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 son admits he is a sinner (Lk 15:21-15:21)

“Then the son

Said to him.

‘Father!

I have sinned

Against heaven

And before you.

I am no longer worthy

To be called

Your son.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ υἱὸς αὐτῷ Πάτερ, ἥμαρτον εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐνώπιόν σου, οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἄξιος κληθῆναι υἱός σου.

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the son said to his father (εἶπεν δὲ ὁ υἱὸς αὐτῷ Πάτερ) that he had sinned (ἥμαρτον) against heaven (εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν) and his own father (καὶ ἐνώπιόν σου).  He was no longer worthy to be called his son (οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἄξιος κληθῆναι υἱός σου).  Some of the Greek texts have the ending sentence of verse 19, where he wanted to be treated like one of his hired hands (ποίησόν με ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου).  This seems to be a very true contrite statement, since the words are exactly what he was thinking when he decided to return home.  Thus, this prodigal son confessed his sins and asked for repentance, after his father had already accepted him back.  Have you ever confessed that you are a sinner?

Judas repents (Mt 27:3-27:4)

“When Judas,

His betrayer,

Saw that Jesus

Was condemned,

He repented.

He brought back

The thirty pieces

Of silver

To the chief priests

And the elders.

Judas said.

‘I have sinned

By betraying

Innocent blood.’

They said.

‘What is that to us?

See to it yourself!’”

 

Τότε ἰδὼν Ἰούδας ὁ παραδοὺς αὐτὸν ὅτι κατεκρίθη, μεταμεληθεὶς ἔστρεψεν τὰ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ πρεσβυτέροις

λέγων Ἥμαρτον παραδοὺς αἷμα ἀθῷον. οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Τί πρὸς ἡμᾶς; σὺ ὄψῃ.

 

This is unique to Matthew, who went back to the story about Judas Iscariot.  When Judas, Jesus’ betrayer (Τότε ἰδὼν Ἰούδας ὁ παραδοὺς αὐτὸν), saw that Jesus had been condemned (ὅτι κατεκρίθη) by this semi-official gathering of the Jewish religious leaders, he regretted or repented (μεταμεληθεὶς).  He brought back or returned the 30 pieces of silver (ἔστρεψεν τὰ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια) to these Jerusalem chief priests and elders (τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ πρεσβυτέροις).  Judas said to them that he had sinned (λέγων Ἥμαρτον) by betraying an innocent person or innocent blood (παραδοὺς αἷμα ἀθῷον).  However, these chief priests and elders said that it had nothing to do with them (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Τί πρὸς ἡμᾶς).  It was up to him to do whatever he wanted to do (σὺ ὄψῃ).  This was a fair transaction.  They got Jesus and Judas got the money.  What else was there to do?

The final judgment for humans (Zeph 1:17-1:18)

“I will bring

Such distress

Upon the people

That they shall walk

Like the blind.

They have sinned

Against Yahweh.

Their blood

Shall be poured out

Like dust.

Their flesh

Shall be

Like dung.

Neither their silver,

Nor their gold,

Shall be able

To save them

On the day

Of Yahweh’s wrath.

In the fire

Of his passion,

The whole earth

Shall be consumed.

He will make

All the inhabitants

Of the earth

A full end,

A terrible end.”

Very clearly the end was coming.  There would be so much distress among humans that they would be walking around as if they were blind.  They had sinned against Yahweh, so that their blood would be poured out like dust, while their bodies would be like smelly dung.  Their silver and gold would not save them from Yahweh’s day of wrath, because Yahweh’s angry passion would consume the whole world, including all the people living on it.  The end times was near.

Ephraim has become a rich trader (Hos 12:7-12:8)

“Ephraim was a trader.

His hands

Have false balances.

He loves to oppress people.

Ephraim has said.

‘O!

I am rich.

I have gained wealth

For myself.

In all of my gain,

No offense

Has been found

In me

That would be a sin.’”

Ephraim was a trader, which is the same word as Canaanite. In other words, Ephraim had become like a common Canaanite trader with false balances in his trades. He loved to oppress the people. However, he justified his wealth and gain by saying that that in becoming wealthy, he had not sinned. No one could find anything wrong with him.

The punishment of Gibeah (Hos 10:9-10:10)

“Since the days of Gibeah,

You have sinned!

O Israel!

There they have continued.

Shall not war overtake them

In Gibeah?

I will come

Against the wayward people

To punish them.

Nations shall be gathered

Against them,

When they are punished

For their double iniquity.”

Gibeah was just north of Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin. The first battle of Gibeah was at the time of the Judges, chapters 19-21. The men of Gibeah raped the wife of an Ephraim Levite. However, he got the other tribes of Israel to attack the people of Benjamin. Finally, the Israelites were successful in defeating the people of Gibeah, in the territory of Benjamin. Clearly, the men of Gibeah had sinned. So, had Israel. Thus, the Israelites were successful. Now it looks like there would be another fight against Gibeah that was once destroyed. They would be punished again for their double iniquity, since they had raped 2 women. They also would not turn over the men who did this.

Israel grew rich with many altars (Hos 10:1-10:1)

“Israel is

A luxuriant vine

That yields its fruit.

The more his fruit

Increased,

The more altars

He built.

As his country improved,

He improved

His pillars.”

Israel was very successful after its entry into Canaan. They had great vineyards with abundant fruit. However, as their wealth increased, the Israelites built more altars to the various Canaanite gods. As the country improved, they set up more sacred pillars for foreign gods. Thus, the more that they enjoyed the wealth of the land, the more that they sinned in seeking false gods.