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Eric Meyer BBL 7723 Final Paper

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Eric Meyer

BBL 7723: Spiritual Formation in the Gospels

Prof. Blankenship

Dec. 16th, 2008

Matthew 18:15-35

I.                   Keeping Peace In The Church
A.  Conflict Resolution 18:15-17; 15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.
B.  Authority to Interpret Christ’s Instructions 18:18-20; 18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you  bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 19 Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them."

II.                Instructions On Forgiveness
A.  Introduction to the Parable 18:21-22; 21 Then Peter came to him and said, "Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!
B.  The Parable 18:23-34; 23 "For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Because he was not able to repay it, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. 26 Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, 'Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.' 27 The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins. So he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe me!' 29 Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will repay you.' 30 But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had taken place. 32 Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, 'Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! 33 Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?' 34 And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed.

C. Instruction 18:35; 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart."

Maybe the most important aspect of my understanding of the Bible has been the realization that the words were penned by individuals who were telling a story.  Yet the Bible is much more than just a story.  Here Michael Wilcock describes the Gospel, “We shall find that it is, in fact, a version of the ‘Jesus story’, an account of actual events. It is not a theory, or an idea, or a philosophy, or even a religion. It is the tale of a thing that really happened. Yet it is not mere history, for it does something to the people to whom it is proclaimed. Those who witnessed the original events found that when the story was preached, it changed men’s lives.”[1] Far from being a dry history, I now see the Bible as a work of art that paints a picture of our Creator.  As one of the artists, Matthew used his considerable skills to draw the audience into the story. 

During several of our Tuesday night classes, we have discussed how Mark crafted his message in 11:20-33 to emphasize the lack of fruit being produced in the temple.  By placing his rendition of the withering of the fig tree prior to the story of Jesus clearing the temple, the audience’s attention naturally is focused on the lack of fruit analogy.  In a similar way, it seems that Matthew crafts his chapter 18 to naturally point the audience to the concepts he feels are most important.  Bernard Brandon Scott notes that since in Luke 17:4, “The challenge to forgive appears without the narrative of the unforgiving servant, one can conclude that Matthew probably joined them together.”[2] 

At one point in time, the idea that the “Word of God” had been crafted and arranged by people instead of being a verbatim reproduction of what Jesus said would have given me reason to ponder the validity of the text.  I’m beginning to understand that this living work of art given to us by God was performed for audiences long before it was printed on paper.  James Dunn says the story of Jesus was most certainly given verbally, and that the, “Performer’s awareness that some tradition is already familiar to the community is a factor in the performance.  The performance is heard within the community’s “horizon of expectation.”  The performance’s “gaps of indeterminacy” can be filled out from the audience’s prior knowledge of the tradition or like traditions.”[3]

The cultural context or “horizon of expectations” is an important place to start a discussion of Matthew 18:15-35.  This is a section of Gospel that seems to discuss many different topics, but I believe that Matthew has arranged them perfectly in order to establish the lesson he intended to enumerate.

The world in which the Jewish people lived was one filled with many difficulties.  They lived in a land occupied by the Romans, and share a dislike for non-Jews that was clearly reciprocated.  “The feelings cherished toward the Jews throughout the entire Graeco-Roman world were not so much those of hatred as of pure contempt. The prevailing tone that runs through the whole estimate of Judaism, as given by Tacitus, is that of the profoundest contempt.”[4]  This contempt along with the fact that those of the Jewish faith avoided the norms of Hellenistic society caused further isolation.  Paul Barnett writes, “The Jews of the upper echelon not only learned koine, they also came to love all things Greek…Indeed, only those Jews who learned and loved the culture of Greece had any future, economically and politically speaking…There was another social world within Israel.  By contrast with those caught up in the heady world of Hellenism, the poor Jews strongly resisted these subtle and pervasive influences.”[5]   

Politically, the environment during the life of Jesus was dominated by Rome.  Dunn states that, “The main political impact on the villages of Galilee, and on Jesus for most of his life, would have been in the terms of taxes.  That was why the Romans were in Palestine, and why rulers ruled territory – for the taxes they could levy on their subject peoples.”[6] 

I have yet to meet an American that said they enjoyed paying taxes, but taxes were much more than a means of maintaining social services in the first century.  “Tax-paying is the duty of subjugated peoples, it is the fact of their national subjugation.  As formerly the Persian, and later the Hellenist Great King gathered taxes from conquered nations, so now the Romans exacted tribute.”[7]  Stauffer goes on to say, “The Roman tax on Jerusalem was a constant reminder of the black day in the city’s life, and a symbol of the heathen domination.”[8]  Is it any wonder then that the people who collected the taxes would be viewed with such contempt?  If they were Jewish, they were first and foremost traitors in the eyes of other Jews, but then they also took advantage of their authority to collect taxes.  “The advantage taken of such opportunities, and the not infrequent overcharges that were made by these officials, made them as a class hated by the people” [9] They were so hated that not only were they not allowed to enter the synagogues, but they, “Were excluded from the religious life of the Jewish community.”[10]

The society that resulted from foreign occupations and the economic burdens of heavy taxation (the tax burden was at least 1/3 of all produce and earnings[11]) was not one conducive to generating an environment that fostered an attitude of forgiveness.  “In the unremitting struggle for survival that characterized the lives of most persons in the ancient world, individual interest was a predominant concern. This expressed itself most satisfactorily in power and wealth, which went far toward allaying the widespread feelings of personal insecurity. Because of this, any threat to personal well-being was considered to be a most serious affair, so crimes committed against individuals or groups were dealt with according to current concepts of justice. Where codes of law existed, it was possible for the offender to be brought to trial, and if convicted, to be punished according to the penalty prescribed. Where such codes were ignored or did not exist, summary justice when opportune rather than a magnanimous act of forgiveness seems to have been the usual procedure righting wrongs.”[12]

Taxation for the Jews even took on theological proportions.  In Mat. 22:17, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Tell us, then, what do you think.  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  The Pharisees seem to think this is a question that needs to be understood in terms of the Jewish Law.  Stauffer says that refusal to pay taxes was more than a political statement, “But also a theological protest by the people of God against their heathen rulers and their emperor, against ‘any confession of Caesar as lord’.[13]

The above information is a basic setting of the existing political, economic, social, and intellectual scene at the time Matthew’s Gospel was written.  To really understand Matthew’s intentions though, we need to take a close look at the intermingling of the art of the written and oral word, and the way the religious instructors passed on the scriptures to their students. 

