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Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:21-35


I. The forgiveness taught in this parable is not the forgiveness for/unto salvation, but it is about the practice of forgiveness in the lives of believers (a few observations)

(a) Three characters: the wealthy man, the debtor, and the debtor’s debtor (narrate the story briefly)

(b) The debtor’s debtor need not be a believer; he could be any human being

(c) The parable is not for the purpose of teaching doctrines such as:

1. Not about losing of one’s salvation
2. Not about final judgement
3. Not to teach passive acceptance of wrongs (one must confront it according to Matthew 18:15)
4. To encourage “forgiveness” in human relationships
5. The figure ten thousand talents need not be the actual amount (hyperbole),
7. It is for the purpose of comparison with one hundred silver coin (three months’ worth of wages)
8. The hyperbole in the debt is to show that there is no limit to mercy and forgiveness

(d) This parable serves to illustrate how one’s relationship with God need to have an effect on his fellow citizens

II. The wealthy man was moved by “compassion” (verse 27) but he became “angry” (verse 34)

(a) The slave was unable to pay back because the amount he owed was too big to repay

(b) The wealthy man “forgave” the slave debtor

1. The wealthy man released the slave from legal and moral obligations
2. He pardoned the slave’s debts
3. He did not hold the offense against the slave (10000 talents!)

(c) The wealthy man’s incredible forgiveness should have enabled the debtor to lead a new kind of life

(d) The forgiven debtor should have developed a matching merciful behavior

(e) But the slave behaved inconsistent with what he experienced from his master

(f) He was filled with “anger”—“grabbed his neck and choked” towards his debtor

(g) From the parable, Jesus teaches that He disapproves His followers who do not forgive their debtors (in fact, He is angry at them for such behavior. Maybe He is upset with some of us!)

III. Every believer is/was a debtor to God

(a) God “wrote off,” “covered” their sins

1. Because they were too big to pay back
2. Our sins costed the Father the substitutionary death of His Son, our Lord Jesus

(b) God did not (and does not) hold our debts against us

IV. Most/All believers have many debtors (how do they deal with their debtors?)

(a) Those who betrayed us, broken our trusts, caused damages to our emotional health, etc.,

(b) They could be: husbands, wives, children, in-laws, colleagues, etc.,

(c) A good number of believers behave like the first slave: receive from God but never reciprocate

(d) For a believer, forgiveness is one of the most difficult (or the most difficult) act

(e) According to this parable, extending forgiveness is not an option but an important requirement

(f) Un-forgiveness keeps a person spiritually and emotionally sick (which leads people to become and remain physically sick)

V. How do we forgive?

(a) Not holding the offense against them

(b) By not holding revengeful thoughts against the offender(s)

(c) By imitating the Father

(d) By replacing revengeful thoughts with love, compassion, and charity

(e) By developing a grateful appreciation for what God has done and is doing in our lives through Jesus Christ

VI. Take Away

Make a list of offenses and offenders, and start “writing off” those debts one-by-one (not just once, but as often as you have revengeful thoughts)

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at