The Subject Matter Has To Do with Forgiveness.
The question is:
- To forgive others, must they ask for forgiveness first?
- Must they admit that they have wronged us?
- Must they repent (change their mind) of having wronged us?
This is not a trick question, and no I don’t think I have the complete answer. In fact, I could go either way, yet as always, according to Scripture.
So I pose this question in humility, admitting upfront that I really want other believer’s insight to help me address this subject.
Before you answer, please consider the following statement.
God’s example of forgiveness is ultimately exhibited in His free gift of salvation, which is offered by grace (Grace is the mechanism), through faith (Faith is the condition that gives us access to the mechanism. Its like having access to a house, however to have access to a house does not mean I own the house, nor have paid for it, I have not – God has). The gift is free, but not without a condition – the condition is “faith.” However, within the condition of faith is the awareness of our sinfulness; and us confessing our sinfulness and asking for forgiveness.
Then, this being the case, to follow God’s example as is set before us, how can we forgive someone unless they ask forgiveness first.
If this is not the case, would God ask us to do something He Himself would not do.
1) Please leave your opinions concerning this question.
2) If you have the time, please list any Scriptures which you feel address this subject.
3) And if you have the time, please explain how the following 2 Scripture fit into the subject matter.
Please consider Matthew 5:23-26, which states:
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”
Also, what about Matthew 18:15-22, which states:
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Thank you very much for your help in this. Thanks, Brent
Great googly moogly Batman, I’m gonna have to keep this simple as my simple mind is able to decipher, smiles.
1. To forgive others, must they ask for forgiveness first?…No, we are forgiving them out of obedience and we are the ones who benefit most from the gesture. I don’t see it as a matter of God asking us to do something He himself wouldn’t do, thinking back to Sodom He was willing to spare the city for the sake of 10 righteous and the desire of Abraham with no obvious stipulation of the 10 confessing to anything at all. Now I might say that sparing and forgiving are 2 different things but then again through forgiveness we are spared wrath deserved so hmmmm, well be that as it may lol.
2. Must they admit that they have wronged us? Yes, if they are to receive the forgiveness ( in the eyes of God who also records the trespass ) they need confess same as we each must confess our sins to receive forgiveness of the Lord….”Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven”….obviously He is involved in the equation and it isn’t actually a matter resting simply between the 2 parties.
3. Must they repent (change their mind) of having wronged us? Question 3 really seems to correspond in like manner to question 2, confession after all is not merely words but a change of direction and heart.
Now this was all just a matter of opinion I realize as this is some tuff stuff your asking to respond with and smugness of confidence, honestly I am less confident in my own interpretational abilities as I grow older…and have had to re evaluate and change former conclusions that I had once thought was certain…go figure!
Oh yeah…Hi Brent!
Brent, you are the scholar, not I , and I wont pretend to be. So I have chosen to go by what my heart tells me to say here. First let me say one thing though. I have a tender heart, I hate hurting people, I hurt when they hurt. I try to have a forgiving nature, although sometimes its hard with some people. What about Matthew 5: 38-42? I know these verses speak about retailation, but I think they lead right up to forgiveness. Some people just dont have it in them to ask for forgiveness. I dont know why, but it just isnt in their nature, God didnt make them that way. They are wired differently. Should I not turn the other cheek when these people cant ask me to forgive them and they KNOW they have hurt me…broken trust? I know someone that has extended so much grace to me from time to time, times that I didnt deserve it. Do you know what??? It has taught me that that is the type of person I want to be. I want to be just like that person, I want to be a person of integrity,I want my yes to be yes and my no to be no.I want to be one who can extend grace to someone who is undeserving of it even if it hurts me to do so…. I want to be able to “turn the other cheek” Jesus forgives me, even before I commit the sin…even before I ask Him to..why should I not extend the same grace to others? Now maybe I am way off key here…like I said Im taking baby steps here….you are the scholar…
Sometimes people do not even realize how they have made us feel, therefore they do not know they have wronged us. How can they ask for forgiveness if they dont know?
If they do know, and they are too stubborn, or prideful….thats a tough one, we should be the bigger person…turn the other cheek…forgive. Boy is that hard sometimes.
Yes they should repent if they have wronged us, but that stubborn pride gets in the way again, and I see your verse up there pointing out how we should tell them about it….are you willing to do that? I know Jesus said it. Weigh it….its sometimes a hard call…sometimes you must decide if by doing so, are you pushing that person farther away from Christ by appearing all mighty and holier than he is? We have to walk softly here….and carry a big stick…(Roosevelt) ( the stick being our Bible, which you do well) but dont come off as being arrogant by doing so.
