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What is Forgiveness of Sins?

And When Do We Not Get It?


In the KJV, the verb “forgive” is a rendering of three different Greek verbs.  Their primary meanings are:

            a) apoluō: to loose away; to unbind; to release;

            b) charizomai: to give grace; to be gracious to; to show favor to;

            c) aphiēmi: to send off, or away; to cause to flow away; to let go; to divorce; to leave or

            abandon; to allow.


The noun which the KJV renders as “forgiveness” is aphesis (a cognate of aphiēmi): a sending away, or off; a flowing away; a letting go; a divorce; a leaving, or an abandoning.


My renderings in the verses quoted below will reflect these meanings of whichever verb is used, in light of the context.  We will first look at the uses in the NT of the noun, aphesis:


In Matthew, this noun is only used once, in Mat. 26:28,

for you see, this is My blood (or: the blood which is Me) which pertains to the covenant [with other MSS: this is The Blood – which is My new, different arrangement that is innovative in character, kind and quality] the [Blood] around (or: encompassing and pertaining to) many people (or: peoples), [the Blood] continuously (or: presently) being poured out and progressively diffused into a divorce from failures, a forgiveness for mistakes, a dismissal of errors, a release from deviations, and a flowing away of sins!

This noun is used in the final compound phrase of the verse, following the preposition “into,” where I offer its semantic range in combination with the semantic range of the plural noun that is normally rendered “sins.”  For reader association, I have included the English word “forgiveness,” but due to traditional religious misconceptions that are associated with “forgiveness,” I rarely offer this rendering.


Since the word “Sins” is part of our investigation, here are the primary meanings of hamartia (an archery term in Greek, as well as with its Hebrew counterpart): a failure to hit the target (to which one is aiming, and thus trying to hit); a mistake; an error; a deviation; (conventionally) a sin.  The context may indicate other renderings, but these give the main idea.  The remainder of this study will mainly focus on “forgive” and “forgiveness.”


We find the noun “forgiveness” (sometimes rendered “remission”) used twice in Mark”

John – the one habitually baptizing (immersing; dipping) came into the scene within the wilderness (or: came to be in the uninhabited area of the desert), repeatedly heralding the proclamation of a baptism (an immersion) which signifies, is connected to, and has the characteristics of, a change of thinking [= recognition of being headed in the wrong direction]

(or: from a change of perception, frame of mind and mode of thought; which is a change of understanding and a new attitude) and a turning [to Yahweh, which leads] into a letting-flow-away of, and divorcing from, failures

            (a sending-away of errors; a letting-go of sins; a release from deviations; a  

            dismissal of mistakes; an abandoning of situations where the target was missed).”

            (Mk. 1:4)


In our first two examples, we should note that the central idea of “forgiveness” is that of benefit for the person, in that it is primarily a deliverance, a release, a flowing-away, or the ability to abandon situations of failure.  It is being divorced from those failures and mistakes.  This is not a forensic, or courtroom, situation, but a situation of liberation.

             [“For example; being liberated from ‘the Law of the Sin and of the Death’ in which we are

             divorced and released from its power over us; to then be immersed into a change of

             thinking, perception, frame of mind and mode of thought. This new awareness creates a

             change of understanding and revelation for spiritual principles, which leads to a new

             attitude; bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  It is a transformation by the 

             renewing of our minds (Rom.12:2b) through the indwelling of the Spirit by which ‘we,

             ourselves, are continuously Holding (or: progressively having) Christ's mind (a mind

             which is Anointed, and which is Christ [other MSS: {the} Lord])!’ (1 Cor. 2:16b).  Through

             this liberated, new creation reality, we walk in union with God by “the spirit and attitude of

             'The Life within Christ Jesus'” (Rom. 8:2), which leads to God empowering us to 

             abandon situations of failure because our thinking becomes more Christ-like.  It is truly

             liberation from the Adamic nature which perpetuates ‘un-renewed thinking’ and failure to hit

             the target.” – Joshua Mitchell]


But now let us consider another place of this noun’s use, in Mark, where the verse presents a negation:

Yet whoever may speak injuriously into (blaspheme unto; defame with a false image and vilify by abusive slander to; speak light-hindering words into the midst of) the Set-apart Breath-effect (the Holy Spirit; the Sacred Attitude) continues not having a release (not holding a deliverance or a divorce; not possessing a forgiveness) – on into the midst of the Age.  But rather, he continues existing being one caught (or: held) within an eonian effect of a mistake

            (or: within a result of having missed the target in the eonian realm; in the midst of

            an age-lasting result of a sin or of error; in union with an effect of failure with respect

            to things which pertain to [the realm of] the Age; in the midst of the result of a

            deviation with regard to the [Messianic] eon; within the effects of an error that will

            last for an indefinite period of time)” (Mk. 3:29).


