Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Unmerciful Servant

I have found Don Carson's EBC Commentary on Matthew to be variable in quality, largely I think due to the limits of the series. However, on the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matt 18, it is full of insight.

  1. Jesus' hyperbole (humour?). The first slave owes 10,000 talents, possibly around 1 billion dollars in contemporary value. Clearly, no master would allow a servant to run up this sort of debt, even if the servant was a "high-ranking imperial civil servant." The story is not meant to be 'realistic.' It demonstrates the incomparable magnitude of man's debt to God.
  2. The second servant owes a significant debt. 100 denarii was probably 100 days' wages for a soldier or labourer. In one sense, the first servant might be rightly angry at not being paid back, if he himself had not just been forgiven a ridiculously sized debt.
  3. The first servant abuses his position. "Even an inexpensive slave sold for five hundred denarii, and it was illegal to sell a man for a sum greater than his debt." Yet this is what happens.
  4. In v. 34, the first servant is handed over not to the jailers (NIV), but to torturers, until he pays back what he owes. We've already seen that he will never be able to do that. Let the reader understand, he is being handed over to be tortured for ever.

Thank you, Don. Now I just have to put it into a sermon!

Thank you Father for such astonishing love; thank you Jesus for accomplishing such forgiveness; thank you Holy Spirit for calling me to receive it.

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