Matthew 18:13

Dr. M. Dods, writing on the parable of Luke 15., has the following suggestive passage. Each of the three parables "illustrates the fact that a more active interest in any possession is aroused by the very circumstance that it is lost. The sheep that is lost is not on that account disregarded by the shepherd, but receives for the time greater attention than those which remain in the fold. The piece of money that has gone amissing becomes on that very account of greater immediate importance to the woman than all she has safe in her jar in the cupboard. If one of a family turns out ill, it is a small mitigation that all the rest turn out well; it is after the lost the parent's heart persistently goes. So is it with God. The very circumstance that men have strayed from him evokes in him a more manifest and active solicitude in their behalf. The attitude of God and of Christ towards sinners is reduced to the great principle that anything which is lost and may be regained exercises our thought more, and calls out a more solicitous regard than a thing of equal value which rests securely in our possession."

I. MAN AS LOST. The word as applied to men is a figure. A lost sheep is one beyond the shepherd's control. A lost piece of money is one that has got out of the woman's reach. This suggests that a lost man is one who has got himself out of the Divine hands, and has taken the ordering of life into his own hands. As the sheep is the shepherd's; as the coin is the woman's; so man is God's. The sheep is lost through animal perversity; the coin is lost through accident; man is lost through moral wilfulness.

II. MAN AS RECOVERABLE. There would be no effort of shepherd, or woman, if they had no reasonable hope of regaining their lost things. And we may never conceive of men as lost in any sense that puts them beyond moral reach. There is a hardening through wilfulness; but we must never think of that save as a process. In the case of no brother-man may it be thought of as complete. The man beyond recovery does not exist.

III. MAN AS RECOVERED. That is the work of God in Christ; it is accomplished for the race, and it is an infinite joy to the Recoverer. That is the work of the Christ-man and of the Christian Church. They should prove what joy is found in saving the lost. - R.T.

If a man have an hundred sheep.
1. The image under which it pleases God to describe His creatures upon earth, "Sheep" "gone astray."

2. What is said as to the dealings of God with His creatures under these circumstances, "seeketh," etc.

3. The feelings with which the Shepherd is described as regarding the sheep when found, "He rejoiceth more," etc.

4. The general deduction which our gracious Saviour draws from these several particulars "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."(1) What a conception does this text lead us to form of the character of God our Redeemer.(2) What an encouragement does the doctrine of the text supply as to our dealings with others.

(J. W. Cunningham.)

I. WHO ARE THEY that are here described as persons lost, and what is meant by the expression? Our blessed Saviour means all who did not receive Him as the messenger and interpreter of the Divine will to mankind.

II. IN WHAT SENSE OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR IS HERE SAID TO HAVE COME TO SAVE MANKIND.(1) He came to instruct mankind in the true and the whole nature of the Divine will:(2) to show, in His own example, that human nature is capable of such a degree of perfection, as will make us fit objects of the Divine favour:(3) to make a satisfaction for us upon the cross, such as showed that God would not pardon the sins of men unless His justice was satisfied; and, therefore, Christ's suffering and death upon this account were a full and proper satisfaction made to the Divine justice for the sins of such as were till then lost to the benefits of eternal life.

III. How FAR SHOULD THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST, IN THIS PARTICULAR OF SAVING THAT WHICH WAS LOST, BE IMITATED BY US. The natural means, those of instruction and of example, which He made use of in His life-time for reforming mankind, and improving their morals, these are what we may copy after Him.

(Nich. Brady.)

Expository Outlines.
I. A NEEDFUL CAUTION. "Take heed that ye despise not," etc.

1. To despise them is fearfully dangerous.

2. The interest taken in them by the highest intelligences should prevent us from thinking lightly of them.

3. The high destiny which awaits them.

II. A BLESSED ANNOUNCEMENT. "For the Son of Man is come," etc.

1. The title assumed.

2. The act declared, not merely to improve, but to save.

3. The miserable objects regarded.

III. A FAMILIAR COMPARISON. "HOW think ye" (ver. 12). These words may be considered:

1. In their literal signification. The recovery of lost property is a principle of human nature.

2. In their spiritual allusion.

IV. AS ENCOURAGING INFERENCE. "Even so it is not the will of My Father," etc.

1. The harmony that existed between the mission of Christ and the purposes of the Eternal Father.

2. If it is not the, will of God that the most despised and insignificant believer should perish, their salvation is assured.

