To Forgive Someone, Must They Repent (Updated)

The question is:

1. To forgive others, must they ask for forgiveness first?

2. Must they admit that they have wronged us?

3. Must they repent (“to change their mind”) of having wronged us?

4. Must they say they will not do it again?

To some, this may seem like ridiculous questions concerning how a Christian should respond concerning forgiveness. 

However, this is an issue that we need to approach from God’s Word, not the traditions of man, or even the traditions of the church – Christ is our example, not any institution.

Introduction ~ Reciprocity
Before addressing the issue of forgiveness, we need to understand a spiritual principle which is connected to this issue; a universal law established by God which is so important that it mandated that God crucify His own Son in able to forgive mankind. 

Have you ever heard believers when speaking to an unbeliever state that God would forgive their sins – Biblically speaking this is incorrect! 

It is not that God forgives their sins, as if He waves the punishment. 

No, What God did was far more expensive – invaluable than simply declaring that a sinner would not be punished for their sins. 

There was punishment, but it was not paid by the sinner, it was paid by Jesus Christ.  This is what it means whenever we state that “Jesus paid for our sins.” 

God is perfect, and with His perfection is the perfect law of justice. 

Justice does not allow for mercy.  Mercy is the opposite of justice.  Justice demands punishment for violation. Justice demands reciprocity

Reciprocity is a type of trade, yet it is more than that, it is getting what we reserve.  In the case of doing good you receive reward, but if evil then punishment – it is where the tally sheets are evened out – where the scales of justice are balanced (the use of scales as an idiom for justice have been used for thousands of years because the symbolism is very fitting – good deserves good & evil deserves evil; or innocence deserves liberty, and criminality deserves punishment), hence Proverbs 11:1, which states:

A false balance [“scales”] is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”

SIDENOTE: Reciprocity is much more than those TV evangelist teach about tithing and reward, it is equality to the max, even though we live in a fallen world, where many times we do not get the good that we deserve here, when we are robbed; yet what does God say concerning those that do evil and steal what is not theirs, as stated in Deuteronomy 32:35,

To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”

And as stated in Romans 12:19,

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Reciprocity may be side stepped here on earth for a while, but God is in control; and He will set the record straight.  As is stated in the oldest book in the Bible, in Job 4:8, which states:

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.”

And concerning any reward or blessing not received on this side of eternity, Proverbs 19:17, states:

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”

As well as Luke 6:38 

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

According to the law of reciprocity, what about sin, Ezekiel 18:20, states: 

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” 

God’s justice demands that for Him to reestablish a relationship with fallen mankind, the payment for sin must be paid, and it must be paid by someone who does not deserve the punishment; to be justice   It is the only perfect way for God to exercise mercy without compromising justice. 

The innocent had to be willing to pay the price for the guilty, to voluntarily sacrifice himself for another (“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” ~ John 10:18), in the way a husband would give his life for his wife (“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” ~ Ephesians 5:25), as a kinsman would for his kin (Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” ~ 1 John 3:16), as a friend for a friend (“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” ~ John 15:13-14).

Jesus Died Because of Reciprocity
This is why Jesus died on the cross for humanity – trading places, yet only after first becoming a human being, but why did He have to become a man? 

4000 years before the birth of Christ, God established the familial position of the “Kinsman-Redeemer” (Hebrew: the “Goel“), also referred to as the “Avenger of blood” as in Deuteronomy 19:6. 

The idea was prior to civil and social governments the family was the institution of protection for the individual, and within each family there was a leader referred to as the Goel

The idea was that this individual was a protector of the family, if anyone murdered a family member it was his obligation to seek out the slayer (Genesis 9:6), and exact justice by killing the murderer, thus avenging the blood of the family member.  

Among the other duties of the Goel was that of redeeming any family members sold into slavery because of becoming destitute (Lev. 25:25,49), such as Boaz (Ruth 2:20), in the case of Ruth and Naomi (only after the first Goel decline this obligation – Ruth 3:9-12 – then Boaz became the Goel ~ Ruth 4:1-10), hence referred to as the “Kinsman-Redeemer.”  