The way that most people received the word of God was as part of an audience at the reading of scripture, or oral presentation from memory of the scripture.  James Dunn writes that we should not, “Forget that even written documents like Paul’s letters would not have been read by more than a few.  For the great majority of recipients, the letter would have been heard rather than read.”[14]  Picture yourself as a member of an audience at a speech, or remember the last time you listened to an audio book.  The ones that I remember most were performances more than recitations.  Should that fact have changed with time?

This idea of the word of God originally being transmitted orally, and presented almost as a performance has substantial scholarly support.  In his book Interpreting the Parables, Craig Blomberg notes that the parables themselves seem to be recorded in a format that was very conducive to memorization, “Viewed as a prophet, Jesus would have had his words preserved at least as carefully as Old Testament prophecy (considered by many scholars to be among the most faithfully preserved of all the Old Testament traditions). Viewed as Messiah, he would have been expected to be a teacher of wisdom, whose aphorisms required safeguarding. Finally, a careful study of the forms of Jesus’ teaching reveals that over 90% of them are phrased in ways which make them easy to remember, by means of parallelism, rhythm, catchwords and striking figures of speech.”[15] G.V. Jones is quoted by Kenneth Bailey as describing the parables as a true art form.  Observe the dramatically poetic description by Bailey of this art form, “His (Jones) main point is that parables are fashioned out of the raw material of human life by a creative imagination.  As a work of art a parable is not just a propositional statement about how one should behave or how God acts, but is independent of time.”[16]  Warren Carter says that the raw material of life could not be separated from religion for Jews of the time, “religion was not a self contained, separate and separated, individualized entity.  In a world dominated by Roman imperial power, religion was intricately woven into the political, social, economic, and domestic structures of daily life.”[17]

Bailey says that the oratory performer took the raw material of daily life and fashioned it into a verbal performance much like a composer crafts a grand musical composition, “I discovered that the Oriental story teller has a “grand piano” on which he plays.  The piano is built of the attitudes, relationships, responses, and value judgments that are known and stylized in Middle Eastern peasant society.  Everybody knows how everybody is expected to act in any given situation.  The storyteller interrupts the established pattern of behavior to introduce his irony, his surprises, his humor, and his climaxes.  If we are not attuned to those same attitudes, relationships, responses, and value judgments, we do not hear the music of the piano.”[18] 

The balance of the analysis of Matthew 18:15-35 will be done from the perspective that Matthew crafted a masterpiece out of the raw material of the social environment of the day and the teachings of Jesus.  He knew the message of Jesus intimately, and wanted to present it in a way that would create the maximum impact on the audience.  Throughout my research on this passage I encountered detailed analysis that dissected the verses from a purely clinical perspective; note the following example.  In the parable of the unforgiving servant, much thought has been given to the vast amount of the loan forgiven by the king.  “J.D.M. Derrett interprets the king’s threat to throw the man into prison not as a way of recovering the funds but as normal punishment for failure to live up to a contract.  The servant’s request to forgive all is not as ridiculous as it appears.  He is asking for the amount due to be added to next year’s collection.”[19]  It is my contention that such analysis really misses the point of the composer. 

Matthew has presented the story in such a way as to draw the audience into the presentation.  They know the direction he is taking them, and then suddenly the story flips their world upside down.  It is these points of discontinuity to the order of the day that causes the audience to remember and think about the lesson. Craig Blomberg says that this editing of the teachings of Jesus was purely intentional, “First, redaction criticism highlights ways in which the distinctives of a particular evangelist’s version of a parable fit in with the themes which he emphasizes elsewhere in his Gospel. These distinctives may point to a particular emphasis in Jesus’ teaching which that evangelist wants to preserve. Second, redaction criticism looks for connections between a parable and its larger context in the Gospel so that the significance of its location in the author’s outline is clarified.” [20] As this paper progresses, I will point to areas of his Gospel that Matthew appears to be emphasizing.

As I transition into a discussion of the actual text of Matthew’s Gospel, I would like to summarize the artistic aspect of the Gospel with a quote from James Dunn, “The Jesus tradition was not at first a written text, to be read by individuals in the solitary confines of their studies, capable of fine literary analysis and redaction.  It was not carried around like a sacred relic fixed in written form.  It was a living tradition, lived-in-and-through tradition.  It was not so much kept as used, not so much preserved as performed, not so much read as heard.  To treat it as a lifeless artifact, suitable for clinical dissection, is to lose it.”[21]

After taking so much time discussing the way that Matthew orchestrated his Gospel, I think it is important to set the verses 15-35 in the context of the entire eighteenth chapter.  Matthew frequently challenges the audience’s assumptions about how a life should be lived in this chapter.  He in effect, turns their world upside down.  In verse 1, the disciples want to know who will be the greatest in God’s Kingdom.  Jesus answers, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me.”(Mat. 18:3-5; NET)  Donald Senior writes that, “Unlike ordinary human community (whose spirit is reflected in the disciples’ question) where determining the pecking order is often a first item of business - and survival - the community of Jesus is built on a different set of values, values which often run counter to or even subvert normal assumptions.”[22]  In verses 10-14, Jesus continues to demonstrate how dramatically the world is going to change by telling His disciples that they must do whatever it takes to seek sinners separated from God.  He says God is pleased to have a flock of loyal followers, but shows great pleasure when one of the lost returns, “I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost.”(Mat. 18:13-14; NET)