(Expository Outlines.)


1. One feature of the mediatorial character is particularly displayed in the very name in which the Saviour is introduced to our attention, "the Son of Man."

2. These words point out the fact of the Saviour's incarnation, "The Son of Man is come."

3. This description of the object of His coming we may contrast with another, when He comes a second time into this our world.


1. He represents the state of the guilty sinner whom He came into the world to save under the idea of a wandering sheep. Prone to wander.

2. The care and kindness of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Manifests particular care over case of individual sinner.

3. Christ's search for the lost embraces all the means used for the salvation of sinners.

4. He carries back the sheep when He has found it. To prevent exposure to danger.

5. His joy.


1. The connection that is here obviously formed between the end in view, and the means for the accomplishment of that end.

2. In redemption the will of the Father and Son are equal.

3. The work of Christ was designed to accomplish that intention, and is efficacious to its accomplishment.

4. Magnify the fulness of Christ's work.

5. Have you learnt that your characters are that of lost sheep?

(R. H. Cooper.)

I. He is the Shepherd of the flock.

II. His love is impartially shown to all who are in the fold.

III. The salvation of the least is worth all the efforts of the highest.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. Let us notice THE CONSOLATION in His comparing them with sheep who have gone astray.

1. It reveals to us how dear every single soul is to the Lord.

2. He misses each sheep as soon as it is lost.

3. He will leave the ninety and nine on the mountains and hunt for only one that has gone astray.

4. He rejoices over the one that is found.


1. That we keep watch over those who are liable to go astray.

2. The shepherd-faithfulness of our Lord renders you responsible for compassion on the lost.

3. Also for active, zealous seeking and leading home all who are willing to be saved.

4. It requires us to rejoice over every one who lets himself be saved.

(T. Christlieb, D. D.)


1. All men are Christ's sheep. All men are Christ's because He has created them. "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture."

2. The picture of the sheep as wandering, "which goeth astray." It pictures the process of wandering; not the result as accomplished. The sheep has gone astray, though when it set out on its journey it never thought of straying; more mischief is wrought from want of thought than by an evil will.

3. The progressive character of our wanderings from God. A man never gets to the end of the distance that separates between him and the Father if his face is turned away from God. Every moment the separation is increasing.

4. The contrast between the description given of the wandering sheep in our text and in St. Luke. Here it is represented as wandering, there it is represented as lost. God wants to possess us through our love; if He does not we are lost to Him.

II. THE PICTURE OF THE SEEKER. The incarnation of Christ was for the seeking of man.

(Dr. Maclaren.)

Jesus, Peter
Across, Astray, Certainly, Findeth, Finding, Finds, Happier, Joy, Nine, Ninety, Ninety-nine, Pass, Rejoice, Rejoices, Rejoiceth, Sheep, Solemn, Succeeds, Truly, Truth, Turns, Verily, Wander
1. Jesus warns his disciples to be humble and harmless,
7. to avoid offenses,
10. and not to despise the little ones;
15. teaches how we are to deal with our brothers when they offend us,
21. and how often to forgive them;
23. which he sets forth by a parable of the king who took account of his servants,
32. and punished him who showed no mercy to his fellow servant.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 18:12-14

