Matt 18:1 Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Harold B. Lee
"'Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' The answer to that question had been the subject of controversy among the chosen Twelve as they sat in council in the home of Peter at Capernaum. Perhaps the question had so recently come from the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, as to which of these three would be the first in the Church next to the Master himself. It is more likely that they were merely trying to determine those qualifications in a man that fitted him for the highest place in the kingdom. At any rate, as Jesus entered the council room, he discerned the question at issue as though it had been asked. He called a little child to him, probably one of Peter's children, and sat the child in the midst of them and then took it in his arms and said:
"'Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.' (Matt. 18:3-4.)" (Decisions for Successful Living, 54)
Matt 18:3 Except ye be converted...ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven
Henry B. Eyring
"Peter had a testimony of Jesus Christ. He knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, and he declared it. To testify is to know and to declare.
"A short time after Peter was declared blessed for his testimony, Jesus taught His Apostles about conversion. Conversion is quite different from testimony. I read from the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. 'At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.' (Matt. 18:1-4.)
"Later, in an experience recorded in the twenty-second chapter of the book of Luke, the Savior confirmed this lesson on the importance of being converted. This occurred at the conclusion of the Savior's mortal ministry in the sublime instructions given at the Last Supper. 'And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired you, that he may sift the children of the kingdom as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not; and when you are converted strengthen your brethren.' (JST Luke 22:31-32.)
"In order to strengthen his brethren-to nourish and lead the flock of God-this man who had been with Jesus for over three years, who had been given the authority of the holy apostleship, who had been a valiant preacher of righteousness, and who had been declared blessed by the Master for his faith and testimony, still had to be "converted."
"Conversion is obviously a great deal more than testimony.
"Elder Marion G. Romney characterized conversion as 'the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience.' He described conversion as 'an actual change in one's understanding of life's meaning and in his allegiance to God-in interest, in thought, and in conduct.' (Conference Report, October 1963, pp. 23, 24.)
"Elder Bruce R. McConkie contrasted testimony, which he called a personal revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, with conversion, which he said represented a change from one state to another state, as in a laboratory process that changes sugar to starch. 'The same elements are present, but there is some rearrangement so that the substance seems to be different than it previously was' ("Be Ye Converted," BYU Speeches of the Year, 11 February 1968, p. 10)." (On Becoming a Disciple Scholar, 93-94)
Matt 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child
The greatest description of this phenomenon is given through King Benjamin's sermon:
'For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.' (Mosiah 3:19)
Matt 18:5 whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me
Gordon B. Hinckley
"My plea-and I wish I were more eloquent in voicing it-is a plea to save the children. Too many of them walk with pain and fear, in loneliness and despair. Children need sunlight. They need happiness. They need love and nurture. They need kindness and refreshment and affection. Every home, regardless of the cost of the house, can provide an environment of love which will be an environment of salvation." (Ensign, November 1994, 54)
Matt 18:6 whoso shall offend one of these little ones
Gordon B. Hinckley
"There appears to be a plague of child abuse spreading across the world. Perhaps it has always been with us but has not received the attention it presently receives. I am glad there is a hue and cry going up against this terrible evil, too much of which is found among our own. Fathers, you cannot abuse your little ones without offending God. Any man involved in an incestuous relationship is unworthy to hold the priesthood. He is unworthy to hold membership in the Church and should be dealt with accordingly. Any man who beats or in other ways abuses his children will be held accountable before the great judge of us all. If there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such practices, let them repent forthwith, make amends where possible, develop within themselves that discipline which can curb such evil practices, plead with the Lord for forgiveness, and resolve within their hearts henceforth to walk with clean hands. ("To Please Our Heavenly Father," Ensign, May 1985, p. 50.)
"We deplore [child abuse,] which seems to be growing in the world. Of course, it is not new. It has gone on for generations. It is serious, and we so regard it. Sexual abuse of children on the part of fathers, or anyone else, has long been a cause for excommunication from the Church. No man who has been ordained to the priesthood of God can with impunity indulge in either spouse or child abuse. Such activity becomes an immediate repudiation of his right to hold and exercise the priesthood and to retain membership in the Church.
"...In terms of physical abuse, I have never accepted the principle of 'spare the rod and spoil the child.' I will be forever grateful for a father who never laid a hand in anger upon his children. Somehow he had the wonderful talent to let them know what was expected of them and to give them encouragement in achieving it.