God established the Goel as an object lesson / typology in order to identify the Messiah (which is what Christ was referring to in John 5:39, which states: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”), Jesus when He would come and lay down His life as the Lamb of God (“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29) to die for the sins of the world, and pay our ransom (“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:28)Jesus would redeem His kin with His own blood, He covered our sins, He atoned (Greek: katallage to cover” see: Romans 5:11)  for us.                

Reciprocity in the New Testament
Therefore, Jesus had to become a man, a perfectly sinless man, not deserving of the penalty of death to voluntarily redeem us with His own blood, taking our place on the cross to fulfill reciprocity – the trade of innocent blood for guilty.  

He died that we might have life (“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” ~ 1 Peter 2:24); this is how powerful the spiritual principle of reciprocity is to God.  

The principle of reciprocity is seen in the New Testament in many places, especially within Jesus parables (Matthew 18:32; Luke 19:26).  The Simplest passage on the subject is found in Galatians 6:7-8 (also: 1 Cor. 9:11; 2 Cor. 9:6), which states

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Conclusion ~ Reciprocity
Therefore, concerning reciprocity; the idea that a sin can be committed with no repercussions, without taking responsibility, without regret or remorse, without apology and a commitment to not reoffend (all of these at the least), offends the Biblical concept of the justice of God,  principle of reciprocity.    This leads us to the issue of repentance.

Repentance ~ The Greek Word
We need to take one more step before we approach the issue of forgiveness, and that is to understand the concept, and Biblical meaning of the word repentance

The word “repentance” in the English is taking from Greek words in the form of the verbmetanoeo (G3340) and the nounmetanoia (G3341), which means:

“literally: “to perceive afterwards(meta, after,” implying “change,” noeo, “to perceive“; nous, “the mind, the seat of moral reflection“), in contrast to “pronoeo,” “to perceive beforehand,” hence signifies “to change one’s mind or purpose,” always, in the NT, involving a change for the better, an amendment, and always”1

The idea was for a person to perceive certain knowledge after having misconceived it before, thus a changing of one’s mind. 

Which is contrasted here with the Greek word “pronoeo,” which we would understand as “to take thought of” or “to render a conclusion.” 

The idea here is to change one’s mind in such a way that their worldview, the way that they think about a subject is totally reversed – this is big, not minor.

Follow Me – Walk… – Repent
An expression that Christ used which was commonly understood by the Jews to express this idea of (repentance which is) changing one’s mind by changing the direction is seen when Jesus would state “follow me(Matt. 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 16:24; 19:21; Mark 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:27; 9:23, 59; 18:22; John 1:43; 10:27; 12:26; 13:36; 21:19)

The Jews understood that a man lived out his life as analogized by his walk.  If a man walked in sin, it meant he lived a life of sin. 

If a man walked in righteousness, he lived a life of righteousness.  What Christ was saying was turn from your own ways, change your mind and follow me. 

This is what Biblical repentance means; it is not synonymous with regret, remorse or contrition; even though these may, and should accompany repentance. 

Repentance is not a cheap easy condition; repentance is demanding; and demands that a man forsake what he previously believed and understood, and decides to follow God’s ways, rather than his own. 

Repentance is not the same as a verbal confession, though repentance mandates such confession.  

Anyone could say they changed their mind, but if the word does not follow the deed; then their verbiage is in vain

Repentance demands action as is easily seen in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel 18:30, which states: 

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn [Hebrew: shoob, which means: to “turn back,” “hence, away,”2 the idea to totally retreat from and STOP somethingyourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” 

The demand for Action which validates repentance is also seen in the New Testament in book Matthew 3:8, which states:

Therefore bear fruits [Greek: karpos, which means: “fruit,” an “effect” or “result,” as in “work,” “acts,” “deeds3] worthy of repentance

While repentance is an action, and starts at a particular time in a person’s life; however, it is a continuous action that never stops within the life of the believer.

The believer is constantly changing their thoughts from those of a fallen creature to those thoughts and beliefs which are God’s as found in His Word.

