1. The Rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offered them – but only 3 times. Peter trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven, the perfect numbers was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered ‘seventy seven times’ meaning that we should not even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.
2. Old Testament references of number 7
With Peter’s offer to forgive seven times may compare the following.
Gen 4: 15 – sevenfold vengeance upon Cain’s murder
Lev 16 – there is sevenfold sprinkling of blood for the sins of the people
Lev 26: 18 – I will chastise you again sevenfold for your sins
Prov 24: 16 – a righteousness man talks 7 times and rises again.
3. 10,000 Talents: Ten thousand talents: A talent was a very high measure of money, worth between six thousand and ten thousand denarii, when on denarius was a day’s pay (20:2), so ten thousand talents is an astronomical sum (like a billion dollar for us), a debt so large that the servant could never repay it. (See 18:26) This huge sum must represent the total revenues of the province and the debtor must have been a high and trusted official.
4. A hundred denarii: Compared to the debt of ten thousand talents, this was a small sum that could easily be paid back if the servant had showed patience. His treatment of the fellow servant is contrasted with King’s merciful treatment.
5. At the cruel treatment of the servant, the fellow servants were very sorry. They go and ask for justice to the king. The sins of the others will cause real sorrow to the true Christian; he/she will grieve over the hard-hearted and impenitent as the Lord wept over Jerusalem.
Forgiveness is a virtue nice to talk about but difficult to practice. We are talking about forgiving 70 times and odd, but we generally find difficult to forgive even once. With one experience of betrayal we turn bitter and condemn even our close friends for life time. Jesus did not only preach on forgiveness but practiced the virtue throughout his life and the climax of his forgiveness was when he forgave his executioners from the cross. Let us slowly start forgiving those who have hurt us, be it our family members, relatives, friends or enemies. If God is ready to forgive all our sins unconditionally, are we not obliged to forgive the little offences our friends commit?
International Critical Commentary
Anchor Bible Series
Life Application Bible
Sacra Pagina Series
The Pulpit Commentary