First of all, observe the duration of the time factor of this literal rendering: “on into the midst of the Age.”  This consideration is beyond the scope of this investigation, but just note that this lasts only into the MIDST of the indefinite term “age” – which as the parenthetical expansion suggests is the present age, the Age of the Messiah (Christ).  The adjective form of the word “age” is first rendered eonian (pertaining to the eon, or age), then given in more explanatory forms in the expansion.


So, what happens when a person is “caught (or: held) within an eonian effect” of a mistake, a miss of a target, an error, a sin, etc.?  It means that, for however long God decides that it is appropriate and helpful, this person will not be released from the “EFFECT” of that mistake.  The effect will stay with them on into the midst of the Age.

            [“An example of God’s timing for what can be appropriate and helpful in certain situations is

            given in Matt. 13:24-30.  The weeds that remain in the field growing alongside the wheat

            were purposely not removed until the harvest.  This purpose was to preserve the wheat

            from becoming damaged by the uprooting of the weeds, so that the wheat would bear fruit

            and provide a harvest (e.g., Eph. 4:11-13; until the measure of the stature of the fullness of

            the Christ is manifest within the whole of mankind).  In other words, there is a divine

            purpose to the ‘EFFECT’ of the mistake remaining until the appointed time (e.g., the

            harvest, etc.).” – Joshua Mitchell]

In commenting on the situation described in this verse, Ken Nichols offers the following insight:

“Regarding ‘blasphemy of the Spirit’ that the effect is an internal and natural one.  If somebody speaks down against (which I believe means denies or disbelieves or discounts) the message of the Spirit (i.e., the gospel message) then they will remain UNFORGIVEN in their own hearts.  It is not the ‘sin’ of blaspheming that is not being forgiven, it is their disbelief in the gospel, which includes the forgiveness of sin, which causes them to be unforgiven (in general) in their OWN hearts.  The indeterminate amount of time (age) for this is given because it depends on when they change their minds and do NOT discount the message and instead believe it.  But until they DO, they remain unforgiven.” (from a private email)


Another example of this is found in Rom. 11, where the unbelieving branches were broken out of their olive tree: they remain broken out (the effect) until their time comes (read the passage).  There are situations of sowing and reaping.  Sow into the flesh (realm; religious system) and reap a harvest of corruption.  But all of this is within the realm of time (where we have ages – indefinite periods of time: some long, some short; an “age” was originally the lifetime of a person).


Next we have Luke, where the noun is used five times, beginning with Zechariah’s prophecy:

to give intimate, experiential knowledge of deliverance (salvation; safety; rescue; health and wholeness; return to the original state and condition) to and for His people, in conjunction with a sending away (a divorcing; an abandoning; a flowing away; forgiveness) of their mistakes, failures, shortcomings, deviations and sins, because of our God's inner organs which are composed of mercy…” (Lu. 1:77-78a).


Observe that “forgiveness” is in conjunction with “deliverance (salvation; safety; rescue; health and wholeness; return to the original state and condition),” and that, once again, it is for their benefit, not to “make them acceptable to God,” as mainstream religion falsely posits.  This “rescue” is to release people from their mistakes and failures.

            [“It is a restoration to our original state and condition of walking with God (like Adam and

            Eve did in the garden before the fall) empowering us to walk in the Way pointed out as sons

            of God (a kingdom of priests), fulfilling our destiny through God’s beautiful plan for the

            ages.” – Joshua Mitchell]


The next occurrence is Lu. 3:3, but this is synonymous with Mk. 1:4, so we will proceed to Lu. 4:18, where it is used twice: “a release and liberation (a letting go away)” and “a state of release and liberation,”

[The] Lord's [= Yahweh's] Breath-effect (or: [The] Spirit of [the] Lord; or: a spirit from [Yahweh]; or: a spirit and attitude which is [the] Lord) [is] upon Me [Old Syriac MS: you], on account of which He anointed Me [Syriac: you] to bring and proclaim good news (a message of ease and wellness) to destitute folks – and so He has sent Me off as an emissary (a missionary; one commissioned as His representative) to cure and heal folks with [their] heart having been crushed, to publicly proclaim, as a herald, to (for; among) captives a release and liberation (a letting go away) and to (for; among) blind folks a seeing again (a recovery of sight), to send away with a mission those having been shattered by oppression, in a state of release and liberation.”

