Jesus's Words

The Parable of The Unmerciful Servant

back  |  next


Matthew 18:21-35

Synopsis of Parable:

A king looked through his accounts and found a servant who owed him 10,000 talents. The servant could not pay, so the king ordered him, his wife and children, and all his property to be sold. The servant begged patience to pay back the debt, but the king ended up forgiving the servant the debt entirely. Later, that servant found a man who owed him a little money, and when that man could not pay and begged patience, the servant threw the man in prison. The king, hearing this, recalled his servant, berated him for not having compassion like he had, and delivered the servant to prison.

Parable Given in Response to:

His disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of God.(Matthew 18:1.) After explaining a few things, Simon asks, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?Matthew 18:21 To which Jesus replies with this parable.

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found
↓King Jesus Matthew 18:23
↓Servant Us Matthew 18:24
↓Fellowservant Anyone Else Matthew 18:28
↓Forgiveness Forgiveness Matthew 18:27

The Parable of The Unmerciful Servant

As presented in the King James Version of Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The King is Jesus Back to Top ↑

Yet another parable where there is a king or a rich person who represents God or Jesus. There is nothing more to add here that has not been said in the previous parables.

The Servant is Us Back to Top ↑

The servant is anyone that is in the audience or anyone that is reading the parable. It is a personal parable, and should be considered personally.

The Fellowservant is Anyone Else Back to Top ↑

The fellowservant is literally anyone else. Forgive everyone, and Jesus promises that So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.Matthew 18:35

The Forgiveness Given is Forgiveness Back to Top ↑

The forgiveness in the parable is the same as forgiving others in real life. There is no difference.

It is good to note that the servant asked for forgiveness. The king did not forgive his servant, but rather when the servant asked him for time, the king forgive all.(Matthew 18:26.) Likewise, if we never ask for forgiveness, we may never receive it.

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

This is a very simple parable, and every denomination treats it the same way, with the same interpretations, so much exposition was not needed.

God will forgive you for everything if you forgive others and ask him to forgive you. It is just as Jesus prayed in his example prayer, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.Matthew 6:12 cf. Luke 11:4 And Jesus plainly explains why, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14, 15 Jesus expects us to forgive others repeatedly, Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.Luke 17:3, 4 And of course, Jesus even asked God to forgive the people that killed him. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.Luke 23:34 There is nothing that someone can do to you that you cannot forgive.

Morally, this makes sense. If you believe that you are in the kingdom of God and that you will enter heaven for eternity, what can a mere mortal do to you that you will still remember and bear a grudge for seven thousand years from now? Jesus echoes this when he says, And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.Luke 12:4 Do not be afraid of them and do not hold a grudge against them.

back  |  next