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10 Ὁρᾶτε μὴ καταφρονήσητε ἑνὸς τῶν μικρῶν τούτων, λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτῶν ἐν οὐρανοῖς διὰ παντὸς βλέπουσι τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς. 12 τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν, οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον; 13 καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι χαίρει ἐπʼ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις. 14 οὕτως οὐκ ἔστιν θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μικρῶν τούτων.

(10) Reiteration of the value of a disciple

0 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 [For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]

- The background from the previous section (18:5-9).

The child being mentioned is the disciple whom has become like a child.
The admonition is to treat a disciple of humble and quite possibly lowly status with the kind of respect that would be afforded Jesus.
Here, this is helpful to consider that this disciple is not at a deeper level spiritually and could be easily led into the trap of sin. The phrase “little ones” doesn’t merely refer to stature or age but it also speaks of importance.
The teaching is not designed to say throw wicked people into the sea or cut off hands that offend; rather, it is designed to say that people should not sin against others, especially the believers, and cause them to sin. The church has not taken this to heart, for its history is filled with acts of wickedness against other believers, often by those with the power to do so,

- The admonition to not look down at other believers is the role of angels.

- Verse 11 is not in the original manuscripts and thus not included but added as a parenthesis.

- This is not teaching the theology of guardian angels

The book of Daniel refers to angels whom are tasked with guarding over nations.
The book of revelation talks about angels that are representing seven specific churches at the time of John’s revelation.
In this particular case, I believe that the task of angels is related to the church as a whole not one angel per one believer as a personal attendant. In fact, the individual believer already has a personal paraclete, whom is the Holy Spirit.

- This is speaking of the importance of the least important in the church.

We can be confident that each church has a representative that is accountable to God (before His face) for the tasks of the church.
Those whom are part of the task for an angel isn’t just the Elder, pastor or deacon but the least of these.
The mistreatment of even the “lowly Christian” would not be ignored by God because they are part of the accountability given as a task for each angel.
Therefore, don’t take lightly the responsibility to welcome these insignificant Christians of the church and be sure to protect all in the church.

(12) The lost sheep

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?

- Jesus illustrates the importance of individual disciples by talking about sheep.

- A parable about a man, who owns one hundred sheep.

The phrase “what do you think?” is a call to reflect and think through the implications of an illustration.

ποιμήν

ποιμὴν

* ποιμὴν is the Greek word for shepherd, but in the verse it is ἄνθρωπος (the word for man). The importance of this word is that he is the one who owns the sheep (something not always true for shepherds)
The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Matthew 1. ‘Goes in Search … Finds … Rejoices’ (18:10–14)

To own a hundred sheep would be a mark of some wealth. But at whatever economic level one operates, one percent of one’s wealth is normally treated as significant.

- One of the sheep has wandered away.

The problem in question is that it has gone astray or wandered away.
In tying this parable to the previous section, consider that the tense of the verb for gone astray is passive meaning “be led astray”. In verse 6-7, the call was to not cause the “little one” to stumble (passive tense). Also in verses 8-10, the call is to handle whatever (hand, foot, eye) causes one to stumble (passive tense).
Who knows what the stumbling block was for the sheep, it could have been the sight of possible grass or a pool of water.

- The rhetorical question to ponder is if the lost sheep is sought out.

The rhetorical answer is in the affirmative.
Consider that there would have been more than one shepherd looking out over the flock. William Barclay astutely observes that “In the time of Jesus, the flocks were often communal flocks; they belonged not to an individual but to a village. There were, therefore, usually two or three shepherds with them. That is why the shepherd could leave the ninety-nine. If he had left them with no guardian, he would have come back to find still more of them gone; but he could leave them in the care of his fellow shepherds while he sought the wanderer.”
The amount of energy and concern has focused to the lost sheep in comparison to the 99 sheep that are together.
Barclay, W. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (Third Ed., p. 215). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.

(13) the joy of finding

If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.

- In reality, a lost sheep wouldn’t always be found.

The importance of using this parable is that a lost sheep was not automatically presumed safe, this is why the language is conditional “if it turns out that he finds it”. as Leon Morris notes:

Palestinian shepherds did not always find lost sheep; a sheep might be killed by wild animals or fall over a precipice or wander too far away to be found.

The potential is important to understand the joy of finding the lost sheep.

- There is incredible joy over finding the sheep.

