Pattern Analysis for Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew Untangled

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This IMPERFECT PARALLEL SYMMETRY is about unforgiveness. The themes of A-B-C match very well with the themes of A′-B′-C′. The variation of D with D′ is one of the five emphatic portions:

1) The Holy Spirit draws the reader into the seventy times seven response by asking the How often QUESTION (verse 21). It is a question that He wants all of us to personally address in our lives. The reader is challenged because they may not have totally forgiven someone.

2) The first part of the FRAME (verse 22) is often remembered by people. It is a NUMERICAL INCREASE: forgive the brother not seven times but seventy times seven, an implication of completion. Jesus was calling for complete forgiveness.

3) VARIATION: The dramatic contrast between the forgiveness of the master (D element in verse 27) and the unforgiveness of the slave (D′ element in verse 30) creates the emphasis.

4) Then verse 33 should cause the reader to ask the same QUESTION of themselves: Should you not have mercy in the same way as I had with you? For the one that has not fully forgiven someone, the Holy Spirit uses this question to probe their own life.

5) The second part of the FRAME, verse 35, is designed to be the most convicting: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not [completely] forgive his brother from your heart.”