9. In love and forgiveness, 17:24-18:35

iv] The parable of the unforgiving servant, 18:21-35


In the concluding section of the 4th Discourse, Life Lived in Christian Community, Matthew records Jesus' teaching on forgiveness in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.


We are to be forgiving as God is forgiving.


i] Context: See 18:1-10.


ii] Structure: The parable of the unforgiving servant:

Setting, v1-2:

Question, v1.

Saying, v2:

"not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Parable, 23-34:

"the kingdom of heaven may be compared to ...."

Saying / application, v35:

"this is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you

unless you forgive ....."


iii] Interpretation:

The interpretation of this passage is fraught. This is particularly so because of two factors: first, Jesus' demand for forgiveness in absolute terms, and second, Matthew's use of a kingdom parable (a gospel riddle) which "is not even about repeated forgiveness, so that it is not strictly appropriate", Schweizer.


The passage presents in three parts:


Jesus' demand for forgiveness in absolute terms, v21-22: The tendency of some commentators to interpret these verses as law is somewhat disturbing. Take for example the following: "The refusal to forgive others will be reflected upon the disciple in God's refusal to forgive him or her", Hagner; God "cannot accept as his those devoid of compassion and mercy", Carson; "A person who refuses to forgive is inviting God to withhold forgiveness from him", Morris; "Fellow disciples forgiving one another is a condition of God's forgiving them", Gundry; "The preservation of our own status as forgiven sinners turns on a willingness to pass the favor on", Nolland; "Forgiveness can be lost through human unkindness so that one's earlier guilt returns", Luz.

Rightly some commentators pull back from the idea that a believer's failure to forgive a brother is an unforgivable sin, cf. 12:31-32, so France. The unforgivable sin is the "culpable rejection of, or refusal to recognize, God's redemptive activity", Guelich; it entails a rejection of God's "comprehensive offer of amnesty and forgiveness" in Christ, Grundmann. The failure to offer forgiveness is less than Christlike, but it is not an unforgivable sin. Given that salvation rests wholly on grace through faith, apart from the law, it is not possible to argue that our failure to forgive others will be reflected in God's refusal to forgive us.

What then is Matthew's purpose in using Jesus' absolute demand on forgiveness? Jesus uses ethical absolutes as both a signpost to right living and a searchlight on sin. It seems likely that the saying serves both ends:

As a signpost: This 4th Discourse has established that the children of grace must not be driven away or allowed to fall away from faith. In community there are always disputes, personal hurts, affronts, lifestyle choices, ..... These must always be covered by heartfelt forgiveness. So, on one level the saying encourages us to accept people as they are;

As a searchlight: The absolute nature of this saying of Jesus indicates that it seeks to expose our state of sin and so remind us of our dependence upon divine grace. D&A, who see this chapter in terms of instructions for church discipline (although discipline is probably not the point), argue that these verses teach that "the process of expulsion is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of any but the meek and merciful, who know that they themselves are the unworthy recipients of God's constant mercy and forgiveness" (a point reinforced by the parable). This is a somewhat subtle interpretation, but the saying certainly confronts us with our incapacity to offer heartfelt forgiveness, reminding us that our righteousness is wholly dependent on divine grace enacted in the faithfulness of Christ. We are reminded that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven it is not the one who does, but the one who receives - receives divine mercy. It is only in this knowledge that a believer is truly able to remove stumbling blocks, restore a strayed brother or sister, and offer heartfelt forgiveness. As the apostle would remind us, law makes sin more sinful, whereas faith in the faithfulness of Christ on our behalf (the cross) produces the fruit of love, Gal.5:6.


The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, v23-34. What do we make of Matthew's use of a kingdom parable, a gospel riddle, to support the need for repeated forgiveness? As Schweizer notes, "the parable is not even about repeated forgiveness, so that it is not strictly appropriate." Kingdom parables, with their distinctive introductory formula, "the kingdom of heaven may be compared to the situation where .....", are not teaching illustrations, but are presentations of the gospel in the form of a riddle with an emphasis either on the bad news / judgment, or the good news / blessing. So, with the parable of the unmerciful servant we are told that the coming of the kingdom of heaven may be compared to the situation where an exceedingly gracious king settles accounts, and even with a step to the left and a step to the right, the accounts get settled and quickly - judgment is imminent, so "repent and believe."

