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Matthew 18 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Who Is the Greatest?

18 About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him. Then he said:

I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And when you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me.

Temptations To Sin

It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the deepest part of the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks! The world is in for trouble because of the way it causes people to sin. There will always be something to cause people to sin, but anyone who does this will be in for trouble.

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! You would be better off to go into life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the fire that never goes out. If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out and get rid of it. You would be better off to go into life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell.

The Lost Sheep

10-11 Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven.[a] 12 Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away? 13 I am sure that finding it would make you happier than having the ninety-nine that never wandered off. 14 That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.

When Someone Sins

15 If one of my followers[b] sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. 16 But if that one refuses to listen, take along one or two others. The Scriptures teach that every complaint must be proven true by two or more witnesses. 17 If the follower refuses to listen to them, report the matter to the church. Anyone who refuses to listen to the church must be treated like an unbeliever or a tax collector.[c]

Allowing and Not Allowing

18 I promise you that God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth, but he will not allow anything you don’t allow. 19 I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 Whenever two or three of you come together in my name,[d] I am there with you.

An Official Who Refused To Forgive

21 Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone[e] who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”

22 Jesus answered:

Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times![f] 23 This story will show you what the kingdom of heaven is like:

One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. 24 As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him fifty million silver coins. 25 But he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt.

26 The official got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!” 27 The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money.

28 As the official was leaving, he happened to meet another official, who owed him a hundred silver coins. So he grabbed the man by the throat. He started choking him and said, “Pay me what you owe!”

29 The man got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you back.” 30 But the first official refused to have pity. Instead, he went and had the other official put in jail until he could pay what he owed.

31 When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. 32 The king called the first official back in and said, “You’re an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. 33 Don’t you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” 34 The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. 35 That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart.

Footnotes:

  1. 18.10,11 in heaven: Some manuscripts add, “The Son of Man came to save people who are lost.”
  2. 18.15 followers: The Greek text has “brother,” which is used here and elsewhere in this chapter to refer to a follower of Christ.
  3. 18.17 tax collector: See the note at 5.46.
  4. 18.20 in my name: Or “as my followers.”
  5. 18.21 someone: Or “a follower.” See the note at 18.15.
  6. 18.22 seventy-seven times: Or “seventy times seven.” The large number means that one follower should never stop forgiving another.

Matthew 18 New International Version (NIV)

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Causing to Stumble

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11] [a]

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 18:11 Some manuscripts include here the words of Luke 19:10.
  2. Matthew 18:15 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman; also in verses 21 and 35.
  3. Matthew 18:15 Some manuscripts sins against you
  4. Matthew 18:16 Deut. 19:15
  5. Matthew 18:18 Or will have been
  6. Matthew 18:18 Or will have been
  7. Matthew 18:22 Or seventy times seven
  8. Matthew 18:24 Greek ten thousand talents; a talent was worth about 20 years of a day laborer’s wages.
  9. Matthew 18:28 Greek a hundred denarii; a denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see 20:2).
New International Version (NIV)

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