The Two Debtors

The Bible is written with a beautiful divine economy. So much is said in so few words. In these few verses God tells us to forgive one another and he will forgive us. This message is clear and simple. But if we look a little closer and think a little longer on each verse the parable reveals a larger story. A story that is set in a specific time and place. The parable even tells us whom it is especially for. Our lord is teaching a lesson that is very important to the ones receiving it. Of course it is beneficial to all who read it even though it may not be written especially for them. So lets go back and take a closer look and try to gain a deeper understanding of what our Lord is saying. In this parable of the two debtors. Im going to start by reading each scripture of the parable and then discuss it and go onto the next, starting with the 21st verse.

Matthew 18:21

[Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?]
Peter could understand this principal in general. He could see that it was his duty to forgive the trespasses of others but he seemed doubtful of how far this principal of forgiveness should go. Jesus had already instructed the apostles on the subject before when he had taught them to pray to forgive us our debts, (sins and trespasses) as we forgive our debtors. Our Lord also went on to explain that if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your father forgive your trespasses. We can read this in Matthew. 6:12-15 [6:12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.] It seems that Peter wanted to know exactly how far this rule of forgiveness was to be applied in the everyday affairs of life. We can see this by the way peter asks our Lord till 7 times.

Matthew 18:22

[Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.]
The 70 times 7 mentioned by our Lord we should understand to mean an unlimited number of times. Followers of Jesus should be ready at all times to forgive when forgiveness is asked for by a repentant brother or sister or anyone else who seems sincere in their request for mercy, Forgiveness.
As a sidelight I would like to mention briefly that Brother Russel says that in the case of children the parent may immediately forgive a wrong doing but may still need to discipline the child. The punishment should work in the child’s overall good and be a correction done out of love and not in wrath.

Matthew 18:23

[Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.]
This scripture tells us who this parable is especially for. Jesus is not dealing with the world at all. He is not calling them his servants in any sense of the word. Only consecrated believers occupy this position of divine relationship. This parable is meant for the true church of Christ, the little flock, the spirit begotten ones walking the narrow way.

Matthew 18:24

[And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.]
The debt of 10,00 talents was a big one. Representing millions of dollars. This debt represents our great obligations to God as a race and our inability to meet the obligations. There are none perfect no not one.

Matthew 18:25

[But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.]
In connection with this verse Brother Russel points out that Adam was already sold under sin and his whole family was involved in slavery.

Matthew 18:26

[The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.]
The king does not exercise compassion until the debtor asks for it. So also God does not forgive our sins until we acknowledge our sins and ask for his forgiveness.

Matthew 18:27

[Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.]
In this verse we see the proper exercise of mercy. Psalm 32:1[Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.] The liberated servant whose prayer for mercy was heard represents the Christian believers who during the gospel age has been made free from sin. God graciously had mercy on us through Christ and provided for our liberty. The merit of Christs ransom sacrifice was deposited with the Father. This merit was then imputed to the spirit begotten little flock members to cover their sins, so that they could be reckoned perfect. This was their liberty from sin.
We can see another important feature of the parable in this verse, in that if any of the Lords people, his disciples come short they have a throne of grace and mercy to which they may approach that they may obtain mercy and find grace to him in time of need. Hebrew 4:36 [Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.]
I would like to add another sidelight before we go on to the next verse. Later on in the millennial kingdom to be set up here on Earth when the merit of Christs ransom sacrifice is poured out on the whole world of mankind, the work of blotting out the sins of the world in general will begin. The restoring of man to his original perfection will mean the blotting out of mankind’s mental, moral, and physical blemishes. Their restoration will be a gradual work. They will slowly be brought back to that perfect condition in which Father Adam was before he sinned.

Matthew 18:28

[But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him a hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.]
Now we see the forgiven servant going from his king’s presence with the kind words of the king still fresh on his mind. He goes out and he finds a fellow servant who owed him a hundred pence or about 100 dollars. Now (here) the forgiven servant takes a wrong course. Instead of a proper and generous feeling toward his fellow servant he grabs the lesser debtor by the throat and tell him to pay me that thou owest.

Matthew 18:29

[And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.]
The fellow servant used the very same words as the other servant had used to the king. Have mercy upon me and I will pay thee all.

Matthew 18:30

[And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.]
But the forgiven servant was hard hearted and had his fellow servant cast into prison.

Matthew 18:31

[So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.]
The fellow servants knowing that their lord was of a very generous disposition knew that the king would not like such an improper course.

Matthew 18:32

[Then this lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because that desiresdst me:]
Here we notice that the king immediately refers to the forgiven but unforgiving servant as an evil servant. The king was very angry saying that I remitted thy debt because you asked me to. I showed mercy to you.

Matthew 18:33

[Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?]
The question is verse 33 is left unanswered because the answer is so clearly implied. He who had received so great mercy should have been moved with compassion toward a fellow servant in such a small affair.

Matthew 18:34

[And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.]
Now we see a pardon given and then revoked. It was not too late to punish the servant who had proven himself unworthy of the mercy bestowed upon him. His debt had merely been remitted or set aside and not blotted out. The king delivered the unmerciful servant to the tormentors. This was the custom of oriental countries at that time. Our Lord was speaking to the people from the standpoint of custom which they would understand. Another point I would like to bring out here is about the little flock and the great company. If we look at Revelation 7:4 [And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.] and then at verse 9 [ After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.]
These unlike the 144,00 do not sit with Christ in the throne but are pictured as being before the throne. These have not kept their garments unspotted from the world. Because of a wrong spirit and a wrong course they have bedraggled their robes and therefore they must wash them and make them white in the blood of the lamb, and this washing is presented as being done in great tribulation. These tribulations correspond to the torments of the parable upon the servant who did not exercise mercy toward his fellow servant.

Matthew 18:35

[So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.]
Our Lord in concluding the parable makes a direct application of it to his disciples. Our Lord says in verse 35 in no uncertain terms that whatever their faith and whatever their works they all amount to nothing if they do not attain to that spirit of love which is merciful, generous, long suffering and patient toward those who do injury to them. Mercy is an element of love and love is the fulfilling of the whole law of God.

Ephesians 4:32

[And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.]
Ephesians 4:32 sums up the lesson here. Each and every one of the new creatures, sons of God accepted through the merit of Jesus, is held responsible for his own sins. But divine power has provided for the cancellation of these freely for Christs sake, upon their acknowledgement and request for forgiveness. The forgiving of these trespasses of Gods children is made dependent upon their having a spirit of forgiveness toward the brethren. And finally we are not to forget that this applies to all of us as a general principle in the proportion as each of us comes under enlightenment and instruction in the word of God, the truth thru our faith in our Lord Jesus. May the Lord add his blessing.

Brother Detzler