Why then would Matthew place a gospel riddle in the context of an exhortation toward heartfelt forgiveness? In the same way Jesus' hard-sayings are both a signpost and a searchlight, Matthew seems willing to use kingdom parables to the same end, even though they are primarily gospel tracts:

As a signpost: The subject matter of the parable is contextual, namely forgiveness. Matthew seems willing to use the parable as an example of what not to do. Believers stand together under the mercy of a gracious king who has wiped our debt of sin. Let us not be like the unforgiving servant who, having been forgiven much, forgives little. This allusion is valid to a point, although somewhat allegorical.


As a searchlight: The parable's message concerning the coming kingdom and imminent judgment serves to support Jesus' absolute command on forgiveness, v21-22. The parable reminds us that the new age of the kingdom is at hand, judgment is upon us, and among all the things that we will have to give an answer for, there is the mercy / forgiveness we haven't shown others. Given that our heart is so often closed when it comes to accepting / forgiving others, we can only but look to the cross and the mercy of God. As amazing as it may seem, it is when we experience God's mercy that we learn to be merciful; that we learn to lift up the child of grace rather than trip them up; that we learn to strengthen their faith rather than ignore them; that we learn to forgive a hurt rather than let it fester.

Note how the apostle Paul develops this amazing truth. "The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ", Gal.3:24. The demand, "be merciful as God is merciful", exposes our inability to obey God's law, thus driving us to the cross. Now in Christ, by grace through faith, we live by the Spirit, and so "will not (tend not to!!!) gratify the desires of the sinful nature", Gal.5:16, ie., in the power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, grace makes us gracious (due to our state of sin the law only makes us lawless, cf., Rom.7:14-15). The only danger we face in the Christian life is that after beginning with the Spirit we try to attain our goal by human effort, cf., Gal.3:3, ie., we start to think that holiness / sanctification progresses by doing rather than receiving. A forgiving nature is only found in those who have experienced forgiveness, and there is no greater forgiveness than that offered by God in Christ.


Heartfelt forgiveness, v35. In their original context kingdom parables do not come with an attached application / moral. That is not to say that Jesus would never draw out a moral for his disciples, but anyway, Matthew provides us with a moral in the form of an independent saying of Jesus; see Synoptics below. The Lord is settling accounts, but mercy is only for the merciful - without heartfelt forgiveness toward a brother or sister there is no divine forgiveness. Mark and Luke qualify the command by linking forgiveness with repentance, but Matthew typically stays with the absolute command, because the absolute undermines any possibility for self-righteousness. Faced with the absolute we can only but say "Lord have mercy on me a sinner." In the end, the person who is able to forgive, albeit imperfectly, is the person who is fully aware of the forgiveness freely bestowed on them by God for their failure to offer heartfelt forgiveness.


iv] Synoptics:

As in Luke's summary of this teaching, Matthew raises the issue of forgiveness / reconciliation within the context of personal hurt experienced in the Christian fellowship, cf. Lk.17:4. Jesus' teaching on the matter is that where a brother or sister sins against us, offends us, there should be no limit to our forgiveness, v22, and that forgiveness must be heartfelt, v35. As God is forgiving so we must be forgiving, v23-34. Luke adds the obvious qualification of repentance, reminding us that there can be no forgiveness where there is no repentance - "Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying 'I repent,' you must forgive them." Matthew simply leaves us with the principle, "never be vindictive about insults or injury, remembering always the great forgiveness of God and extending such forgiveness to others", Schweizer. As for the Parable of the Unforgiving servant, it is found only in Matthew. The concluding saying, v35, serves to draw a moral from the parable. This is usually viewed as redactional, although the saying stands in its own right in Matthew 6:14-15, and Mark 11:25, cf., the Lord's Prayer.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 18:21

Forgiveness, v21-35: i] Peter's question regarding the appropriate level of forgiveness for a disciple, v21-22. Under Rabbinic law a willingness to forgive three times is all that is expected, so Peter's seven times is certainly an example of exceeding righteousness, a work of supererogation. Mind you, Peter is only talking about it and has probably never done it. Jesus' 77 times (or is it 490?) makes the point that perfection is the only standard worth anything in God's sight. As noted above, this saying on forgiveness gives direction in the Christian life, but also undermines any claim to self-righteousness.

