The Kingdom of Heaven is like… – Part 7

We have finished up all of the KoH parables from Matthew 13. It is time to start our journey forward and look at the latter KoH parable found in Matthew. Our first stop is Matthew 18:21-35. I found this parable very interesting, hopefully you will agree.

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” – Matthew 18:21-35

I may be wrong, but this parable is probably a well known one. Obviously the king represents God (the Father). The first verse reminds me of what might happen at the end of the age. He wants to settle accounts. Although this interpretation is probably not necessary and might not be correct given the fact that the slave goes and does something after settling accounts (but that might just be a limitation of a parable too).

We see that the King is merciful and forgives the slaves debt when he begs for it. Probably an example of what Jesus did for the world on the cross. Just as Jesus died for the whole world, so will the king forgive the debt of his slaves (when they ask him to).

Then the slave goes and does something interesting. He goes and chokes another slave, one of his peers, for what was owed him. He even goes so far as to through the other slave in prison until he is given his money back. I have often heard it preached that it was a mere impossibility to be payed back at this point, because he was in prison and had no way of making money. I will assume this is true for the moment because it parallels what happens next.

Later the King hears of what the slave has done and hands the wicked slave over to the torturers until he can repay the king back for what is owed. It is interesting that the Kings punishment closely parallels the slaves punishment of his peer. Surely this wicked slave too would never be able to pay back the king what was owed. Thus, he would be tortured forever.

I do not think it is a stretch of the imagination to see that this is what happens in Hell. Jesus ends this parable saying that His Father will do the same “if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

I do not believe the wicked slave was a son of the kingdom. Sure, he asked to be forgiven of his debt, but I think it was merely because he was face to face with the king. In a way, it was already too late for him. Later, when the slave showed his true nature, the king showed him the true punishment. My theology does not permit me to say that this slave was saved, because he is obviously being tortured.

Question: As far as salvation is concerned, what happened when the king forgave the slaves debts?

I have some ideas, but I want to hear from you all first.

Lew

Comments

  1. Alan Knox says

    Lew,

    I’m still chewing on this post. I’m not sure how much we can parallel with heaven and hell. The parable begins, “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.” Does this mean that the parable only compares the kingdom of heaven to a king forgiving his slaves? I’m not sure yet.

    -Alan

  2. Alan,

    Thank you for pointing that out. I had actually thought of that and was planning on discussing that a little in this post. A slight oversight on my part.

    In previous posts we have determined that he Kingdom of Heaven is represented by the sons of the kingdom. Here we have three possibilities:
    1. The kingdom of heaven being compared to the king’s actions.
    2. The kingdom of heaven being compared to the slaves (if all the slaves are sons of the kingdom).
    3. The kingdom of have being compared to something unseen. Of course this option does not work, since is it a parable describing something seen.

    The problem with the second option is all the slaves are sons of the kingdom and some of them are being tortured.

    I cannot think of a problem with the first option – surely the kingdom of heaven includes God (the king) and his actions (forgiving).

    I look forward to hearing your response.

    Lew