English blog

not knowing pardon

20-10-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

In response to the various blogs that I have devoted this month to liberation/forgiveness, I received a few questions about Matthew 18:21-35. In this passage we are presented with a parable about a king who generously forgives one of his servants the huge sum of ten thousand talents. When this servant finds a fellow servant who only owes him a hundred shillings, he refuses to forgive him this paltry amount. When, in turn, the king learns of this incident, he is very angry and orders the servant, as yet, to be jailed and tortured until he will have paid all his debt. A few questions about this passage: 1. is “aphiemi“, here, correctly translated as ‘forgiveness’?; 2. is forgiveness conditional?; 3. is the parable applicable today? forgive? The Greek word “aphiemi” is derived from the preposition ‘from’ and the verb “let”. Depending on the context, it is in the King James Version translated as: leave, forgive, suffer, let alone, forsake, etc. In relation to debt, the true meaning of the word, indeed, is forgive or pardon. In this connection, “forgiveness” means “leave alone”, hence, “release”. the debtor as a type of Israel The forgiveness which the servant in Matthew 18 received, was in this sense unconditional that the king did not require any pre-condition. However, when the servant himself did not show to have any compassion and willingness to forgive, he lost his freedom and was, as yet, held accountable for his debt. In the debtor of ten thousand talents, we recognize Israel in the days of the book of Acts. They had killed the Christ, but they were offered forgiveness and liberation (Acts 2:38). Israel refused this liberating message and did not want to share it with the nations, who hardly owed any debt (see Acts 22:21,22). In 70AD, their temple was destroyed, and Jerusalem went up in flames… what about us? Yes, Matthew 18 also teaches us a lesson. When a believer, today, does not walk in grace toward others (Col.3:13), it certainly has consequences. Such a person sows (in Paul’s own words) “on the field of his flesh” and will reap corruption (Gal.6:8). Whoever does not walk in grace, will miss out on much joy in this life and, later on, at the ‘bema’ (= the honor podium) will come to realize that hardly anything of value in his life is left. Everything, that is of one’s own work, will as wood, hay and straw go up in flames (1Cor.3:15; cp. Col.3:25). Only what God’s grace in our life will accomplish, will hold its value and will remain to exist. ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema

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