The Christian walk is a lifelong process of correcting our sinful perceptions and ideas with Biblical insights and wisdom.  One such example is found in the book of Acts 26:20, which states:

But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent [Grammar: “repent” is in the Present Tense: which is a “Continuous Action (It Never stops)“; “repent” is in the Active Voicewherein the Subject Causes the Action” the person is the repentor; and “repent” is in the Infinitive Mood; which is a Verbal Noun, which means “it is the subject of the sentence” – “to repent” is the main point of this passage] and turn to God, and do works [Greek: ergon, which means: “toil,” “effort,” “occupation,” “act,” “deed,” “doing,” “labor,” or “work”2 ] meet for repentance.”

The Greek word “repent” here is in the present tense, which means it is a continuous action which never stops.

The voice is active, which means that the individuals which this passage is referring too, are the actors which repetitiously perform the repentance.

And the mood is a infinitive, meaning that the main point of this passage is “repentance,” which is continuous, and mandated of those that it refers too – those individuals which are believers and followers of Jesus Christ (time does not permit for us to further understand repentance, that of repetitiously changing our thoughts and gaining “the Mind of Christ’ [Philippians 2:5], according to God’s Word [“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” ~ 1 Thess. 2:13; and see Hebrews 4:12], taking every thought captive [2 Cor. 10:4-5] renewing our minds [Romans 12:1-2] and allowing the Holy Spirit to continuously cause us to change our sinful thinking habits [Titus 3:5]).

The following passages display the same grammatical structure for the word of “repentance” concerning the fact that “repentance is a continuous action” which never stops in the life of the Believer (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4;17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3,5; Luke 15:7, 10; Luke 16:30; Luke 17:4; Acts 17:30; Acts 26:20; 2 Cor. 7:8).

Repentance demonstrates complete change in one’s thought process,
which mandates a change in their behavior

 Biblically Speaking, to Exercise Biblical Faith is to Exercise Repentance
To identify and agree with all that the gospel states concerning the condition of man, and the mandates of God, is to repent of one’s own self-definition of the world and reality – to change one’s mind concerning their own merits (which would gain an individual damnation) – to change their mind and think as God says we are to think; this is Biblical faith – AND this is repentance. 

Repentance and belief in the gospel (the “Good News“) are synonymous and cannot be separated (which is another way of saying faith and repentance synonymous as well), which is simply seen in such passages as Mark  1:15, which states:

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  

Therefore, you cannot separate faith from repentance (Acts 20:21), because to exercise faith, you have to change your mind (as a fallen man) and agree with God and place your trust in Him and what He has said in his Word, the Bible.

The World’s Example ~ The Antonym to Repentance
Have you ever noticed that we live in a world of rationalization; in fact the world seems to be obsessed with justification (not Biblical Justification; but human excuses – in the way that excuses and explanations become reversed) and rationalization. 

We as humans gravitate towards always attempting to justify our behavior. People justify why they divorce their spouses, why their kids didn’t turn out right, they justify why they didn’t get the promotion, or why they didn’t deserve to get fired; we seem to be obsessed (bent) on having to prove we were innocent in the form of having being right (within law enforcement I have never met a criminal that doesn’t have a rationality of why his crime was justified), never deserve negative repercussions for negative behaviors.

I believe this obsession with being right is part of the imageness of God within man (meant to be part of the conscious of a sinless man, never the rationality of a fallen creature), and has saved us as a specie from destroying ourselves (it is Godly to seek justice, to seek to do what is right).

Because if man didn’t have to feel like he was right, and could live with being wrong; think of the evil that would go unchecked. 

Every atrocity that has ever been committed has a rationality of why it was really right to do such a terrible thing. 

The Caesars, Pharaohs, Kings and dictators did it.  Hitler did it, Stalin did it, Mao did it, and every president that’s ever done something wrong has done it. 

In fact every human being that has ever lived, that is not a sociopath, must find a rationality for their negative behaviors.

I have often said as a counselor I have never found a human being that is truly comfortable with being wrong.  I’ve met many, many people that take ownership for past wrongs, but currently there right. 

