The unforgiving servant slave (Mt 18:28-18:30)

“But that same slave,

As he went out,

Came upon

One of his fellow slaves.

He owed him

A hundred denarii.

He seizing him.

He started choking him.

He said.

‘Pay what you owe.’

Then his fellow slave fell down.

He pleaded with him.

‘Have patience with me!

I will pay you.’

But he refused.

Then he went.

He threw him in prison

Until he would pay the debt.”

 

ἐξελθὼν δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος εὗρεν ἕνα τῶν συνδούλων αὐτοῦ, ὃς ὤφειλεν αὐτῷ ἑκατὸν δηνάρια, καὶ κρατήσας αὐτὸν ἔπνιγεν λέγων Ἀπόδος εἴ τι ὀφείλεις.

πεσὼν οὖν ὁ σύνδουλος αὐτοῦ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν λέγων Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί, καὶ ἀποδώσω σοι.

ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἤθελεν, ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακὴν ἕως ἀποδῷ τὸ ὀφειλόμενον.

 

This parable about the unforgiving servant slave is unique to Matthew.  Just as this servant slave was leaving his master (ἐξελθὼν δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος) after having a $15,000,000 debt forgiven, he ran into a fellow slave (εὗρεν ἕνα τῶν συνδούλων αὐτοῦ).  This fellow slave owed him a hundred denarii (ὃς ὤφειλεν αὐτῷ ἑκατὸν δηνάρια), about $150.00.  He seized him or took hold of him (καὶ κρατήσας αὐτὸν).  He started to choke him by the throat (ἔπνιγεν) and told him to pay what he owed (λέγων Ἀπόδος εἴ τι ὀφείλεις).  Obviously, he was using strong arm tactics to intimidate his fellow slave.  This fellow slave responded by using the same routine and words as he had just done to the king.  Then his fellow slave fell down (πεσὼν οὖν ὁ σύνδουλος αὐτοῦ).  He pleaded with him (παρεκάλει αὐτὸν λέγων) to have patience with him (Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί) because he was going to pay it back to him (καὶ ἀποδώσω σοι).  However, the result was completely different.  Instead of forgiving his fellow slave, he refused to do that (ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἤθελεν).  He threatened him (ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν) and put him in jail or prison (ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακὴν) until he would pay off his debt (ἕως ἀποδῷ τὸ ὀφειλόμενον).

Some will remain (Ezek 6:8-6:10)

“But I will spare some.

Some of you

Shall escape

The sword.

Among the nations,

They will be scattered

Through the countries.

Those of you

Who escaped

Shall remember me

Among the nations

Where they are carried captive.

They will remember

How I was crushed

By their wanton hearts

That turned away

From me.

They will remember

That their wanton eyes

Turned after their idols.

Then they will be loathsome

In their own sight

For the evils

That they have committed,

For all their abominations.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.

I did not threaten

In vain

To bring this disaster

Upon them.”

Yahweh was going to spare some of these Israelites from his sword of death. They would escape scattered among the various nations and countries. Those that escaped would remember Yahweh in their captivity countries. They would remember how Yahweh had crushed their reckless hearts and eyes that turned away from Yahweh to their idols. They would become despicable in their own eyes. They would realize that they had committed evils and abominations. They would then know that Yahweh had not threatened in vain about this disaster that came upon them.

The actions of the Lord (Bar 2:1-2:2)

“So the Lord

Carried out

The threat

He spoke

Against us,

Against our judges

Who ruled Israel,

Against our kings

Against our rulers,

Against the people of Israel,

Against the people of Judah.

Under the whole heaven,

There has not been done

Like what

He has done

In Jerusalem,

In accordance

With the threats

That were written

In the law of Moses.”

The Lord actually did what he threatened to do to us. He carried out his threats against all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, including the judges, the kings, and the rulers. Something like this had never been done before. However, he was only following the threats that were written in the Law of Moses so that it should not have been a surprise.

