Used with permission
The phrase “seventy times seven” is recorded in Matthew 18:21-22 when Peter asked Jesus Christ, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” This question followed after that Jesus laid down the rules or principles on discipline in the church (Matthew 18:15-20).
Did Jesus really mean that we ought to forgive others as much as 490 times? If so, what happened after that? Should we then never forgive our brother or sister who did something wrong against us? When Jesus mentioned to His disciples about forgiving someone “seventy times seven,” this probably shocked them because in Jewish teaching, forgiveness is only required three times and after that came judgment. This principle was based on Amos 1:3-13 and is how God dealt with the enemies of His people.
Jesus Christ was not limiting forgiveness to a specific number like 490 times. Jesus’ point is not about how many times we are to forgive, but He wanted to teach Christian character, and what forgiveness in the Christian life looks like. Christians ought to forgive others and continue to forgive with the grace Jesus supplies. He provides the ability to forgive over and beyond human capabilities.
Paul echoed this truth in Ephesians 4:32 when he admonishes Believers to forgive others “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” The ability to forgive others is not founded on any circumstance, but in the person of Jesus Christ.
Beloved in the Lord, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”