There’s something within us that demands that we justify ourselves – that we prove that we ARE right. 

The media is obsessed with this. 

Think about all the movies where the good guy does the wrong thing for the right reason.

Or when the good guy is victimized and can therefore justify violating any law in seeking true justice, as opposed to the laws of the land. 

We admire the Rambo’s; 1,2,3, (Stallone) of this world, the underdogs that win against all odds, like in the “Diehard’ series (Bruce Willis); the “John Q” (Denzil Washington –,9171,1001966,00.html), where an ordinary citizen must take the law into his own hand to save his son and achieve justice. 

We love the movies like “The Fast and the Furious” series; “Absolute Power,” “Unforgiven,” and the Dirty Harry series. 

Movies where criminals, thieves, assassins, and police officers violate the law; and always have a rationality wherein they are on the right side – and they are the good guys.  

It is now part of the national conscious that there can be a right reason to do the wrong thing

It is this sense of being right, of being good, and justified that is the antonym of repentance.  If we’re right, were justified, then there is nothing that needs to be repented of, and wrongs go unchecked only to become habitual within our behavior.  Repentance is becoming a dying virtue.       

The Need of Repentance Before a Holy God
Repentance seems so difficult, yet at the same necessary to our salvation. 

We must admit we are wrong to be forgiven,  atoned for because Christ takes our place and His blood is shed for our sins. 

God will not transfer our guilt to His Son unless we repent, unless you agree with Him that you are sinners, not deserving of His grace; yet made eligible not through a trade of faith for salvation, but of an acceptance of all that God says in order to receive His grace, wherein faith is the only acceptable response (faith  is essentially, agreeing with all that God says, which includes our own guilt for sin; along with the fact that God has been right all along and is completely trustworthy and faithful to not only do what is just, but in our case do what is merciful – faith is trust in God, how He controls our lives and everything that He has allowed to transpire in our lives, even those things that seem so wrong – see the book of Job)

Salvation is through the act of God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor (wherein mercy is NOT getting what we do deserve – the bad, grace is getting what we DON’T deserve – the good); yet to appropriate this grace we must exercise the exercise of faith, of changing our minds concerning going our own way – repentance – and going God’s way not in exchange for salvation, but as a condition for receiving the free gift of grace.

God’s response to any man that refuses to repent is – go to hell

This begs the question, if God commands that we repent to be forgiven, is repentance necessary for us to forgive others.

Now to the Issue at Hand – There are Two Aspects to the Issue of Forgiveness. 

First, Forgiving someone in our heart;
Second, The Formal Act of Granting Forgiveness.

We must distinguish between the state of mind as a believer wherein we are to continually maintain the willingness to forgive when we are violated, as well as

1) The internal act of forgiving someone in our heart – refusing to hold a grudge; as compared to
2) The formal act of forgiving someone as in the act of granting forgiveness to someone who has violated us in some manner, there is an important difference.

Rather we realize it or not, Biblically speaking these are two separate types of situations. And this does not take into consideration the aspect that individuals may have to pay a price for the wrongs that they have committed, either legally or morally; one to uphold the public justice wherein deterrents are created, and the other to protect individuals within the church by refusing to allow sin to go unchecked.

Not every sin is forgiven within the church.  Open sin (There is a difference between open sin, sin that is done openly within the Church for all to see as compared to those sins which are done in private.   Open sins must always be dealt with openly, wherein certain circumstances private sins must be dealt with privately – see Matthew 18:15-17, compare verses 15 to 17), wherein there is the refusal to repent,  cannot be forgiven, whereas according to Paul these individuals would be excommunicated (see 1 Cor. 5:1-11).

1) The Willingness to Forgive – A Condition of the Heart – An act of Obedience in Refusing to hold a Grudge

First, the willingness to forgive is a internal state of mind, where we refuse to hold a grudge or resentment against someone for a wrong us that we have undergone. 