There is an interesting issue in the translations of the next verse in chapter 18.  In the most literal translations such as the NET and NASB, the 15th verse is translated, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault.”(Mat. 18:23; NET)   Even slightly more dynamic translations such as the ESV make this translation, “If your brother sins against you.”  A note in the NASB indicates that two of the oldest manuscripts leave out the words “against you.”  Now the two words “against you” create a considerable difference in meaning.  Craig Blomberg believes, “The fact that the (Greek) word rendered “sin” ends with two syllables pronounced identically as the (Greek) words for “against you” makes it more likely that some scribe, speaking the text either out loud or to himself as he was copying it, accidentally skipped over the first occurrence of these syllables and thus left the extra words out (Metzger)”[23]

At first it seems reasonable that Jesus would not want to create a sin police force looking for people to correct.  A literal interpretation would mean that Christians have to be on the lookout for sinners, and actively track them down.  However, when one studies the context, I think it is quite possible that Matthew meant exactly what is recorded in the earliest manuscripts.  First, the verse specifically says that one needs to correct a brother.  It does not say one is to correct any person that sins.  If a person you love or regard as a good Christian Brother or friend sins, they set themselves up for very sever punishment.  Note 18:6-9 where Jesus says that he is concerned not just with sin, but what might happen to the little ones who sin because they follow in the footsteps of a sinner, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.  If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.”(Mat. 18:6-8; NET)  Who could possibly wish that punishment on anyone?  The NET Bible offers a theory counter to the one that Blomberg espouses, and it is the one that I think makes the most sense based on context, “The earliest and best witnesses lack “against you” after “if your brother sins.” It is quite possible that the shorter reading in these witnesses (א B, as well as 0281 f1 579 pc sa) occurred when scribes either intentionally changed the text (to make it more universal in application) or unintentionally changed the text (owing to the similar sound of the end of the verb ἁμαρτήσῃ [hamartēsē] and the prepositional phrase εἰς σέ [eis se]). However, if the mss were normally copied by sight rather than by sound, especially in the early centuries of Christianity, such an unintentional change is not as likely for these mss. And since scribes normally added material rather than deleted it for intentional changes, on balance, the shorter reading appears to be original. NA27 includes the words in brackets, indicating doubts as to their authenticity.”[24] Imagine that a friend in the church is letting his drinking get out of hand.  He is not necessarily sinning against me, but Matthew says I have an obligation to help him before his behavior causes permanent damage to himself or he influences others to sin.

The importance of the redemption of the sinner is further emphasized in the context of verses 15-17, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.”(Mat. 18:15-17; NET) Such emphasis on confronting a person has its roots in the Jewish Scripture, “In keeping with the principle of Deuteronomy 19:15 whereby judicial decisions must be based on the testimony of “two or three witnesses” (v. 16),”[25]but Matthew seems to be telling the audience they must never give up trying to bring home the lost sheep of 18:14.  The witnesses are not to go make accusations, but to help correct the issue. 

There are several steps in correcting the sinner.  First, one must “go” to the sinner in person.  In today’s environment it is so easy to send an email to someone in need of correction, but that often makes matters worse because written words can easily be misinterpreted.  Matthew seems to be telling the audience to be courageous by visiting the offender in person.  The easy way out would be to send a letter, “And given the difficulties in transportation and communication, the temptation to merely write persons rather than going to see them would have been far greater, yet Jesus still tells His people to “go”.”[26]  Even worse would be to cause gossip by discussing the situation with others.  Second, two or three witness must be involved per Deuteronomy tradition.  Third, the issue must be brought to the church, and a punishment of being treated like a Gentile or tax collector may have to be instituted.  Earlier the description of a tax collector in that society was given.  Treatment as such would mean a virtual silent treatment.   Based on the context of 18:12-14, the church can not give up on the sinner though, “In this Gospel, tax collectors are enumerated among the apostles and called the friends of Jesus (9:9-13; 10:3; 11:19), and Gentiles are praised for their faith (8:5-13; 15:28) and become the objects of community mission (28:19).”[27] This continues to follow the theme from the beginning of the chapter that the world is basically upside down compared to the way the disciples are used to living.

An interesting fact in this Gospel is the Matthew does not indicate how the church is to be notified or brought into the process of discipline, “The honest truth is that Matthew’s account simply does not tell us the specific means here, thus giving us considerable flexibility in application.”[28]  What Matthew does record is Jesus’ authorization in verses 18:18-19, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.”(Mat 18:19; NET) Matthew does not appear to be saying that Jesus is establishing a court of law, “For Matthew, the issue is the identification of sin.  Final authority rests with the community to identify which behaviors constitute sin and which therefore require repentance.”[29]  Powell says this responsibility is consistent with Matthew’s understanding of the Great Commission, “To fulfill such a commission the church must be able to discern what obedience to those commandments entails, and the baptized persons who are able to be made disciples must accept the church’s teaching on such matters.”[30]

There is one more verse in the train of thought that Matthew has established before he takes the audience into a parable that discusses how sinners are to be treated.  The verse that ends the current train of thought is 18:20, “For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”(Mat. 18:20; NET)  This verse has numerous interpretations, one from Craig Blomberg is, “Because of Christ’s omnipotence in his exalted state, it is always true that he is “there” when even the smallest group of believers gathers, but that is not Jesus’ point in verse 20.  Rather He is still reinforcing the concord between God and his people and the guidance he provides when sins against other believers are dealt with as he has prescribed (France, 1985; Overman, 1996).”[31]  With all due respect to Mr. Blomberg, it appears that Matthew has another meaning based on context.  He begins his Gospel with this statement in chapter 1, “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.”(Mat. 1:23; NET)  Then he ends his Gospel with verse 28:20, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Mat. 28:20; NET)  Based on how Matthew has crafted this chapter so far, it seems to make sense to follow Craig Keener’s interpretation, “Ten Jewish males was the minimum quorum to constitute a synagogue assembly, but it was frequently said that God’s presence was with even two or three who met together to study his law.  Jesus’ presence is thus presented here as identical to God’s (cf. also Mt. 1:23; 28:20).”[32]  If this was Jesus’ intention, and Matthew’s interpretation, this statement seems like a sentenced placed exactly where it needed to be placed to reinforce the lessons of the chapter to this point.  In effect Jesus was saying, “Discipline is necessary, but you are not to ever give up trying to redeem lost souls.  And since discipline is necessary, I give you the authority to determine what behavior needs to be punished.  I can give you that authority because I am God.”   

