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God’s Word for You

Luke 17:3-4 Forgive

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

3 Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 “If he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Should we take this to be an abbreviated version of Matthew 18:21-22, which ended with Jesus adding, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times”? This isn’t necessary. For one thing, Matthew’s account is followed by the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, and Luke is unlikely to omit a parable given any opportunity. More convincingly, Luke’s context is different. In Matthew, the Lord was answering a question by Peter. Here, Jesus is preaching about offense.

Two important details here are the who and the when of the offense. The who is “your brother,” not just a family member but a brother or sister in Christ. The when is “in a day.” Seven different offenses might be committed against you in that day—a flurry of broken Commandments, all by the same Christian brother—and even if this is the case, the rebuke and forgiveness should happen on that day. Lenski’s gorgeous conclusion to this hard saying is this: “Whereas worldly men seek to entrap our brethren, the brethren are to save each other” (Luke p. 866). A forgiven man loves the Lord, cherishes that forgiveness, and asks the Holy Spirit to help him lead a more godly life. A condemned man lives unforgiven and begins to resent and hate God as an unloving, unforgiving tyrant who only demands and demands and who never gives. Such hatred will turn into unbelief and despair. So, forgive! There will be times when this is that hardest task before you: forgive.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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