This takes place in our hearts.  It is God, and God alone that knows the heart of a man, if he is willing to forgive and so does; yet it is the world that observes the Christian that is willing to forgive another person who is taken ownership of that violation.  Matthew 18:35 states:

“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

Man, who is fallen by nature, is more apt to hold a grudge, building resentments and bitterness; which develops a lack of gratitude (see*to his creator – this is why man is damned to hell and an eternity without God – and this is why God refuses to forgive a man who refuses to forgive others. 

Such a man has not displayed Biblical repentance, and faith in God; and what God has said in His Word; and what this man declares is that He has a right to hold onto his resentment, and that God’s free gift of salvation based upon sacrificing his son was of less importance than his own judgment.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32)   

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Col 3:13)  

This is the area that the church becomes preoccupied with and misunderstands concerning the application of forgiveness. Many of the Scriptures which deal with the subject of forgiveness approach the subject from the perspective of the violated, of a person’s willingness to forgive another one for a sin committed against them.

God will not allow for a man to hold a grudge against another man, refusing to forgive him.

This is based upon the concept that when God forgave us (by transferring our sin and guilt onto Christ) for so much, how could we in comparison refuse to forgive someone for having done something so much less egregious.

Our sin against God demanded that God sacrifice His own Son in order to be able to forgive us, what does the prayer say;

“…And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” (Luke 11:2-4)

What many people don’t understand that these two sentences are related, that of forgiving and being delivered from temptation.

If we refuse to forgive others – their sins against us in the same way that God has been willing to forgive us, this will lead us into temptation of doing greater sin, greater evil. .

When we refuse to forgive someone, especially if they have repented (were talking about the internal process here – the condition of the heart); what we’re doing is allowing ourselves to hold onto a grudge.

*And when we hold a grudge, when we refuse to forgive someone who has genuinely repented to us, we harbor resentment; and this ill will towards the repentant person breeds sin upon sin, this is what the prayer entails when we say “lead us not into temptation.”

The temptation is to indulge in resentment which builds bitterness and a lack of gratitude. 

This verse is not praying that God will NOT allow trials into our lives, but that in our own behaviors, we will forgive others, and therefore not be led into temptation; building sin upon sin, this is done of our own free will – it is a choice. 

We must understand how important this is to God, it’s almost like murmuring; wherein the believer doesn’t trust that God is doing what is right; and murmurs against God. 

Simply examine the Israelites who exited Israel, and how repeatedly we see that the sin that displeased and lead to other sins, was that of murmuring (Exo. 16:7,8,9,12; Num. 14:27; 17:5,10)

And murmuring is only possible through a lack of gratitude, very close in many aspects to resentment, holding grudges, and envy, which leads to strife.  

*If you want to know what the opposite of faith, is it is ingratitude; and ingratitude is developed because of resentments held onto, where grudges are nurtured and bitterness develops.

God will not stand for us to refuse to be willing to forgive others – and refuse to hold a grudge in our hearts, as well as in the practical application when they are repentant before us.

2) The Formal Act of Granting Forgiveness – The Procedure of Repentance

Without reiterating too much into this aspect of forgiveness, that of forgiving someone based upon their repentance (which has been dealt with in the first half of this blog in regards to presenting reciprocity and repentance), there are sins which when committed, with the refusal to repent and change, wherein the believer is called upon to be willing to forgive them in their heart, refusing to hold a grudge or resentment, however, at the same time refusing to grant forgiveness to that person openly – holding them responsible, which in essence would present them with an excuse to keep on reoffending yourself or others. 

If you had a church member that sexually abuses individuals, that refuses to repent, and address this sin; it would be abhorrent to verbally tell them that you forgive them unconditionally without this repentance – holding them blameless. 

This is the same type of situation that Paul dealt with in 1 Corinthians 5:1-11; where there were members of the Corinth church who were having an open sexual relationship, a son with his stepmother, and no one in the church confronted them concerning this.

Paul was outraged at their lack of discernment, and lack of spiritual courage in not confronting these individuals, but allowing them to maintain their membership within the church. 

Paul’s instructions were, since this was an open sin to openly confront them and if they refused to repent and stop this sin to excommunicate them from the Fellowship. 

This is the type of situation that we are referring to when we speak about the formal act of granting forgiveness wherein there was no repentance, or desire for the person to stop the sin.  

