Repeated Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” — Matthew 18:21,22.

Jesus’ teaching on the treatment of a sinning brother (18:15-20) prompted Peter to come to Jesus and ask how many times one must forgive a brother–seven times? This now concerns personal forgiveness, not the work of the church. And Peter must have thought he had covered the answer: Judaism taught forgiveness for the same sin three times, but Peter suggests seven.

But Jesus’ response is way more than that. He alludes to Genesis 4:24 to say seventy-seven times! Lamech’s revenge becomes a guideline for forgiveness. Jesus did not mean that seventy-seven was the limit; nor did he mean there was no discipline in the church and that people should simply keep forgiving. His point was that sins among the brethren, these little ones were to be forgiven, and forgiveness cannot be limited by frequency or quantity.

The point of the Gospel, as the next parable shows, is that everyone has been forgiven more than they will ever forgive.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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