     1220   God, as shepherd
     2330   Christ, as shepherd
     5438   parables
     8289   joy, of church

Matthew 18:12-17

     6040   sinners

May 31. "Whosoever Therefore Shall Humble Himself as this Little Child" (Matt. xviii. 4).
"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child" (Matt. xviii. 4). You will never get a humble heart until it is born from above, from the heart of Christ. For man has lost his own humanity and alas, too often has a demon heart. God wants us, as Christians, to be simple, human, approachable and childlike. The Christians that we know and love best, and that are nearest to the Lord, are the most simple. Whenever we grow stilted we are only fit for a picture gallery, and we are only good
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Lost Sheep and the Seeking Shepherd
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!--MATT. xviii. 12. We find this simple parable, or germ of a parable, in a somewhat more expanded form, as the first of the incomparable three in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel. Perhaps our Lord repeated the parable more than once. It is an unveiling of His inmost heart, and therein a revelation of the very heart of God.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Persistence of Thwarted Love
'If so be that he find it.'--MATT. xviii. 13. 'Until he find it.'--LUKE xv. 4. Like other teachers, Jesus seems to have had favourite points of view and utterances which came naturally to His lips. There are several instances in the gospels of His repeating the same sayings in entirely different connections and with different applications. One of these habitual points of view seems to have been the thought of men as wandering sheep, and of Himself as the Shepherd. The metaphor has become so familiar
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Forgiven and Unforgiving
'Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.' --MATT. xviii. 22. The disciples had been squabbling about pre-eminence in the kingdom which they thought was presently to appear. They had ventured to refer their selfish and ambitious dispute to Christ's arbitrament. He answered by telling them the qualifications of 'the greatest in the kingdom'--that they are to be humble like little children; that they are to be placable; that they are to use all means
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Law of Precedence in the Kingdom
'At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2. And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, 3. 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. 4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Six Sweeping Statements.
Jesus' own words make this very clear. There are two groups of teachings on prayer in those three and a half years as given by the gospel records. The first of these groups is in the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus preached about half-way through the second year of His ministry. The second group comes sheer at the end. All of it is in the last six months, and most of it in the last ten days, and much of that on the very eve of that last tragic day. It is after the sharp rupture with the leaders that
S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon—Quiet Talks on Prayer

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 15, "If Thy Brother Sin against Thee, Go, Shew Him his Fault Between Thee and Him Alone;" And
1. Our Lord warns us not to neglect one another's sins, not by searching out what to find fault with, but by looking out for what to amend. For He said that his eye is sharp to cast out a mote out of his brother's eye, who has not a beam in his own eye. Now what this means, I will briefly convey to you, Beloved. A mote in the eye is anger; a beam in the eye is hatred. When therefore one who has hatred finds fault with one who is angry, he wishes to take a mote out of his brother's eye, but is hindered
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 7, Where we are Admonished to Beware of the Offences of the World.
1. The divine lessons, which we have just heard as they were being read, warn us to gather in a stock of virtues, to fortify a Christian heart, against the offences which were predicted to come, and this from the mercy of the Lord. "For what is man," saith Scripture, "saving that Thou art mindful of him?" [2694] "Woe unto the world because of offences," [2695] saith the Lord; the Truth says so; He alarmeth and warneth us, He would not have us to be off our guard; for surely He would not make us desperate.
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Forgiveness of Sins.
(Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity.) S. MATTHEW xviii. 28, "Pay me that thou owest." The Gospel shows us in a parable a picture of a king who called his servants to a reckoning. That King is the Lord God Almighty. We are His servants, and He calls us to account every day. All we possess we owe as a debt to God. Day by day He gives us our food, and supplies our wants by His good Providence. On every hour of our existence is written, Jehovah-Jireh--The Lord will provide. Day by day God takes
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

Fourth Day. Forgiveness of Injuries.
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."--Luke, xxiii. 34. Many a death-struggle has been made to save a friend. A dying Saviour gathers up His expiring breath to plead for His foes! At the climax of His own woe, and of human ingratitude--man-forsaken, and God-deserted--His faltering voice mingles with the shout of His murderers,--"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!" Had the faithless Peter been there, could he have wondered at the reply to a former
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Lix. The Preacher and his Hearers.
22nd Sunday after Trinity. S. Matthew xviii. 23. "The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants." INTRODUCTION.--I have been a good deal abroad, over the Continent of Europe, and whenever I am in a little country inn, I make a point of going into the room where the men are smoking and drinking wine or beer, and hearing their opinions on the politics of the day, and of their country. Now, my experience tells me that in country taverns in France, and
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

The Wicked Servant
ST. MATTHEW xviii. 23. The kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants. This parable, which you heard in the Gospel for this day, you all know. And I doubt not that all you who know it, understand it well enough. It is so human and so humane; it is told with such simplicity, and yet with such force and brilliancy that--if one dare praise our Lord's words as we praise the words of men--all must see its meaning at once, though it speaks of a state of
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