You have the tools well within your grasp, and quiet honestly I am surprised you asked of us these questions…you are a brilliant man…I feel your struggle within Brent…you are in my prayers….God Bless You….Nonni…
PS~~~~I know this wasnt the best answer….I speak from my heart far too often.
I appreciate all the effort that you and many others put forth
in explaining the Word of God, or various aspects of it, with
all the background research, scripture listing, historical
contexts, language issues etc.
I am not capable of that method, as I am not an end level
While I am highly analytical by nature, I tend to detect trends
and in this process I will usually generate an overall view, or
a conclusion based on the dataset.
So with that said, if you don’t mind reading my ramblings,
perhaps something I may say will answer, help to answer, or
possibly act as a trigger for you to further your own
understanding of this issue.
-To forgive others, must they ask for forgiveness first?
-Must they admit that they have wronged us?
-Must they repent (change their mind) of having wronged us?
First off, the question(s) leaves me with some additional
What is the purpose of the act of forgiveness?
For whose benefit is it?
What are the long term ramifications of it?
Are we talking about forgiving within the body of believers?
Is forgiving, something that is applicable to us in regard to
dealing with non-believers?
You said: ” Then, this being the case, to follow God’s example
as is set before us, is that we cannot forgive someone unless
they asked forgiveness first for having wronged us.
If this is not the case, would God ask us to do something He
Himself would not do.”
This appears to me to be directed at forgiveness towards
restoration or fellowship.
In other words, our sinless nature must first be recognized by
ourselves, in order that we may seek forgiveness, which
restores us to fellowship with Him.
The initial act of Salvation appears to me to be one of
accepting that God says we have a sin nature and thus
constitutes our “belief in Him”.
For by believing God is, implies that we must also believe that
He is the Truth, literally.
But a new convert will rarely realize the full import of his
sinful nature, so how can one ask forgiveness for a sin nature
that goes so deep we cannot even begin to understand it’s
I would have to conclude based on God’s example, that in order
for fellowship to be restored with others, the answer to the 3
questions must be yes.
For example, a friend that offends me in a major fashion, has
in effect caused a serious disruption in the friendship.
The act of me forgiving this friend, does not address the
actual consequence of the trespass.
The only way to negate the breach in friendship, would require
the friend to understand that he has caused a serious rift
between us, and do something about it.
If this person desires to return to a state of friendship with
me, then he must admit(2) repent(3) and ask for forgiveness(1).
I am then free to forgive him, so that our friendship is
How often are we to do this? 7 X 7 times, 7 X 70 times?
However, is that the only aspect of forgiveness?
I would have to say no.
I think there are many aspects of forgiving that do not entail
either a current or future fellowship with offending
Using the above example again, should that individual not
recognize that he has offended me, nor repent of it, nor ask
forgiveness, where does that leave me?
I believe I am left with a broken friendship, that cannot be
repaired unilaterally by me. For we cannot simply overlook a
Now if I do not forgive my ex friend, I will most likely
harbour a resentment, which over time can turn into hatred
towards that individual.
I therefore would have to conclude that it is better to forgive
him, if only for my own sake and well being.
But it is not a forgiveness to restoration, as it is a one
sided deal, and restoration requires both to particpate in the
The anger of RoadRage is another case of answering “No” to the
As we are driving along the road, a reckless individual cuts us
off, nearly causing a potentially serious or fatal accident,
and for whatever reason, we manage to avoid that fate.
It would be so easy to be offended, and yet our resulting anger
is potentially far more dangerous to us than the actual
incident. We may get so mad at the individual, that we neglect
the rules of the road in our anger, potentially endangering us
further. This doesn’t even begin to address the health issues
that arise from elevated blood pressure and stress etc.
And as we go on throughout the day, we constantly replay the
incident in our mind, and tell the story to others etc….
It becomes a poison to the soul.
In this case, even though the individual has not satisfied any
of the 3 questions, I believe we must still forgive this
person, if only for our own sake.
Why did Jesus say, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what
they are doing” when He was being crucified?
This was not a forgiveness to salvation, nor to restoration, in
as far as I can tell.
