New Defender's Study Bible Notes
18:2 called a little child. The phrase “little child” refers to very young children, not much more than toddlers. The same Greek word is translated “young child” in Matthew 2:8, referring to the very young Jesus as seen by the wise men. In essence, these verses (see also Luke 18:16-17) indicate that very young children can have enough understanding to place their faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation. It is testified of young Timothy, for example, that “from a child” he had “known the holy Scriptures” (II Timothy 3:15). In this verse, the word for “child” is actually the same word as elsewhere translated “babe.”
18:3 as little children. One does not receive salvation by bargaining or arguing, although the prior clearing of obstacles to faith is helpful and often necessary. In the last analysis, however, we are saved through faith—unconditional faith—like the unquestioning trust of a little child.
18:6 offend one of these little ones. Any person who tries to undermine the faith of young believers or seeks to lead a child into sin or unbelief, is in grave trouble. “Woe to that man!” (Matthew 18:7).
18:10 their angels. All believers seem to have guardian angels (e.g., Psalm 34:7), but those angels which watch believing children evidently have special access to their heavenly Father.
18:11 come to save. This is one of many times when Jesus reminded us that He came from heaven specifically to save sinners (Luke 19:10; etc.).
18:14 little ones. God is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), but many will perish, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Most people will not come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation. But if “little ones” die physically before they become conscious sinners, they are safe in Christ. Although they inherit the sin-nature of Adam, Christ has covered their inherited sin with His own shed blood, and they have committed no other sin. Therefore, their Father in heaven will not allow them to perish spiritually, if they should die physically. Note David’s confidence concerning the death of his infant son (II Samuel 12:22-23).
18:17 hear the church. This is the second mention of the church (see Matthew 16:18), and the subject is, of all things, church discipline! The principles of dealing with an erring brother in the church are outlined in Matthew 18:15-17, yet Jesus was talking only to His disciples (Matthew 18:1). Evidently, He was speaking to them as if they were already, in effect, an organized local church. In fact, they had all been baptized by John the Baptist and were John’s organized disciples until he directed them to Christ (compare John 1:35-37; Acts 1:21-22). The church that Christ would build—or at least its first local representative—was thus already organized, but it would not be energized with the Spirit for its great mission until after His resurrection, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
18:18 bound in heaven. See Matthew 16:19. The commission to bind and loose was for all the disciples, not just Peter.
18:20 in my name. In the context, this statement of Christ indicates that even two or three members, meeting in His name, can constitute a church.
18:20 in the midst. The seven representative churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are also shown with Christ “in the midst” (Revelation 1:13, 20).
18:33 compassion. The words “compassion” and “pity” are translations of the same Greek word, meaning “mercy.” Thus we should show mercy toward others just as Christ did toward us.