"I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons. I am satisfied that such punishment in most instances does more damage than good. Children don't need beating. They need love and encouragement. They need fathers to whom they can look with respect rather than fear." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 3-4.)
Richard L. Evans
"The innocence with which children come into the world is one of the awesome responsibilities of all who, in any way, influence their lives. And to see such unstained innocence neglected or abused, or exposed to evil or unwholesome influence, or warped by bad example, or by false teaching-or by failure to teach-is a sobering concern.
"There are many who have responsibility for teaching children: parents, teachers, friends, anyone who in any way enters their lives, including the makers and promoters of products, of policies; creators of entertainment, and the whole community, publicly and privately. And children in their innocence have a right to be protected from exploitation and from evil influence." (Conference Report, April 1969, Afternoon Meeting 73-74.)
Matt 18:6 whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me
The righteous saints of God who have sufficiently humbled themselves and become as little children become innocent before God. They are those 'little ones which believe in me.' Just as cruelty to innocent little children is offensive to the Lord, so it is offensive to him when his innocent saints are falsely accused, maliciously treated, or more commonly, lead astray with false teachings. The Lord will have little patience for false teachers, and we learn in this chapter that their punishment is equated to that of child abusers.
Ezra Taft Benson
"There are a few teachers within the Church who, while courting apostasy, still want to remain members of the Church, for being members makes them more effective in misleading the Saints. But their day of judgment is coming, and when it does come, for some of them it would have been better, as the Savior said, that a millstone had been put around their necks and they had been drowned in the depths of the sea than to have led away any of the youth of the Church (see Matthew 18:6; D&C 121:22)." (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 286.)
Spencer W. Kimball
"In our own Society, the murderer who kills the body is hunted, imprisoned, and executed, but the character who kills the soul by implanting doubt and shattering faith is permitted not only to go free but also is often retained in high places. The body which is killed will rise again in the resurrection with little damage to its eternal welfare, but he whose faith has been shattered may suffer long ages before complete restoration of spiritual stature can be had, if at all. And Jesus said: 'Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!' (Matthew 18:7.)
"Far better to take from a man his flocks or herds, his lands or wealth, even his sight or limbs, than to be responsible for the loss of his faith. The Son of God put it this way:
'Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt and maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast It from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.' (Matthew 18:8-9.)
"And so we admonish the leaders in stakes, wards, and missions to be ever vigilant to see that no incorrect doctrines are promulgated in their classes or congregations. Wolves will come in sheep's clothing and will deceive the very elect, if that were possible. And we warn again those who write or preach or otherwise teach subversive doctrines, that their punishment is sure for their 'worm dieth not.'" (Conference Report, April 1948, Afternoon Meeting 110.)
Matt 18:7 it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Elder George Q. Morris
"I have had in mind a statement of Job: 'Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.' (Job 14:1.) I suppose at times we all may have that feeling ourselves...There has always been a debate through the centuries as to what sin is, and more particularly why there should be so much sin in the world. Some who believe in God think that it is only an illusion. Some faiths are based on the belief that there is no sin-that it is only an idea in the mind. Others who believe in a God think that perhaps he did not quite make a perfect job of the creation, and there are other various ideas advanced as the reasons for sin. The sin and suffering in the world, says the atheist, proves there is no God.
"It has been a great satisfaction to me just to look over the Lord's explanation of why there is sin, and I want to bring to you the few short sentences in which he explains why sin is in the world. I think it will be enlightening to us and enable us to have the right understanding regarding this matter.
"He said to his disciples: 'Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!' (Matt. 18:7.)
"This is a very definite and clear declaration so far as we are concerned that in the world there must be offenses. There must be sin in the world, but the Lord blocks any illogical reasoning that because there is sin we cannot be blamed for having partaken of it with his statement: 'but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!'
"He also says, in the Doctrine and Covenants, 29:39...'And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet-' (D & C 29:39.) This is a clear and definite statement that I think we must accept literally...This matter of agency is the very essence of our existence...If we take away their free agency we nullify the purpose of the existence of mankind in the world. Satan attempted to do that." (Conference Report, April 1958, Afternoon Meeting 37.)
