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21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


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Parable of the Unmerciful Debtor (Mt 18:21-35).

21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?—In the recent dispute, Peter had probably been an object of special envy, and his forwardness in continually answering for all the rest would likely be cast up to him—and if so, probably by Judas—notwithstanding his Master's commendations. And as such insinuations were perhaps made once and again, he wished to know how often and how long he was to stand it.

till seven times?—This being the sacred and complete number, perhaps his meaning was, Is there to be a limit at which the needful forbearance will be full?

22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven—that is, so long as it shall be needed and sought: you are never to come to the point of refusing forgiveness sincerely asked. (See on Lu 17:3, 4).

23. Therefore—"with reference to this matter."

is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants—or, would scrutinize the accounts of his revenue collectors.

24. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents—If Attic talents are here meant, 10,000 of them would amount to above a million and a half sterling; if Jewish talents, to a much larger sum.

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—(See 2Ki 4:1; Ne 5:8; Le 25:39).

26. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him—or did humble obeisance to him.

saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all—This was just an acknowledgment of the justice of the claim made against him, and a piteous imploration of mercy.

27. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt—Payment being hopeless, the master is first moved with compassion; next, liberates his debtor from prison; and then cancels the debt freely.

28. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants—Mark the difference here. The first case is that of master and servant; in this case, both are on a footing of equality. (See Mt 18:33, below.)

which owed him an hundred pence—If Jewish money is intended, this debt was to the other less than one to a million.

and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat—he seized and throttled him.

saying, Pay me that thou owest—Mark the mercilessness even of the tone.

29. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all—The same attitude, and the same words which drew compassion from his master, are here employed towards himself by his fellow servant.

30. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt, &c.—Jesus here vividly conveys the intolerable injustice and impudence which even the servants saw in this act on the part of one so recently laid under the heaviest obligation to their common master.

32, 33. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, &c.—Before bringing down his vengeance upon him, he calmly points out to him how shamefully unreasonable and heartless his conduct was; which would give the punishment inflicted on him a double sting.

34. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors—more than jailers; denoting the severity of the treatment which he thought such a case demanded.

till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35. So likewise—in this spirit, or on this principle.

shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.