Kenneth Bailey notes that the, “Middle Eastern creators of meaning do not offer a concept and then illustrate (or choose not to illustrate) with a metaphor or parable.  For them the equation is reversed…The person involved is not illustrating a concept, but is rather creating meaning by reference to something concrete.”[33]  In establishing the parable within the text, the author has certain methods that the audience understands.  The rules involve developing a “sandwich” if you will, “The parable appears in the center encased with concepts that direct any reflection on the parable’s meaning.  The meaning is created by metaphor.  At the same time the metaphor, as it were, “cries out” for conceptual interpretation which appears in the text as a frame set around the metaphor.”[34]  It appears that Matthew builds the coming parable sandwich with a layer of bread in verses 21 and 22, tells the parable, and then adds the final layer of bread with verse 35.

The conversation between Jesus and His disciples changes dramatically from verse 20 to verse 21.  In 20, Jesus is teaching the disciples that He will always be with them as they pray to determine how to handle discipline within the church, “Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” (Mat. 18:21; NET)   Where did this statement come from?  Was Peter paying attention to what Jesus had just been saying about prayer and discipline in the church, or had his mind been wandering?  Or did Matthew want to catch the audience’s attention because a very important message was coming?  That is my opinion.  Note how Jesus replys to Peter,“Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!” (Mat. 18:22; NET)   Much has been made of the numbers mentioned within these verses.  Richard Trench notes, “Chrysostom observes, that when Peter (v.21) instanced seven as the number of times that an offending brother should be forgiven, he thought certainly he was doing some great thing, - these seven bring 4 times more than the Jewish masters enjoined.  They grounded the duty of forgiving no oftener than 3 times on Amos 1:3 and 2:6; also Job33:29,30.”[35]  However, Craig Keener notes that the numbers are really just a “Graphic Jewish way of saying “Never hold grudges.” Because true repentance should involve turning away from sin…”[36]  I think Donald Senior really nails Matthew’s intention when he says, “Even posing the question about the limits of forgiveness is to miss the mark…This typical Semitic story of an all powerful king and his servants is not content merely to illustrate Jesus’ call for repeated forgiveness; rather, it provides the Christian with the very foundation on which limitless forgiveness is based.”[37]  So the stage is set.  Matthew is now going to reinforce the message he established in verses 1-19.  God wants all of the sheep to be found, no matter how lost, and even if it means forgiving the worst deed.

There has been a tremendous amount of analysis written clinically dissecting this parable.  However, the important issue here is that the characters in the parable are not real people.  The discussion should not be about the intentions of the characters in the story as if they were actual human beings, but the intentions of Matthew as he creates a Gospel meant to grab the attention of his Jewish audience.  This Parable begins with Jesus again describing the Kingdom of Heaven, “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves.” (Mat. 18:23; NET)   Please note what Matthew meant when he made this statement.  “The expression literally means, “It is like this with the kingdom of God…”  Thus the whole parable tells us something about the nature of the kingdom, not just one of the points of reference or one of the details.”[38]  An interesting turn of events here is that Matthew deviates from an established pattern with this “Kingdom” parable.  “Previous parables employ this phrase (and variants) to compare God’s present empire not to a flashy royal rule but to such lowly or everyday entities as a sower (13:24), a grain of mustard (13:31), leaven (13:44), a merchant ((13:45), and a net (13:47).  To begin this parable, then, by linking God’s empire with a king is a striking deviation from this narrative pattern…The use of this image suggests that the key to the parable lies in contrasts and opposites, not similarities.”[39] 

Matthew is now going to use the stereotypes understood by the audience of the time to draw the listener into the story much the way a good comedian draws the modern day audience into a joke before introducing the severe contrast which can bring the laughter of a punch line. Here is how Matthew establishes the expectations, “Once the figure of the king is deemed integral to the parable story, it becomes possible to identify the other characters of the parable with some degree of specificity; the doulos owing the 10,000 talents is not a common slave, but a high official…while the syndoulos owing the hundred denarii (v.28-29,33) is not really a “fellow servant”, as the Greek term would suggest, but a lesser official…This identification of characters in turn allows the large debt of the unforgiving doulos to become somewhat credible: The highly placed doulos is a tax-farmer and the debt concerns the taxes he is responsible for collecting for his royal master.”[40]

This establishment of the characters plays upon the expectations of the audience.  As explained earlier, a tax collector is truly despised.  Now in defining such a huge debt, Jesus may be adding some humor mixed with reality to further set up the audience.  Craig Blomgerg quotes S.I. Wright as saying, “There is probably more than a touch of humorous exaggeration here, but the sum is also a reminder of the extraordinary riches accumulated by a few.”[41]  The audience probably feels like the tax collector gets the punishment he deserves in v. 25.  What happens next continues to reinforce the dislike of the Jewish audience toward the hapless tax collector, “Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.”(Mat. 18:26; NET)  De Boer notes that “the (Greek) word…is in fact usually used in the sense of the worship of God or gods.”[42]  As seen in the cultural summary at the beginning of this paper, the thought of worshipping a king as God was quite repugnant to the Jews, so the audience may even build up more dislike for the tax-collector by assuming he is a Gentile, as only a Gentile would worship a human. 

