#65 “HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE?” (Matthew 18:21-35)

How many times should you forgive someone who wrongs you? That’s what we discuss on today’s podcast.

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SECOND EVENT: MATTHEW 18:21-35

A Lesson on the Power of Forgiveness

  1. Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often (many times)will my brother sin (engage in wrong doing)against me, and I forgive (to pardon; remove from guilt)him? As many as seven times?” (v. 21)—Rabbinic teaching was up to three times. Thus, Peter was being generous by stating seven times. Peter’s question is tide backed to verse 15, “If your brother sins against you…”
  2. Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times (490 times)(v. 22)—Jesus’ response is unlimited forgiveness and uses the number seven to refer to completeness/wholeness. This is God’s forgiveness. He explains this kind of forgiveness in the parable in 18:23-35.
  3. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants (v. 23)—Jesus went from describing His people as little children (18:5);tosheep(18:12); to using the simile servants (18:23). He now uses a Gentile kingdom in this parable who sets out to evaluate the work of his servants and settle their accounts. This parable is designed to show how Jesus’ servants/followers are to treat and forgive others.
  4. When he began to settle (bring to rest), one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents (millions of dollars). 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience (wait patiently to receive a promise)with me, and I will pay (to fulfill an obligation)you everything.’ 27 And out of pity (great affection; compassion)for him, the master of that servant released (set free)him and forgave (released from obligation; cancel a debt)him the debt (vss. 24-27)—
    1. Talent was the largest quantity of currency. “The Greek text’s reference to 10,000 talents represents the largest number used in ancient calculations and the highest monetary unit at that time (one talent was equivalent to 15 years’ worth of wages).”[1]
    2. The price of a male slave back then would be roughly one talent (the family worth nothing). Thus, the king would not be repaid, but issued the selling of his slave based on the servant’s lack of responsibility in the kingdom. The servant pleas for patiencewhen what he really should have been pleading for was Despite the ignorance and foolishness of the servant, the king releases him of his massive debt, and lets him go. The picture here is one of great mercy and forgiveness.
  5. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (denarius – Roman silver coin), and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed (grieved; saddened), and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 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 (vss. 28-35).”—The servant who was forgiven much by the king should have extended the same kind of compassion. This wicked servant acted in rage and violently attacked the other servant despite his plea to pay him back. Which, if you consider the text, it strongly suggests this wicked servant never intended to pay back the king and was consumed with greed and revenge.
    1. Jesus’ lesson on forgiveness is clear. We are to give the same care, love and mercy shown us by God. As a child of God, your sins have been greatly forgiven through Christ. Thus, we are to show that same kind of forgiveness to others.
    2. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

[1]John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible(Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Mt 18:24.