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Zoom Bible Study - Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

St. Philip’s Zoom Bible Study

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Welcome! So glad you can join us today to study God’s Word. We are going to discuss Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant. We’ll read the text from Matthew 18 and then work through some discussion questions (listed after the Scripture). You are very welcome to participate in conversation, raise questions, etc. – or you can listen in, whatever you prefer. Let’s dive in.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Matthew 18

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Bible Study Guide

Inductive Bible study means ‘drawing out’ the meaning from the text as opposed to ‘reading in’ our own ideas. It’s a way of letting the Bible speak for itself by listening carefully to what it says. Once learned, this method can be done in as little as 5-10 minutes or as long as an hour or more.

Part 1: Pray

We start by asking God’s Spirit – who wrote the Scriptures – to be our Guide in helping us understand the Scriptures.

Part 2: Observation

What does the passage say?

1. If it is a story, identify the characters, plot, setting, and so on. What happens in this scene?

2. If it is a letter or poetry, what are some of the key images, metaphors, or ideas?

3. What are the main concepts and themes in the passage?

4. What is the tone of the speaker or narrator?

5. Do you see any repetitions, contrasts, or causes-and-effects?

6. Are there any promises, commands, exhortations, or questions?

Part 3: Interpretation

What does the passage mean?

1. Imagine the perspective of the characters in the scene and/or the first recipients of this passage. How would they have responded to these words?

2. Develop some questions based on the text. You can ask ‘What is significant?’ about your main observations of the passage.

3. Answer your questions from the text and the context.

4. Try to summarize the passage in one sentence. What is the main point the author is communicating to the audience?

Part 4: Application

How does my life fit into God’s story?

1. What do you see in the passage that leads you to give thanks to God?

2. What in the passage leads you to confess a particular sin or sins?

3. What in the passage leads you to ask God for a need?

4. What are the implications for your community (e.g., family, work, church)?

Part 5: Pray

Ask that God will help you believe, confess, give thanks, and obey in response to your understanding of the passage.