Forgiveness (Lk 17:4-17:4)

“If the same person

Sins against you

Seven times

A day,

Yet turns back

To you

Seven times,

And says.

‘I repent!’

You must forgive!”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ λέγων Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if the same person sinned against you (ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ) 7 times a day (καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας), yet turned back to you 7 times (καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ), and said that he repented (Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ), you must still forgive him (ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ).  There is something like this saying in Matthew, chapter 18:21-22, although there was no mention of Peter here in LukeMatthew indicated that Peter took on a specific leadership role.  He wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother’s sins?  Peter wanted to know how often he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him (ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ).  Peter thought that 7 would be a good number.  Was 7 times enough (ἕως ἑπτάκις)?  Most Jewish people had forgiven offenses 3 times.  3 strikes and you were out.  Peter seemed overly generous in his attempts at forgiveness.  Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not just 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά).  However, this saying about 7*70 was unique to Matthew, who was the only one who ever used this number ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά in the New Testament literature.  This number, nevertheless, 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.  However, here in Luke, it might be even more since forgiveness was expected 7 times each day.  How many times do you forgive people?

 

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The first commandment (Mk 12:29-12:30)

“Jesus answered.

‘The first commandment is.

‘Hear this!

O Israel!

The Lord Our God!

The Lord is one!

You shall love

The Lord

Your God

With all your heart,

With all your soul,

With all your mind,

And with all your strength.’”

 

ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Πρώτη ἐστίν Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ, Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν Κύριος εἷς ἐστιν

καὶ ἀγαπήσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου.

 

This response of Jesus can be found also in Matthew, chapter 22:37-38, without the Shema cry for Israel to listen.  In Luke, chapter 10:27-28, Jesus responded that he had given the right answer to the question.  Here, in Mark it is separate from the love of neighbor, which is the 2nd commandment.  This Shema can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-5.  These verses have had a great influence on the Israelites as the great commandment that is recited often and written all over the place on their hands, forehead, and door posts.  It is both a morning and an evening prayer, something you say at home and when you are away from home.  The Israelites taught their children this simple prayer.  Jesus and the early Christian followers will repeat this prayer in the gospel stories of the New Testament as the great commandment of love of God.  This “Shema” became the basis of the Abrahamic religions, the great commandment of monotheism and love that must always be remembered.  Mark said that Jesus answered this Scribe (ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς) that the first commandment was (ὅτι Πρώτη ἐστίν) “Hear this (Ἄκουε,)!  O Israel (Ἰσραήλ,)! The Lord our God (Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς), the Lord is one (Κύριος εἷς ἐστιν)!”  He should love the Lord (καὶ ἀγαπήσεις Κύριον), his God (τὸν Θεόν σου) with his whole heart (ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίᾳ σου), his whole soul (καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου), his whole mind (καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου), and with all his strength (καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου).  This was the greatest and the first commandment, love God above all else with your whole powerful being, heart, soul, and mind.

Your neighbor (Prov 25:17-25:19)

“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house.

Otherwise the neighbor will become weary of you.

He will hate you.

One who bears false witness against a neighbor is

Like a war club,

Like a sword,

Like a sharp arrow.

Trust in a faithless person

In time of trouble is

Like a bad tooth

Or lame foot.”

Be careful with your neighbors. Do not go there too often. Otherwise your neighbor will grow weary of you. He will end up hating you. Do not bear false witness against a neighbor. That is dangerous like a war club, a sword, or a sharp arrow. Do not trust a faithless person when you are in trouble. They will be like a bad tooth or a lame foot, an annoyance to you.