The Life and Teachings
of Jesus
A Restatement of the Gospels

69. The Sermon on Forgiveness (continued)

        21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
        22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.d 23Therefore the kingdom may be likened toe a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.f 25And as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' 27And out of compassion for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.”
        28“But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,g and seizing him by the throat he said, “Pay what you owe.' 29So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' 30He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him: 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all the debt because you besought me; 33and should not you have mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?' 34And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.”
        (Mt. 18:21–34)

d   “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”—Seventy-seven is an alternate translation of this verse, which is often translated “seventy times seven.” (Oxford Bible, p. 1195) In Genesis 4:24 Lamech expresses his enthusiasm over the metal weapons of his son, “If Cain is avenged seven times, truly Lamech is avenged seventy-seven times.” Perhaps Jesus is here using this statement of revenge by Lamech to teach his lesson on forgiveness.

e   “Therefore the kingdom may be likened to”—This Parable of the Unforgiving Servant reminds us of Jesus' prayer, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Ch. 28, Mt. 6:12) Both convey the same idea: God forgives us (as the king forgave his servant), but to receive that forgiveness we must also forgive others. We expect mercy and forgiveness from our heavenly Father, therefore we should also show forgiveness and mercy to our fellow man.

f   “ten thousand talents”—A talent was more than fifteen years' wages of a laborer. (Oxford Bible, p. 1195) Ten thousand talents in silver content would amount to almost $10,000,000 and would be much more in buying power. (Master Study Bible, p. 1009)

g “a hundred denarii”—The denarius was equivalent to one day's wage.

Mt. 18:22  “Not seven (Phi) / “I do not say to you seven (RSV) • but seventy-seven times. (RSV alt. trans.) / but seventy times seven. (RSV)
Mt. 18:23  be likened to (KJV) / be compared to (RSV)
Mt. 18:27  of compassion for (KJV) / of pity for (RSV)   (159:1/1763–4)