So the stage is now set for a series of shocks to the audience’s established expectations.  First, the audience is told that the king forgive the debts of the despised tax collector.  It is an example of complete and undeserved forgiveness of a debt that could never be repaid.  The second shock comes in v. 28.  “What happens next is meant to startle the reader further.  Instead of being ecstatic and overflowing with the kind of graciousness he himself had just experienced, the servant goes right out and deals cruelly with a fellow servant who owes him a very insignificant debt…There is no need to take the drastic step of throwing him in prison.”[43]  “The key to the revelatory and world shattering effect this “twist” would have had on its initial hearers is to recognize that the action of the servant towards his debtor (v.30) is quite legal and normal in the “real” world.  The servant is entirely within his legal rights; his action is a matter of course.  And yet, initial hearers would have immediately recognized, as any listener still does, that the action of the servant is, in Linnemann’s word, “reprehensible.”[44]  The audience has empathy for the junior servant.  They increase their hatred for the unforgiving servant.  They don’t see the twist coming where they will be equated to that vile Gentile tax-collector.

At this point in the story, Matthew’s further redaction will become apparent.  “As is typical of several Matthean parables, the end result is judgment.  The hard-hearted servant is summoned before the king and the point of the parable is driven home: You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”(18:32-33)  With that the unforgiving servant is thrown into prison – the very punishment he had first feared and been spared.”[45]  This is what the audience expects.  The evil servant gets what he deserves.  Now Matthew springs surprises meant to lock the story into the memory of the audience.  He equates the audience to the tax-collector saying, “So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.”(Mat. 18:35; NET)  Here is a tremendous shock to the audience.  Imagine laughing one minute at the folly of character who is the butt of the joke, only to realize you have just been called the butt of the joke! “A final gap emerges from the initial consistency Jew/Gentile.  The implied Jewish reader must finally surrender the implication of Jewish superiority.  This implies a universal kingdom.”[46]  Verse 35 is attributed to Matthew himself.  Warren Carter states, “Verse 35, the parable’s “application,” has been shaped, perhaps constructed, by Matthew.  This makes plain the view that Matthew understands the parable in an allegorical manner.”[47]

Did Matthew really mean that even Christians would be thrown into eternal punishment and torture if they act like the unmerciful servant?  I think that is a pretty fair assessment.  “The story parables do not serve to illustrate Jesus’ prosaic teaching with word pictures.  Nor are they told to serve as vehicles for revealing truth – although they end up clearly doing that.  Rather the story parables function as a means of calling forth a response on the part of the hearer.”[48]  Take a look at the statements of Jesus that Matthew chooses for his Gospel.  5:22 – “But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment;” or 5:25,26 – “Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny!”  Does that not sound very much like 18:15 and 18:34?  5:39 tells the audience that they must bear insults without revenge, and 5:46 teaches that Christians are to love even those who hate them.  It is also interesting to note how in 6:14,15, Matthew recaps the Lord’s Prayer.  Of all of the things that the Christian is to discuss with God in prayer, Matthew chooses to reinforce the need for forgiveness. 

I have one final example to enter as evidence for Matthew’s redaction in chapter 18.  Some have interpreted the reinstatement of the punishment in verse 34 as God reinstating sins that had already been forgiven.  Richard Trench notes, “It is strange that the king finally delivers up the offender, not for cruelty, but for the very debt which would appear to have been entirely remitted to him.  The question is here involved, Do sins once forgiven, return on the sinner through his after offences?”[49]  I don’t think this was Matthew’s point of view.  Based on the evidence presented in the context of the Gospel, the evil servant is not being punished for his original sin, but for the new sin of not forgiving, a sin stemming from the state of his heart.  “Don’t you understand that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach and then passes out into the sewer?  But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person. For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are the things that defile a person; it is not eating with unwashed hands that defiles a person.” (Mat. 15:17-20; NET)  As described in 5:28, Matthew wants the Christian to understand that Jesus is interested not in our actions, but our heart.

Application of these lessons 2,000 years ago would have been a challenge, just as it is a challenge for people today.  The author of Hebrews adds another element to the importance that Matthew places on 18:15-17 for both the modern and historical Christian.  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”(Heb. 12:1-3; NASB)  Christians have been branded hypocrites throughout the intervening centuries, and not without reason.  If we are to prove our love to Jesus, we need to live out the faith we espouse.  If we live a life filled with sin while wearing a cross, we risk the anger of Jesus Himself.  As Matthew expected the first Christians to correct a Brother’s behavior if necessary, we are called to do the same.

There was an issue at our church this past year that provides a good example on how we have to utilize 18:15-20 today.  A member who has a child in the youth group, and also volunteered to help teach the youth was arrested for the 2nd time for embezzlement.  The first arrest ended in a conviction.  Our council was asked if the member should still be allowed to teach the youth.  This was a difficult situation to address.  This person is valued, a friend, and a volunteer.  Yet there was a significant sin, and youth were involved.  We followed the suggestion of Matthew, and had a member of council visit with the volunteer, discussing the fact that the sin could not simply be ignored.  The volunteer was asked not to continue working with the youth until the courts had had their chance to review the case.  We forgave as a church, but are also responsible for the safety and proper education of our youth. 

The issue of forgiveness is discussed with regularity within the church setting.  As a trained Stephen Minister, I work with people who need help dealing with crisis in their lives.  Much of the training, and the actual care giving deals with unforgiven anger or pain.  Many times this anger goes back to childhood.  What a shame that the pain instilled decades ago has remained unforgiven, festering, and causing severe issues to this day.  Timothy Keller reminds us that Jesus did intend to turn our world upside down, as I noted at the beginning of the discussion on chapter 18.  Jesus showed us by example that the only way to get rid of the emotional pain that tears us apart is to give up the anger, to forgive.  We are to treat people the exact opposite way that we want to, “On the cross Christ wins by losing, triumphs through defeat, achieves power through weakness and service, comes to wealth via giving all away.  Jesus Christ turns the values of the world upside down.  As N.T. Write says: The real enemy, after all, was not Rome but the powers of evil that stood behind human arrogance and violence…[On the cross] the kingdom of God triumphed over the kingdoms of this world by refusing to join in their spiral of violence.  [On the cross, Jesus] would love his enemies, turn the other cheek, go the second mile.”[50]Jesus knows that as sure way to defeat evil is to forgive.  Matthew reminds us of this over and over again.