[“Such a beautiful Message!… And what a statement to be shattered by oppression… I feel I can relate to this definition in many ways, so I can envision with great hope, the fullness of this state of release and liberation!” – Joshua Mitchell]


You see, “forgiveness” is really setting the captives free.  Now let’s look at the last place where the noun is used in Luke:

and then, upon the [authority and basis of] His Name, a change of mind and thinking – [proceeding, or, leading] into a flowing away of failures (a sending away of mistakes; a forgiveness of sins; a divorcing of the situations of missing the target; an abandonment of guilt; a release from error) is to be proclaimed by heralds unto all the ethnic multitudes and nations…” (24:47).


Notice that “a change of mind and thinking” brings a person “into a flowing away of failures (etc.).”

            [“For example; the Christ, in rising ‘or: stand back up again) from out of the midst of

                dead folks – on the third day’ (Lu. 24:46-47), is now continuously and progressively

                empowering all of the ethnic multitudes and nations to have this change of mind and

                thinking through the indwelling of the Spirit (the mind of the Christ) into a new creation

                reality (2 Cor. 5:16).  His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30). He is the

                Shepherd that leads His sheep by still waters and green pastures (Ps. 23:2).  There is no

                dwelling on the mistakes, or the guilt that follows, but rather a transformation of all of

                humanity into His very image and likeness (1 John 3:2); truly a Message of goodness,

                ease and wellness!” – Joshua Mitchell]

The noun “forgiveness” is not used in the Gospel of John.  In Acts we find it in the same phrase, used five times, “a release and sending away, a divorce and an abandonment, a cancellation and a forgiveness: of your failures, your mistakes, your times of missing the target, your errors, your deviations and your sins,” found in 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18.


Of interest is in 5:31, where we read,

God exalted and lifted up high this Originator (or: Beginning Leader; Inaugurator; Founder; Chief Agent; Prince) and Deliverer (Savior; Rescuer; Restorer of health and wholeness; Returner to the original sphere and state of being) to (or: by; with) His right hand (= power and authority; [D reads: glory]) – to GIVE (or: grant) a change of mind and way of thinking [which results in a return to Yahweh] to (or: for; in) Israel, and a sending away of mistakes and deviations (etc.).”


Notice that the Deliverer came “to GIVE a change of mind… and a sending away…”

[“In God giving all of humanity the opportunity to have ‘experiential knowledge of deliverance (a return to the original state and condition of being),’ we all return to Yahweh (by way of the ‘Deliverer-Returner to the original sphere and state of being)’ not simply because we now can acknowledge the error of our ways and choose a better path, but because the return to Yahweh is in fact who we really are in our identity in Yahweh (our ‘original state and condition’) before creation was ‘subjected to frustration’ (i.e., ‘empty purposelessness’ -- Rom. 8:20-21).  This ‘change of mind and way of thinking’ can affect how we see ourselves: freed from the bondage of sin and death which had generated un-renewed ways of thinking, and thus living.  Freedom from a view of ourselves as guilty and ‘condemned for all of eternity.’  We have been brought into the reality of our true identity in Yahweh, where we no longer focus on (i.e., we now experience the ‘sending away’ of) guilt and error (which had been a byproduct of living under ‘the Law of the Sin and of the Death’).  So now we operate with a continuous, progressive awareness and mind-state of ‘release and liberation,’ by the continuous and progressive renewing of our minds (Rom.12:2) as we are led by ‘the spirit and attitude of “The Life within Christ Jesus”' and abide in the Christ (e.g., Rom. 8:1-2).” – Joshua Mitchell]

Acts 26:18 is also revealing of the noun’s use and context:

'to OPEN back up their eyes again; to turn [their eyes; or: them] back: away from darkness (a realm of the shadow; dimness and obscurity) into Light, even from the authority and privilege of the adversary (or: that is, from the right which comes from out of being the opponent), and upon God; to RECEIVE a flowing away of deviations and a release from failures, mistakes and occasions of missing the goal (or: a forgiveness of sins) and an allotted inheritance


Next is Eph. 1:7, where we see our word connected with freedom from slavery, the effect of His blood, and His grace:

within and in union with Whom we continuously have (constantly hold; progressively possess) the release into freedom from slavery or imprisonment (the liberation from our predicament) through His blood – the sending away (causing to flow off; forgiveness; dismissal) of the effects and results of the fallings-aside (the stumblings by the side; wrong steps; offences; transgressions), in accordance with (or: down from; corresponding to; in keeping with; to the level of; commensurate with) the wealth of, and which is, His grace and the riches of the joy-producing act of His favor (or: of the favor/grace which is Him).”