Since Jesus was crucified in order to legally pay the demands
of the law for us, it gets very tricky trying to understand how
a Holy and Just God, could forgive in this instance without the
demand of the law being met. And so I have no answer to this
While many more examples could be looked at and analyzed, my
conclusion is that there is forgiveness towards restoration, as
well as outright forgiveness with no view of further
Which unfortunately doesn’t give a black or white answer to
your 3 questions, it becomes circumstantial in it’s response.
Also seems to have it’s counterpart in Luke 12:58-59
-For as thou art going with thine adversary before the
magistrate, on the way give diligence to be quit of him; lest
haply he drag thee unto the judge, and the judge shall deliver
thee to the officer, and the officer shall cast thee into
-I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till
thou have paid the very last mite.
My understanding, is that in both cases, the one who is guilty,
is being addressed, and that an out of court settlement is the
better course of action, yet this requires understanding he has
offended, and therefore must seek forgiveness and resolution
from the plaintiff, before it reaches the courts, as the
demands of justice are much more harsh.
This seems to address the issue of salvation for us, in the
sense that it is best that we seek forgiveness from God, now,
while we are alive, for otherwise, we shall find ourself in
court, and being found guilty, subject to a penalty, and that
penalty in the Bible is described as a separation from God,
with all the negative aspects that ensue.
While it seems similar to the earlier verse in Matthew, there
seems to be a distinguishing factor here.
In this case it is not the guilty one that is addressed, but
rather the one that has been offended.
In this case it is an attempt to cause the offender to realize
the error of his way, so that he may undertake the 3 steps of
forgiveness that we are discussing, thus giving an opportunity
to the offender to be forgiven, instead of escalating the steps
towards a legal judgement and subsequent banishing.
It would then seem, that on the one hand, we should seek
forgiveness if we are the offender, yet as a victim, we have a
duty to approach our offender, and extend him an opportunity to
repent, so we may then offer forgiveness.
While the verses in Matthew seem to indicate that questions
1-2-3 are required for forgiveness, there appears to be another
aspect of it as I wrote above, whereby forgiveness is to be
given in spite of Q-1-2-3, and is possibly another Christian
paradox of sorts.
I certainly don’t have the final answer on this, and so I leave
you my thoughts, and perhaps something I said will help you,
which may in turn help me as you submit further writings on
this, which I think you probably will do!
I just have to say this…
Quoting you: ” PS~~~~I know this wasnt the best answer….I speak from my heart far too often. ”
It’s not about the best answer…
Second, when we think of the “Body of Christ” , we must remember it is a body!
There are those that will operate as a heart, and those that will operate as a brain! And of course there are many other parts of the body too!
Never diminish yourself down by comparing to others, we are like apples and oranges, each person different and distinct in our own way, God has made no 2 people alike, not even twins, there is a reason for that.
Stand tall and proud in who you are in Christ, as you are, and as He has made you!
Wow, what a turnout, and in such a short amount of time. Sometimes writing these long lofty posts, you wonder if anybody’s out there is reading them. I know now that you guys are always there. This tells me I need to be asking for help much more often than I do – my response to this overwhelming turnout is most notably “THANK YOU.”
Right now I am attempting to complete my CE classes for my CD counseling license, which I must do every 2 years. It’s 40 hours, so I may be tied up until probably Tuesday or Wednesday.
Therefore let me say what I’ve heard said a few times. There so much here it may take me a while to go through it.
The reason I’m explaining about my classes is I want you guys to understand why it may take a few days for me to get back to you – and I want to drive home the point that this is VERY important to me, I just must complete my classes first.
I look forward to reading all of your responses. Thanks, Brent
Quoting Brent: ” Wow, what a turnout, and in such a short amount of time. ”
ah ha! It was a trick question!
Designed to bring us out of the woodwork!
Best of wishes on your CE classes!
Looking forward to your comments on the topic at hand!
Whenever that may be!
God forgave all sin when his Son went to the cross. All sin in the past and present and those we will do. Jewish law required the Jews to forgive. We are under the Gospel of Grace. Paul teaches no condomnation for sin.
I thank you very much for your opinion. As you may have noticed from my brief post, I left only two scriptural passages concerning my question.
If you could please give more than your opinion, perhaps use Scripture to cite while your opinion is correct, or as I had originally posted if you could addressees the two passages I would be thankful.
You see, what you said was wrong because it was incomplete. You stated that “God forgave all sin when his son went to the cross.” This is completely untrue and a lie from the pit of hell. I know this sounds very extreme but bear with me for a minute please.
I don’t think you meant to say what you said , is referred to as a form universal salvation, where due to Christ dying on the cross every one is automatically forgiven.