JST Matt 18:9 a man's hand is his friend...and a man's eye, are they of his own household
"What is the message? It seems clear the Lord is teaching that seeking the kingdom of God is the first priority, even if it must be that we choose it above friends, mentors, or family members. This is reminiscent of the Savior's earlier teaching that 'he that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.' (Matt. 10:37; see vv. 32-39.) The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that to ensure exaltation, we must be 'thoroughly proved' and demonstrate that we are 'determined to serve [God] at all hazards.' He also taught the apostles in Nauvoo that to be thoroughly proved may require the wrenching of the heartstrings. President John Taylor recalled: 'I speak of these things to show how men are to be tried. I heard Joseph Smith say-and I presume Brother Snow heard him also-in preaching to the Twelve in Nauvoo, that the Lord would get hold of their heart strings and wrench them, and that they would have to be tried as Abraham was tried. Well, some of the Twelve could not stand it. They faltered and fell by the way. It was not everybody that could stand what Abraham stood. And Joseph said that if God had known any other way whereby he could have touched Abraham's feelings more acutely and more keenly he would have done so.'
"What would wrench heartstrings more than to be torn between the kingdom of heaven and a dearly loved family member, friend, or leader? Yet the possibility exists, and if we are faced with such a difficult situation, the right choice is clearly given for us." (Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, 362.)
Matt 18:10 in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father
Colloquially, we often speak of "guardian angels." Tradition has it that they watch over us and protect us, even intervening at times on our behalf. While the scriptures are replete with angelic ministrations, the term "guardian angel" is not found in the scriptures. It is a doctrinal concept about which we rarely speak, but in this passage the Savior makes clear reference to the fact that children have their own angels-and he implies that their status is great by virtue of their access to the Father. The doctrine of guardian angels has been discussed by latter-day prophets, including the Prophet Joseph Smith (see HOC 6:461).
Joseph F. Smith
"Jesus said (Matthew 18:10): 'Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven.'...The rule applies to all of God's children or little ones. But, the guardian angels of the pure, the innocent 'which believe in me,' as Jesus said, verse 6, are they which 'do always behold the face of my Father.' While those guardian angels of the disobedient, and etc., I would infer, cannot always bring up in remembrance before the Father such as are disobedient, and believe not in Christ." (From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, compiled by Hyrum M. Smith III and Scott G. Kenney, 39 - 40.)
George Q. Cannon
"The agencies which our Father in heaven has at His control are utterly beyond our conception. Every department of His heavenly and illimitable Kingdom is under the immediate supervision of His agents...
"Lord Jesus plainly informs us concerning certain agencies which the Father uses to watch over his little ones-guardian angels, who always behold His face in heaven. They watch over those who are put in their charge, and no one can offend or despise them with impunity.
"What a consolation is this knowledge to the people of God. In distress, in trouble, in the midst of affliction or of persecution, they can go with confidence to the Lord. They can cry unto Him with faith, knowing that He will hear their supplications. They know, too, that His angels have charge concerning them and that they can have access to their Father in heaven in their behalf. Despised though they may be by the wicked, insignificant even in their own estimation, they may rest assured they are not overlooked or forgotten. The Lord watches over them; nothing can befall them without His knowledge. This is a glorious position to be in. (Jan. 15, 1889, JI 24:37)" (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, 65.)
George Q. Cannon
"Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God's love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that He has actually given His angels-invisible beings of power and might-charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping. . . .
"Those who otherwise might be thought to be contemptible and unworthy of notice, Jesus says, be careful about offending them, for 'their angels do always behold the face of my Father.' (Matthew 18:10.) We are in their charge. They watch over us, and are, to a certain extent, doubtless, responsible for the watchcare that they exercise over us, just as we are responsible for any duty that is assigned us." (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, 4.)
Harold B. Lee
"Those in the spirit world may be guardian angels to those in mortality. Who are guardian angels? Well, it would appear that someone who is quickened by some influence, not yet celestialized, is permitted to come back as a messenger for the purpose of working with and trying to aid those who are left behind. (58-05)
"There may be times when we can feel the nearness of departed spirits. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: 'The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits.' Now listen to this: 'Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 326)" (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 60.)
JST Matt 18:11 these little ones have no need of repentance, and I will save them
"The question of the innocence of children was also a matter that arose in discussions between the Christians and the Jews in the meridian of time. Paul emphasized that the law of circumcision and 'the tradition [should] be done away, which saith that little children are unholy; for it was had among the Jews' (D&C 74:6). Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible is a witness that Jesus had taught concerning the innocent status of children. 'Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones,' the Master said, 'for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels [spirits] do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost and to call sinners to repentance; but these little ones have no need of repentance, and I will save them' (JST Matthew 18:10-11; italics added; compare JST Matt. 19:13)."
