Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine
This is one of Jesus' great
it comes in response to a question of from
Peter with regard to Peter’s question, “Lord,. In the NRSV it's translated
"if another member of the church
sins against me, how often should I forgive?."
Peter’s problem arises from the process for
conflict resolution that Jesus identified in the previous
discourse (Matthew 18:15-20).
The Greek word
translated as “church” in the NRSV—ecclesia—can also be translated as
“community.” I think “community” is the more probable original meaning because in
Peter’s context there wasn’t a church. Thus, the sentence would say, “If
another member of the community sins against me,
how often should I forgive?”
It can also be translated, and I think
is more likely in Peter's context since there wasn't a church, "if a
brother sins against me."
question of forgiveness is a generic issue in all communities
and in all interpersonal relationships. When someone else
sins against you, how often do you forgive him or her?
if he the person keeps
doing the same thing, how often do you forgive him? As Do
you forgive him
as many as seven times? Jesus answers the
question with a symbolic number that is sometimes translated
as seventy-seven (NRSV) and
elsewhere as seventy times seven. Whichever way, what
matters is that this is Jesus’
way of naming a number beyond calculation.
When heard in relation to the previous discourse
in verses 15-20 the question would
be, “How many times
should I go through the process of reconciliation?
Jesus’ answer: an infinite number of times.
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