This is not true. I don’t think you intended to, but the reason your incorrect is that you left out a very important aspect to salvation, you left out a qualifier. I don’t want call it a condition, because it is not, because we do not trade anything for salvation. It is by faith that we based upon God’s grace, receive God’s forgiveness – salavtion, yet we must receive it through faith.
Faith is the qualifier to receive the free salvation. You totally left this out. You see let’s turn to the Scripture so that we both get a clear view of what I am attempting to say.
You stated: “Paul teaches no condemnation for sin” You misquoted Paul’s teaching in your response by omitting the very important aspects which God wanted us to adhere to and understand, by leaving out: “to them which are in Christ Jesus.” You partially quoted Romans 8:1, yet due to your haphazard handling of God’s Word you made it say something that God never intended. The text states:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)
Being “in Christ Jesus” has qualifiers were conditions which separates it from the rest of those in the world who do not meet those conditions are qualifiers.
In fact everything you stated was partial and therefore misrepresented what the Scripture actually states. In order to attempt to understand the subject matter perhaps the easiest verse that deals with salvation is John 3:16
However, so that we don’t miss anything concerning the clear complete context of the passage let’s read from John 3:15 through John 3:18 to make sure we get the whole picture.
“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:15-18 KJV).
You see the qualifier is listed 1st by stating that “whosoever believed in him.”
This is the condition that you left out, commonly referred to as biblical faith.
This is why I posted the question, the greatest example we have of forgiveness is God forgiving a person their sin based upon grace through faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross.
He just didn’t do it to anybody and everybody, God does not forgive everybody there sin, this is totally wrong.
He only forgives those that ask to be forgiven, this is why repentance is necessary to salvation.
The word repentance is not the same as the English train of thought wherein one is ashamed or regrets.
The Greek word which we translate into the English word repent, actually means “to change one’s mind,” but even more than this it means “to change the direction of one’s life.” It is much more that a mere mental pursuit – it is life changing.
The idea is that when a person becomes a believer it is because they have changed their mind, and stop going the way they want to go in life, a way that leads to hell; and they turn around 180 degrees, and start going Christ’s way.
They change their mind which is seen because they change their life.
God doesn’t simply forgive us because we ask for forgiveness either, He forgives us because we put our trust in Christ for dying for our sins.
You see when it comes to forgiveness, it’s very biblical to say that we must be willing to forgive everyone in our life (a mindset), but this does not mean that we need to fulfill the act of literally forgiving everyone behaviorally speaking (by not holding them responsable for their actions – If they violate the law against us, they still go to jail, it is just that we do not hold a grudge against them – We personally forgive them).
There’s a difference between having a heart of forgiveness, and allowing someone to violate God’s law without any repercussions.
It is unrighteou,s and against the Bible to do this. It is a violation of the law of God.
This is why we have a court of law which is very similar in some aspects to the law of God as it was established centuries ago.
There is a punishment that is mandated when someone violates the law.
violating the law, in a majority of cases is sinning against another man. You see a criminal is just not forgiven is far as punishment goes, though the believer should be willing to forgive him if he seeks forgiveness.
If a man rapes your daughter, your baby that’s only a few years old, yes you must be willing to forgive him in your heart, yet it is unbiblical to allow him to escape the punishment of doing so.
I’m using an extreme case (something that really occurred in my life, where I was willing to forgive the person in my heart) for a reason, so that I can incite you do understand the emotions that come into play whenever people haphazardly handle God’s word.
God does not say to simply forgive anyone for the sake of forgiving them, outside of the confines of your heart. In the case I just spoke of, if you forgave that person, and they did not repent of their pedophilia, and allowed him to walk the streets practicing this sin, you have committed a worse sin than his because you have allowed him to do so, When you had the opportunity to stop it.
He must repent in order to even receive your technical forgiveness, yet again because of society and our laws, which were based upon the Bible hundreds of years ago, the perpetrator must still pay a price – He must “pay his price” to society, even this is a biblical term.
You see the point I am making Denny, is it’s not as easy as it seems. My personal opinion is based upon God’s word, we need to maintain an attitude of forgiveness.
I Think it’s best if we turn to God’s word and see what He says.
The great example of prayer that Christ gave us is found in Matthew 6:9-15, yet the sentence that is pertinent is verse 12 which states:
“and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Do you notice that it doesn’t say forgive us our sin.
The Greek word for sin is, hamartano, and means to “miss the mark;’ which is to say anything that’s not perfect is sin.