The issues of our Christian example to others, avoiding sin, and forgiving are all concepts that require supernatural assistance.  In America, there is a strong sense of rugged individualism, a feeling that people, especially men, should be able to handle all problems themselves without help.  The effort to introduce people to Jesus as a way to help them with their problems faces many barriers.  It is an effort that must be made as Jesus teaches in 18:14, but is probably not going to be effective strictly from the pulpit.  Effective application starts with the humble plea for Jesus to help us to cleans our own hearts so that others may see the change He has made in our lives.  Deitrich Bonhoeffer summarizes Matthew’s teaching on forgiveness by stating, “Judging other makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating.  By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are…If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is sure to be found, and that is in our own hearts.”[51]

I have a vision of a church that is like those hospitals we see on evening television dramas.  These TV shows feature young interns learning the ropes while they help the trained doctors.  They are called teaching hospitals.  Imagine if we treated churches in the same way.  What if the trained, mature Christians mentored the laity in teaching new disciples?  What if we expected all of our churches to be teaching churches instead of another form of entertainment?  What if we noted what Jesus said in Luke 6:46 and took Him seriously?

The amount of educational information contained in the 18th chapter of Matthew is truly extraordinary.  In 26 verses, we receive lessons and instructions on how we are to behave as Christians, and run our “soul hospitals.”  No sinner is to be left behind, but that does not mean they can be destructive to the congregation.  Jesus gives us the authority to deal with trouble makers.  He also gives us the foundation for our individual and collective behavior while He accepts no excuses for failure to follow the instructions.  I have spoken to people who take these instructions so seriously, that they are terrified that their friends and family will die before accepting Christ.  While that is a concern, I think Jesus was telling us in these passages that we have to accept the fact that people will refuse His message.  Those people are not to be forgotten, but we don’t concentrate our efforts on them.

The need to prioritize, to set up a triage system, if you will, is crucial to the health of the people who lead the church.  Understanding that there is only so much any one of us can do is important or we would work and worry ourselves to death.  Verse 18:35 hangs large over me, but Jesus also lets me know in verse 18:17 that there will be people who simply refuse to listen.  Bonhoeffer writes, “The disciples are few in number, and will always be few.  This saying of Jesus (Mat. 7:13-23) forestalls all exaggerated hopes of success.  Never let a disciple pin his hopes on large numbers.”[52]  That is excellent advice to keep in mind as we try to apply the lessons of chapter 18. 

I suffer from a lack of patience.  I see an opportunity, and want to put systems in place immediately to take advantage of that opportunity.  Our church just finished its pledge drive for the coming year, and we had about 30% of the congregation commit to a specific financial pledge for the coming year.  I see a tremendous opportunity in the 70% who have not been touched by Jesus enough to pledge even $1 a week.  Part of me wants to redesign the way our church operates overnight in order to change the hearts of those people as quickly as possible.  I urgently want to bring those people into spiritual care, and help them find the cure that only Jesus can provide.  Again Bonhoeffer reminds me that this process needs to be taken one step at a time.  It is not something we can force upon people, “The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it.  If we regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command, if we are afraid of ourselves all the time, it is an impossible way.  But if we behold Jesus Christ going step by step, we shall not go astray.”[53]  I believe that subtly, Jesus is telling us in verses 18:15-20, to focus most of our efforts on the believers, and make sure we pray for help.

The way that Mathew teaches us the Gospel reminds us that we have to focus our efforts as we struggle to apply the message.  In the church where I worship, the application of these lessons will be initially focused on those who are craving to know more about Jesus; those who are yearning to understand what it means to be a disciple.  We will teach those people how to teach others, and in that way, maybe we can eventually convert our congregation into an active hospital for souls, reaching people not just from the pulpit, but from the instant they enter our front door.

 

APPENDIX
Local Application

The Christian church in America is facing serious problems as it enters the 21st century.  First and foremost, the Christian church is losing members, and those members are not just simply giving up spirituality.  They are looking for a god in other places because the traditional Christian church did not give them the answers they were seeking.  Aubrey Malphurs notes, “In 1991 there were thirty-nine million compared with seventy-five million unchurched in 2004”[54]  He goes on to state, “Not only have the ranks of unchurched people increased, but many cults and religious organizations are growing as well.”[55]  In chapter 1 of his book A New Kind of Church, Malphurs details the staggering increase of other cults and religions in America while Christians leave the church of their ancestors.[56]  The really disturbing part of the story is the fact that some of the most highly educated members of Christian congregations are also leaving the church, “There are more than 20 million adults who have dropped out of the church, not because they’ve lost interest in spiritual matters or are disconnected from God, but because they want more God in their lives.”[57]  Malphurs states that these people are not receiving the education they need.  Their churches have an education system designed for beginners and maybe intermediates, but as these adults seek to become true disciples, the church has no programs to teach them.

As a member and leader at 3 Lutheran churches in 3 different cities over the past 15 years I have seen these issues first hand.  A point that the churches I attended failed to drive home is that, “God gave Scripture for a purpose that encompasses far more than information.  It was intended to change lives.”[58]  This Scripture can only change lives if people are taught to not just read it, but to live it.  One fact that I have to struggle with every day is that the process of becoming a disciple is a life long process.  “Christlikeness means to have mature perspectives in thinking, emotions, and behavior.  It involves a fundamental reorientation of people that produces changes in ways of looking at life.”[59]  I, like many Americans want the answer or cure now.  I do not want to have to wait, struggle, or work for the answer. 

When it comes to applying the lessons from the 18th Chapter of Luke’s Gospel, I believe there is much more that needs to be considered than just the specific verses.  I believe we need to teach our congregations not just what the Scripture says, but how each person can get that meaning for themselves.  If people rely on others to interpret the scripture, they will never mature to the point where they get to know Jesus through the text.  They will never get to the point where the words of Scripture lodge in their minds, causing constant questions until they finally gel into a specific meaning for that person’s life.  They will never get to the point where they live the Scripture. 