"During the period of the Great Apostasy (after the first century of the Christian era) the doctrine of infant baptism again reared its ugly head. Elder James E. Talmage has written, 'There is no authentic record of infant baptism having been practiced during the first two centuries after Christ, and the custom probably did not become general before the fifth century; from the time last named until the Reformation, however, it was accepted by the dominant church organization.' Elsewhere Elder Talmage observed: 'Not only was the form of the baptismal rite radically changed [during the time of the Apostasy], but the application of the ordinance was perverted. The practice of administering baptism to infants was recognized as orthodox in the third century and was doubtless of earlier origin. In a prolonged disputation as to whether it was safe to postpone the baptism of infants until the eighth day after birth-in deference to the Jewish custom of performing circumcision on that day-it was generally decided that such delay would be dangerous, as jeopardizing the future well-being of the child should it die before attaining the age of eight days, and that baptism ought to be administered as soon after birth as possible.'"(Robert L. Millet, The Power of the Word: Saving Doctrines from the Book of Mormon, 252.)
Matt 18:12 if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray
Ezra Taft Benson
"We remember his unforgettable example of a true shepherd's concern for His sheep: 'If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, . . . and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if it so be that he find it, . . . he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.' (Matthew 18:12-13.)
"In Jesus' time, the Palestinian shepherd was noted for his protection of his sheep. Unlike modern sheepherders, the shepherd always walked ahead of his flock. He led them. The shepherd knew each of the sheep and usually had a name for each. The sheep knew his voice and trusted him and would not follow a stranger. Thus, when called, the sheep would come to him. (See John 10:14, 17.)
"At night shepherds would bring their sheep to a corral called a sheepfold. High walls surrounded the sheepfold, and thorns were placed on top of the walls to prevent wild animals and thieves from climbing over. Sometimes, however, a wild animal driven by hunger would leap over the walls into the midst of the sheep, frightening them. Such a situation separated the true shepherd-one who loved his sheep-from the hireling who worked only for pay and duty.
"The true shepherd was willing to give his life for the sheep. He would go in among the sheep and fight for their welfare. The hireling, on the other hand, valued his own personal safety above the sheep and would usually flee from the danger.
"Jesus used this common illustration of His day to declare that He was the Good Shepherd, the True Shepherd. Because of His love for His brothers and sisters, He would willingly and voluntarily lay down His life for them. (See John 10:17-18.) Eventually the Good Shepherd did give His life for the sheep-for you and me-for us all." (Come unto Christ, 64.)
Matt 18:15 go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone
Bruce R. McConkie
"It is not the sinner, the trespasser, the offender, who is to take the initiative in restoring peace and unity among brethren. If perchance he should do so, well and good. But the Lord commands the innocent person, the one without fault, the one who has been offended, to search out his brother and seek to repair the breach. Thus: If thy brother trespass against thee, wait not for him to repent and make restitution; he is, already somewhat hardened in spirit because of the trespass itself; rather, go to him, extend the hand of fellowship, shower him with love, and perchance 'thou hast gained thy brother.'" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 423.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"There are no guarantees; the risks of such openness are real. Yet, significantly, we are not to wait and pout, but are to seek (in the spirit of love and candor) to communicate what we believe are our legitimate concerns of injury to him who has offended us. It is not always that he whom we believed has erred will be wrong. Confrontation can improve our own perceptions of the other person; it can make us aware of extenuating circumstances which otherwise would never be known to us. Finally, even though our feelings initially are those of injury, the fact that we care about improving our relationship with the other person can eventually mean something to him. Caring enough to complain is often evidence of deep and loving feelings. In fact, expressing our feelings of disappointment may be more helpful to others than to present an antiseptic, intellectual analysis of failure. The latter can be challenged and rationalized, but honest statements of feelings can make the reprover and the reproved feel enough concern to focus on what needs to be done." (A More Excellent Way: Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints, 78)
Dallin H. Oaks
"...before Latter-day Saints initiate litigation they have a duty to pursue the settlement of grievances personally or with the aid of a mediator. This duty is grounded in the same eternal principles used to counsel the Saints against conflict and controversy.
