Kingdom of Heaven Likened Unto a king Forgiving his Servant

Matt. 18:23-35  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25  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. 26  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28  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. 29  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32  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: 33  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.


I.    The setting.

A.     Matt. 18:1-6 - the disciples came to Christ, asking him who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

1.       Jesus replied that to be great in the kingdom of heaven, a person must become like a little child.

2.       The person who receives a little child, receives Christ.

3.       The person who offends a little child, offends Christ.

B.     Matt. 18:7-9 - It is at this point that Christ preaches about offences and how we ought to do all in our power not to offend anybody.

C.     Matt. 18:10-14 - Christ shows the importance of one of the little ones.

D.     Matt. 18:15-20 - Christ instructs His disciples in how to take care of offences.

E.      Matt. 18:21-22 - Peter asks how often shall a brother offend us and we forgive him.

1.       I do not believe this is a frivolous question.

2.       Peter is much in earnest, but he still doesn’t understand the principles Christ is speaking about.

F.      It is at this point that Christ gives the parable before us.

1.       Christ wants His people to understand about offences.

2.       If they correctly understand offences, they will also understand about being great in the kingdom of God.

G.     One of the first things to know is that this parable isn’t teaching that a person can be lost after they are saved.

1.       John 6:35-37 - And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36  But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

2.       Romans 8:35-39 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3.       Heb. 6:4-6 - For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

4.       One scripture does not contradict another scripture, but all scripture together will give us the complete truth.

H.     This passage is not teaching that God forgives us, then takes back His forgiveness because of sins that take place after He has forgiven us.

1.       This is a parable that is teaching the principles of forgiveness.

2.       The lesson is revealed in Matt. 18:35 - As God has forgiven us, so we ought to forgive all those that trespass against us.

3.       If we do not forgive all those that trespass against us, it is a sure sign that we haven’t been forgiven by God for our trespasses against Him, it is a sign we are lost, or that we haven’t learned the Biblical principle of offence and forgiveness.


II.    The characters of the parable.

A.     King - God (Jesus)

1.       As every king has the right to call his servants into judgment, so God (Christ) has the right to call all of his servants into judgment.

2.       As every king as the right to sentence or to pardon every offender, so God (Christ) has the right to do whatsoever He deems right in every case.

B.     Servant - of Christ, these are saved people.

1.       It is very interesting to note that in the Bible, a servant always belongs to his master.  The first three examples are called servants by others, while the remaining three declare to others that they are servants.

a.       Elijah - I Kings 18:36 - And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

b.       Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Daniel 3:26 - Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

c.       Daniel in the Lion's Den - Daniel 6:20 - And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

d.       Paul serves - Romans 1:9 - For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

e.       James, a servant - James 1:1 - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

f.        We should live as servants of Christ - I Peter 2:15-16 - For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

2.       It is also very important that we understand that if a person calls themselves a servant of God, and they are lost, or they are not a true servant, Christ always starts from that point and deals with them.

a.       Christ always finds out where a person is, before He tries to teach them anything.

b.       This is a very good lesson for us.

c.       Always find out where a person is before we try to teach them anything.

d.       If you don’t do this, you might wind up “casting your pearls before the swine.”


III.    The situation of the parable.

A.     Verse 24-27 - The man that owed 10,000 talents is forgiven.

1.       Ten thousand: [Murias <Strong's G3461> talanton <Strong's G5007>,] a myriad of talents, the highest number known in Greek arithmetical notation. According to Prideaux, the Roman talent was equal to 216#; ten thousand of which would amount to 2,160,000#.  If the Jewish talent of silver be designed, which is estimated by the same learned writer at 450#., this sum amounts to 4,500,000#.; but if the gold talent is meant, which is equal to 7200#., then the amount is 72,000,000#. This immense sum represents our boundless obligations to God, and our utter incapacity, as sinners infinitely indebted to Divine justice, of paying one mite out of the talent. 1Ch 29:7 Ezra 9:6 Ps 38:4 40:12 130:3,4[1]

a.       1 talent = $26,280.00, then 10,000 talents = $262,800,000.00.

b.       A very immeasurable debt, especially in the days of Christ when a days wage was one pence. 

c.       It is be noted that verse Matt. 18:24 does not state if the talent was silver, gold, brass, or what kind of metal.

d.       The whole purpose of the parable is not to discover how much the debtor owed, but to discover the Biblical principle that we who have offended God to an immeasurable extent and been forgiven, ought to forgive those that that have offended us (who do not compare to God). 

e.       We owe God an eternal debt, which we can never repay, while our fellow servants owes us a temporal debt, which they can easily repay, if we would only forgive them. 

