Who Is the Greatest?

At that time[a] the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted[b] and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes[c] one child like this in My name welcomes Me.

“But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone[d] were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea! Woe to the world because of offenses. For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes. If your hand or your foot causes your downfall, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes your downfall, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, rather than to have two eyes and be thrown into hellfire![e]

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you don’t look down on one of these little ones, because I tell you that in heaven their angels continually view the face of My Father in heaven. [11 For the Son of Man has come to save the lost.][f] 12 What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them goes astray, won’t he leave the 99 on the hillside and go and search for the stray? 13 And if he finds it, I assure you: He rejoices over that sheep[g] more than over the 99 that did not go astray. 14 In the same way, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Restoring a Brother

15 “If your brother sins against you,[h] go and rebuke him in private.[i] If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony[j] of two or three witnesses every fact may be established.[k] 17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church.[l] But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever[m] and a tax collector to you. 18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound[n] in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed[o] in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you[p] pray for, it will be done for you[q] by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.[r] 23 For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents[s] was brought before him. 25 Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt.

26 “At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ 27 Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.

28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii.[t] He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’

29 “At this, his fellow slave fell down[u] and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. 31 When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. 35 So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother[v] from his[w] heart.”


  1. Matthew 18:1 Lit hour
  2. Matthew 18:3 Or are turned around
  3. Matthew 18:5 Or receives
  4. Matthew 18:6 A millstone turned by a donkey
  5. Matthew 18:9 Lit gehenna of fire
  6. Matthew 18:11 Other mss omit bracketed text
  7. Matthew 18:13 Lit over it
  8. Matthew 18:15 Other mss omit against you
  9. Matthew 18:15 Lit him between you and him alone
  10. Matthew 18:16 Lit mouth
  11. Matthew 18:16 Dt 19:15
  12. Matthew 18:17 Or congregation
  13. Matthew 18:17 Or like a Gentile
  14. Matthew 18:18 Or earth will be bound
  15. Matthew 18:18 Or earth will be loosed
  16. Matthew 18:19 Lit they
  17. Matthew 18:19 Lit for them
  18. Matthew 18:22 Or but 77 times
  19. Matthew 18:24 A huge sum of money that could never be repaid by a slave; a talent = 6,000 denarii
  20. Matthew 18:28 A small sum compared to 10,000 talents
  21. Matthew 18:29 Other mss add at his feet
  22. Matthew 18:35 Other mss add his trespasses
  23. Matthew 18:35 Lit your