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Matthew 18: The Greatest in the Kingdom

For more context before you begin studying, read this introduction to the book of Matthew.

Who is greatest in the kingdom of God? How can a subject of the kingdom earn true wealth? When should we forgive? These questions dominate the thoughts of the disciples as they approach Jerusalem. They are also important questions for us. How we answer them will directly affect the quality of our discipleship.

Warming Up to God

When has someone sinned against you? How did it affect you?

Read Matthew 18

Discovering the Word

  • The disciples want to know who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (v. 1). How does Jesus' appeal to little children answer their question (vv. 2-5)?
  • Spiritually speaking, the "little ones" are those who humble themselves ("become like little children") and believe in Jesus. What is Jesus' attitude toward those who cause the little ones to sin (vv. 6-7)?
  • How do verses 10-14 further emphasize the value Jesus places on his "little ones"?
  • Greatness in the kingdom is also dependent on living a life of forgiveness and mercy. What guidelines does Jesus give for dealing with those who sin against us (vv. 15-20)?
  • Forgiving someone once does not always guarantee he or she will not offend us again. How can the parable of the unmerciful servant help us to keep on forgiving (vv. 21-35)?

Applying the Word

  • Children have little status in the eyes of adults. How can we assume the status of children in our circle of friends and coworkers?
  • How should the value Jesus places on his "little ones" affect the way we view ourselves and other believers?
  • How does this chapter challenge your ideas of value and greatness?

Responding in Prayer

Ask God to help you forgive those who have hurt you.

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