Take a discount (Lk 16:7-16:7)

“Then the manager

Asked another debtor.

‘How much do you owe?’

He replied.

‘A hundred containers

Of wheat.’

The manager said to him.

‘Take your bill!

Make it eighty!’”

 

ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν Σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου. λέγει αὐτῷ Δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα.

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the house manager asked another debtor (ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν) how much did he owe his master (Σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις).  This debtor replied (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) that he owed 100 cors or containers of wheat (Ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου).  Once again, Luke was the only biblical writer to use this term κόρους that means a cor, about 15 bushels, a dry measure, equivalent to 120 gallons.  This dishonest manager then told him (λέγει αὐτῷ) to take his bill (Δέξαι σου τὰ γράμματα) and make it 80 cors (καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα).  This was only a 20% discount or a reduction from 1,500 bushels to 1,200 bushels of wheat.  This corrupt manager was not as kind to this debtor, compared to the first debtor.  Is debt a good thing to have?

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Forgiveness (Lk 11:4-11:4)

“Forgive us

Our sins!

We ourselves

Forgive everyone

Indebted to us.”

 

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν·

Luke indicated that Jesus said that we should ask the Father to forgive our sins (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν).  Afterall, we ourselves have forgiven everyone indebted to us (καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν).  Matthew, chapter 6:12, said that we should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins have put us in debt to God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our own debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  This saying about forgiveness seems similar to Matthew, chapter 6:14-15, that came right after the “Our Father” prayer.  Basically, the heavenly Father would forgive those people who have forgiven others for their missteps or trespasses.  On the other hand, if you did not forgive others, your heavenly Father would not forgive you your trespasses.  You can see how the idea of trespasses, instead of debtors, came to be part of the “Our Father.”  Mark, chapter 11:25, indicated that Jesus said that whenever they would stand and pray, they should forgive others, especially if they have anything against anyone.  Then their heavenly Father would forgive them for their missteps or trespasses.  What are these trespasses?  The Greek word “τὰ παραπτώματα” means to fall away after being close, a lapse, a deviation from the truth, an error, a slip up, relatively unconscious, or non-deliberate.  Apparently, this was not a serious offense, something like daily implied insensitive insults.  However, they still had to forgive the trespasses of others to be forgiven by the heavenly father.  You can see how the idea of trespasses took on a greater significance over debtors in this great prayer to the Father.  Do you forgive other people?

The unforgiving servant slave (Mt 18:28-18:30)

“But that same slave,

As he went out,

Came upon

One of his fellow slaves.

He owed him

A hundred denarii.

He seizing him.

He started choking him.

He said.

‘Pay what you owe.’

Then his fellow slave fell down.

He pleaded with him.

‘Have patience with me!

I will pay you.’

But he refused.

Then he went.

He threw him in prison

Until he would pay the debt.”

 

ἐξελθὼν δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος εὗρεν ἕνα τῶν συνδούλων αὐτοῦ, ὃς ὤφειλεν αὐτῷ ἑκατὸν δηνάρια, καὶ κρατήσας αὐτὸν ἔπνιγεν λέγων Ἀπόδος εἴ τι ὀφείλεις.

πεσὼν οὖν ὁ σύνδουλος αὐτοῦ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν λέγων Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί, καὶ ἀποδώσω σοι.

ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἤθελεν, ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακὴν ἕως ἀποδῷ τὸ ὀφειλόμενον.

