Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little clarification please Matthew 6.14-15

***POSTED BY: Rog***

After reading through this post, I figured that I would add some biblical passages to the conversation. The best place to start would be the words of Jesus. So, when reading through the gospel of Matthew, I came across this passage of scripture which I feel needs some clarification. For those of you not familiar with the passage I will provide it for you.

Matthew 6:14-15(NET) "For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

These are the last two verses in the section where Jesus teaches on prayer.

It is easy to overlook these verses or skim past them. Several questions need to be asked about this verse.

1. Is God's forgiveness conditional or dependent upon man forgiving others?
2. Does this passage imply that one can lose his/her salvation?

I am trying to work through this passage on my own. I don't want this passage to be something that I overlook. Further I don't want to use a theological system(such as Calvinism) to explain away this passage.

So what does Jesus mean by these words?


tyler m taber said...
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tyler m taber said...

Good post.

Several different arguments could be help provide insight:

1.Argument from Mark:a parrallel text is revealed in Mark 11:25,

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (NIV).

Mark seems to be saying something very similar than the writer of Matthew does. Therefore, this need only supplement the supposed conditional form of forgiveness Matthew's gospel seems to advocate.

2.Argument from Luke:Luke, as the writer of Acts, says in 10:43 that,

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name"(NIV)

Here, Luke seems to be fighting for the unconditionalside of the story brought up in Matthew and Mark.

3. Argument from Paul:Paul, in Romans 3:23 says that "For all have sinned...and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (NET).

This, like Luke, would seem to advocate, once again, an unconditional aspect of the situation.

My thoughts

It seems to me--and I'm very willing to admit that I'm wrong if proven so--that Christ, in Matthew and Mark, is talking about forgiveness not dependent on salvation. Given the context of the Matthew/Mark verses, I think this forgiveness is based on our daily relationship to our fellow man and, of course, prayer life with the Almighty.

Concerning Luke and Paul, it would seem that these two authors are advocating forgiveness in terms of the new believer's acceptance of Christ--aka salvation. In that case, Christ forgives us as new creatures in Him--a fresh start to a new life. These passages, once again, are set in the context of salvation--not in the duty of holy, day-to-day living.

Perhaps we could call for two different types of forgiveness?

I believe that God's willingness to forgive sin is not based on humanities willingness. This, I'm inclined to think, puts too much in the hands of the creation and not enough in the Creator. A person, bluntly put, cannot walk in fellowship with God unless he has forgiven others--but this need not be related to initial salvation.

Critique me. What do you guys think?


rog said...

Good thoughts, but I still see several problems with the reasoning in your post. I realize you are using the synoptics and Paul to help shed light on what Matthew 6.14-15 states.

Put yourself in the first century as one of the original hearers of Matthew's gospel. Do you have access to Mark, Luke and even Paul's letters to better help you understand what is being read outloud in Matthew 6.14-15? Would the original audience have thought "I need to go look at Mark, Luke, and Paul to better help me understand what is being said"? To put it another way, is it necessary to have the books of Mark/Luke and Paul's letters to understand what Matthew is saying?

I realize we use scripture to interpret scripture all the time, but this can lead to some problematic conclusions.

For instance, if it is necessary to use Mark/Luke to understand Matthew, then why didn't God inspire Matthew to include the words from Mark and Luke? Did Matthew's audience not get the whole message?

Just using Matthew,(because its impossible to know what books the original audience had access too) lets take it for what it is saying. Lets not use Matthew plus Luke/Mark/Paul

***(I also realize that my knowledge on the synoptics and each author using parts of the other is lacking)***

tyler m taber said...

Yes, I agree that using other Scripture to explain Scripture can lead to discrepancies, especially in the case of Paul and Luke.

However, assuming Markan priority (that the author of Matthew drew from Mark), it would seem relevant to therefore use Mark's similar passage in this interpretation. Am I wrong to assume so?

I think that if we limit ourselves only to the Matthew verse, it is very conclusive that God's forgiveness is dependent/conditional on man's forgiveness. However, in light of the other passages I used, it is clear that forgiveness can have different modes--i.e. 1)the forgiveness that salvation brings when trusting in Christ; and 2) forgiveness in our daily life.

But, to answer the question more specifically: yes, I think the Matthew passage (by itself) is evident that God won't forgive unless we first forgive.

I don't think this need apply to salvation.

Do you think it applies to salvation?

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