We must be careful to not say that the owner of the sheep is gives greater value to the lost sheep than the other 99.
The reason for the joy is that the lost one is now back in the fold following the shepherd as should always be the case.
The sad thing is that we live in a culture where the parable has a lesser effect on us than it should. When the human life is undervalued then everything else around us has lesser value to us as well.
Again I would turn to William Barclay for his description of the joy contained by the lost sheep that is found: “We can imagine how the other shepherds would return with their flocks to the village fold at evening time, and how they would tell that one shepherd was still out on the mountainside seeking a wanderer. We can imagine how the eyes of the people would turn again and again to the hillside watching for the shepherd who had not come home; and we can imagine the shout of joy when they saw him striding along the pathway with the weary wanderer slung across his shoulder, safe at last; and we can imagine how the whole village would welcome him, and gather round with gladness to hear the story of the sheep which was lost and found.”

(14) The application of this parable

(14) thus, it is not the desire before your father whom is in heaven that one of these be led astray.
So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

- The lost sheep is a disciple

The phrase “little ones” was used earlier in verse 10 and is used here again to keep the continuity of this section.
Keep in mind “ And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” The little one is a believer in Jesus and the picture is that treatment of Jesus’ disciple is treatment of Jesus Christ Himself.
What this means is that the lost sheep is a disciple of Jesus and that Jesus is the owner of all the sheep.

- Just as it is in the parable so it is in regards to the Father’s view of Jesus’ disciples.

The word “perish” is often associated with eternal punishment. However, this word is speaking of the spiritual ruin of a disciple’s life rather than eternal destruction.
The phrase “will of your father” is literally it is not the desire before your Father for spiritual wandering. In other words, the disciple that sins and wanders away from the safety of the fold (i.e. following Jesus) is not a desire found in the presence of God.
The implication is that the will of God would be to seek after those that wander astray because they are not with the fold.

- Making the general application of this passage:

1st I believe this gives us further understanding why it is important to not lead a lowly disciple into a stumbling block of sin because the will of God is to seek out that one who has wandered from the truth!
2nd It gives the challenge to those in the position of leadership in the church to go after those whom have wandered from the truth! This reminds me of God’s chastisement of the leaders in Israel for being poor shepherds . (I also think it is a warning for churches about the goal of growing people rather than reproducing disciples)
3rd The shepherd that goes to look for the wandering sheep is the Lord Jesus in the analogy. However, in God’s design of the local church, Jesus’ work is carried out by members of His body. Jesus seeks after the lost sheep through a believer.

15 Ἐὰν δὲ ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ ὁ ἀδελφός σου, ὕπαγε ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν μεταξὺ σοῦ καὶ αὐτοῦ μόνου. ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ, ἐκέρδησας τὸν ἀδελφόν σου· 16 ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ, παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο, ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα· 17 ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν, εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ, ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης. 18 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ. 19 Πάλιν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν δύο συμφωνήσωσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς περὶ παντὸς πράγματος οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται, γενήσεται αὐτοῖς παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς. 20 οὗ γάρ εἰσιν δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα, ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν.

(15) if your brother might sin against you, you go to correct him between you and him only, if he might listen to you to gain your brother.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

- Dealing with sin with a brother in Christ.

17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
If you have the ESV or King James translation, it reads “sins against you”. If you have the NASB or NIV translation it just reads “brother sins”. The point in question is that the phrase “against you” isn’t in some of the manuscripts so there is equal evidence to include/not include it.
The context is about dealing with other disciples and not making them stumble and going after those whom are drifting away from the shepherd by sinning. Thus, it would appear that the sin in some capacity is between fellow believers.
18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
Dr. Tom Constable says “Contextually the sin in view is probably despising a brother or sister. However, Jesus did not specify what it was, but He implied that it was any sin that takes the disciple away from the Shepherd.”

- The exhortation is to go to that person whom has sinned against you to make things right.

This is done in private between two believers. It is not the opportunity to gossip to others about what happened between you and them.
The goal is to win your brother. What does that mean in the bigger context? The little one who has sinned is the disciple that is starting to stray.
Some people might read the previous verses and think that this doesn’t sound consistent with everything. In reality, the confrontation of sin should be seen in the light of the shepherd seeking the lost sheep. This is done in the sense of love and humility rather than seeking out to let someone have it. (i.e. that would be like a shepherd running around in a huff looking for the lost sheep so that he could kick and beat it back to the herd)
In light of that, I would make a few observations: Don’t do this over text or e-mail but do it face to face. Also, just as you need to calm down before you might spank your child… calm down before you talk with a person. (if you can’t look at the person like a sheep straying from the fold but instead see that person as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, then keep praying but don’t avoid it)

- One final note about the idea that if we only confront sin against each other, many sins will be ignored.

