Matthew 18: "Offences" and Forgiveness

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 26–27

Generally, the world rewards and honors those who are tough, aggressive, and refuse to be pushed around. To admit mistakes is often seen by the world as a sign of weakness. How did this way of living compare to what Jesus taught His followers in Matthew 18?

Understanding the Scriptures

Matthew 18

Millstone (v. 6)A heavy stone used to grind grain; it was so big that it had to be turned by a donkey 


Offences (v. 7)Activities that would lead the weak or unwary to sin or err 
Halt (v. 8)Unable to walk without great difficulty 
Maimed (v. 8)Limited use of an arm or a leg 
Despise (v. 10)Look down on 
Perish (v. 14)Be lost (or spiritually destroyed) 
Trespass (v. 15)Sin 
Neglect (v. 17)Refuse 
Heathen (v. 17)One who does not believe in God 
As touching (v. 19)About 
Take account of his servants (v. 23)Collect the money each servant owed 
Reckon (v. 24)Count, add up; figure things out 
Ten thousand talents (v. 24)An incredibly large sum of money, equal to millions of work days; an impossible sum to pay back 
Besought (v. 29)Asked with begging 
Wroth (v. 34)Angry 
Tormentors (v. 34)Those who operate the prison, a place of suffering and mistreatment 
Christ with children

Jesus and the Little Children, by Carl Heinrich Bloch, the National Historic Museum at Frederiksborg in Hillerod

Matthew 18:6—“Whoso Shall Offend One of These Little Ones”

In Matthew 18:3–6 Jesus commanded us not only to become as little children to enter His kingdom but also to make sure we care for little children. This could include not only those who are young in years, but also those who are young in the gospel—having recently made themselves like little children to enter the kingdom.

Speaking to those who abuse children, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I urge you with all of the capacity of which I am capable to stop it, to run from it, to get help, to plead with the Lord for forgiveness and make amends to those whom you have offended. God will not be mocked concerning the abuse of his little ones” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 74; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 54).

Matthew 18:8–9—Removing Hands, Feet, and Eyes

See the Joseph Smith Translation for Matthew 18:9. See also “Understanding the Scriptures” for Matthew 5:29–30 (p. 14).

Studying the Scriptures

Do either activity A or B as you study Matthew 18.

Activity A iconLittle Children

  1. 1.

    According to Matthew 18:3–4, in what two ways is there a connection between us, little children, and the kingdom of heaven.

  2. 2.

    Read Mosiah 3:19 and list the ways in which we are to become as little children. You may want to write Mosiah 3:19 in the margin of your scriptures next to Matthew 18:3–4.

  3. 3.

    From what Jesus said in Matthew 18:5–14, write three statements—in your own words—that would encourage the proper treatment of children.

Activity B iconSolving Problems with Others

Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18:15–35 can help us understand some ways to handle times when others offend us.

  1. 1.

    According to Matthew 18:15–17, what are the first three steps we should take when someone has offended us?

  2. 2.

    Verses 21–35 teach what we must do whenever someone has offended us. As you read the parable in verses 23–34, consider the explanation for “ten thousand talents” and “tormentors” in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section above. Write who or what in the parable represents the following: you, the Savior, the benefits you receive from the Atonement, someone who has done something offensive to you, suffering for unforgiven sins.

  3. 3.

    Write what Jesus said we should learn from this parable of the unmerciful servant.

  4. 4.

    What further understanding about the principle of forgiveness did the Lord give in Doctrine and Covenants 64:8–10?