The book of Jeremiah (Jer 51:60-51:62)

“Jeremiah wrote

In a scroll

All the disasters

That would come

Upon Babylon.

All these words

Were written

Concerning Babylon.

Jeremiah said

To Seraiah.

‘When you come

To Babylon,

See that you read

All these words.

Say!

‘Yahweh!

You yourself threatened

To destroy this place.

Neither human beings

Or animals

Shall live in it.

It shall be desolate forever.’”

Jeremiah or his secretary Baruch wrote on a scroll about all the disasters that would come to Babylon. Then Jeremiah told Seraiah to read all these words in Babylon. Then he was to say that Yahweh has threatened to destroy Babylon so that no humans or animals would live in it. It would become desolate forever. Thus Seraiah was to bring this bad news to Babylon, even though they still had not invaded Judah or Jerusalem at this time.

Freedom for Jeremiah (Jer 40:2-40:4)

“The captain of the guard

Took Jeremiah.

He said to him.

‘Yahweh your God

Threatened this place

With this disaster.

Now Yahweh

Has brought it about.

He has done

As he said.

Because all of you

Sinned against Yahweh.

You did not obey his voice.

Therefore this thing

Has come upon you.

Now look!

I have just released you today

From the fetters

On your hands.

If you wish

To come with me

To Babylon,

Come!

I will take good care of you.

But if you do not wish

To come with me

To Babylon,

You need not come!

See!

The whole land is before you.

Go wherever

You think it good

Or right to go!’”

Jeremiah is finally recognized by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who took him aside. He said to Jeremiah that his God Yahweh had threatened this place and made that threat come true. This happened because they were sinning in Jerusalem and Judah. They had not obeyed their God. This Babylonian captain then released Jeremiah from the chains around his hands. Here is where it gets interesting. He offers Jeremiah a choice. He could go to Babylon, where he would be taken care of, or he could stay in Judah, where the whole land would be his. The captain of the guard told Jeremiah to decide on what was right and good for him. The choice was up to Jeremiah, but it seemed obvious that Jeremiah would stay.

The coming invasion (Jer 6:1-6:3)

“Flee for safety!

O children of Benjamin!

From the midst of Jerusalem!

Blow the trumpet in Tekoa!

Raise a signal on Beth-haccherem!

Evil looms out of the north!

Great destruction looms out of the north!

I have likened

My daughter Zion

To the loveliest pasture.

Shepherds with their flocks

Shall come against her.

They shall pitch their tents

Around her.

They shall pasture.

All in their places.”

Jeremiah warns the people of Benjamin, who were just north of Judah and Jerusalem. He wanted them to sound the trumpet at Tekoa, which was about 12 miles south of Jerusalem. Meanwhile at Beth-haccherem, about 2 miles south of Jerusalem, they were to raise a signal. There would be an attack on Jerusalem. The problem was that evil and great destruction was coming from the north. Zion and her lovely pastures would be threatened by shepherds who would surround them with pitched tents. This was an allusion to the armies and kings that were going to surround the towns and fields of Judah.

The success of the arrogant wicked people (Ps 73:3-73:9)

“I was envious of the arrogant.

I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no pain.

Their bodies are sound and sleek.

They are not in trouble as others are.

They are not plagued like other people.

Therefore pride is their necklace.

Violence covers them like a garment.

Their eyes swell out with fatness.

Their hearts overflow with follies.

They scoff.

They speak with malice.

Loftily they threaten oppression.

They set their mouths against heaven.

Their tongues range over the earth.”

Here we have a vivid description of these wicked arrogant people. Asaph, this psalmist, was envious of their prosperity. They did not have any pain with their sound slick bodies. They did not have troubles like other people who had various illnesses. They were proud violent people. Their garments and their necklaces were indications of their violent nature. They had fat eyes and foolish hearts. They were malicious people who threatened violence. They spoke against heaven as they pursued things here on earth.