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?

 

Paradoxes (Sir 20:9-20:12)

“There may be good fortune

For a man in adversity.

A windfall may result in a loss.

There is the gift

That profits you nothing.

There is the gift

That has to be paid back double.

There are losses

For the sake of glory.

There are some

Who have raised their heads

From humble circumstances.

Some buy much for little.

But they pay for it

Seven times over.”

When you are in adversity, you may find a good fortune. A windfall profit might result in a later loss for you. You may get a gift that does not help you. Sometimes you may have to give back twice as much as the gift you received. For the sake of glory, people will lose things. Some people have raised themselves from humble beginnings. There are times when you get a lot for your money, but then you might have to pay it back seven times as much.

Wisdom is greater than any good (Wis 8:5-8:8)

“If riches are a desirable possession in life,

What is richer than wisdom?

Wisdom is the active cause

Of all things.

If understanding is effective,

Who more than she

Is the fashioner of what exists?

If any one loves righteousness,

Her labors are virtues.

She teaches self-control.

She teaches prudence.

She teaches justice.

She teaches courage.

Nothing in life

Is more profitable

For mortals than these.

If anyone longs for wide experience,

She knows the things of old.

She infers the things to come.

She understands turns of speech.

She understands the solutions of riddles.

She has foreknowledge of signs.

She has foreknowledge of wonders.

She has foreknowledge of the outcome of seasons.

She has foreknowledge of the outcome of times.”

Wisdom is greater than any good there is, not only material things, but spiritual or conceptual values also. Everyone wants riches (πλοῦτός) so that the most desirable possession in life is wisdom (σοφίας), the cause of all things. If you want understanding (φρόνησις), then you need wisdom. If you love righteousness (δικαιοσύνην ἀγαπᾷ), you need wisdom. Wisdom teaches the four great Greek cardinal virtues of self-control, prudence, justice, and courage. Wisdom knows about the past and the future. She can solve riddles. She also has foreknowledge of signs and wonders, as well as the outcome of the seasons and the times to come.