Bible Study

The Unmerciful Servant


  1. Opening prayer
  2. Highlights from last week
  3. Introduction to The Unmerciful Servant
  4. Read Matthew 18: 21-35
  5. Complete the lesson in Copeland’s guide
  6. Closing prayer

Opening Prayer

O Lord, our God, we open up our hearts as we take our Bibles to study. May Your Spirit reveal to us the realities of Your Word and nurture our hearts to conform to Your Will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.[1]

Highlights From Last Week

  • Last time, we finished the parables that Jesus told to the crowds by the Sea of Galilee: The Sower, The Wheat and Tares, The Growing Seed, The Mustard Seed, The Leaven, The Hidden Treasure, The Pearl of Great Price, The Dragnet, and The Householder. These parables teach us about the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and what we have to be like in order to enter the Kingdom.

Introduction to the Unmerciful Servant

The Unmerciful Servant is a parable Jesus told after He and His disciples had arrived in Capernaum, a fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.[2]It describes the character of citizens who will make up the Kingdom of Heaven: those who display mercy and forgiveness.

Read the Introductions on page 32 of Booth’s guide, and page 30 of Webb’s guide.[3]

Read Matthew 18:21-35:[4]

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[i] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

What is the meaning of the Parable of the Unforgiving / Unmerciful Servant?


Complete the lesson on page 37 in Copeland’s guide, and read the conclusion on page 33 of Booth’s guide.

Closing Prayer

Lord God, heavenly Father,
you did not spare your only Son,
but gave him up for us all to be our Savior,
and along with him
you have graciously given us all things.
We thank you for your precious, saving gospel,
and we pray that you would help us to believe
in the name of our Savior
faithfully and steadfastly,
for he alone
is our righteousness and wisdom,
our comfort and peace,
so that we may stand on the day of his appearing;
through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, our Lord.
-Martin Luther[5]

Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant.[6]