The man of St Matthew


Chapter 18: Overview

It's as well to begin our reading of chapter 18 by getting an overall sense of the chapter: how it unfolds and its main themes. This will help our detailed reading because we will have seen how the central section relates to the outer sections.
Read through the whole chapter therefore all the way to 19,1. What phrase do we find there? If 19,1 is an ending, look for the beginning and note the opening question. What therefore are we reading in chapter 18?

You may notice that there is no verse 11: it is usually omitted because it seems to be a copyist's addition from Lk 19,10.

As you read the chapter, try to keep track of the key words and see how and where they change.
In verses 1-5 what is the key phrase and key word?
Verses 6-10 form a sub-unit with a bracket in verses 6 & 10. The key word in these verses is clear in the NRSV but not necessarily so in other translations.
What word dominates the second half of the discourse, 18,21-35?

There is also an expression which stands out twice in the first half, then again in the middle and comes up once more at the end of the discourse: can you spot it?

From this first reading, aim to discover six parts in the chapter. See how there are two halves ending in a similar way. Hopefully you will in the process have spotted the part which I see as central to this discourse. What is the dominant theme which provides a setting for this central part?

Now go to my response.

Reading Plan

Our look at the overall flow of the chapter has given us a good background for our reading of the chapter. The middle part about Church discipline stands out so it would be useful to read it on its own. With that in mind, we have three pages for our reading of this chapter:

The Sunday Gospel

It is perhaps surprising that only the second half of this chapter dealing with Church matters is read in the Sunday Lectionary, on the 23rd and 24th Sundays, year A (18,15-20 for the 23rd Sunday and 18,21-35 for the 24th Sunday).
Generally it seems that the editors of the Lectionary recounted incidents only once in the three year cycle. Mark's equivalent to the first half (Mk 9,33-48) is read on Sundays 25 and 26 of year B, though Mark's presentation is actually quite different to Matthew's.

A result of this editing is that the Gospel of the 23rd Sunday, 18,15-20, presents the issue of Church discipline without its context. We'll look at this more closely when we come to read that passage.

We are now ready to read the first part of the chapter, the children and little ones, 18,1-14.