tote adv. "then" - then. Temporal adverb used to indicate a step in the narrative - used "to introduce that which follows in time", BAGD. Matthew often uses this adverb as a "connective particle to introduce a subsequent event, but not one taking place at a definite time", BDF. The subject matter, namely, forgiveness, seems to link with the preceding passage, but there it was forgiveness for a wayward brother, where here it is our forgiveness of a hurtful brother. So, best treated as a new teaching unit leaving "then" out; "Peter came to Jesus", Barclay.

proselqwn (prosercomai) aor. part. "came" - [peter] having come, approached. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said"; "Peter came .. and said to him."

autw/ dat. pro. "[asked]" - [said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

kurie (oV) "Lord" - Vocative. A common form of address given to Jesus by the disciples. Probably not used as a divine address, although it is the way we use it of Jesus. For the disciples it can range from respect, "Sir", to identifying the person in charge, "Boss", "Guv", .....

posakiV adv. "how many times?" - how often? Temporal adverb. Seeking a limit for forgiving certainly relates to the previous passage where God has no limit when it comes to his forgiving, but as noted above, it is a different issue. "How many times does God expect me to forgive my brother when he purposely sets out to hurt me?"

oJ adelfoV (oV) "[my] brother / [my] brother or sister" - the brother [of me will sin against me]. Nominative subject of the verb "to sin." The context would imply "brother" here means fellow believer, but it is possible to render a general translation; "fellow man", Barclay.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and I will forgive, let go, release] him. Dative of direct object after the apo prefix verb "I will forgive."

eJwV + gen. "up to [seven times]" - as many as [seven occurrences]. Spacial; "denoting the upper limit", BAGD. Under Rabbinic law the upper limit was 3 times. Peter's 7 possibly means "a great number", Calvin, or more likely a number of significant scriptural warrant which expresses a work of supererogation. To forgive someone 7 times is a work well beyond the call of duty and must be worth big brownie-points.


autw/ dat. pro. "[Jesus answered]" - [jesus says] to him. Dative of indirect object.

soi dat. pro. "[I tell] you" - [i do not say] to you [as many as seven]. Dative of indirect object.

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ......., but ......."

ebdomhkontakiV eJpta "seventy-seven times" - [as many as] seventy times seven. Possibly seventy times seven = 490, or seventy plus seven = 77. If Jesus is quoting Gen.4:24 then it is 77 following the Hebrew rendering. Either way, it means unlimited forgiveness. "Seven times and then again and again until you can't count", TH.


ii] The parable of the unmerciful official, v23-34. "The kingdom of heaven can be compared with the situation which arose when a king wished to settle accounts with his servants", Barclay. The size of the debt owed by the servant is massive. In today's terms it is a multi-million dollar debt, something beyond anything a normal person could repay. Sold as a slave, the master could only recoup a maximum of one talent. He chooses to wipe the debt, calling it a bad loan. Under Old Testament law a debtor could be sold into slavery, but must be released in the year of Jubilee (every 50th year). The servant's actions are totally the opposite of the master's. The debt owed him was about the accumulated wage of a laborer for 100 days of work. The debt was far less the value of a slave and yet he has the man thrown into debtor's prison. It was illegal to sell a person for less than their slave value. In the final verses, Jesus emphasizes the wickedness of the servant and the extent of his punishment. He is not just handed over to the "jailers" (NIV), but rather to the "torturers". He will face torture until he, or his relatives, pay the debt.

As a kingdom parable, the parable of the unmerciful official confronts the reader with the present reality of the gospel - "the kingdom of God is at hand" - and thus our need to repent and believe in response. It is, in the fullest sense, a gospel message, as are all kingdom parables. Interestingly, Dodd in The Parables of the Kingdom, stumbles over this parable admitting "I have failed to find any specific link between this parable and the idea of the kingdom of God, apart from the general notion of judgment." Yes indeed! The parable's message is all about JUDGMENT. Like the unmerciful official we may have sidestepped the consequences of our behavior up to this point in time, but the inevitable day for the settling of accounts is at hand. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart", v35. To this we can only respond "Lord have mercy on us!", and in prayer ask that we may learn to be merciful as our God is merciful, forgiving as he is forgiving, accepting as he is accepting.

dia touto "therefore" - because of this. This causal construction is inferential and is often used to introduce an important truth. So, the message of the parable relates to what Jesus has just said.

twn ouranwn (oV) gen. "[the kingdom] of heaven" - [the kingdom] of the heavens. The dynamic reign of God as it confronts us in the here and now, and in the final day of judgment. For syntax see 3:2.