"Why should Saints seek to avoid litigation by prior settlement or even by suffering injury without recompense? Speaking of the Savior's teaching on this subject, Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: 'Contention leads to bitterness and smallness of soul; persons who contend with each other shrivel up spiritually and are in danger of losing their salvation. So important is it to avoid this evil that Jesus expects his Saints to suffer oppression and wrong rather than lose their inner peace and serenity through contention. He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, he told the Nephites, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (3 Ne. 11:29).'
"Since litigation almost inevitably involves contention and is prevented by reconciliation and forgiveness, these teachings stand as a strong direction for Latter-day Saints to use every reasonable means to compose their differences and avoid litigation with their fellow members or others.
"The Savior taught that we should be reconciled to our brother before we make a gift at the altar, and that we should turn the other cheek when we are wronged. (See 3 Ne. 12:23-24, 39.) He also taught that we should settle our grievances directly: 'Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.' (Matt. 18:15.)
"In modern times, the Lord has again commanded that his people seek reconciliation with one another: 'If thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.' (D&C 42:88.)
"The early leaders of the restored church were strong in teaching the need for private settlement of disputes. In an address given in 1852, Brigham Young said: 'I have no fellowship for men who are guilty of . . . contending with each other, and going to law before Gentile or Bishops' courts to settle their difficulties. There is a better way of settling difficulties than either of these. . . . When a difference of judgment exists between two parties, let them come together and lay their difficulties at each other's feet, laying themselves down in the cradle of humility, and say 'Brother, (or sister,) I want to do right; yea, I will even wrong myself, to make you right.' . . . After taking this course, if you cannot come together, then call in a third person and settle it.'
"President Young was still giving this direction in 1871: 'Do not go to law at all; it does you no good, and only wastes your substance. . . . If you have difficulties that you cannot settle among yourselves, have recourse to arbitration.'" (The Lord's Way, 175-6.)
Matt 18:16-17 But if he will not hear thee...let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican
The law of forgiveness is often misunderstood because of emphasis on Peter's question, 'how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?' The answer, of course, is 'seventy times seven.' Yet in verses 16-17, we are told that if repeated attempts to resolve a conflict are spurned, one should consider the individual 'as a heathen man and a publican'-the worst possible station in Jewish society. But, why shouldn't the individual be forgiven, seventy times seven? To regard him as a heathen or publican is to carry disdain and is unforgiving. Isn't this contrary to the law of forgiveness?
There is an important difference between situation discussed in verses 15-17 and the concept taught to Peter. From latter-day revelation, we learn that the Lord does not expect us to endlessly forgive those who willfully and without repentance trespass against us (DC 98:23-48). Those who have offended us and asked for forgiveness, we are to forgive 490 times. Those who have offended us and won't repent, we are to expected to forgive three-fold but not 490 times. The Doctrine and Covenants clearly teaches that our enemies who repent not should be forgiven three times, but on the fourth, 'thou shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these testimonies before the Lord; and they shall not be blotted out until he repent and reward thee four-fold in all things wherewith he has trespassed against thee' (DC 98:44).
A variation of this theme is being taught here by the Savior. If you have tried to privately resolve a conflict and have been rejected, the case should be brought before witnesses and then the elders of the Church for resolution (see DC 42:88-89). This gives the individual three chances to reconcile differences. If the person is unrepentant, the Lord does not expect us to forgive him-he may be considered as a 'heathen man and a publican.' While not meant to detract from the importance of forgiveness, this doctrine is reassuring to those who have been repeatedly violated. The Lord does not expect us to be forever trampled upon. His saints are not to be the doormats of the world. The Lord taught us that we should turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39), but he didn't give us 490 cheeks to turn.
Matt 18:18 Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven
Taken in context of the law of forgiveness, this power includes the power to curse those who are unrepentant. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were separately told about this power, 'whosever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whosoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven' (DC 124:93; 132:47). It seems that the Savior was teaching the Apostles about the power of the priesthood to curse those who will not be reconciled (v. 16-17). Of these individuals, the Lord has said:
And upon his children, and upon his children's children of all them that hate me, unto the third and fourth generation.' (DC 98:45-46)
Certainly, the Prophet Joseph had cause to use this power against his enemies. We have no doubt but that the Lord would have cursed them according to his word, but Joseph said, "I have been afraid to ask God to kill my enemies, lest some of them should, peradventure, repent." (Teachings, 340)
"The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows:-If you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be wise. The first thing you do, go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory, and go ahead, and not go back, but use a little wisdom, and seal all you can, and when you get to heaven tell your Father that what you seal on earth should be sealed in heaven, according to his promise. I will walk through the gate of heaven and claim what I seal, and those that follow me and my counsel.
