The Meaning of Matthew 18:21 Explained

Matthew 18:21

KJV: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

YLT: Then Peter having come near to him, said, 'Sir, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him -- till seven times?'

Darby: Then Peter came to him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? until seven times?

ASV: Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times?

What does Matthew 18:21 Mean?

Study Notes

sin
sinned
Sin, Summary: The literal meanings of the Heb. and (Greek - ἀλεκτοροφωνία sin," "sinner," etc)., disclose the true nature of sin in its manifold manifestations. Sin is transgression, an overstepping of the law, the divine boundary between good and evil Psalms 51:1 ; Luke 15:29 , iniquity, an act inherently wrong, whether expressly forbidden or not; error, a departure from right; Psalms 51:9 ; Romans 3:23 , missing the mark, a failure to meet the divine standard; trespass, the intrusion of self-will into the sphere of divine authority Ephesians 2:1 , lawlessness, or spiritual anarchy 1 Timothy 1:9 , unbelief, or an insult to the divine veracity John 16:9 .
Sin originated with Satan Isaiah 14:12-14 , entered the world through Adam Romans 5:12 , was, and is, universal, Christ alone excepted; Romans 3:23 ; 1 Peter 2:22 , incurs the penalties of spiritual and physical death; Genesis 2:17 ; Genesis 3:19 ; Ezekiel 18:4 ; Ezekiel 18:20 ; Romans 6:23 and has no remedy but in the sacrificial death of Christ; Hebrews 9:26 ; Acts 4:12 availed of by faith Acts 13:38 ; Acts 13:39 . Sin may be summarized as threefold: An act, the violation of, or want of obedience to the revealed will of God; a state, absence of righteousness; a nature, enmity toward God.

Context Summary

Matthew 18:21-35 - Forgiven Yet Unforgiving
Seventy times seven is illimitable forgiveness. These numbers denote the perfection of perfection; and if God asks so much of us, what is He not prepared to do! Despair of yourself, but never despair of God's forgiving mercy! The cause of soul-ruin is not sin, but the unbelief that thinks sin too great to be forgiven.
The difference between the two amounts of debt named in the parable sets forth the vast difference between our indebtedness to man and to God; and the free pardon of the king teaches us that God desires not only to forgive us, but to wipe out all memory of our sins. We could never pay all, but God will forgive all. Yet, notice that this servant forfeited the king's pardon, so that it ceased to operate. Similarly we may shut ourselves out of the benefits of Christ's death-though it has reconciled the world unto God-by an unforgiving and merciless spirit. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 18

1  Jesus warns his disciples to be humble and harmless,
7  to avoid offenses,
10  and not to despise the little ones;
15  teaches how we are to deal with our brothers when they offend us,
21  and how often to forgive them;
23  which he sets forth by a parable of the king who took account of his servants,
32  and punished him who showed no mercy to his fellow servant

Greek Commentary for Matthew 18:21

Until seven times? [εως επτακισ]
His question goes back to Matthew 18:15. “Against me” is genuine here. “The man who asks such a question does not really know what forgiveness means” (Plummer). [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 18:21

Matthew 18:35 From your hearts [απο των καρδιων μων]
No sham or lip pardon, and as often as needed. This is Christ‘s full reply to Peter‘s question in Matthew 18:21. This parable of the unmerciful servant is surely needed today. [source]
Luke 17:4 Seven times in a day [επτακις της ημερας]
Seven times within the day. On another occasion Peter‘s question (Matthew 18:21) brought Christ‘s answer “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22), which see note. Seven times during the day would be hard enough for the same offender. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 18:21 mean?

Then having come - Peter said to Him Lord how often will sin against me the brother of me and I will forgive him Up to seven times
Τότε προσελθὼν Πέτρος εἶπεν» αὐτῷ Κύριε ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ ἕως ἑπτάκις

προσελθὼν  having  come 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: προσέρχομαι  
Sense: to come to, approach.
  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Πέτρος  Peter 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Πέτρος  
Sense: one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.
εἶπεν»  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
αὐτῷ  to  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
Κύριε  Lord 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Singular
Root: κύριος  
Sense: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
ποσάκις  how  often 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ποσάκις  
Sense: how often.
ἁμαρτήσει  will  sin 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἁμαρτάνω  
Sense: to be without a share in.
εἰς  against 
Parse: Preposition
Root: εἰς  
Sense: into, unto, to, towards, for, among.
ἐμὲ  me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Accusative 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
ἀδελφός  brother 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀδελφός  
Sense: a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother.
μου  of  me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
ἀφήσω  I  will  forgive 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ἀφίημι 
Sense: to send away.
ἕως  Up  to 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἕως  
Sense: till, until.
ἑπτάκις  seven  times 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ἑπτάκις  
Sense: seven times.

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