Today within the church at large, this is a common problem wherein what is presented as a loving attitude of acceptance, is in reality sin that is allowed to run rampant, and as Paul reiterated when this occurs, and others observe this situation, they will do the same thing, with the church becoming is corrupted and neutered as many congregations are today. 

Being seeker friendly is narcissistic at its root (believer centered, rather than Christ centered); yet, on top of this, refusing to confront believers for open sin under the guise of being loving, is an anathema to God.                  

What we sometimes forget is God’s demand for us to forgive each other is based upon His willingness to forgive us; yet His willingness to forgive us is based upon repentance.  What does the Scripture say concerning us forgiving others? Luke 17:3-4, states:

 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”

Matthew 18:15-18, 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 hearthee, 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.

As stated, we are never instructed to tolerate open sin within the church – to allow one person to violate another person without impunity, when this was allowed to occur within the first century church, problems always occurred with correction necessary (see: 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Thess. 3:6-16; 2 Tim. 2:23-26; Titus 3:10).

The Side of the Coin
However, if a Christian brother repents of their sin against us; they have changed their mind concerning the justification for having sinned against us, and no longer rationalizes the offense (this means that they regret that they committed the offense against us, that they do not intend on doing it again); and we forgive them – a relationship is restored.

This is what salvation is in its most basic form – it is a reconstruction, a repair to the relationship between God and man, where God forgives man; when man has repented of his sinful selfishness based upon his lack of faith in God, and submits himself to God’s Will. 

It is obedience based upon faith because of the trust that God is faithful and just to do what He has said in His Word; and that that person that in so doing becomes a son or daughter of God – adopted into God’s family – relationship mended. 

1. VINE’S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, W.E. Vine, Ellis Enterprises Inc., Oklahoma City, OK 73120, USA, 1988, Electronic Media. 

2. STRONG’S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE, TOGETHER WITH DICTIONARIES OF HEBREW AND GREEK WORDS, James Strong, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, USA, 1981-1998, Electronic Media.

3. THAYER’S GREEK DEFINITIONS, Joseph Henry. Thayer, Parsons Technology Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA 52404, USA, 2008, Electronic Media. 

4. Scriptures on Forgiveness:

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”(Mat 18:21-35)

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  (Mat 6:12)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (Mat 6:14)

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mat 6:15)

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  (Mat 18:21)

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Mat 18:35)

That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.  (Mar 4:12)

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mar 11:25)

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.  (Mar 11:26)

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:  (Luk 6:37) 

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.  (Luk 7:47) 

And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. (Luk 7:48) 

And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?  (Luk 7:49) 

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.  (Luk 11:4)

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  (Luk 17:3)

And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.  (Luk 17:4)

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  (Luk 23:34)

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  (Act 5:31) 

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (Act 13:38) 

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Act 26:18)

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  (Rom 4:7)

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  (2Co 2:7)

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;  (2Co 2:10)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;  (Eph 1:7) 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:32) 

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Col 1:14)

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (Col 2:13) 

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (Jas 5:15) 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9) 

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (1Jn 2:12)




  1. Efrain Byrd · ·

    -We learned in the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18.23-35) that those who are truly forgiven must forgive others. The forgiveness of others shows that forgiveness from God has been understood and received, and that there is a dependence on God’s mercy and not works for forgiveness. Forgiveness extended to others demonstrates a conviction of personal sin and repentance toward God which has produced humility, submission to God, and mercy toward others. Lack of forgiveness towards others expresses that there is no true salvation or rebellion against God.


  2. Efrain,
    Thank you very much for your comments and I do agree with you.

    Yet the one thing that I am forced to remember because of what is said in God’s Word, is that God’s forgiveness is not unconditional and that God will only forgive us if we repent and ask for forgiveness by becoming his children.

    God does not forgive unconditionally those that refuse to repent, he sends them to hell for their sinful behavior generically speaking.

    Yet, specifically they choose hell because they reject God’s grace by Him providing that their sins are placed upon Jesus, who is punished in their place.

