Why Would I Forgive Someone “Seventy Times Seven” (Matthew 18:21-22)?
"Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." ~ Matthew 18:21-22
"Seventy Times Seven" - Matthew 18:22
Read the transcript of the video above by Sam Waldron explaining the meaning of Matthew 18:
Forgiveness is not holding someone's sins against them in terms of creating distance or enmity in my relationship with them. The great paradigm example of forgiveness is God himself, who says in Jeremiah 31 that, "I will remember their sins and iniquities no more." What that means is not that God is going to forfeit his omniscience, but that God will not hold our sins against this. They will form no bar to his relationship of love and grace toward us. I think that's a good way of defining forgiveness.
Our practice of forgiveness has to be based on the gospel. In other words, what my thesis is here is that we have to forgive people like God forgives people, that God is the great example of forgiveness. All right? When God saves us, what does he do? He comes to us, calls us to repentance, we repent, he forgives us. Then what happens? He goes on for giving us day after day after day, 7 times 70, and 70 times, 70 more throughout our lives. When God calls upon us to forgive 490 times, he's calling upon us to do to other people exactly what he's doing for us as Christians.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:21-35)
Bible Commentary on "Seventy times Seven"
"Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee"
Which is as if he had said, observe what I am about to say, I do not agree to what thou sayest to fix the number, "until seven times only", but
"until seventy times seven;"
a certain number for an uncertain, see ( Genesis 4:24 ). Christ's meaning is, that a man should be all the days, and every day of his life, forgiving those that sin against him, as often as they repent and acknowledge their fault; and that no time is to be set for the exercise of the grace of forgiveness; but as often as there are objects and occasions, though ever so many and frequent, it should be used; and which he illustrates by the following parable. (Excerpt from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible)