CHAPTER 18:1-35 TEXT:
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst
of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little
children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso
shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of
these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged
about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world
because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom
the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast
them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than
having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend
thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with
one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise
not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always
behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that
which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone
astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh
that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he
rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so
it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should
perish. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault
between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he
will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three
witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it
unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen
man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be
bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I
say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they
shall ask, it shall be done for
1 Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
It is possible that the disciples (who are still in the process of leaning the mysteries of the Kingdom from Yeshua), were thinking in terms of "might" or "wisdom" when they asked this. Yeshua turns this question around to show who the "greatest" really are.
3 Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
The full explanation of "being converted" is in verse 4, where Yeshua shows this has to do with humility. As mentioned earlier, Moses is said to be the most humble man to ever live as well as the greatest of the prophets until Yeshua's time. (See also comments to verse 19.)
8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee
Here we have a similar teaching to that of the parables in chapter 13, where Yeshua compared the Kingdom to a pearl and to a field, in both cases showing that nothing was of more value. The allegorical reference to "hand or thy foot" could mean many things, including false doctrines. (See also comments to verse 19.)
10 in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father
This could be a reference to "guardian angels," a belief that seemed to have been held by Yeshua's disciples as seen in Acts 12:15. As we discuss in our Revelation study, there also seem to be angels assigned to Israel and to the nations of the world.
17 let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
God is revealed to us in His attributes of both justice and mercy. Justice is seen in this teaching. Compare this to the mercy taught in the parable beginning in verse 23. The various attributes of God, as we perceive them, is a subject of our Revelation study.
19 if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Many critics will point to the countless unanswered prayers of people, as evidence that Yeshua's statement isn't true. Many answers are given in response to this challenge, however the words of scripture can't be ignored:
The adultery James speaks of, as the source of prayer not being answered, is spiritual adultery, as seen by his description of it being "friendship of the world." As said throughout this study, the way of God is the light of Torah. Outside of Torah is darkness - "the way of the world."
We like to think that we're "out of the dark ages" with regard to receiving spiritual light from God. However, with the overwhelming number of people in the world today rejecting either the written Torah (in the case of most of Christianity) or Yeshua, the walking Torah, (in the case of most of Judaism), is it any wonder that God's blessings are not as prevalent as they should be?
"James" (Jacob) says, "We ask amiss." Amiss of what? Amiss of the will of God, which is revealed through His Torah. He reiterates that God's grace (answer to prayer) is given to the humble. Humility comes from denying ourselves and accepting His Torah. Spiritual pride/arrogance comes from rejecting Torah in favor of some other religious belief that allows for "picking and choosing" from the commandments of God.
Some would here interject, "What about the Holy Spirit? Doesn't the Spirit reveal to us the will of God? The answer is Yes - but the will of God that the Spirit will reveal IS His Torah. The Spirit will make clear to us the deeper meaning of the Torah and how to apply it in our lives. The Spirit will never lead anyone against God's Torah. If someone "prays to the Spirit" and is told that God's Torah is not for today, they are hearing from a spirit that is not of God.
Paul gives the same message as "James," - If you consider yourself not subject to God's Torah, you are of the world, and not of the Spirit:
20 where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Exactly how is Yeshua "in our midst" if He is presently seated at the right hand of the Father? Does this mean He is simply "looking down at us?" Or is there a literal presence in the "spiritual realm" that "surrounds" us here on earth - and if so, how does this all work?
Although Yeshua's statement can, in a simple sense, be accepted "on faith," the concept of God's presence within creation is actually a very complex area of Bible study. We address this fully in our Revelation study.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king ...
This parable was discussed earlier in our study.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
We are called by God to; a) forgive others, b) ask forgiveness of others (Matthew 5:23-24), and, c) be certain not to have unrighteous anger in our hearts (Matthew 5:22). Willful failure in any of these areas places someone in jeapordy with God. The "free gift" of salvation includes obedience to God, not just "believing" in certain facts. The subject of the believer's obedience to God is central to our Romans study.