Rank in the Kingdom
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child and set him before them, 3 and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever [a]humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives and welcomes one [b]child like this in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin [by leading him away from My teaching], it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe (judgment is coming) to the world because of stumbling blocks and temptations to sin! It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to the person on whose account or through whom the stumbling block comes!
8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off and throw it away from you [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into everlasting fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; it is better for you to enter life with only one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fiery hell.
10 “See that you do not despise or think less of one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven [are in the presence of and] continually look upon the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 [c][For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]
Ninety-nine Plus One
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost? 13 And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. 14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost.
Discipline and Prayer
15 “If your brother sins[d], go and show him his fault in private; if he listens and pays attention to you, you have won back your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17 If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the [e]church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile (unbeliever) and a tax collector. 18 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [f]shall have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth [g]shall have [already] been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two [h]believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them.”
21 Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered him, “I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the accounting, one who owed him 10,000 [i]talents was brought to him. 25 But because he could not repay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And his master’s heart was moved with compassion and he released him and forgave him [canceling] the debt. 28 But that same slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him [j]a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began choking him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow slave fell on his knees and begged him earnestly, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and he went and had him thrown in prison until he paid back the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and they went and reported to their master [with clarity and in detail] everything that had taken place. 32 Then his master called him and said to him, ‘You wicked and contemptible slave, I forgave all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave [who owed you little by comparison], as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (jailers) until he paid all that he owed. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to [every one of] you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”