B i b l e   S t u d y




Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.

However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.

To see more Bible study outlines go to page two: More Bible Study Outlines.




July 1, 2018


SCRIPTURE: Matthew 18:21-35


KEY VERSE: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (Matthew 18:33)


INTRODUCTION: Cause and effect: our lives operate around it. If the gas tank is empty, we fill it up. If the dishes are dirty, we wash them. If there’s no milk, we go to the store and buy it. So it only makes sense that if someone does wrong against us, we must make the score even. Their action leads to our reaction.


But Jesus calls us to another standard in Matthew 18. It’s called forgiveness, and it goes against the logic of getting even. If someone causes you pain, forgive, move on, and show him or her mercy. How do we do this? Jesus says we must look to the model of God forgiving all that we have done.


I. THE NATURE OF FORGIVENESS. (Matthew 18:21-22)


INSIGHT: When we start living in an atmosphere of humility and honesty, we must take some risks and expect some dangers. Unless humility and honesty result in forgiveness, relationships cannot be mended and strengthened. Peter recognized the risks involved and asked Jesus how he should handle them in the future.


A. Peter’s question. (Matthew 18:21)


(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 made some serious mistakes. To begin with, he lacked humility himself. He was sure his brother would sin against him, but not he against his brother! Peter’s second mistake was in asking for limits and measures. Where there is love, there can be no limits or dimensions (Eph. 3:17-19). Peter thought he was showing great faith and love when he offered to forgive at least seven times. After all, the rabbis taught that three times was sufficient.


B. Jesus’ answer. (Matthew 18:22)


(Matthew 18:22) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.


Our Lord’s reply, “Until seventy times seven” (490 times) must have startled Peter. Who could keep count for that many offenses? But that was exactly the point Jesus was making: Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). By the time we have forgiven a brother that many times, we are in the habit of forgiving.


INSIGHT: “How many times”? “Seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22)  means we are to extend unlimited forgiveness to others. God’s transformation of sinners takes time and can only take place in a community committed to love and forgiveness.


II. THE NEED TO BE FORGIVEN. (Matthew 18:23-26)


INSIGHT: Jesus illustrated this principle of forgiveness with a parable about a king who attempted to settle his accounts with his servants.


A. The Illustration. (Matthew 18:23)


(Matthew 18:23) Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.


1. Needy servant. (Matthew 18:24)


(Matthew 18:24) And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.


The first servant brought to him owed the king 10,000 talents. If a talent was valued at approximately 10,000 denarii, then the amount owed by this servant was equal to 60 million denarii. In Jesus’ day a single denarius was the equivalent of the average laborer’s daily wage.


INSIGHT: This debt was unpayable. In modern terms the first servant owed some $12 million -- a truly unpayable debt. It is hard to forgive, but let’s remember how much God has forgiven us!


2. Severe judgment. (Matthew 18:25)


(Matthew 18:25) 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.


This debt was so large that it would have been humanly impossible for the servant to repay it. The king was going to sell the servant and his family into slavery and liquidate the family’s possessions. The Old Testament speaks of this practice many times (see Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:39; 2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:5; Isaiah 50:1). However, slaves generally sold for a talent or less apiece, so the sales would not wipe out the debt.


C. The Plea. (Matthew 18:26-27)


(Matthew 18:26-27) 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.


The servant bowed down before the king, pleaded with him for patience, and promised to make good on the debt. Instead of granting further time for repayment, the king canceled the debt altogether and allowed the servant to go free.


INSIGHT: The king’s response was prompted by the compassion he felt for the helplessness of his servant. His actions symbolized God’s forgiveness of believer’s sins.




A. The Unforgiving Servant Was A Creditor.


1. The fellow servant. (Matthew 18:28)


(Matthew 18:28) But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.


The first servant left the presence of the king and went and found a fellow servant who owed him 100 pence. The average worker earned one penny a day, so this debt was insignificant compared to what the servant had owed the king. Instead of sharing with his friend the joy of his own release, the servant mistreated his friend and demanded that he pay the debt.


2. The humble pleading. (Matthew 18:29-30)


(Matthew 18:29-30) 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.


The debtor used the same approach as the servant: “Have patience with me and I will pay you all of it!” But the unjust servant was unwilling to grant to others what he wanted others to grant to him.


INSIGHT: Perhaps the first servant had the “legal” right to throw the man in prison, but he did not have the “moral” right. He had been forgiven himself -- should he not forgive his fellow servant? He and his family had been spared the shame and suffering of prison. Should he not spare his friend?


B. The Unforgiving Servant Became A Prisoner.


1. The Unforgiving Servant lived by the law. (Matthew 18:31-33)


(Matthew 18:31-33) 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 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 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?


The king originally delivered him from prison, but the servant put himself back in. The servant exercised justice and cast his friend into prison. “So you want to live by justice?” asked the king. “Then you shall have justice! Throw the wicked servant in prison and torment him! I will do to him as he has done to others.” (There is no suggestion that the entire family was sentenced. After all, it was the father who abused the other servant and ignored the king’s kindness.)


2. The Unforgiving Servant was judged by the law. (Matthew 18:34)


(Matthew 18:34) And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.


The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others, then we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Some of the most miserable people I have met in my ministry have been people who would not forgive others. They lived only to imagine ways to punish these people who had wronged them. But they were really only punishing themselves.


C. The Unforgiving Servant Taught A Lesson. (Matthew 18:35)


(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.


1. Experience forgiveness.


What was wrong with this man? The servant had not really experienced forgiveness. The same thing that is wrong with many “professing” Christians: They have received forgiveness, but they have not really experienced forgiveness deep in their hearts. Therefore, they are unable to share forgiveness with those who have wronged them.


INSIGHT: If we live only according to justice, always seeking to get what is ours, we will put ourselves into prison. But if we live according to forgiveness, sharing with others what God has shared with us, and then we will enjoy freedom and joy. Peter asked for a just measuring rod; Jesus told him to practice forgiveness and forget the measuring rod.


2. Forgive others.


The Lord’s serious warning. He did not say that God saves only those who forgive others. The theme of this parable is forgiveness between brothers, not salvation for lost sinners.


a. We must have a humble heart.


Jesus warned us that God cannot forgive us if we do not have humble and repentant hearts. We reveal the true condition of our hearts by the way we treat others. When our hearts are humble and repentant, we will gladly forgive our brothers. But where there is pride and a desire for revenge, there can be no true repentance; and this means God cannot forgive.


b. We must have a repentant heart.


In other words, it is not enough to receive God’s forgiveness, or even the forgiveness of others. We must experience that forgiveness in our hearts so that it humbles us and makes us gentle and forgiving toward others. The servant in the parable did not have a deep experience of forgiveness and humility. He was simply glad to be “off the hook.” He had never really repented.


A Father’s Forgiveness


There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On that Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. – Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp.13.


CONCLUSION: What have we learned from our Bible study today?


·        Our Problem.


This parable of the servant, who was forgiven but refused to forgive another, illustrates the principle of forgiveness. This is a new principle presented in this passage, but it is not quite the basis of forgiveness for believers which are set forth in Ephesians 4:32:


·        Our Command.


(Ephesians 4:32) “And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” and “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you” (Colossians 3:13).


·        Our Forgiveness.


Because God has forgiven us, we are to forgive each other. If God forgave our sins in the same way we forgive others, none of us would be forgiven. But after we have become children of God, because we have been forgiven, we are to forgive. This is the principle of Christian conduct, of course.


The “Fault” Box


A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations.


The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month.


After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, "I love you!" – Author Unknown.


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “To love sinners is to be like Jesus.”


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REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.



E-mail: Ronald Purkey


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