|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:21-35 Though we live wholly on mercy and forgiveness, we are backward to forgive the offences of our brethren. This parable shows how much provocation God has from his family on earth, and how untoward his servants are. There are three things in the parable: 1. The master's wonderful clemency. The debt of sin is so great, that we are not able to pay it. See here what every sin deserves; this is the wages of sin, to be sold as a slave. It is the folly of many who are under strong convictions of their sins, to fancy they can make God satisfaction for the wrong they have done him. 2. The servant's unreasonable severity toward his fellow-servant, notwithstanding his lord's clemency toward him. Not that we may make light of wronging our neighbour, for that is also a sin against God; but we should not aggravate our neighbour's wronging us, nor study revenge. Let our complaints, both of the wickedness of the wicked, and of the afflictions of the afflicted, be brought to God, and left with him. 3. The master reproved his servant's cruelty. The greatness of sin magnifies the riches of pardoning mercy; and the comfortable sense of pardoning mercy, does much to dispose our hearts to forgive our brethren. We are not to suppose that God actually forgives men, and afterwards reckons their guilt to them to condemn them; but this latter part of the parable shows the false conclusions many draw as to their sins being pardoned, though their after-conduct shows that they never entered into the spirit, or experienced the sanctifying grace of the gospel. We do not forgive our offending brother aright, if we do not forgive from the heart. Yet this is not enough; we must seek the welfare even of those who offend us. How justly will those be condemned, who, though they bear the Christian name, persist in unmerciful treatment of their brethren! The humbled sinner relies only on free, abounding mercy, through the ransom of the death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we hope for forgiveness from him.
Verses 21-35. - The pardon of injuries, and the parable of the unmerciful servant. Verse 21. - Peter was greatly struck with what Christ had just said about reconciliation of enemies; and he wanted to know what limits were to be imposed on his generosity, especially, it might be, if the offender made no reparation for his offence, and acknowledged not his wrong doing. My brother. As ver. 15, fellow disciple, neighbour. Till seven times? Peter doubtless thought that he was unusually liberal and generous in proposing such a measure of forgiveness. Seven is the number of completeness and plurality, and our Lord had used it in giving his sentence about forgiveness: "If he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to thee again," etc. (Luke 17:4). Some rabbis had fixed this limit from an erroneous interpretation of Amos 1:3; Amos 2:1. "For three transgressions, and for four," etc.; but the usual precept enjoined forgiveness of three offences only, drawing the line here, and having no pity for a fourth offence. Ben-Sira bids a man admonish an offending neighbour twice, but is silent as to any further forgiveness (Ecclus. 19:13-17). The Jews were very fond of defining and limiting moral obligations, as if they could be accurately prescribed by number. Christ demolishes this attempt to define by law the measure of grace.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then came Peter unto him,.... Having heard and observed the rules Christ gave concerning offences and brotherly reproofs, he drew near to Christ, and put this question to him:
and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? He instances in a brother, because it was such an one Christ had been speaking of; he makes no doubt of its being his duty to forgive him upon his repentance, and acknowledgment, but wanted to be reformed, how often this was to be done, and asks, whether
until seven times? Which was, as he might think, a large number; and especially, since it was double the number of times, that the Jewish doctors set for forgiveness: for thus they say (d),
"A man that commits a sin, the "first" time they pardon him; the "second" time they pardon him; the "third" time they pardon him: the "fourth" time they do not pardon, according to Amos 2:6.''
"he that says I have sinned, and I repent, they forgive him "unto three times", and no more (e).''
(d) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 36. 2. Mainion. Hilch. Teshuba. c. 3. sect. 5. (e) Abot. R. Nathan, c. 40. fol. 9. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?—In the recent dispute, Peter had probably been an object of special envy, and his forwardness in continually answering for all the rest would likely be cast up to him—and if so, probably by Judas—notwithstanding his Master's commendations. And as such insinuations were perhaps made once and again, he wished to know how often and how long he was to stand it.
till seven times?—This being the sacred and complete number, perhaps his meaning was, Is there to be a limit at which the needful forbearance will be full?
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