2.       In the song, Amazing Grace, we sing, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun”.  The phrase “ten thousand years” doesn’t mean a literal 10,000 years, but 10,000 is the highest number in the Greek arithmetical notation; therefore, there is no accounting for the number of years we shall be in eternity.  The song writer didn’t mean to ascribe any time period to eternity, nor did he intend to say that we would be measuring the length of eternity, or the span we would spend there.  He is simply declaring that after we have been in eternity for “an eternity”, it would still be as if we had just gotten there, completely fresh and completely new!      

3.       The circumstances of his being forgiven.

a.       He is already condemned, sentence has already been passed.

1.)    Every lost sinner is under judgment of God, having already been sentenced to eternal damnation.

2.)    Each sinner has already accumulated an enormous debt that must be paid.

b.       He worships God, prays for forgiveness, and promises to pay all that is owed.

c.       God forgives him, even though he knows he will never be able to pay the debt.

B.     Verse 28-30 - The man that was forgiven of 10,000 talents oppresses the man that owes him 100 pence.

1.       The first man was much more aggressive against his debtor.

a.       He wasn’t grabbed by the throat, but he grabbed his debtor by the throat.

b.       He demanded that he be paid, but God didn’t demand that He be paid.

2.       100 pence can be paid back.

a.       If 1/3 of a daily wage was set aside to pay the debt, leaving the other 2/3 for living expenses, the debt would be paid back in less than one year!

b.       Exodus 21:2 - If a Jew buys a Hebrew servant, he shall serve no longer than six years.

3.       The debtor doesn’t worship as in verse 26.

a.       We are not to worship our brothers and sisters in Christ, but God only.

b.       He did fall at his feet, recognizing his guilt at not paying his debts, and his debtors right to collect that which belonged to him.

c.       Compare verse 26 to verse 29.

d.       The speech both men gave is identical.

4.       He cast his debtor into prison until he pays all he owes.

a.       This has never made any sense to me at all.

b.       If a person is in jail, he is unable to work, therefore will not have the money to repay the debt.

c.       If the first man followed Biblical principles, he wouldn’t put his debtor into prison, but would force him to serve as a slave no longer than six years.

d.       The debt would be paid in less than one year, so there is no problem.

5.       Casting the debtor into prison is saying that when we don’t forgive a brother or sister of an offence that we hold them in the prison of our heart.

a.       It is very true that the person who fails to forgive hurts more than the person that isn’t forgiven.

b.       There is a malice and hardness that builds up in the heart of the unforgiving person that binds them and hinders their religious worship.

c.       When someone will not forgive you, there is nothing you can do - you are cast into prison: their prison: the prison of their heart.

6.       There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting.

a.       We should forgive those that ask us to forgive them, and those that don’t ask us to forgive them.

b.       When we forgive an offence, that doesn’t mean we will forget it because we very seldom forget bad things that happen to us.  (We often forget good things, and remember the bad.  It shouldn’t be that way, but that is the way we often are.)

c.       We will know we have truly forgiven offences when those offences don’t bother us when we remember them.

d.       Offences and people that offend us won’t bother us when we truly forgive, and when we understand that God intended that offence to strengthen us, not weaken us.

C.     Verse 31-35 - The offence and forgiveness principle explained.

1.       The fellowservants are us.

a.       When we see people who say they are “Christian”, taking advantage of other Christians, we have an obligation before God to report it to Him in prayer.

b.       This is not “tattle telling”, or “ratting” on fellow believers.

c.       God really doesn’t need us tell Him what is going on, but if we do pray to him about these things, He will take care of them, because our praying shows our dependence upon Him.

d.       This parable gives the impression that God would do nothing until the debtor’s fellowservants prayed.

2.       God hears and answers prayers.

a.       Sometimes we think that God doesn’t listen very intently, or things would go better.

b.       The thing to remember is that things go better after we pray and after God deals with them.

3.       God calls the first debtor to Him once again.

a.       God calls him a wicked servant.

1.)    The word “wicked” comes from the Greek word “poneros” and means hurtful or evil.

2.)    This word “wicked” is contrasted with the Greek word “kakos”, which means worthless, or depraved.  God did not use the Greek word “sapros”, which means rotten, worthless, degeneracy from original virtue.

3.)    “Poneros” properly means the effect or result of an action, while “kakos” and “sapros” refer to the intrinsic, or natural, inbred value.

4.)    Thus, God refers to the actions of the servant as spreading maliciousness, hatred and a wrong spirit throughout His kingdom.

5.)    Christ is not saying that the unforgiving servant is lost, but that his actions show a lack of Christianity.

