How Many Times Should We Forgive?

A Soap maker, who was not saved, walked along the road with a preacher one day. He said to the preacher, “The gospel you preach has not done much good. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and wicked people, too.” Quietly they walked on. The preacher did not … More


Peter asked the Lord how many times you should forgive someone who did something to wrong you  (v. 21). He asked if 7 times was enough and the Lord said, “not just 7 times but 77 times (v. 22).” Then a story was told about a king who called his officials in and asked them to pay what they owed him (v. 23). One man owed 50,000 silver coins but he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed, so the king ordered he and his family to be sold to pay the debt (vv. 24-25). This man got on his knees and begged for mercy (v. 26). The king felt  sorry for him and said his bill was paid in full.

As this man was leaving he met another official who owed him 100 silver coins and he grabbed him by the throat, chocked him, and demanded that he pay what he owed him (vv. 27-28). He begged the first official to give him time to pay what he owed but the other official put him in jail (vv. 29-30). When some other officials heard about what happened they told the king and he called the first official back and said “You’re an evil man!” When you begged for mercy, I let you off free. Don’t you think you should show pity, as I did to you” (vv. 31-33)?

The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he paid back every thing he owed (v. 34). This is how the Father in heaven will treat you if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all of your heart (v. 35). It is because he is a God of such compassion and mercy that He cannot possibly accept as His those devoid of such compassion and mercy. Those who are forgiven must forgive, lest they show themselves incapable of receiving forgiveness.


When the Lord says we are not just to forgive 7 times, but 77 times, it actually means an unlimited amount and that I should forgive continuously and without limit, just as God forgives me. 

Matthew 18:21-35 (English Standard Version)

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."

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