wJmoiwqh (oJmoiow) aor. pas. "is like" - has become like = is like. Comparative. The verb wJmoiwqh is passive in form, possibly medial passive, but usually viewed as stative, "is like." "Has been made like the situation where", but probably better, "can be compared with the situation which arose when a king wished to settle accounts with his servants", Barclay.

basilei (euV ewV) dat. "a king" - [a man], a king, [who wished to settle]. Dative in apposition to "man" which is a dative of direct object after the verb "to make like."

logon (oV) "accounts" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to settle up." Most often meaning "word"... speech, revelation. Also, as here, of a "calculation", "reckoning", the settlement of an account.

meta + gen. "with" - Expressing accompaniment / association.

doulwn (oV) "[his] servants" - the servants, slaves [of him]. Usually meaning "servant / slave", but it is suggested by some that these servants are the kings regional governors. It is likely that the man in question is the kings treasurer and he has been fiddling the books.


arxamenou (arcw) gen. aor. part. "as he began" - [but/and he] having commenced, begun.. The genitive participle with the genitive subject "he" forms a genitive absolute construction, usually treated as temporal; "when he began", RSV.

sunairein (sunairw) pres. inf. "the settlement" - to settle accounts. The infinitive is complementary, completing the verbal aspect of the participle "having begun."

talantwn (on) gen. "[ten thousand] talents / bags of gold" - [one debtor of ten thousand] talents. The genitive is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, "one (one debtor) was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents", ESV, as NIV. The value is hard to define since a "talent" is a measure of weight around 30-35kg. The talent could be of gold, silver or copper and so varied in value. The point is 10,000 of them is a king's ransom; "ran into millions", NEB.

proshnecqh (prosferw) aor. pas. "was brought" - was brought, lead. Possibly indicating compulsion.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object.


mh econtoV (ecw) gen. part. "since he was not able" - [but/and he] not having. The genitive absolute participle may again be taken as temporal, but here possibly causal, "because", as NIV; "And since he could not pay", ESV.

apodounai (apodidwmi) aor. inf. "to pay" - to repay. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "not having." "He was quite unable to pay. So his master .....", Barclay.

oJ kurioV "the master" - the lord [of him]. The use of kurioV, "Lord", three times in this parable has prompted some to suggest that Matthew is wanting the reader to equate the king with Jesus, since the word is often used to address Jesus; "The king."

praqhnai (pipraskw) aor. pas. inf. " that ........ be sold" - [ordered, commanded him] to be sold [and the wife and the children and everything which he has]. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the master commanded; "he ordered that he be sold", "As a slave", is understood; "to be sold as a slave", Phillips.

apodoqhnai (apodidwmi) aor. pas. inf. "to repay the debt" - [and] to be repaid = to render what is due. The infinitive is adverbial, introducing a purpose clause, "in order to repay the debt", but possibly again introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the master commanded, "that he be sold ..... and that payment be made."


oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

peswn (piptw) aor. part. "at this [the servant] fell" - [the slave] falling. The participle is attendant circumstance, or adverbial, temporal; "then the agent fell down and implored him", Berkeley.

prosekunei (proskunew) imperf. "on his knees before" - did worship, obeisance, homage. Indicating that he prostrated himself. The imperfect expressing the continuation of this position during his pleading.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [before] him. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to worship, do obeisance."

legwn (legw) part. "he begged" - saying. The participle is attendant circumstance, or adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his act of worship; "he worshiped him saying ....." "He implored", REB.

makroqumhson (makroqumew) aor. imp. "be patient" - have patience, be long-suffering. An appeal to a superior for forbearance.

ep (epi) + dat. "with [me]" - To be patient / forbearing is usually proV, "toward someone", or meta, "with someone", but is also known to take epi in the sense of "with someone", as here.

apodwsw (apodidwmi) fut. "I will pay [you] back" - [and everything] i will repay. The servant is asking that the master treat the debt as a loan to be repaid. Such, of course, is absurd since the debt is beyond repayment.

soi dat. pro. "-" - [everything] to you. Dative of indirect object.


de "-" - but/and. Indicating a step in the narrative / dialogue; "then the lord of that servant", ESV.

tou doulou (oV) gen. "the servant's [master]" - [the lord] of [that] servant. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or of subordination; "the master over / who ruled over that servant."