In my interpretation of Matthew’s Gospel verses 15-35, I believe the fundamental emphasis is the state of our hearts.  Based on the way that Matthew developed the flow of the narrative, I can’t help but see a reinforcement of the idea that what comes out of our mouths and the way we behave is predicated by the Christian purity of our hearts.  To teach others to understand the beauty of this section takes more than just a sermon on Sunday.  It takes a reordering of a person’s priorities.

The process of transforming the church I attend into one that focuses on changing the state of a person’s heart will not be an easy adjustment.  While there will be many more details involved, a basic outline follows.  Too many churches measure their performance based on the weekly service attendance.  A first step is to change the basic metrics used to determine success.  The next step is to develop strategies that will result in measurable positive results.  The final and most difficult step is to get a large congregation of very diverse people to understand and adopt the new direction.

Instead of measuring success from a financial standpoint or a numerical attendance stand point, I am going to propose our church measure success from the number of educational programs we support, and the growth in attendance for these classes/programs.  The reason for focusing on education is that I do not believe we can change behavior until we change the heart.  If we can teach people to live the scripture instead of just reading it, attendance, giving, and volunteerism will grow naturally.

Our congregation currently has typical education opportunities.  There is a youth Sunday school program that follows a purchased curriculum, and an adult program that mirrors the youth lessons, also by the same publisher.  These are “milk toast” lessons that involve arts and crafts and ice breaker type activities.  We also have a men’s Bible study breakfast that does touch upon specific verses, and how those verses apply to life, but it is more of a social event than education.  What the congregation is missing is an advanced study program aimed at people who have had their share of entry level studies. 

One of the challenges that we face in our society is a severe over commitment of our time.  Especially for parents, there never seems to be enough time in the day.  One of the issues we need to address is the best time for already busy people to give up an hour from their week.  Now it is possible to convince current members to add another hour to their Sunday church experience, but our congregation also has a Saturday service.  We also have two locations, which further limits the number of existing members who could or would attend.  Part of the idea behind this plan is to instill the notion that a relationship with Jesus happens all week long, not just on Sunday.  Given all of the above factors, I will attempt to start a study group over the lunch hour during the week at a restaurant that has a meeting space.

One Bible study will not change the heart of the church.  The goal will be to establish a Bible study with a mission that touches people in such a way that they will invite their friends.  Hopefully we can grow disciples who will then want to teach their own studies with their own missions.  In that way, we increase both the number of study opportunities supported by the church, and the number of people learning to interpret God’s word.

My thought is to teach the aspects we have learned in this class over the past 8 weeks.  The idea of “what, why, and apply” keeps running through my mind.  “What” is learning to understand not just what was said, but teaching who said it, the historical context, and what was meant at the time it was written.  “Why” will be answered by understanding why the verse was written in the first place, or why it was included in the order or contextual setting.  “Apply” will start the discussion of how people were meant to respond at the time the words were recorded, and how we should respond today.  

The next aspect is that of a mission.  As a way to instill the application lessons learned, our study group will develop a mission agenda.  We will learn to apply the Christian lessons learned by living them in our daily lives.  I am thinking of a very proactive mission, not just a weekly summary of how each person helped an old lady cross the street.  One thought is to develop relationships with international missionaries.  Our group may set up email or pen-pal type communications with missionaries so we can both support them, and learn how Christ’s words are changing lives around the world.  We could support those missionaries when they return to the States, giving them a place to stay, and inviting them to speak to our group or our church.  My hope would be that the examples given by people who are really living out Jesus’ commandment to go and create disciples will have a motivational and inspirational effect on the members of the Bible study.

The final step is convincing the congregation to change the way they typically think of measuring success.  The story of the man who told friends he had eaten an entire elephant comes to mind.  He did not eat it all at once, but one bite at a time.  The same idea is true for changing the norms of the congregation.  We will start with one group, and give it everything we have to make it successful.  Hopefully that success will inspire imitation, and the concept of a Bible study mixed with a missionary application will grow.  Of course much prayer will be involved, as only Jesus can change people’s hearts.  We will take Him at His word that wherever two or three gather, He will be in our midst.

BIBLIOGROPHY

Anthony, Michael J.  Foundations Of Ministry  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992

Bailey, Kenneth E.  Finding The Lost Cultural KeysTo Luke 15 St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1992

Bailey, Kenneth E.  Poet & Peasant Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1976

Barnett, Paul. Jesus & the Rise of Early ChristianityA History of New Testament Times.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999

Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 137-154

Blomberg, Craig L. Interpreting the Parables. Dovenrs Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990

Boer, Martinus C de. “Ten Thousand Tallents: Matthew’s interpretation and Redaction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.”   Catholic Bible Quarterly 50, no 2 (April 1988): 214-232

Bonhoeffer, Deitrich.  The Cost Of Discipleship New York, NY: Touchstone, 1959

Bromiley, G. W. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised Grand Rapids, MI:Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992

Carter, Warren. “Resisting and Imitating the Empire: Imperial Paradigms in Two Matthean Parables.” Interpretation 56, no 3 (July 2002): 260-272

Dunn James G. A New Perspective On Jesus Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005

Dunn, James D.G. Jesus Remembered. Christianity In The Making Vol. 1 Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 2003

Fee, Gordon & Stuart, Douglas How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993

Keller, Timothy  The Reason For God New York, NY: Penguin, 2008

Malphurs, Aubrey.  A New Kind Of Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007

The NET Bible First Edition Biblical Studies Press., 2006

Powell, Mark Allan. “Binding and Loosing: A Paradigm for Ethical Discernment from the Gospel of Matthew.” Currents in Theology and Mission 30, no 6 (December 2003): 438-445

Schürer, E. A history of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus Christ, second division, Vol. II. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1890

Scott, Bernard Brandon. “The King’s Accounting: Matthew 18:23-34.” Journal of Biblical Literature 104, no 3 (September 1985): 429-442

Senior, Donald. “Mathew 18:21-35.” Interpretation 41, no 4 (October 1987): 403-407

