EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 22-Mar-2009


by John McOwen


A few weeks ago someone asked me to do a particular study on a topic of forgiveness, and most importantly, and particularly, to this person they asked me here at the fellowship if we would “talk about forgiving others especially enemies that seem to be against us”.  So I took it upon myself to do that and there is a great lesson in the Scriptures. 

There are many times that the Bible speaks about forgiveness and that is going to be our focus today.  So I want you to think ahead of time before we even begin to look at Matthew 18, which is where we will begin and before we even start there, I want you to think in your mind:

“How can I apply today’s lesson, if we are going to learn about a topic about forgiveness, how can I go from here today and the rest of this week and even for the rest of my life here with the short time that is left, how can I apply this?  Is there anybody in my life today that I need to exercise this with, and maybe that is a plural, anybodies?” 

And if there is anyone in your life then today’s lesson is something hopefully that will help you in rectifying or closing the gap between any friction that might be between you and someone else that you love or even an enemy whoever that may be. 

Starting in Matthew 18 we are going to take a look at verse 21 and we are going to pickup here where Peter asked the Lord about forgiveness.  In verses 21-22 of Matthew 18 we read:

Then came Peter to him, …

That is of course Jesus.

… and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? …

And he answers his own question with a question:

… till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

So that was Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question but let us continue on and read because the very next thing He says even though there is a paragraph marker probably in your Bible the thought does not stop there.  Right after Jesus said “seventy times seven,” He goes right into a parable to emphasize the point of how to forgive, and what it means to forgive, and how oft to forgive.  So He goes on in verse 23 and says:

Therefore …

He had just said “seventy times seven” times you are to forgive your brother not just seven times.  And He says:

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

So right away the parable now is going to be about forgiving and how much and how frequently we are to forgive.  Verses 24-35:

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

So we will end our reading right there.  This passage and the parable we just read really emphasizes a huge point about forgiveness, obviously and that is the whole point that Peter asked Him in verse 21 when he said, Lord how often should I forgive my brother?  Jesus had been speaking about that even before Peter asked Him the question.  It was not just out of the blue that Peter asked it, in the same chapter in verses 15-16 we read Jesus saying:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, …

So Jesus was just talking about that issue and Peter was moved to ask Him the question of how often he should do it.  Let us take a look, before we really delve into this, at one more passage in Luke 17, because the Lord addressed this issue there as well.  In Luke 17 verses 3-4, just two verses:

Take heed to yourselves: …

Said Jesus in Luke 17:3:

… If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

So what is He saying there?  Jesus had said that even if your brother during the course of seven different times in a day, he trespasses against you, he wrongs you, he irks you, and he repents and he asks for forgiveness, you should forgive him. 

So Peter in Matthew 18 says Lord how often should I forgive my brother?  And he answers his own question with a question, “till seven times?” because Jesus said in Luke 17 that even if your brother trespassed seven times in a day forgive him so Peter was wondering is that it, is that the limit perhaps, how often should I forgive my brother, just seven times?  He did not say “just” but he said “till seven times?”  And that is when Jesus answered and said, No not seven times but “seventy times seven” times.  So what does the number seven connote in the Bible, does anyone know what that means?  Perfect, perfection and when you see the number seven there and He underscores it by saying “seventy times seven.”  So it is now multiple of ten, seven times ten is seventy and then times seven again, so He is emphasizing the number seven here, perfection there is no limit or end but it really points to, what is seven times seven forty nine and what does that number remind you of in the Bible?  The Jubilee.  We see that in Leviticus 25 and that is very important with forgiveness.  Leviticus 25:8:

And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven …

Now God tells us how to do it, “seven times seven years.”  What is seven times seven?  Forty nine.

… and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.

So God tells us again what the answer is.

Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.

So let us stop right there.  The Jubile is seven times seven, seven seven’s is forty nine.  He says forty nine years and now He is saying there is going to be a Jubile there is going to be a trumpet sound and now the key is verse 10 what does it mean?  Because this is all tied into forgiveness remember Jesus said “seventy times seven” to Peter.  Verse 10:

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

What happens when you forgive someone, they have wronged you?  Where have you returned them?  To a place of good standing in your heart again, you have forgiven them and they are really liberated from whatever, you may have been harboring a resentment against them or been distanced from someone or being angry and now call them an enemy and they used to be a friend or they are a family member.  So that is how a Jubile really ties into forgiveness that is why Jesus said “seventy times seven” times that you are to forgive.  We are looking at the Jubile and liberating, freeing someone.  If you are wronged, you are the one who is holding someone else and not forgiving them let us say they repent here, we saw in Matthew 18 and Luke 17, if you repent and they keep repenting, forgive, Jesus said keep forgiving even if it is seven times in one day.  Now let us go back to Matthew 18 where Jesus had told Peter “seventy times seven” times you are to forgive. 