splagcnisqeiV (splagcnizomai) aor. pas. part. "took pity on him" - having been filled with tenderness, affection, compassion. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal, "then the Lord .... was moved with compassion", or causal, "because he was filled with compassion."

afhken (afihmi) aor. "cancelled" - forgave, pardoned, cancelled. "Remitted the debt", Barclay.

to daneion (on) "the debt" - the loan. Accusative direct object of the verb "to cancel / forgive." The servant claims that he intends repaying the debt.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage; "remitted the debt for him."


exelqwn (exercomai) "when [that servant] went out" - having gone out. Attendant circumstance participle, but it could be treated as adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

twn sundoulwn (oV) gen. "[one] of [his] fellow servants" - [that slave found one] of the fellow slaves [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

autw/ dat. pro. "[who owed] him" - [who owed a hundred denarii] to him. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

dhnaria (on) "denarii" - One denarius, a Roman silver coin which, at the time, had the value of a worker's daily wage. One hundred is quite a sum, but nothing to compare with ten thousand talents. There was 6,000 denarii in one talent.

krathsaV (kratew) aor. part. "he grabbed [him]" - [and] having seized, grabbed, taken hold of [him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "was choking".

epnigen (pnigw) imperf. "began to choke" - was choking, throttling. The NIV takes the imperfect as inceptive, but possibly tendential where the action is incomplete or interrupted. "Seized (grabbed) him by the throat", Phillips.

apodoV (apodidwmi) aor. imp. "pay back" - [saying] give/pay back, repay. The servant uses the same words that the master used with him.

ei ti ofeileiV (ofeilw) "[pay back] what you owe" - if you owe something. Where ei ti, "if anything", forms an indefinite phrase equivalent to o{ ti, cf. BDF, 376. The sense being, "if you have something of mine give it back", so, "repay what you owe." There is no "if" about it.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "he demanded" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle, "began to choke him and said", but it may be treated as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his choking, "began to choke him saying", ESV.


oun "-" - therefore. More likely serving as a connective here than drawing a logical conclusion.

peswn (piptw) aor. part. "fell to his knees" - having fallen. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "begged", "his fellow servant fell down and implored him saying", Moffatt, although a temporal sense may be intended, "then his fellow servant fell down and implored him".

legwn (legw) pres. part. "saying" - [the fellow slave of him begged him] saying. Attendant circumstance participle redundant, "implored him and said", or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "implored him saying."

makroqumhson (makroqumew) aor. imp. "be patient" - have patience. "Give me time."

ep (epi) + dat. "with [me]" - See above for this particular use of the preposition.

soi dat. pro. "[I will pay it back]" - [i will give back to, repay] you. Dative of indirect object.


de "but" - but/and. Treated as adversative by the NIV, although primarily serving to indicate as step in the narrative.

ouk hqelen (qelw) imperf. "refused" - [he] was not willing. As direct discourse, "I refuse." Here an imperfect and therefore possibly a sustained and repeated refusal, although an imperfect for speech is a natural choice of tense.

alla "instead" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ...., but ...."

apelqwn (apercomai) aor. part. "he went off" - having gone away, departed. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he threw"; "he left and cast him into prison."

e{wV + subj. "until [he could pay]" - [he threw him into prison] until [he should repay]. This construction introduces a temporal clause, indefinite future time.

to ofeilomenon (ofeilw) pres. mid./pas. part. "the debt" - the thing obligated = owing. The participle serves as a substantive.


oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So when his fellow servants saw ...", ESV.

idonteV (oraw) aor. part. "when [the other servants] saw" - [the fellow servants of him] having seen. The participle is adverbial, best taken as introducing a temporal clause, as NIV.

ta genomena (ginomai) aor. part. "what had happened" - the things having become. The participle serves as a substantive; "what was done", Berkeley.

eluphqhsan (lupew) aor. pas. "distressed / outraged" - grieved, sorrowed [greatly]. "Deeply distressed", REB.

elqonteV (ercomai) aor. part. "went" - [and] having come/gone. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "they reported"; "came and reported."

diesafhsan (diasafew) aor. "told" - they explained, made clear, informed. "Reported", "told him the whole story", Barclay.

tw/ kuriw/ "[their] master" - to the master [of them]. Dative of indirect object.

ta genomena (ginomai) aor. mid. part. "[everything] that had happened" - [all] the things having taken place. The participle serves as a substantive, limited by the adjective panta, "all".