    It is Jesus that takes on the sin of a person by them repenting, meaning they change their mind and the direction of their life, which involves them admitting that they had violated God in his law and deserve death, but plead for salvation.

    As you quoted concerning the Matthew passage of the King and forgiveness, you cannot gloss over Matthew 18:26, which states: “The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”

    You see the only way that the servant received forgiveness was by him admitting that he had send in asking for mercy in order to repay the King.

    The forgiveness of the King was not unconditional.

    We must handle God’s word in context, which means we must also examine the purse before this, verse 25 which states: “But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.” (Matthew 18:25)

    The point is God does not forgive a person’s sin technically speaking, God places that sin upon Jesus.

    Someone must pay.

    But at the same time I totally agree with you, because if we are not willing to forgive our brothers, which is a process which takes place in her heart; how can we expect God to forgive us.

    It’s like saying that that brothers violation of us is more serious than our violation of God.

    I believe that we must as believers forgive those who violate us, yet we must be cognizant and vigilant not to rationalize abuse / sin in this process.

    Matthew chapter 18:15-17, explains church discipline that is to be conducted wherein if we violate our brothers, before we do our service to God in the form of bringing our offerings, we are to go before that brother and work it out.

    Sin that is allowed to run rampant in the church is wholly unacceptable to God.

    This is what Paul is talking about in 1st Corinthians chapters 5 and 6.

    And this was the point that I was getting to, not that we should NOT forgive others who sin against us – we are to follow Christ’s example of mercy.

    Yet not at the expense of allowing sin to be unchecked and one rampant within our church and our homes.

    We must always remember that the power of sin is so immense that it demanded that the only way for it to be broken was by God placing the world sin upon His own Son, in order that you and I would not have to pay the price ourselves.

    Jesus allowed himself to be treated as a sinner, in order that sinners could be treated like Jesus

    Thanks for sharing, Brent


  3. Fletcher Ortega · ·

    The Protestant doctrine. Severe penances, such as fasts, pilgrimages and floggings, were often imposed in early Church history. In the Middle Ages, the Roman Church fell into the corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to reduce the severity of such penances in exchange for monetary contributions to the Church. This was a major factor leading to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Protestants rejected the Roman Catholic Church’s sacrament of Penance, its claims of apostolic succession, and its authority to forgive sins ( 1 Timothy 2:5 ). Authority on doctrine was placed in “Scripture alone” rather than in the Church. For most Protestants, the Church is instrumental in bringing people to repentance, but the power to forgive sins belongs to God and Christ alone.


  4. Fletcher,
    Thank you very much for your comment; however I adamantly disagree with your first sentence concerning the Protestant doctrines.

    It was after the fourth century wherein Catholicism became a rigid Christian cult, that severe penance, fasting, pilgrimages and floggings were instituted within this environment (as you said in the Middle Ages).

    The church that was active within Eastern Europe, especially within the Byzantine Empire did not follow the same dogma as Catholicism, though they did see corruption within their papacy until the great split which severed their relationship with the Western (Holy) Roman catholic church.

    My point is the Protestant movement did not involve the practices you named.

    If you remember your history Martin Luther practiced those works of penance and flogging which drove him to reading and studying the book of Romans wherein he understood that the Scripture demanded that we were “saved by grace through faith,” as Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4, then repeats the same passages in the book of Galatians in Hebrews as seen in:

    “The Just Romans 1:17
    shall live Gal. 3:11
    by faith” Heb. 10:38

    I think maybe that first sentence was not the way you intended for it to come out, because you later stated that the Protestants rejected the Roman Catholic churches sacraments of penance.

    I think we probably agree much more than what would seem to disagree.

    And I must say we agreed 100% concerning your last four sentences.

    It is God who forgives sins, not man.

    Yet the essence of the article concerned behavior within the Christian church wherein brothers would offend each other and forgiveness needed to be not only sanctioned, but promoted.

    Yet the main point I was attempting to make was that people must repent before we formally hold them no longer accountable for their sins against us.

    While at the same time we pray for them, and hold them not accountable for their sin as God and God alone determines this.

    Anyway thanks a lot for your comment. bb


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