Meetings for Prayer.
Text.--"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 them of my Father which is in heaven."--Matthew xviii. 19. HITHERTO, in treating of the subject of Prayer, I have confined my remarks to secret prayer. I am now to speak of social prayer, or prayer offered in company, where two or more are united in praying. Such meetings have been common from the time of Christ, and even hundreds of years before. And it is probable
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Necessity and Effect of Union.
Text.--Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.--Matthew xviii. 19. SOME weeks since, I used this text, in preaching on the subject of prayer meetings. At present I design to enter more into the spirit and meaning of the text. The evident design of our Lord in this text was to teach the importance and influence of union in prayer and effort to promote religion. He states the
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Mission of Little Children
"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them." Matthew xviii.2. Everything has its mission. I speak not now of the office which each part of the great universe discharges. I speak not of the relation between these parts,--that beautiful ordinance by which the whole is linked together in one common life, by which the greatest is dependent upon the least, and the least shares in the benefactions of the greatest. In this sense, everything has, strictly, its mission.
E. H. Chapin—The Crown of Thorns

False Ambition Versus Childlikeness.
(Capernaum, Autumn, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XVIII. 1-14; ^B Mark IX. 33-50; ^C Luke IX. 46-50. ^c 46 And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them was the greatest. ^b 33 And he came to Capernaum: ^c 47 But when Jesus saw the reasoning of their heart, ^b and when he was in the house [probably Simon Peter's house] he asked them, What were ye reasoning on the way? 34 But they held their peace: for they had disputed one with another on the way, who was the greatest. [The Lord with his disciples was
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Sin and Forgiveness Between Brethren.
(Autumn, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XVIII. 15-35. ^a 15 And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [Having warned against giving offense, Jesus now shows how to act when offense is received. The fault is to be pointed out to the offender, but for the purpose of gaining him--not from a desire to humiliate him. The offended is to seek the offender, and the offender is likewise to seek the offended (Matt. xv. 23, 24),
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Unmerciful Servant.
"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 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. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

Jesus Christ, the Divine Teacher of Prayer
A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him! He knocks again. "Friend! lend me three loaves?" He waits a while and then knocks again. "Friend! I must have three loaves!" "Trouble me not: the door is now shut; I cannot rise and give thee!" He stands still. He turns to go home. He comes back. He knocks again. "Friend!" he cries. He puts his ear to the door. There is a sound inside, and then the light of a candle shines through the hole of the door. The bars of
Edward M. Bounds—The Reality of Prayer

Fifteenth Lesson. If Two Agree
If two agree;' Or, The Power of United Prayer Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.--Matt. xviii. 19, 20. ONE of the first lessons of our Lord in His school of prayer was: Not to be seen of men. Enter thy inner chamber; be alone with the Father. When He has thus taught us that the
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

The Third Wall.
The third wall falls of itself, as soon as the first two have fallen; for if the Pope acts contrary to the Scriptures, we are bound to stand by the Scriptures, to punish and to constrain him, according to Christ's commandment; "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
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

Gerhard Ter Steegen Matt. xviii. 12 O God, through Christ the living way, My Father and my God, So near, and I so far astray, Brought nigh Thee by His Blood. Myself, and this, and that, I sought Behind, around, before-- And yet the nearest found I not, Until I sought no more. O Love, Thou deep eternal tide, How dear are men to Thee! The Father's heart is opened wide By Jesus' Blood to me. It was Thyself, O God, who sought, With tender yearnings deep, The loveless sould who sought Thee not, The
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

The School
Gerhard Ter Steegen Matt. xviii. 3 Where is the school for each and all, Where men become as children small, And little ones are great? Where love is all the task and rule, The fee our all, and all at school, Small, poor, of low estate? Where to unlearn all things I learn, From self and from all others turn, One Master hear and see? I learn and do one thing alone, And wholly give myself to One Who gives Himself to me. My task, possessing nought, to give; No life to have, yet ever live-- And ever
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

Commentary on Matthew. Introduction.
According to Eusebius (H. E. vi. 36) the Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew were written about the same time as the Contra Celsum, when Origen was over sixty years of age, and may therefore be probably assigned to the period 246-248. This statement is confirmed by internal evidence. In the portion here translated, books x.-xiv., he passes by the verses Matt. xviii. 12, 13, and refers for the exposition of them to his Homilies on Luke (book xiii. 29). Elsewhere, he refers his readers for a fuller
Origen—Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

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