"The Lord once told me that what I asked for I should have. I have been afraid to ask God to kill my enemies, lest some of them should, peradventure, repent.
"I asked a short time since for the Lord to deliver me out of the hands of the Governor of Missouri, and if it needs must be to accomplish it, to take him away; and the next news that came pouring down from there was, that Governor Reynolds had shot himself. And I would now say, Beware, O earth, how you fight against the Saints of God and shed innocent blood; for in the days of Elijah, his enemies came upon him, and fire was called down from heaven and destroyed them. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 340)
Matt 18:19 if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done
Bruce R. McConkie
"We have almost no way of knowing the wonders and marvels that would attend the Lord's work on earth if all of those who are engaged in it were perfectly united together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 'Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine,' he says. (D&C 50:29.) Our souls can scarcely conceive of the gifts and blessings that would be showered upon each of us individually if we possessed that faith which it is within our power to receive...
"If the saints desire to be led, guided, and preserved by the power of the Holy Ghost, let them importune the Lord in unity and faith, and their petition shall be granted. If they desire eternal life in the kingdom of God, let them ask in faith, nothing doubting, and it shall be granted. If they desire new revelations from the Lord, by the voice of his prophet, let them make their united wants known, and the Lord will loose the tongue and open the spiritual eyes of the one who presides over his earthly kingdom. Deity gives unto his people according to their desires, and his promise to the Twelve and to all his people is: 'If ye are purified and cleansed from all sin ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.' (D&C 50:29.)" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 3: 94.)
Matt 18:20 where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them
Joseph B. Wirthlin
"His pledge that he will be in our midst when two or three are gathered together in his name is a wonderful declaration of his unbounded love for us and assures us of his presence in our church services, in our individual lives, and in the intimate circles of our families." (Finding Peace in Our Lives, 97.)
James E. Faust
"The spiritual richness of our meetings seems to have little to do with the buildings or the country in which we meet. Many years ago, we went to Manaus, Brazil, a city far upstream on the Amazon River, surrounded by jungle, to meet with the missionaries and the handful of Saints who were then in that area. We met in a very humble home with no glass panes in the windows. The weather was excessively hot. The children sat on the floor. The mission president, President Helio Da Rocha Camargo, conducted the meeting and called on a faithful brother to give the opening prayer. The humble man responded, 'I will be happy to pray, but may I also bear my testimony?' A sister was asked to lead the singing. She responded, 'I would love to lead the singing, but please let me also bear my testimony.'
"And so it was all through the meeting with those who participated in any way. All felt impelled to bear their profound witness of the Savior and his mission and of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All who were there reached deep down in their souls to their spiritual taproots, remembering the Savior's words that 'where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them' (Matthew 18:20)." (Finding Light in a Dark World, 37.)
"I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him. The Savior looked upon them and wept." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 107)
Matt 18:21-22 Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
Peter's question implies that his brother asks for his forgiveness-that he is sorry for his trespasses. Consider the following, 'And again, verily I say unto you, if after thine enemy has come upon thee the first time, he repent and come unto thee praying thy forgiveness, thou shalt forgive him, and shalt hold it no more as a testimony against thine enemy-And so on unto the second and third time; and as oft as thine enemy repenteth of the trespass wherewith he has trespassed against thee, thou shalt forgive him until seventy times seven.' (DC 98:38-39, emphasis added)
Fortunately for us, the Lord will forgive us even more than 490 times. Certainly, our petitions for repentance must be tiring for Him, but He continues to forgive until more than 'seventy times seven.' As one commentator noted, "First, there is the fact of our indebtedness to God, a debt so great we could never conceivably repay it. (See Mosiah 2:21.) Second, there is the fact that God freely forgives us, if we forgive others. We must be careful that the minuscule debts others may owe us do not prevent us from being forgiven our enormous debts of sin." (Richard Tice, "Bekahs, Shekels, and Talents: A Look at Biblical References to Money," Ensign, Aug. 1987, 30)
Robert E. Wells
"The quality of mercy tempers the strict, severe sentence with compassion and an understanding of extenuating circumstances. The infinite mercy of God cancels any punishment if the sinner repents, asks for forgiveness, and promises to follow Christ. God's mercy comes from his unlimited and unconditional love for us. Likewise, we should show mercy to others through unlimited and unconditional love for them.
