“Jesus said to him,
I do not say to you
But seventy times seven.”
λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις, ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.
This saying about 7*70 is unique to Matthew. Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά). Matthew is the only one who ever used this number “ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά” in the New Testament literature, but that number could be found in Genesis, chapter 4:24 when Cain and Lamech were talking about violent revenge. Lamech wanted his vengeance 7*70. Was this number an attempt to indicate infinity before we had that term? 490 seems overly generous in any circumstances, but was this to mean all the time?