Matthew 18:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 18:12, NIV: "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?"

Matthew 18:12, ESV: "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?"

Matthew 18:12, KJV: "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, NASB: "'What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?"

Matthew 18:12, NLT: "'If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?"

Matthew 18:12, CSB: "What do you think? If someone has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, won't he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go and search for the stray?"

What does Matthew 18:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus has just warned His disciples in verse 10 not to despise any of "these little ones," most likely meaning any of the believers in Jesus. Why not disrespect other believers? Because God the Father has decided they are of such great value that they are worthy of sharing in His glory.

Now Jesus begins to illustrate the value His Father, God, places on every single person who believes in Jesus. He will picture the Father as a shepherd with 100 sheep. Jesus asks what a shepherd with that many sheep will do if just one of them goes astray. Won't the shepherd leave behind the 99 to go search for the one?

Historians suggest that 100 would have been about the average size of a flock in Palestine during this era. Given this scenario and value of sheep, the shepherd would leave his flock with other shepherds in the area who were tending their own sheep in order to go and find his own wandering animal. The implication is that God the Father would have the same attitude toward His own "little ones," believers in Jesus, who go astray (Matthew 18:13–14).