"Our parents love us-not necessarily because we deserve it, but because they are our parents and we are their children. And because of their love, they sacrifice to provide for our welfare and security and happiness. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, loves us-not because we deserve it necessarily, but because we are his brothers and sisters. And because of his love, which is unconditional, the Savior willingly sacrificed his life for us. Sacrifice and service beget love." (The Mount and the Master, 65.)
Matt 18:28 one of his fellowservants...owed him an hundred pence
Spencer W. Kimball
"Our vision is completely obscured when we have no mirror to hold up to our own faults and look only for the foibles of others. When we follow the instructions of the Lord, we are kept so busy perfecting ourselves that we come to realize that the faults of others are small in comparison. We should establish the delightful habit, then, of minimizing the weaknesses of others and thus increase our own virtues.
"He who will not forgive others breaks down the bridge over which he himself must travel. This is a truth taught by the Lord in the parable of the unmerciful servant who demanded to be forgiven but was merciless to one who asked forgiveness of him. (See Matt. 18:23-35.)
"It is interesting to note the difference in the debts. The wicked servant owed 10,000 talents and was owed only 100 pence. The Bible dictionary says that a talent is 750 ounces while a Roman penny is the eighth part of an ounce. In the parable, then, the wicked servant who owed 10,000 talents and who begged for time and mercy was condemning and imprisoning for debt the man who owed him a relatively paltry sum, one 600,000th of his own debt." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 261.)
Matt 18:35 if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses
"Joseph Smith instructed, 'The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. (Teachings, 241) I think that's a great barometer to test ourselves to see how close we are getting to God. The closer we are to our Heavenly Father, the more we have these feelings of compassion and desire to forgive and forget." (Ann N. Madsen, As Women of Faith: Talks Selected from the BYU Women's Conferences, 160.)
Elder Eldred G. Smith
"A most important quality in love is forgiveness. If we truly love our neighbor, we will always be willing and ready to forgive...Elder Matthew Cowley once said: ''We ought to say in our hearts let God judge between me and thee, but as for me I will forgive.' That means to say in our hearts, not just lip service. We must be willing to forgive and forget. Most of us have a natural ability to forget, especially the things we are supposed to remember. Most of us work diligently to increase our power to remember. However, in forgiving, we should increase or attempt to increase and work diligently to increase our power to forget." (Conference Report, April 1961, Afternoon Meeting 68.)
Spencer J. Condie
"In latter-day revelation the Lord reiterated the main point of this parable when he said: 'I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men' (D&C 64:10). We cannot expect to gain forgiveness for our sins against the Lord if we are unable to forgive those who have trespassed against us.
"It is very easy to discuss forgiveness as an abstract principle, but when one has been bilked out of one's life's savings, or been the object of an unjust lawsuit, or been the victim of untrue gossip, or become the physically handicapped victim of an accident caused by a drunken driver, or been the victim of child abuse, then forgiveness is no longer an ethereal, abstract principle. It is then that the requirements of the Atonement, the tempering of justice with mercy, can have a great impact in our lives in freeing us from the bondage of hatred and revenge by cleansing our souls through the miracle of forgiveness." (In Perfect Balance, 41.)
N. Eldon Tanner
"How wonderful it would be if we would all forgive and love our neighbors. Then it would be much easier for us to call upon the Lord to forgive us of any of our wrongdoings, and as we repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance, we can expect God's forgiveness and mercy to be extended in our behalf.
"...How important it is for us to apply in our lives those great principles of repentance and forgiveness. Let us always remember that the one who carries a grudge or ill feelings toward a neighbor and does not forgive is the one who is uncomfortable and unhappy and ill at ease, and continuing in this course will canker his soul, and in him will remain the greater sin. There are numerous stories with beautiful endings where persons who have carried grudges or harbored ill feelings toward others have had the courage and strength to, later on, go and apologize, showing love and making reconciliation, resulting in a beautiful new relationship where both are greatly relieved and happy together." ("The Importance of Prayer," Ensign, May 1974, 50)