Explain Matthew 18:21 And Forgiveness?
By: Garland M. Robinson
Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Some have suggested the rabbis taught that forgiveness was to be extended three times, but no more. Peters question submitted more than double of that in extending forgiveness to seven times. Perhaps he remembered the Lord saying, ...except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). In any case, if it is true that the rabbis taught only three, then Jesus answer must have astonished the apostles when he multiplied Peters number to seventy times seven" (v.22).
The sum of Jesus answer is 490. Should forgiveness be extended up to 490 times, but no more? That certainly is not to be taken as a literal number either. The point is, Jesus taught that forgiveness is to be extended an unlimited number of times. Whenever one desires our forgiveness, we must extend it. Ones obligation to forgive has no limit as long as the one seeking forgiveness repents. Gods willingness to forgive is not limited to a certain number of times, and neither should our willingness to forgive be limited to a certain number of times. We are to follow the Lords example in all things, forgiveness included (cf. 1 Peter 2:21).
As the repentance of the one seeking forgiveness must be genuine and sincere, even so must our forgiveness be genuine and sincere. It cannot be a reserved forgiveness. It cannot be a wait and see attitude. Forgiveness must be complete and full. If we desire and expect God to forgive us when we repent, we must likewise forgive those who seek our forgiveness. The example Jesus gives in verses 23-35 explains it well. The servant who was forgiven ten thousand talents" (v.24) would not forgive the one who owed him an hundred pence" (v.28). As a result, his master did not forgive him, but instead, delivered him to prison till he should pay the debt. The forgiveness we seek from God is contingent upon the forgiveness we are willing to extend to those who have sinned against us.
Are you willing to repent and seek the forgiveness of God? Why not obey the Gospel today. Believe, repent, confess and be baptized to receive Gods forgiveness.