Matthew 18:21
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(21) How oft shall my brother sin . . .?—The words of Matthew 18:15 had obviously told on the minds of the disciples, and had roused them to question with themselves. But they could not, all at once, take in the truth that the “commandment” was “exceeding broad.” Surely, they thought, there must be some limit to this way of dealing with the brother who has sinned against us? And the sacred number suggested itself as the natural limit. Not, it may be conjectured, without a half-conscious reference to the words of the prophet (Amos 1:3), that “for three transgressions and for four” the punishment thereof should not be turned away, the Apostle made answer to his own question, “Until seven times?” as though the line must be drawn there.

Matthew 18:21-22. Then came Peter — When Jesus had given this advice for the accommodation of differences among his disciples, Peter, imagining it might be abused by ill-disposed persons, as an encouragement to offer injuries to others, came and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Must I go on to do it until he has repeated the injury seven times? He does not mean seven times a day, as Christ said, Luke 17:4, but seven times in his life, thinking, if a man had trespassed against him seven times, though that person were never so desirous to be reconciled, he might then lawfully and properly renounce all society with him: Jesus saith, I say not, Until seven times — I never intended to limit thee in any such way; but, Until seventy times seven — That is, as often as there is occasion; a certain number being put for an uncertain: for it is not the number of times in which a person may offend that is to be here regarded, but his true repentance. In short, the precept is unbounded, and you must never be weary of forgiving your brethren, since you are so much more indebted to the divine mercy than your fellow-creatures can be to yours.

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.Then came Peter ... - The mention of the duty Matthew 18:15 of seeing a brother when he had offended us, implying that it was a duty to forgive him, led Peter to ask how often this was to be done.

Forgive him - To forgive is to treat as though the offence was not committed - to declare that we will not harbor malice or treat unkindly, but that the matter shall be buried and forgotten.

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?

See Poole on "Matthew 18:22".

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.

{7} Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

(7) They will find God severe and not too pleased, who do not forgive their brethren even if they have been purposely and grievously injured by them.

Matthew 18:21. At this point Peter steps forward from amongst the disciples (Matthew 18:1), and going up to Jesus, νομίζων φανῆται μεγαλοψυχότατος (Euthymius Zigabenus), proposes that forgiveness should be shown more than twice the number of times which the Rabbis had declared to be requisite. Babyl. Joma, f. 86. 2, contains the following words: “Homini in alterum peccanti semel remittunt, secundo remittunt, tertio remittunt, quarto non remittunt.”

Matthew 18:21-22. Peter’s question about forgiving.—The second of two interpellations in the course of Christ’s discourse (vide Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50). Such words touch sensitive consciences, and the interruptions would be welcomed by Jesus as proof that He had not spoken in vain.

21. till seven times?] The Rabbinical rule was that no one should ask forgiveness of his neighbour more than thrice. Peter, who asks as a scribe a scribe’s question, thought he was making a great advance in liberality and shewing himself worthy of the Kingdom of heaven. But the question itself indicates complete misunderstanding of the Christian spirit.

Matthew 18:21. Ποσάκις, how often?) in one day, or my whole life. Cf. Luke 17:4. [This question arose from some sense of super abounding Divine grace, which had been so much dwelt upon and magnified in the preceding discourses.—V. g.—ἁμαρτήσει, shall my brother sin?) These words are to be understood, not of some slight offence, which excites a sudden burst of indignation, though this also is indeed sinful, yet ready to forgive of its own accord, but of some more heavy offence or injury.—V. g.]

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. Matthew 18:21
Matthew 18:21 Interlinear
Matthew 18:21 Parallel Texts

Matthew 18:21 NIV
Matthew 18:21 NLT
Matthew 18:21 ESV
Matthew 18:21 NASB
Matthew 18:21 KJV

Matthew 18:21 Bible Apps
Matthew 18:21 Parallel
Matthew 18:21 Biblia Paralela
Matthew 18:21 Chinese Bible
Matthew 18:21 French Bible
Matthew 18:21 German Bible

Bible Hub

Matthew 18:20
Top of Page
Top of Page