Then Col. 1:14 is a short version of Eph. 1:7.


The last book of the NT where “forgiveness” is found is Hebrews.  In 9:22 it is connected with “shedding of blood,” and then in 10:18 we have, “So (or: But; Now) where [there is] a sending away (a release; forgiveness and a causing to flow away) of these things, [there is] no longer an offering concerning sin (failure)!”  Both of these verses were referencing the old covenant sacrificial system.  Cleansing of the people (chapter 9 alludes to the Day of Atonement), and 10:18 precedes the announcement of free access to the new holy of holies, where we have “hearts having been sprinkled from a misery-gushed consciousness of what is evil or unserviceable (or: a joint-knowledge full of annoying labor; a conscience in a bad condition)…” (vs. 22).


This completes our investigation of all the places where the noun “forgiveness” is used in the NT.  It is all about what God has given to us, and done for us.  So let us now review some of the places where the verbs are used…


The verb aphiēmi is first used in Mat. 3:15, when Jesus comes to be immersed by John:

But, decidedly responding, Jesus said to him, ‘Let this situation FLOW its course and SEND [Me] off, right now (at present), for it is in this way proper and fitting for us to fulfill all that accords with eschatological deliverance from the Way pointed out, making full being turned in the right direction; righting covenantal relationship.  Then he let the moment FLOW on, and proceeded to ALLOW Him (or: At that point [John] yields, and sends Him forth).”

Now can you imagine rendering the verb “forgive… forgave Him” in this verse, where I have put this verb in all upper case, for this illustration?  Yes, context must guide us.


The next place for this verb is Mat. 4:11a,

At that point, the opponent (the adversary; the one who had been thrusting [Him] through) progressively flowed away from Him (or: proceeded to divorce Him; presently abandoned Him)…”

Another place where “forgave” would just not fit!  The next two places are in 4:20 and 4:22, where Peter and Andrew “forgave” (just kidding), uh, “abandoned” their nets and the boat.  5:24 also reads “abandon,” and 5:40 reads “at once send off to him your outer garment (cloak; coat) as well.”


But now we come to the “Lord’s Prayer,” and we suddenly get all religious and start thinking that this verb has to do with our relationship with God or our “right standing” before Him.  But let us consider Mat. 6:12 with a more appropriate selection of this verb’s semantic range:

And then, send away the results of our debts for us (let the effects of our obligations flow away in us; cancel the condition of our indebtedness), as we also dismiss and send away for, and give release to, those who owe us (let flow away for those in obligation to us; cancel the situations and conditions of our debtors).”

This is parallelism: the effects “our debts” are in the same category as “the debts owed to us by others.”  The domination system of the Roman Empire had put everyone in debt, so much so that many had lost their ancestral property (because of the economic system in place) and had to become day-laborers or craftsmen (both on the lowest level of that society: normally having no property).  Notice, in the previous verse (11), that He told them to ask for a basic necessity of life: “Give to us (Provide for us) today our bread necessary for existence.”  With this model prayer, Jesus is imparting an attitude of mutual solidarity into His followers, and also the concept of Love for others, like we see come to fruition in Acts 4:31-35.  What a different reading from “God, forgive me the debt that I owe you but that I can’t pay!!” – and with this based upon my forgiving other people: a quid pro quo, this for that!  No, not at all.  In this historical context, Jesus is telling them to ask for a release from an economic system that was multiplying the numbers of the poor.  If you are doubting this reading, consider the next verse:

Also, would (or: may) You not bring (or: carry) us into an ordeal, harassment, or a putting to the proof – neither by trial, nor by temptation, nor by examination.  But to the contrary, rescue us (drag us out of danger) away from the bad situation

            (the wicked person; the miserable condition; the painful labor; the unprofitable

                  endeavor; the malicious man).”


But now, you may ask, what about vss. 14-15?  So let us consider them:


14.  "You see, if you folks can (or: could; should; would) send away (let flow off; forgive; dismiss) for (or: from) people (or: mankind) the effects of their falling to the side [of the Way; of the Path pointed out] (or: their trespasses; their false steps and offenses; their goof-ups and blunders), your heavenly Father (or: your Father Who inhabits, and can be compared to, the atmosphere) will continue sending away, dismissing, forgiving and letting [things; some MSS add: the effects of your falling to the side] flow off for (or: in) you, as well.