The parable that we are reading and He said there that the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a certain king.  Who is the king?  I will give you a hint, in the very last verse of that chapter the parable tells us.  Who is the king in this account where he brings before him these servants to reckon with him?  Who does the king represent?  God, and in particular verse 35 tells us, the Father, God the Father.  In verse 35 Jesus said:

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, …

So Jesus is likening the king in this parable to Heavenly Father.  This king in verse 23 is going to take account of his servants.  So God the Father is going to take account of His servants.  What does it mean to take account?  Well it is really a report, it is translated as “tidings” in Acts 11 and it is a report really of what has been going on.  Acts 11:20-22:

And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings …

That is the same word as “taking account” in Matthew 18:

Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, …

So the things that had been going on, a great number of people believed “and turned unto the Lord.”  All these things that were going on these tidings were told to the people, the church that was at Jerusalem, so that was an account.  Taking an account means a full record, a report of what has been going on.  So the king here is taking an account of his fellowservants here and in verse 24, He says:

And when he had begun to reckon, …

So he gets this report, he gets the tidings and now he is going to reckon.  What does that word mean?  If you are from the south sometimes, I have some family in the south and some of my nephews will say to me, “Uncle John I reckon that …” that is not what the word means in the Old English.  Someone said acknowledge here, to reckon a little bit more deeply than to just acknowledge is to actually settle the account.  So you are hearing the tidings you are taking account of everyone and now you are going to settle it.  So to reckon with each here, and He said:

… he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

So there is going to be a settling of the account.  Let me look at Matthew 25 to see what the word “reckon” means in verses 19-20:

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

That is our same word:

And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

And here is what it means to reckon, verse 21:

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

So to reckon there and it said that in verse 19 he reckoned with them.  He had five talents he had doubled the money and therefore the king there said, the one in charge said, you did well I am going to make you a ruler over many things.  So to reckon, there, meant to settle the account and give a particular judgment; perhaps a promotion at work or perhaps a demotion if you failed and not been faithful.  That is what it means to be reckoned.  So the king is now reckoning and this certain person owes him ten thousand talents and in the Old English we have the word “ten thousand talents” what does that mean?  Is it a little bit of money, a lot of money, was it money?  It was money and the best way to understand ten thousand talents is in 1 Kings 10, in Solomon’s day we see the same basis of money.  In 1 Kings 10:10, and this is the Queen of Sheba:

And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.

So she gave him “an hundred and twenty talents” now remember how many talents did the servant owe the king?  Ten thousand talents.  The Queen of Sheba gave Solomon “only” a hundred and twenty talents that is not a lot, seemingly, but how much was that?  Well look at verse 14:

Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year …

Remember Solomon was the head of the richest kingdom on earth. 

… the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,

So in one year he got six hundred and sixty six talents brought in and remember how much that servant owed the king?  Ten thousand, not just a thousand, six hundred and sixty six may be the next big multiple or increment would be a thousand, but ten thousand talents was what was owed to the king.  Now that is a lot and look at verse 23 if you do not believe me that that was a lot:

So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

So six hundred and sixty six talents a year of gold was a lot of revenue.  So for this servant to have owed a king in Matthew 18, ten thousand talents it is just unspeakable money.  In today’s language it is billions of dollars more than the richest man on the earth would even have today.  And that is what he owed and yet the king as we read through that parable was going to forgive him that debt. 

Well let us look at the spiritual analogy obviously if the king is God the Father that we saw in verse 35 of Matthew 18, let us take a look and see what this means about the transgressions against the king.  In Lamentations 1, there is a beautiful picture there and let us go to Lamentations which is right after the book of Jeremiah.  Lamentations 1:1:

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!