tote adv. "then" - Temporal adverb serving to introduce a step in the narrative.

proskalesamenoV (proskaleomai) aor. part. "called" - [the lord of him] having summoned [him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said", "he summoned him and said", but probably more adverbial, temporal.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [says] to him. Dative of indirect object.

ponhre voc. adj. "you wicked [servant]" - evil [slave]. "You scoundrel", REB.

soi "[I canceled all that debt] of yours" - [i remitted all the debt] to you. Dative of indirect object / interest advantage; "for you." "I said you did not have to pay back a penny", CEV.

epei "because [you begged me to]" - because [you begged me]. Causal conjunction introducing a causal clause. The point being that "one act of mercy should have begotten another", D&A.


ouk "[should]n't [you]" - [was it] not [necessary for you]. A negated question formed to prompt an affirmative answer. As a question in English, there is implied doubt and therefore, not as emphatic as intended. A statement would be better, "You should have had mercy on your fellow servant", TEV. The verb edei "is necessary" is quite strong giving the sense "is it not necessary?", which obligation is not met by the unjust steward (nor by any of us!).

kai "-" - and. Adjunctive, "also"; "Should you not have had mercy also ....?"

elehsai (eleew) aor. inf. "mercy" - to have compassion upon [the fellow slave of you]. The infinitive serves as a the subject of the impersonal verb "is necessary." The verb is repeated for emphasis.

wJV "just as [I had mercy on you]?" - as [i also had mercy on you]? Comparative.


orgisqeiV (orgizomai) aor. pas. part. "in anger" - [and] having been angry. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal; "because he was angry."

autou gen. pro. "his [master]" - [the lord] of him. The genitive is adjectival, either possessive, as NIV, or idiomatic / subordination, "the lord over him."

toiV basanistaiV (hV ou) dat. "jailers" - [handed over him] to the torturer, jailers. Dative of indirect object. The idea was to torment the person in prison so that the relatives and friends would raise the necessary funds to pay off the debt. "Handed him over to the torturers", Moffatt.

e{wV ou| + subj. "until [he should pay back]" - until [he should repay]. This construction introduces an indefinite temporal clause future time; "until he should pay the entire debt", which of course he will never be able to do.

to ofeilomenon (ofeilw) pres. mid. part. "[all] he owed" - [all] the things owing. If the adjective pan, "all, every", is taken as a substantive, "everything", then the participle serves as an attributive adjective limiting "everything".


iii] A concluding exhortation for heartfelt forgiveness, v35. The kingdom parable reminds us that judgment is at hand with the settling of accounts, and when our account is assessed in the mercy / forgiveness department, we know very well how we will fare. So, the parable reminds us to look to God's mercy in Christ. Matthew's placement of the saying about the divine expectation of the forgiven to forgive reinforces this truth, but it also rounds off this teaching section on Christian community by giving guidance on the subject of forgiveness. Given that we are forgiven, God expects us to be forgiving. No, we will never do that perfectly, for heartfelt forgiveness is a rare commodity, but it must be our aim.

ouJtwV kai "this is how" - thus, so also. The adverb of manner ouJtwV makes an inferential reference to what proceeds, "thus / so", and kai draws a comparison, "also / likewise." Judgment in the face of the coming kingdom is what faces us if we fail to show heartfelt forgiveness. "Once again a Matthean discourse ends with a threat of judgment", Luz.

uJmin dat. pro. "[will treat each] of you" - [the father of me will do also] to you. Dative of indirect object.

ean mh + subj. "unless" - Here introducing a negated 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true; "unless, as may be the case, you forgive your ....... then this is how my heavenly Father ......"

ekastoV adj. "-" - [you] each one [forgive]. The adjective serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "you"; "unless you, each one of you, forgiven ..."; "if each of you does not heartily forgive his brother", Berkeley.

tw/ adelfw/ (oV) dat. "[his] brother / brother or sister" - the brother [of him]. Dative of direct object after the verb afihmi, "to forgive."

apo twn kardiwn uJmwn "from your heart" - from the hearts of you. The prepositional construction formed by apo is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "sincerely", "heartily forgive", Berkeley. In the New Testament, the heart, of course, is the center of our will, not the center of our emotions. "Genuinely forgive your fellow man", Barclay. Note how Barclay has again taken "brother" in the wider sense of humankind, rather than fellow believer, although fellow believer is more likely. "Sincerely".


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