The Unforgiving Servant
Then Peter, coming to Him, said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus says to him, I say not to thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven.
Therefore, is the kingdom of the heavens likened to a man, a king, who willed to take account with his servants. And when he had begun to take it, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But he not having anything to pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and it be paid.
Then the servant, falling down, worshiped him saying, Lord, bear with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
But that servant, going out, found one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred denarii, and taking hold of him choked him, saying, Pay me what thou owest. Then his fellow servant, falling at his feet, implored him, saying, Bear with me, and I will pay thee all. And he was not willing; but going away, cast him into prison, until he should pay what was owed.
But his fellow servants, seeing what was done, sorrowed greatly; and coming, they gave their lord to understand all things that were done.
Then his lord, calling him, says to him, Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, since thou didst implore me. Shouldest thou not also have had mercy on thy fellow servant, even as I had mercy on thee?
And his lord, being angry, delivered him up to the tormentors until he should pay all that was owed to him. So also shall My heavenly Father do to you, unless every one of you forgive his brother from your hearts their trespasses.
AE 257. “To forgive seven times, if he should turn again seven times,” means to forgive as often as he turns, thus every time.... “Seventy times seven” means always, without counting.
Charity toward an adversary
TCR 409. Before the Lord came into the world scarcely anyone knew what the internal man is or what charity is, and this is why in so many places He taught brotherly love, that is, charity; and this constitutes the distinction between the Old Testament or Covenant and the New.
That good ought to be done from charity to the adversary and the enemy the Lord taught in Matthew:
You have heard that it has been said to them of old time, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that hurt you and persecute you; that you may be sons of your Father who is in the heavens (Matt. 5:43–45).
And when Peter asked Him how often he should forgive one sinning against him, whether he should do so until seven times, He replied:
I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21, 22).
And I have heard from heaven that the Lord forgives to everyone his sins, and never takes vengeance nor even imputes sin, because He is love itself and good itself; nevertheless, sins are not thereby washed away, for this can be done only by repentance. For when He told Peter to forgive until seventy times seven, what will not the Lord do?
Forgiving our brother
AE 746.15. “Brother” [in the parable of the unforgiving servant] means the neighbor in general, thus every man; but in particular it means one who is in the good of charity and thence in faith from the Lord, whoever he may be; for these passages treat of the good of charity, since to forgive one who sins against you is of charity.
Questions and Comments
- AE 257 says to forgive, without counting. Are we really forgiving if we are counting?
- What does the Lord’s prayer say about forgiveness? How can saying the Lord’s prayer help us when we are struggling to forgive?
- Is there someone we need to forgive? Does this parable help us to work harder to seek out the Lord’s help in forgiving that person?