Jesus spoke the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt. 18:23-35) by saying: "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants (v.23).

  • Does the Parable imply "not forgiving our brothers from our heart" have a bearing on entering into the Kingdom of Heaven?

  • Could Verse 34b - "until he should pay all his debt" be a clue?

Text: Matt. 18:34-35 (ESV)

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

  • 1
    I am confused as to what you are asking - the heading is quite different from the two questions within the text. Have you asked three questions? If so, they should be separated as quite distinct.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 21:01
  • @Dottard -Thanks! I hope the revised the questions are a bit clearer.
    – Sam
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 22:32
  • This passage is a standard Catholic proof text for purgatory. Are you asking whether this verse supports the idea of purgatory? If so, just ask that.
    – Robert
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


The Heavenly Father will do the same to all people when they die. If you haven't forgiven your brother from the heart at death or if you aren't perfect, you can't enter heaven, where "nothing unclean will ever enter" (Rv 21:27)

Verses like the end of verse 34 is why some Christians (including Catholics like myself) believe in Purgatory.

Purgatory is a place of purification where those who aren't perfect but are still trying to pursue God can be sent. This site gives more details on Catholic beliefs about Purgatory.

It is a place of suffering ("his master delivered him to the jailers [some translations say torturers]"), and the souls remain there until they are made perfect ("until he should pay all his debt"). After they have been purified, they can enter Heaven. Part of this purification would thus have to include forgiving our brother from our heart.


Matthew 18:23-35 should not be interpreted in its literal meaning, because it is a parable.

Our sin is a debt to God. So when God in His mercy canceled our debt and send us free (our salvation), and we do not do forgiveness to others as He does, we commit new sin. Then new sin will tie us back into the cell.

Note the debt to God is huge. So when God put us back to the cell, it almost like the punishment will never get a second chance to cancel.

Hebrew 6:6 (NIV) had it clear

and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Do not let us fall in sin again for there is no second chance. This is why we have to submit to the Holy Spirit, to guide us the truth.

  • Our sin is a debt to God” ? Where is the foundation for this?
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 19:09
  • Debt is a metaphor of sin. Jesus answered Simon using a parable of two debtors in Luke 7:41-50 to explain how a sinful woman, by her faith and her love, her sin was forgiven. Jesus told Simon, "her many sins have been forgiven-as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7:47). The parable of two debtors described there were two debtors one owed 500 and another 50, both were not able to pay back the moneylender, so he forgave the debts of both. Then Jesus asked Simon, "who will love the moneylender more?" Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 1:43

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