 

This parable about the unforgiving servant slave is unique to Matthew.  Just as this servant slave was leaving his master (ἐξελθὼν δὲ ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος) after having a $15,000,000 debt forgiven, he ran into a fellow slave (εὗρεν ἕνα τῶν συνδούλων αὐτοῦ).  This fellow slave owed him a hundred denarii (ὃς ὤφειλεν αὐτῷ ἑκατὸν δηνάρια), about $150.00.  He seized him or took hold of him (καὶ κρατήσας αὐτὸν).  He started to choke him by the throat (ἔπνιγεν) and told him to pay what he owed (λέγων Ἀπόδος εἴ τι ὀφείλεις).  Obviously, he was using strong arm tactics to intimidate his fellow slave.  This fellow slave responded by using the same routine and words as he had just done to the king.  Then his fellow slave fell down (πεσὼν οὖν ὁ σύνδουλος αὐτοῦ).  He pleaded with him (παρεκάλει αὐτὸν λέγων) to have patience with him (Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί) because he was going to pay it back to him (καὶ ἀποδώσω σοι).  However, the result was completely different.  Instead of forgiving his fellow slave, he refused to do that (ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἤθελεν).  He threatened him (ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν) and put him in jail or prison (ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς φυλακὴν) until he would pay off his debt (ἕως ἀποδῷ τὸ ὀφειλόμενον).

The second part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:11-6:13)

“Give us

Our daily bread

Today!

Forgive us

Our debts!

We also have forgiven

Our debtors.

Do not bring us

Into the time of trial!

Rescue us

From the evil one!

 

Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

 

In the second part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” Matthew and Luke, chapter 11:3-4, have the 4 human petitions, perhaps indicating a common Q source.  We should ask the Father to give us (δὸς ἡμῖν) our daily bread or sustenance to sustain our human life (Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον) today (σήμερον).  Every day, even today, we need our daily nutrition to live.  The hope is that God the Father will provide for us.  We should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins that have put us in debt with God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  We ask the Father not to lead us into temptation or be tested in a trial (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν).  Finally, we ask the Father to rescue or deliver us from painful evil or the evil one (ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ).  A Byzantine manuscript has an addition here that has become popular as the ending of the Lord’s Prayer because it has an “Amen” at the end of it.  “For the kingdom (Ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία) and the power (καὶ ἡ δύναμις) and the glory (καὶ ἡ δόξα) are yours forever. Amen (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν).”  This would have fit in better after the first 3 petitions about God the Father, since these 4 petitions are about us here on earth.

Family life (Sir 7:26-7:28)

“If you have a wife

Who pleases you,

Do not divorce her.

But do not trust yourself to one

Whom you detest.

With all your heart

Honor your father.

Do not forget

The birth pangs of your mother.

Remember that it was of your parents

You were born.

How can you repay

What they have given you?”

Sirach has some recommendations about family life. You should not divorce a pleasing wife, which makes sense. However, the same is not true about anyone whom you do not trust or whom you detest. This seems to indicate that a man could divorce a woman if he did not like her. On the other hand, you should honor your father, but not forget about your mother’s labor pains at your birth. Stating the obvious, you were born to your parents. He asked the question about what you owe to your parents. In a more absolute statement, he said that you can never repay them for all that they have done for you.

Treat other people well (Prov 3:27-3:35)

“Do not withhold goods

From those to whom it is due,

When it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor.

‘Go!

Come again!

Tomorrow I will give it.’

If you have it with you.

Do not plan harm against your neighbor.

He lives trustingly beside you.

Do not quarrel with anyone without cause,

When no harm has been done to you.

Do not envy the violent!

Do not choose any of their ways!

The perverse are an abomination to Yahweh.

But the upright are in his confidence.

Yahweh’s curse is on the house of the wicked.

But he blesses the abode of the righteous.

Toward the scorners

He is scornful.

But to the humble

He shows favor.

The wise will inherit honor.

But stubborn fools will inherit disgrace.”

When you owe someone something, you should repay it if you are able. Do not tell your neighbor to come back tomorrow, if you already have it. Do not plan any harm against your trusting neighbor. Do not quarrel with anyone without cause if they have not done anything to you. Do not envy the violent or follow any of their ways. While the perverse are an abomination to Yahweh, the upright are in the confidence of God. Yahweh curses the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. To scorners, he is scornful. However, to the humble, he shows his favor. The wise will inherit honor but the stubborn fools will only find disgrace.