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?

 

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?

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?

She will be forgiven much (Lk 7:47-7:47)

“Therefore,

I tell you!

Her many sins

Are forgiven.

She has shown

Great love.

But the one

To whom

Little is forgiven,

Loves little.”

 

οὗ χάριν λέγω σοι, ἀφέωνται αἱ ἁμαρτίαι αὐτῆς αἱ πολλαί, ὅτι ἠγάπησεν πολύ· ᾧ δὲ ὀλίγον ἀφίεται, ὀλίγον ἀγαπᾷ.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus said with a solemn pronouncement (οὗ χάριν λέγω σοι) that this woman had many sins (αἱ ἁμαρτίαι αὐτῆς αἱ πολλαί), but she would be forgiven (ἀφέωνται) these many sins.  She had shown great love (ὅτι ἠγάπησεν πολύ).  However, those for whom little is forgiven (ᾧ δὲ ὀλίγον ἀφίεται), love little (ὀλίγον ἀγαπᾷ).  Thus, there is a reference to the creditor with the 2 debtors, one with a large sum of money who loved more and the other with a lesser sum, both forgiven.  Has anybody ever forgiven you a debt that you owed them?

Many people were baptized by John (Lk 3:21-3:21)

“All the people

Were baptized.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν

 

Mark, chapter 1:5, and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, spoke about all the people coming out to be baptized by John the Baptist.  Matthew, like Mark, mentioned that all the people from Jerusalem and the Judean area were going out to see John the Baptist.  However, Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region as well as all the people of Jerusalem were going out to see John   Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  Luke here, on the other hand, gave no geographical indications.  He simply generically stated that all the people were baptized (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν).  Once again, “all” might be an exaggeration.  John baptized these people in the Jordan River, while they were confessing their sins.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John held a central role in the gospels of Mark and Luke, since they started their stories about Jesus with John.

Evil comes from the human heart (Mk 7:21-7:23)

“It is from within,

From the human heart,

That evil intentions come.

Fornication,

Theft,

Murder,

Adultery,

Avarice,

Wickedness,

Deceit,

Licentiousness,

Envy,

Slander,

Pride,

And folly,

All these evil things

Come from within.

They defile a person.”

 

ἔσωθεν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς καρδίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων οἱ διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ ἐκπορεύονται, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, φόνοι,

μοιχεῖαι, πλεονεξίαι, πονηρίαι, δόλος, ἀσέλγεια, ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός, βλασφημία, ὑπερηφανία, ἀφροσύνη·

πάντα ταῦτα τὰ πονηρὰ ἔσωθεν ἐκπορεύεται καὶ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:19-20.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that it is from within the heart of a person (ἔσωθεν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς καρδίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων) that evil or wicked thoughts come forth spreading out (οἱ διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ ἐκπορεύονται).  This included such evil things as fornication or pornography (πορνεῖαι), theft (κλοπαί), murders or killings (φόνοι), adulteries (μοιχεῖαι), avarice (πλεονεξίαι), wickedness (πονηρίαι), deceit (δόλος), licentiousness or wanton sensuality (ἀσέλγεια,), envy or the evil eye (ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός), slander, abusive language, or blasphemy (βλασφημία), pride (ὑπερηφανία), and folly or foolishness (ἀφροσύνη).  This list in Mark was longer and different than the list in Matthew.  All these evil things came from within (πάντα ταῦτα τὰ πονηρὰ ἔσωθεν).  They come forth from the person (ἐκπορεύεται).  They are the things that defile a person (καὶ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  You can clearly see what Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christian community considered as sins or defilements that made a person unclean or defiled.

Jesus poses a question (Mk 2:9-2:9)

“Which is easier,

To say to the paralytic?

‘Your sins are forgiven!’

Or to say?

‘Rise!

Take up your pallet!

Walk!’”

 

τί ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν τῷ παραλυτικῷ Ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, ἢ εἰπεῖν Ἔγειρε καὶ ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει;

 

Luke, chapter 5:23, and Matthew, chapter 9:8, are almost word for word to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this saying.  Mark said that Jesus posed the question which was it easier to do, (τί ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον) to say to the paralytic (εἰπεῖν τῷ παραλυτικῷ) that your sins are forgiven (Ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι) or to say (ἢ εἰπεῖν) rise up or get up, take your pallet, and walk (Ἔγειρε καὶ ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει)?  Jesus seems to make an equivalence between the two optional sayings.