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unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.
'Forgive him?" To forgive is to treat as though the offence was not committed-to declare that we will not harbour malice, or act unkindly, but that the matter shall be buried and forgotten. Till seven times?" The Jews taught that a man was to forgive another three times, but not the fourth. Peter more than doubled this. 'Till seventy times seven.' The meaning is, that we are not to limit our forgiveness to any fixed number of times. See Gen. iv. 24. As often as a brother offends us, and injures us, and asks forgiveness, we are to forgive him.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
'Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened,' &c. It shall be in my church as it was with a certain king; or God will deal with the members of his churcn as a certain king did with his servants. 'Would take account of his servants.' To take account' means to reckon, to settle the affairs. Servants' here mean, probably, petty princes, or more likely, collectors of the revenue, or taxes. Among the ancients, kings often farmed out, or sold for a certain sum, the taxes of a particular province. Thus, when Judea was subject to Egypt, or Syria, or Rome, the kings frequently sold to the high priest the taxes to be raised from Judea, on condition of having a much smaller sum paid to them.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
A talent was a sum of money, or weight of silver or gold, amounting to three thousand shekels. A silver shekel was worth a fraction more than two shillings and three pence of our money. A talent of silver was worth about 3757.; of gold, 5,475. If these were silver talents, as is probable, then the sum owed by the servant was three millions, four hundred and twenty-one thousand, eight hundred and seventy-five pounds, a sum which proves that he was not a domestic, but some tributary prince. The sum is used to show that the debt was immensely large, and that our sins are so great that they cannot be estimated or numbered.
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.
By the laws of the Hebrews, they were permitted to sell debtors, with their wives and children, into servitude for a certain time
sufficient to pay the debt. See 2 Kings iv. 1. Lev. xxv. 39–46. Amos viii. 6.
We are not to interpret the circumstances of a parable too strictly. The statement about selling the wife and children is not to be taken literally, as if God was about to punish a child for the sins of a father; but it is a circumstance to make the story consistent; to explain why the servant was so anxious to obtain a delay of the time of payment.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
"The servant fell down and worshipped him.' He prostrated himself before his lord, as is customary in all eastern nations, when subjects are in the presence of their king. See note, Matt. ii. 2.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. This represents the mercy of God to men. They had sinned. They owed to God more than could be paid. They were about to be cast off. But God has mercy on them, and forgives them.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, 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.
'He found a fellow-servant who owed him an hundred pence,' or a hundred denarii. This debt was about three pounds, four shillings, and seven-pence; a very small sum compared with what had been forgiven to the first servant. Our Saviour, by this, meant to teach that the offences which our fellow-men commit against us are very small and insignificant, compared with our offences against God. Since God has forgiven us so much, we ought to forgive each other the small offences which are committed. 'Took him by the throat.' Took him in a violent and rough manner-half choked or throttled him.
31 So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
So when his fellow-servants,' &c. This is a circumstance
thrown into the story, for the sake of keeping or making a con sistent narrative. It cannot be intended to teach that other christians should go and tell God what a brother had done; for God well knows all the actions of his children, and does not need us, surely, to inform him of what is done. It is abusing the bible, and departing from the design of parables to press every circumstance, and to endeavour to extract from it some spiritual meaning. Our Saviour, in this parable, designed most clearly to exhibit only one great truth-the duty of forgiving our brethren, and the great evil of not forgiving a brother when he offends us. The circumstances of the parable are intended only to make the story consistent with itself, and thus to impress the general truth more fully on the mind.
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 Shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, 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.
The word tormentors,' here probably means keepers of the prison. In the east, torments were inflicted on criminals, and sometimes even on debtors.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
This contains the sum or moral of the parable, and the truth taught in it. When Christ has explained one of his own parables, we are to receive it just as he has explained it. 'From your hearts." That is, not merely in words, but really and truly to feel and act towards him as if he had not offended us. 'Trespasses.' Offences, injuries. Remarks and actions designed to do us wrong. Forgiveness must not be in word merely, but from the heart, ver. 35. No other can be genuine. No other is like that of God.
AND it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea; beyond Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
See also Mark x. 1-12. 'Coasts of Judea beyond Jordan.' Probably our Saviour was then going from Galilee up to Jerusalem, to one of the great feasts of the Jews. Samaria was between Ga
lilee and Jerusalem; and, choosing not to go through it, he crossed the Jordan, and passed down on the east side of it, through Peræa, formerly a part of the tribes Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. See the map.
3 The pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
'Tempting him. This means, to get him, if possible, to express an opinion that should involve him in difficulty. There was the more art in this captious question which they proposed, as at that time the people were very much divided on the subject. A part, following the opinions of Hillel, said that a man might divorce his wife for any offence, or any dislike he might have of her. Note, Matt. v. 31. Others, of the school of Shammai, maintained that divorce was unlawful, except in case of adultery. Whatever opinion, therefore, Christ expressed, they expected that he would involve himself in difficulty with one of their parties.
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
'And he answered and said,' &c. Instead of referring to the opinions of either party, Jesus called their attention to the original design of marriage, to the authority of Moses, an authority acknowledged by them both. 'Have ye not read,' Gen. i. 27; ii. 21, 22. And said, For this cause,' &c. Gen. ii. 24. That is, God at the beginning made but one man and one woman; their posterity should learn from this the intention of marriage, and that it was the original design that a man should have but one wife. 'Shall leave his father and mother.' This means, shall bind himself more strongly to his wife than he was bound to his parents. And shall cleave unto his wife.' The word cleave' denotes a union of the firmest kind, so firmly to adhere that nothing can separate them. They twain shall be one flesh.' That is, they two, or that were two, shall be united as one-one in law, in feeling, interest, and affection. They shall no longer have separate interests, but shall act in all things as if they were one-animated by one soul and one wish. The argument of Jesus here is, since they are so intimately united as to be one, and since in the beginning God made but one woman for one man,
follows that they cannot be separated but by the authority of God, In this decision Christ showed consummate wisdom. He answered the question, not from Hillel or Shammai, their teachers, but from Moses; and thus defeated the malice of his enemies.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives but from the beginning it was not so.
See note, Matt. v. 31. Jesus admits that divorce was allowed; but still he contends that this was not the original design of marriage. It was only a temporary expedient, growing out of a peculiar state of things, and not designed to be perpetual. It was on account of the hardness of their hearts. Moses found the custom in use. In this state of things he did not deem it prudent to attempt to forbid a practice so universal; but instead of suffering the husband to divorce his wife in a passion, he required him, in order that he might take time to consider the matter, to give her a writing, to do it deliberately, and probably also to bring the case before some scribe or learned man, to write a divorce in the legal form. Thus doing, there might be an opportunity that the matter might be reconciled, and the man be persuaded not to divorce his wife. But at first it was not So. 'Hardness of your hearts.' He speaks here of his hearers as a part of the nation. The hardness of you Jews: the national hardness of heart, the cruelty of the Jewish people as a people.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is put away, doth commit adultery.
'And I say unto you.' Emphasis should be laid here on the word' I.' This was the opinion of Jesus-this he proclaimed to be the law of his kingdom-this the command of God ever afterwards. Indulgence had been given by the laws of Moses; but that indulgence was to cease, and the marriage relation to be brought back again to its original intention. Only one offence was to make divorce lawful. Legislatures have no right to say that men may put away their wives for any other cause; and where they do, and where there is marriage afterwards, by the law of God such marriages are adulterous.
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.