Remember that the consequences of every sin don’t just affect the person that is commits that sin.
If we are truly following in the blueprint that Jesus laid down for His church, then we will be so connected with other believers that our sins will affect other believers.
Give you an example: If I am connected with other believers then someone is going to know the people that live next to me and probably some of my coworkers because we see each other outside of church and do things outside of just Sunday mornings. Thus, if I were to deceive one of my neighbors or cheat my coworker out of credit for work, there is a good chance it will get back to me when I run into that neighbor in grocery store or coworker walking in the park. They will talk with me about it and tell me that this fellow believer deceived them, maybe even asking me what else they could do? The result is that now I am brought into the situation because of the consequence of the sin.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

(16) The shepherd is worried about the lost sheep so he doesn’t give up, neither do we

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
(16) if he might not listen, take with you another one or two in order that upon two or three mouths every word may be established of the testimony.
16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.

- The answer to what if my brother/sister in Christ doesn’t listen.

This is a result of not responding to the individual coming to them about the sin.
This follows along the lines about needing two or three witnesses as a testimony about the manner.
There is a two-fold purpose: 1st it helps confirm that this is an issue of sin and not a difference of opinion. 2nd it also brings added weight to the need to repent of actual sin that was shrugged off earlier.

- This isn’t about Lording it over but restoring someone.

Just as shepherds would help each other out so that the lost sheep could be found. Here, others are going along to see someone come back into the fold.
If you bring one or two more, they must have the same concern spiritually for the believer. (also tells you that it should be someone that knows the person)

(17) What happens about an unrepentant sinner?

18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
(17) if he refuses to listen, speak to the church, if also he refuses to listen to the church, he is to be as the gentile and tax collector.
17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

- The local church gets involved when the handful aren’t successful.

This is an appeal to let everyone else know in the local church that the believer refuses to repent of sin. It is done for the purpose of why the person went to the brother/sister in Christ in the first place.
This is still about seeking the lost sheep. However, it has now gotten to the point where everyone that is part of the fellowship is pleading for the believer to repent. In essence the sheep has wandered quite a ways from the flock.

- Some quick clarification about this

I don’t believe that the proper application of this is to announce this in a worship service. Visitors and unbelievers are a part of this and it would only create the temptation of the sin of gossip.
I also would say that at this point the purpose of telling people in the church is to create an environment where brothers and sisters are wanting to bring him/her back to their spiritual senses.

- If there is a refusal to listen to the church then the relationships change with the unrepentant believer.

Of note is the use of the singular “you” found in the phrase “let him be to you”. In essence this is how an individual handles a brother/sister in Christ when they sin.
The Gentile/tax collector is the language of an unbeliever. So, when a believer goes through the steps to deal with his brother’s sin and it is ignored to the level of the church then he must deal with him/her like an unbeliever.
In the case of the unbeliever, we are still loving and evangelistic but we don’t have the same level of fellowship like a believer.
What about the church? Often times this verse is used to teach ex-communication. S Lewis Johnson has a helpful discussion on this: “Now, of course, if the church should have a doctrine that one day you can be a believer in the Lord Jesus and possess everlasting life, and the next day, by virtue of sin, you lose your salvation, then that makes sense to excommunicate from the church when sin has been committed. But if your doctrine is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and eternal security; if it’s true that once you have become a Christian, a genuine Christian, you are always a Christian, then to excommunicate a person from the local church is contradictory. You are saying to the world that they are no longer a member of the church; at the same time you affirm that they are a member of the church. So, excommunication is not really a biblical teaching. Expulsion from assembly privileges, however, is a different matter.”
the Lord Jesus and possess everlasting life, and the next day, by virtue of sin, you lose your salvation,
then that makes sense to excommunicate from the church when sin has been committed.
But if your doctrine is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and eternal security; if
it’s true that once you have become a Christian, a genuine Christian, you are always a Christian, then
Considering that their are limitations on the Lord’s supper, I believe that from this passage the privilege of the Lord’s table is affected by one’s unrepentant sin. In fact, we would allow an unbeliever to hear the Word of God preached but they would not have the same privilege as a believer in good fellowship with others. (after studying these verses in the whole context of chapter 18, I have changed my mind on this)
to excommunicate a person from the local church is contradictory. You are saying to the world that
they are no longer a member of the church; at the same time you affirm that they are a member of
the church. So, excommunication is not really a biblical teaching. Expulsion from assembly
privileges, however, is a different matter. “
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
(18) truly I say to you, whatever you tie on earth will be tied in heaven and whatever you lose upon the earth will be loosed in heaven.
18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
(19)
again I say to you that whenever two are like minded from you upon the earth concerning each matter that you may ask, it will be done from my Father in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
(20) for if two or three are gathered in my name, it is there I am in the middle of you.
20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
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