So becoming tributary now means you were princess but now you are tributary you are under, other people are in charge of you.  They put you under bondage so to speak.  So it is a huge lament here that of course Jeremiah is having.  In verse 3:

Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

Because she is in affliction because of great servitude she is now a servant.  Remember the servant, who was before the king and he owed him ten thousand talents?  Well here we read that Judah has gone into captivity the nation has gone into great servitude and in verse 5:

Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: …

And there we see the “multitude of her transgressions” all the sins that that nation had committed against God when He finally gave them up, finally, in this Old Testament history of the nation of Judah in particular here.  But the king and we are seeing here the LORD, in verse 5, has afflicted her because of “the multitude of her transgressions.”  Think back to the king in Matthew 18, who had a servant who owed him ten thousand talents and in Lamentations 3:32 we see the beautiful spiritual picture of the king having this great compassion and he says in Lamentations 3:32:

But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

Do you begin to get a picture of what the multitude of God’s mercies mean now?  If the servant owed him ten thousand talents and Solomon only brought in six hundred and sixty six talents of gold a year and yet the servant owed ten thousand talents do you understand when it says here “the multitude of his mercies” how vast, how incredible that really is.  The span of that, think about, not only just yourself, but all the people that He has come to save, if there are two hundred million people that God has elected to salvation, picture the vast multitude of sins and transgressions that are like the ten thousand talents that are owed the king and yet he forgave.  And here, God is talking about His compassion in Lamentations which is amazing.  Go to Matthew 18, back to where we were, in our parable here in Matthew 18:27:

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, …

Does it not sound like the LORD that we read about in Lamentations 3?

… and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

See that is what God’s compassion means, His compassion is not that we live a fairly healthy and decent life and we have a roof over our head, although that is all included to a degree and we have food to eat each day, but His compassion especially focuses on His forgiveness.  To have compassion means He forgives a multitude of transgressions that we read in Lamentations.  The king here “was moved with compassion” and since he had the emotion of compassion what did he do?   He turned around and forgave he loosed him from his servitude and he “forgave him the debt.”  Well that should move you to do the same to your fellowservants, to your fellow brother, to your enemies if you have any out there.  No matter who they may be, strangers or people that know you whatever the case may be someone that hates you for whatever reason.  You are to be “moved with compassion” likewise on them because of what God has done for you, if you are saved, if you are forgiven of all your sin, if you have been loosed from the debt that you owe God.  Now we read in verse 25 of this parable:

… his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

The law says you have to be sold and all that you have is going to be brought under servitude and then payment will be made.  And whatever that payment brings in he will take that for the debt but he did not turn around and forgive until that servant fell down and worshipped him and said, “Lord have patience with me” in verse 26.  Here is a great picture of crying out for salvation for someone because he said “have patience with me, and I will pay thee all,” because he knew what was coming, he knew the judgment that was coming and it was that you were going to be sold and your children and your wife and payment was going to be made.  It was not going to bring in ten thousand talents here but certainly whatever could have been received for that would have been made for the payment.  But he said here in verse 25 that he was going to be sold and what does that remind us of?  If we are talking here about forgiving one another as the king forgave this servant, to be sold really brings us to Romans 7 and our condition of being sold under sin.  Look at Romans 7:14.  We are sold under sin, sadly.  Romans 7:14:

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

You see we are unfortunately we were sold out, so to speak.  Satan deceived Adam and Eve our great, great, great grandparents and we are doing the same thing today that they did.  We are sinning or violating God’s law and when we do that even though we have been sold God redeems us from that servitude through forgiveness, His compassion.  And if God does that for you and that multitude of sins that He forgave you then you in turn are to turn around and forgive anyone else whether it is a school mate, it could be someone you work with, a neighbor, it could be a stranger on the street if you are trying to do good to them by passing out the Gospel and they get angry with you, it could be a family member who is just completely beside themselves about where you stand today, religiously, spiritually or whatever the case may be for whatever the reason here we are sold under sin and the payment is “the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23.  So we are sold under sin and the payment is death.  That is not going to give God what is owed but we are dead and we are done and that is the payment that we have to pay for our sin but God said, in Matthew 18, Christ said:

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, …

And that means to set free just like the Jubile.  The word “loosed” in the Greek here it is a verb and it means to set free, or dismiss, or to release someone, to pardon them.  The same word is used in Matthew 27:17 and we will see that in a second here.  Matthew 27:17 we pick up the same word:

Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

That word “release” is the same word “loose” in Matthew 18.  So it is to be released of that debt burden and that is what God the Father of course does to us if we are saved.  We are released from the payment which is death and therefore “the wages of sin is death;  but the gift of God is eternal life.”  See the opposite, that is where the eternal life is the opposite of the death that we rightly deserve and therefore that is the payment if we do not have a substitute and the compassion of God the Father to forgive us.  Let us take a look at one more thing before we close this lesson in verse 28 of Matthew 18:

