Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
A while back we touched briefly on this question, and over the course of the next few posts at least, we are going to explore it much deeper. Before we move deeper into this, I wanted to briefly address a topic quickly that I believe is very important to our overall understanding of this issue of forgiveness as being discussed in this passage.
Some of what is written, especially later as we talk about the parable of the debtor which follows, seems pretty harsh and quite possibly could be misunderstood. So, it seems appropriate to quickly establish who the audience for these teachings seems to be. I am pretty sure not everyone who reads will agree with what follows, but it seems to be what is being taught here.
What we see being established in the passage we have quoted, the discussion before hand, and the parable that follows are not a pattern for salvation. These words are written for believers to establish a pattern for how we are to live as saved followers of Jesus Christ.
The reason this seems important to establish is that as we read we see what might appear to be linkages between God’s forgiveness of us, and our forgiveness of others. None of what we read in this passage, properly read, teaches that we can somehow lose our status with God as saved sinners if we behave wrongly towards our brothers and sisters.
God’s forgiveness of us at the moment of salvation is not temporary, transient, or based on any work or effort we have put into it. It is all encompassing and permanent; it is unconditional based on no more than our faith. As we read and discuss, we will see this is the actually lesson being taught in this entire passage as a whole; we are to forgive our brothers and sisters in the same way we have been forgiven, not as a method to become saved, but as a pattern for our lives.