This is the most common Greek word used for the word “sin” in the New Testament, but that’s not the word that used here by Christ concerning people that sin against us, and our sin against others as well as God.
The Greek word is opheilema, which means “something owed” “morally a fault or a debt.”
You see the idea that Christ is conveying here is that when we sin against somebody, we owe them something, in the same way that when we sin against God we owe him something.
And for those that refuse is free gift of salvation through faith, they will pay God what they owe him in a place called hell.
The idea in this passage is that the person making the prayer has sinned and needs to repent, and also be willing to forgive what others owe us; and points out that God is willing to forgive him / us when we’re willing to correct that sin.
This again is the idea of repentance. Let me finish by asking you this Denny.
Give me one place in the Bible where forgiveness is given to someone who refuses to repent, who refuses to admit they were wrong.
You see God doesn’t do this. He forgives us when we repent when we are met are wrong.
Now this is not the same as an attitude, though most of what we have been talking about is the behavior of forgiveness.
The behavior of forgiveness is not holding someone accountable for having violated you.
The attitude of forgiveness is a mindset where you are willing and indeed do forgive others that sin against you.
This is what I believe that we need to maintain.
You see Jesus on the cross asked God to forgive them, but there was also a condition that Jesus asked for forgiveness for those that it crucified him.
The condition / reason was they didn’t understand that they were crucified the Son of God.
You see He was being executed for saying He was God, and according to the Torah, “The Law” if a man claimed to be God he was to be stoned.
But we know the Jews didn’t have the right of capital punishment, so they use the Romans to do their dirty work by way of crucifixion.
If Christ wasn’t the Son of God, divine; then he would’ve received is just desert in claiming’s something so heretical that death was the only correction.
But Jesus gives us an example in that He asked the Father to forgive those that had done this because they didn’t understand that truly He was a Son of God and did not deserve to be executed.
Because of their unbelief, they were NOT guilty of deliberately committing murder.
Now the Pharisees, that’s a different question, by the words they said they understood that he was who he says He was.
But Jesus in His prayer at His crucifixion is not talking about the Pharisees, He is talking about those around Him, those at His feet as well as the people at His trial that called for Him to be crucified, in ignorance.
Anyway Denny, I think in a simplistic way you and I agree that we need to maintain an attitude of forgiveness.
But the whole reason I pointed out this question was not to give people a license to hold a grudge, that’s unbiblical.
No, the reason I posed this question is because you and I are called to study God’s Word, not simply just merely read it.
And it is understanding that we are reading a translation, of the original text which was created in the Greek language, actually a divergent aspect called Koine Greek.
And whenever you translate from one language to another, there is always difficulty and mistranslation indicating that you need to study that much harder to understand what the original text meant.
You see by you omitting certain words you display that you really don’t understand God’s Word very thoroughly.
Nor did you even take the time to cite any Bible passages, you simply gave me your opinion.
If you went on a college campus and had to deal with an atheist, they would chew you up and spit you out, and Christ would look like a fool because of your inability to be prepared by having studied God’s word wherein you would know what you are talking about.
You see God doesn’t forgive the world they’re sin because Jesus died on the cross, but whosoever believe within him, those that meet the
conditionQualifier those are the ones that God forgives and in the process they obtain something so precious, they become sons and daughters of God.
Sealed by the Holy Spirit, adopted into God’s family. If you read the 1st through 3rd chapter of Ephesians you come to understand how precious is this gift (being sealed & adopted) we haphazardly refer to is how salvation.
It is much more than salvation in a simplistic form. You (If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ in his atoning work on the cross for you) and I Denny, are the Most fortunate people on earth, because we are forgiven based upon our faith in Jesus Christ.
This post was written so that people would think about things a little bit more deeply, and despite my blunt words to you, I pray that you allow the Holy Spirit to motivate you into reading God’s word much more deeply – and studying God’s word, especially the meaning of the original words which give so much more clarity into what God is attempting to communicate to us in His Word, To understand precisely What God is saying.
Please forgive me if this sounds like pure arrogance.
35 years ago someone said the same thing like this to me, and it angered me into motivation in that I started me down the road Of studying deeply what God’s word meant in order that I might come to fully understand what our precious Lord wants to say to us.
It is an studying and coming to understand the depths of God’s word wherein I am ashamed because of my lack of knowledge and understanding, and God doesn’t need to be ashamed because I’ve been a poor representative. Your brother in Christ, Brent