Stauffer, Ethelbert. Christ And The Caesars Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1952

Trench, Richard. Notes On the Parables Of Our Lord (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace, 2002

Wilcock, M.  The Savior of the world : The message of Luke's gospel  Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1979


----

[1]Wilcock, M.  The Savior of the world : The message of Luke's gospel  (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 26

[2] Scott, Bernard Brandon. “The King’s Accounting: Matthew 18:23-34.” Journal of Biblical Literature 104, no 3 (September 1985):429-430

[3] Dunn James G. A New Perspective On Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 95

[4] Schürer, E. A history of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus Christ, second division, Vol. II. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1890),  Vol 4, pg 297

[5] Barnett, Paul. Jesus & the Rise of Early ChristianityA History of New Testament Times.  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 50 

[6] Dunn, James D.G. Jesus Remembered. Christianity In The Making Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 2003),310

[7] Stauffer, Ethelbert. Christ And The Caesars (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1952), 115

[8] Stauffer, Ethelbert. Christ And The Caesars (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1952),116

[9] Schürer, E. A history of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus Christ, first division, Vol. II. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1890),  Vol 2, pg 68

[10] Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 94

[11] Dunn, James D.G. Jesus Remembered. Christianity In The Making Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 2003),311

[12] Bromiley, G. W. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Grand Rapids, MI:Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992), vol. 2, 341

[13] Stauffer, Ethelbert. Christ And The Caesars (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1952), 117

[14] Dunn James G. A New Perspective On Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 94

[15]Blomberg, C.  Interpreting the parables  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 96

[16] Bailey, Kenneth E.  Poet & Peasant (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1976), 18

[17] Carter, Warren. “Resisting and Imitating the Empire: Imperial Paradigms in Two Matthean Parables.” Interpretation 56, no 3 (July 2002): 261

[18] Bailey, Kenneth E.  Poet & Peasant (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1976), 35

[19] Scott, Bernard Brandon. “The King’s Accounting: Matthew 18:23-34.” Journal of Biblical Literature 104, no 3 (September 1985): 432

[20]Blomberg, C.  Interpreting the parables  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 104

[21] Dunn James G. A New Perspective On Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 125

[22] Senior, Donald. “Mathew 18:21-35.” Interpretation 41, no 4 (October 1987): 403

[23] Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 138

[24]The NET Bible First Edition (Biblical Studies Press., 2006), Note 21 18:15

[25] Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 138

[26] Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 138

[27] Senior, Donald. “Mathew 18:21-35.” Interpretation 41, no 4 (October 1987): 404

[28] Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 139

[29] Powell, Mark Allan. “Binding and Loosing: A Paradigm for Ethical Discernment from the Gospel of Matthew.” Currents in Theology and Mission 30, no 6 (December 2003): 439

[30] Powell, Mark Allan. “Binding and Loosing: A Paradigm for Ethical Discernment from the Gospel of Matthew.” Currents in Theology and Mission 30, no 6 (December 2003): 439

[31] Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 137-154

[32] Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993),  95

[33] Bailey, Kenneth E.  Finding The Lost Cultural Keys To Luke 15 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1992), 16

[34] Bailey, Kenneth E.  Finding The Lost Cultural Keys To Luke 15 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1992), 17

[35] Trench, Richard. Notes On the Parables Of Our Lord (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace, 2002), 55

[36] Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993),   95

[37] Senior, Donald. “Mathew 18:21-35.” Interpretation 41, no 4 (October 1987): 404

[38] Fee, Gordon & Stuart, Douglas How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 158

[39] Carter, Warren. “Resisting and Imitating the Empire: Imperial Paradigms in Two Matthean Parables.” Interpretation 56, no 3 (July 2002): 263

[40] De Boer, Martinus C. “Ten Thousand Tallents: Matthew’s interpretation and Redaction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.”   Catholic Bible Quarterly 50, no 2 (April 1988): 216,217

[41] Blomberg, Craig L. “On Building and Breaking Barriers: Forgiveness, Salvation and Christian Counseling with Special Reference to Matthew 18:15-35.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 25 (Summer 2006): 140

[42] De Boer, Martinus C. “Ten Thousand Tallents: Matthew’s interpretation and Redaction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.”   Catholic Bible Quarterly 50, no 2 (April 1988): 223

[43] Senior, Donald. “Mathew 18:21-35.” Interpretation 41, no 4 (October 1987): 405

[44] De Boer, Martinus C. “Ten Thousand Tallents: Matthew’s interpretation and Redaction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.”   Catholic Bible Quarterly 50, no 2 (April 1988): 231

[45] Senior, Donald. “Mathew 18:21-35.” Interpretation 41, no 4 (October 1987): 406

[46] Scott, Bernard Brandon. “The King’s Accounting: Matthew 18:23-34.” Journal of Biblical Literature 104, no 3 (September 1985): 442

[47] De Boer, Martinus C. “Ten Thousand Tallents: Matthew’s interpretation and Redaction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.”   Catholic Bible Quarterly 50, no 2 (April 1988): 229

[48] Fee, Gordon & Stuart, Douglas How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 152

[49] Trench, Richard. Notes On the Parables Of Our Lord (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace, 2002),  58

[50] Keller, Timothy  The Reason For God (New York, NY: Penguin, 2008), 198

[51] Bonhoeffer, Deitrich.  The Cost Of Discipleship (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1959), 185

[52] Bonhoeffer, Deitrich.  The Cost Of Discipleship (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1959), 190

[53] Bonhoeffer, Deitrich.  The Cost Of Discipleship (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1959), 190

[54] Malphurs, Aubrey.  A New Kind Of Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 19

[55] Malphurs, Aubrey.  A New Kind Of Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 23

[56] Malphurs, Aubrey.  A New Kind Of Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 20,21

[57] Malphurs, Aubrey.  A New Kind Of Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 33

[58] Anthony, Michael J.  Foundations Of Ministry  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), 115

[59] Anthony, Michael J.  Foundations Of Ministry  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), 115

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