But the same servant went out, …

And here is the application for you personally today:

… and found one of his fellowservants, …

So someone just like you could be a real brother or sister, a blood brother or sister, could be a friend, could be a neighbor, and could be a stranger:

… one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

That was kind of unfair of him to say the least, if he was just forgiven ten thousand talents.  But how about this hundred pence do you think that is a lot of money?  That word “pence” in the Old English is denarius and a denarius was a Roman coin, does anyone know what that would have represented for wages?  Remember the story in Matthew 20? When they went out first in the morning and He said if you agree with me for a penny a day and then he got people at 9:00am and at noon and at 3:00pm and remember at 5:00 in the afternoon he got a few people that were still idle and said will you go work in the field and I will pay you.  When the guys who worked from 5:00pm till 6:00pm for an hour got a penny the people who had worked for twelve hours were really upset when they only got a penny.  So it was a day’s wages.  If a hundred pence or a hundred denarius is what was owed him one day’s wages, remember ten thousand talents was more than what Solomon brought in, in a whole year in the kingdom of Israel.  So do you see the difference?  The hundred pence is nothing it means a day’s wages, not that that is nothing but it is not a lot in comparison.  That is the point here.  Jesus is driving home the point that the multitude of sins that you have been forgiven if you are saved no matter how old or young you are.  I mean it is in the hundreds of thousands if not million category and if someone sins against you what is that?  One sin, right?  One sin, against you personally, and yet if you have been forgiven let us say five hundred thousand sins and you have been totally forgiven by God, how is it that you cannot turn around now and forgive one person one sin against you?  That is why the king got so angry in the end of this parable and said what? I forgave you ten thousand talents and you could not forgive one hundred pence to the fellowservant who owed you money?  Guess what is going to happen to you, deliver him to the tormentors and that payment should be made:

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. 

The key here is you have to forgive no matter what, that is the key.  The lesson here is, seven times Lord is that how often I should forgive my spouse, my friend, my…whoever.  No, “seventy times seven” times and here is the parable to really drive it home.  See God the Father has if you are saved has forgiven you like ten thousand talents of sin debt you have to forgive everyone else no matter what the sin against you.  That is the key no matter what, it is one sin, even if it is seven sins in one day it is still nothing compared to the five hundred five thousand that you have committed against God.

So let us close with two great verses in Matthew 6 that will summarize the lesson and make the application, hopefully, a little bit more poignant for you.  Matthew 6:14-15 and with this we will close:

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It just corroborates what we read in Matthew 18 with the parable.  The bottom line is if you have been forgiven the mandate is you must forgive.  If you are not forgiving other people there is a high likelihood that you were not forgiven yourself.  Make the application, examine your hearts today “whether ye be in the faith” and may God give us all the grace and compassion to forgive one another when we are trespassed against.  Amen.

Q&A (paraphrased)

Q. Do we have to forgive rapists and even murderers?

A. Yes.  Jesus did not qualify the answer, He did not qualify it meaning that everything except.  He said “seventy times seven” if your brother trespasses against you seven times in a day and repents forgive him seven times, so yes.  That is the challenge, no matter what. 

Q. I know we have to forgive our brothers and forgive those who wrongly accuse us or do something to us.  What are we going to do about God’s justice?

A. Jesus said judgment is mine says the Lord, I will repay, so we leave that to God.  He will give the justice.  He is the One who does it and adjudicates it and we leave it in His hands.

Q. If we have to forgive our brothers, our enemies for wrongfully doing this or that what about the “scars” on the person that was wronged, how is God going to deal with that, the one who has been wronged?

A. That is one of the keys to healing.  If you ever watch any of these programs that talk about stuff like that.  The key to healing is forgiveness.  When you harbor that resentment against that person for the rest of your life then you are going to have emotional problems.  But when you have learned to forgive no matter what your Dad did or did not do or your Mom or whatever, you release the burden off your own shoulders as well.  That is what Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” to the ones that put him to death.

Q. Question not audible

A. The forgiveness was not qualified based on someone paying you, the forgiveness was unqualified that we are commanded so whether or not you are reimbursed or there is restitution made or not, you are to forgive.  It is an unqualified forgiveness.