Morris sees, is true and free grace (Morris 1992, 475). The debtor, however, finds someone who owes him a debt, not insignificant, but one which could be repaid. He acts in a threatening manner (Morris 1992, 475). The king finds out and condemns this man who had received mercy but had not shown mercy (Morris 1992, 476). Jesus makes an application of this parable. As we have been forgiven by our heavenly Father we also must be forgiving (Morris 1992, 477).