6.)    An excellent study is to compare the usage of these three words in the New Testament.

b.       We are wicked servants if we don’t forgive from our hearts those that trespass against us.

c.       It might be good to notice right here, that there is a difference between a sin and a trespass.

1.)    A sin is transgression of the law - I John 3:4; therefore it is against God.

2.)    A trespass is always committed against another person, never against God.

3.)    Leviticus 6:2 - If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;…

4.)    If you want to learn more about the difference between a sin and a trespass, study the two words and you will see the difference.

4.       God is not saying that the first debtor is lost.

a.       It is impossible for a person to be lost once they are eternally saved.

b.       The subject of this parable is not eternal salvation, nor is it the conditions of eternal salvation.

c.       The subject of this parable is the Biblical principle of offense and forgiveness.

5.       Verse 33 - The proof of our salvation is in our forgiving those that trespass against us.

a.       Just because a person is saved, doesn’t mean they understand the Biblical principle of offence and forgiveness.

b.       God knows the heart of every person, all we see is the fruits of their lives.

c.       Sometimes we believe a person is saved, when they are lost, and sometimes we believe a person is lost when they are saved.

d.       We can be wrong, but God is never wrong.

6.       Verse 34 - Delivered to the tormentors.

a.       Who are the tormentors?

1.)    The tormentors are not the demons of hell who force the inhabitants to shovel coal.

2.)    The word “tormentors” means to be in pain, vexed, toiling, in a very difficult situation.

3.)    I think the situation here is very similar to King Saul in I Sam. 16:14 where the Spirit of God departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.

a.)    Saul was greatly tormented when he couldn’t find any peace with God.

b.)    When God wouldn’t hear and answer his prayers, Saul was “forced” to seek answers from a witch.

4.)    A small part of the “tormentors” is when the natural forces that work inside a person when they hold a grudge take place.

5.)    Another, and very possibly the largest part, is when God removes His peace from this wicked, disobedient servant.

6.)    When God removes his peace from the unforgiving servant, he is delivered to the tormentors. 

7.       Scriptures revealing our internal torments because we do not forgive. 

a.       Galatians 6:7 - Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

b.       Proverbs 26:27 - Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

c.       Proverbs 28:10 - Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.

d.       Rev. 3:11 - Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.  Jesus warns the church at Philadelphia that it is very possible for them to lose the reward they have been so faithful to “earn”.

8.       The responsibilities and authorities of Christ and the first offender explained.

a.       Christ is not stating that this person goes to hell, but that the conditions of his life reflect the conditions of a lost person.

b.       Christ did not loose the man that owed 100 pence out of prison.

c.       Christ would take away the peace (deliver to the tormentors) the forgiven one until he turned his debtor loose (forgave him of the temporal, small offense).

d.       It was not the place of Christ to turn the 100 pence man free, because he had committed no offence against Christ.

e.       Christ would torment the original offender until he turns him loose - forgave him.

D.     Matthew 5:43-48.

1.       Jesus explains the difference between the common teachings of the Jews and the law of God in verse 43.

2.       Verse 44 – Jesus has forgive every redeemed person of eternal debt, a debt so large they could never pay it, therefore:

a.       We should love our enemies, because we were once the enemies of Christ.

b.       We should bless them that curse us, because Christ blessed us when we cursed him.

c.       We should do good to them who hate us, because Christ did good for us when we hated him.

d.       We should pray for them who despitefully use us, and persecute us, because Christ prayed (interceded for us) when we despitefully used and persecuted him. 

3.       Verse 45 – Jesus is not saying that forgiving those that offend us is how we are saved. 

a.       He is stating that forgiving those that offend us is the result of being forgiven.

b.       The person that is able to forgive petty offenses (temporal) realizes that Christ has forgiven them of eternal offenses.

c.       All tears will be wiped away when eternity begins, therefore all temporal offenses will be forgotten when we enter eternity.

1.)    Temporal offenses seem so great to us, and we often find it difficult to forgive those that offend us, but we should consider these petty temporal offenses in the light of eternity. 

2.)    Our eternal offenses to Christ will remain through all eternity, unless they are forgiven by Christ.

3.)    All temporal offenses will be wiped away when all tears are wiped away when we begin eternity.  

4.       Verse 46,47 – We are no different from lost sinners if we do not love our enemies, and pray for those that hate us. 

5.       Verse 48 – the word “perfect” does not mean “without sin”, but “complete”. 

[1] QuickVerse for Windows 3.0h, copyright 1992-1994 by Craig Rairdin and Parsons Technology, Inc.  See Matt. 18:24, ten thousand°, TSK-KJV-NOT.