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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How often should I forgive? (Mt 18:21-18:21)

“Then Peter came.

He said to Jesus.

‘Lord!

How often

Should I forgive

My brother

Who sins against me?

As many as seven times?’”

 

Τότε προσελθὼν ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ Κύριε, ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ; ἕως ἑπτάκις;

 

There is something like this saying in Luke, chapter 17:4, but there is no mention of Peter in Luke.  Once again, it is Peter who takes on a specific leadership role.  He wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother’s sins, as he came to Jesus (Τότε προσελθὼν ὁ Πέτρος).  He addressed him as “Lord” (εἶπεν αὐτῷ Κύριε)!  He 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 are out.  Peter seemed overly generous in his attempts at forgiveness.

Turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39-5:39)

“But I say to you!

‘Do not resist

An evildoer!

But if anyone

Strikes you

On the right cheek,

Turn the other also.’”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ· ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα σου, στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην·

 

Matthew is not alone in having Jesus solemnly speak (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) about turning the other cheek.  Luke, in chapter 6:29, around his blessings and curses, had the exact same saying, perhaps another example of the Q source.  Jesus told them not to resist the evildoer (μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ).  Is this evil one the devil, as implied earlier in this chapter?  Or is this just another evil person?  If they were struck on the right cheek (ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα σου), they should turn the other cheek (στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην).  A slap on the right cheek was usually a back handed slap since most people were right handed.  Jesus himself would be struck on the cheek in the passion narrative.  They would be true followers of Jesus, if they did not resist, as in the passion story.  This is one of the strongest arguments for Christian pacifism.

Yahweh is king (Ps 97:1-97:5)

“Yahweh is king!

Let the earth rejoice!

Let the many coastlands be glad!

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Fire goes before him.

Fire consumes his adversaries on every side.

His lightning lights the world.

The earth sees it.

The earth trembles.

The mountains melt like wax

Before Yahweh,

Before the Lord of all the earth.”

Psalm 97 is another untitled psalm about the kingship of Yahweh.   Yahweh is the king who rules the earth. The earth and the coastlands rejoice and are glad. Clouds and darkness are all around Yahweh. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of this throne. Fire consumes all his adversaries. His lightning strikes the world. The earth sees it and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth.

God enacts his justice (Job 34:21-34:26)

“His eyes are upon the ways of mortals.

He sees all their steps.

There is no gloom or deep darkness

Where evildoers may hide themselves.

He has not appointed a time for anyone

To go before God in judgment.

He shatters the mighty without investigation.

He sets others in their place.

Thus, knowing their works,

He overturns them in the night.

They are crushed.

He strikes them for their wickedness,

While others look on.”

Elihu continued that God was always watching humans as he saw every step that they take. The evil doer cannot hide in darkness. No one has an appointed time for their judgment. God strikes the mighty without an investigation. He puts others in their places. He overturns them in the night as he crushes them in the sight of others.

God is greater than any mortal man (Job 33:12-33:22)

“But in this you are not right.

I will answer you.

God is greater than any mortal man.

Why do you contend against him?

You say.

‘He will answer none of my words.’

God speaks in one way.

God speaks in two ways,

Although people do not perceive it.

In a dream,

In a vision of the night,

When deep sleep falls on mortals,

While they slumber on their beds,

Then he opens the ears of men.

He terrifies them with warnings.

So that he may turn man aside from their deeds.

He tries to keep them from pride.

He wants to spare their souls from the pit.

He wants to spare their lives from traversing the river.

They are also chastened with pain upon their beds.

They have continual strife in their bones.

Their lives loathe bread.

Their appetites loathe dainty food.

Their flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen.

Their bones, once invisible, now stick out.

Their souls draw near the pit.

Their lives draw near to those who bring death.”

Elihu felt that Job was wrong. He cannot contend against God, since God is greater than any mortal. Job was complaining that God was not listening and communicating with him. Elihu explained that God communicated in 1 or 2 ways but people do not understand it. Sometimes, he communicates via a dream when people are asleep with terrifying results. Other times, God strikes mortals with painful illness while they are in their beds also. This painful experience may be a learning experience. They get so sick that they do not want to eat anything. They waste away so that all that you see are their bones sticking out through their skin as they get close to death. So God does communicate but we mortals do not hear or understand dreams and illness. The pit may mean a burial place or Sheol, but probably just a burial place.

Eliphaz explains who the happy man is (Job 5:17-5:27)

“How happy is the one whom God reproves.

Therefore, do not despise the discipline of the Almighty Shaddai!

He wounds,

But he binds up.

He strikes,

But his hands heal.

He will deliver you from six troubles.

In seven no harm shall touch you.

In famine he will redeem you from death,

In war he will redeem you from the power of the sword.

You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue.

You shall not fear destruction when it comes.

At destruction and famine you shall laugh.

You shall not fear the wild animals of the earth.

You shall be in league with the stones of the field.

The wild animals shall be at peace with you.

You shall know that your tent is safe,

You shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.

You shall know that your descendants will be many.

Your offspring will be like the grass of the earth.

You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,

As a shock of grain comes up to the threshing floor in its season.

See!

We have searched this out.

It is true.

Hear!

Know it for yourself.”

Eliphaz explained that Job should be happy that he is being disciplined by God, the almighty Shaddai, the name of the God of Abraham in Genesis, chapter 17. God wounds and strikes, but he also heals. He also delivers people from troubles 6 or 7 times. Once again we have the lucky unlucky number of 7. He will protect people during a famine or war so that they will laugh at them. He will protect the disciplined ones from wild animals. He will make sure that their tents and flocks are in good shape. Their offspring will be like the grass on the earth. They will live to a ripe old age. Eliphaz has searched this out. He knows that it is true and he wants Job to know this himself.