Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Matthew 18:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains - So our common translation reads the verse; others, Doth he not leave the ninety and nine Upon The Mountains, and go, etc. This latter reading appears to me to be the best; because, in Luke 15:4, it is said, he leaveth the ninety and nine In The Desert. The allusion, therefore, is to a shepherd feeding his sheep on the mountains, in the desert; not seeking the lost one On the mountains.

Leaving the ninety and nine, and seeking the One strayed sheep: - This was a very common form of speech among the Jews, and includes no mystery, though there are some who imagine that our Lord refers to the angels who kept not their first estate, and that they are in number, to men, as Ninety are to One. But it is likely that our Lord in this place only alludes to his constant solicitude to instruct, heal, and save those simple people of the sea coasts, country villages, etc., who were scattered abroad, as sheep without a shepherd, ( Matthew 9:36;), the scribes and Pharisees paying no attention to their present or eternal well-being. This may be also considered as a lesson of instruction and comfort to backsliders. How hardly does Christ give them up!

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 12-14

To show still further the reason why we should not despise Christians, he introduced a parable showing the joy felt when a thing lost is found. A shepherd rejoices over the recovery of one of his flock that had wandered more than over all that remained; so God rejoices that man is restored: so he seeks his salvation, and wills that not one thus found should perish. If God thus loves and preserves the redeemed, then surely man should not despise them. See this passage further explained in Luke 15:4-10.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Considering the cunning and malice of Satan, and the weakness and depravity of men's hearts, it is not possible but that there should be offences. God permits them for wise and holy ends, that those who are sincere, and those who are not, may be made known. Being told before, that there will be seducers, tempters, persecutors, and bad examples, let us stand on our guard. We must, as far as lawfully we may, part with what we cannot keep without being entangled by it in sin. The outward occasions of sin must be avoided. If we live after the flesh, we must die. If we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live. Christ came into the world to save souls, and he will reckon severely with those who hinder the progress of others who are setting their faces heavenward. And shall any of us refuse attention to those whom the Son of God came to seek and to save? A father takes care of all his children, but is particularly tender of the little ones.
Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 289.4

You will always have erring ones among you, and here is where you can show a Christian character. Do not push them away from you, but if you have light seek to let it shine upon them, and in this way you can help them toward heaven. Every soul that has the spirit of Christ will work the works of Christ. And if any see one wandering away from Christ, he will feel as Christ did about the lost sheep. There were ninety and nine in the fold, but He went out after the one that had strayed away. This is the spirit we should manifest. As children of God we should walk in the light, and as we follow in the light we shall lighten the path for others. Let us cultivate gratitude to God and then we shall not get our eyes upon little difficulties. And although our brethren and sisters may err, shall we err? We have faults, as well as they, and we want compassion, as well as they; we should have compassion for one another. HP 289.4

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 323.1

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? Matthew 18:12. HP 323.1

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Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 35.6

But the peculiarity separating the Jews from other nations disappeared in Christ. He placed Himself where He could give instruction to all classes of people. Often He told them that He was related to the whole human family, Jew and Gentile. “I am not come to call the [self] righteous, but sinners to repentance,” He declared. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. For this He left the ninety and nine; for this He laid off His royal robes, and veiled His divinity with humanity. The whole world is Christ's field of labor. A sphere narrower than this does not enter His thoughts (The Signs of the Times, June 24, 1897). LHU 35.6

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 184.5

Jesus loves children and youth. He rejoices when He sees Satan repulsed in his efforts to overcome them. Many a youth is in imminent peril through manifold temptations, but the Saviour has the tenderest sympathy for him, and sends His angels to guard and protect him. He is the good shepherd, ever ready to go into the wilderness to seek for the lost, straying sheep.... RC 184.5

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