15.  "Yet if you folks can (would) not send away for (or: from) people the effects of their falling to the side, neither will your Father continue sending away (dismissing; forgiving; letting flow away) the effects of your falling to the side, offending or goofing.


Now this looks just like the Law: do this and I’ll do that; if you don’t, I won’t.  But why would He not?  Because if we are not walking in Love (as was expected of His disciples) we need to learn by our own experiencing of “the effects of [our] falling to the side.”  If we have not died in the area of our life that would cause us “not to send away for (or: from) people the effects of their falling to the side,” then we are not living the cruciform life; we have not denied ourselves so as to destroy that unloving area of our soul (Mat. 16:24-25).  Consider the audience relevance here: He is training disciples – He is not speaking to pagans who are “dead in trespasses and sins.”  This is like Paul saying, “walk [your path] (= behave; = live your life) worthily pertaining to (or: in a manner suitable to the value of) the calling and invitation in regard to which you folks are called” (Eph. 4:1).  No, vs. 14 is a promise.  If they can follow His teachings, their Father will continue [implying that He is repeatedly doing this] sending away, dismissing, forgiving and letting [things] flow off for (or: in) [them], as well.  But He will withhold this deliverance from them (and us), if He sees that we need child-training:

for whom the Lord [= Yahweh] is loving (urging toward reunion and acceptance), He is continuously and progressively educating (or: disciplining; child-training), and He is periodically scourging every son whom He is taking alongside with His hands (accepting; receiving)” (Heb. 12:6). [cf Prov. 3:11-12; cf Job 5:17; Ps. 94:12; Phil. 1:29]

So let us continue…


We next find our verb in Mat. 7:4,

Or how will you folks proceed in declaring to your brother, 'Allow [me], I can extract the speck (splinter) from your eye'…”

Here I rendered the extended meaning as “allow,” as “forgive,” in our current usage, would be less appropriate.  In Mat. 8:15, we find this verb used in the context of healing:

And so He touched her hand, and the fever flowed away from her.  Then she got up (arose) and began giving attending service to Him.”

The common rendering “the fever left her” is accurate, but the more poetic “flowed away” is a good word picture, and “flow” is the root meaning of the verb.  The word holds a sense of process – even the short one such as the exchange of the brothers over the splinter in the eye.


Another example is Mat. 8:22,

You continue following Me, and abandon (divorce; leave behind; or: let; allow) the dead folks to bury their own dead ones.”

Here we see a number of possible renderings, but “forgive” would seem really strange.


But now to the contexts of “sins.”  With the variety of usages that we have just visited, consider the following:


Be increasingly receiving courage and confidence, O child (born one)!  Your failures and mistakes (your times of missing the target; your errors and sins) are being caused to progressively flow away (or: are constantly being sent away and are habitually being forgiven)!” (Mat. 9:2b).

Notice the progressive present tense, here.  See also 9:5.  And then, there is 9:6,

the Son of the man (the son of humanity; mankind's Son; = Adam's son; or: = the Messiah) constantly has and holds authority and right upon the earth (or: land) to habitually send away (make to flow off; forgive) sins and failures (mistakes and errors).”

Although the phrase, “the Son of Man,” is often a reference to Dan. 7, it may also refer to “a human being,” as it does in Ezk. 2:1, and what comes to mind here is Jn. 20:23a,

If you folks should send away (dismiss; allow to depart; forgive; pardon; divorce) the mistakes (sins; errors; failures; deviations) of certain ones, they have been sent away for them (or: have been and remain pardoned in them; have been dismissed or divorced by them).”


Another verse on the negative side is Mat. 12:31b, 32b,

Yet, the blasphemy pertaining to (vilifying, abusive, slanderous speech about) the Spirit (the Breath-effect; the Attitude) will not be caused to flow away (not be divorced and sent off; not be pardoned or forgiven) in mankind…. Yet [for] whoever may speak down against the Set-apart Spirit (the Breath-effect of the Holy One; the Sacred Attitude), it will not proceed to be caused to flow away from him (or: he will not continue pardoned and forgiven by Him; it will not progress to be released and sent off in him) neither within this age, nor within the one being about to be (the impending one).”

The reasons for this are the same as for Mat. 6:14-15, above.  But there is another application in our present context: Jesus was most likely speaking of that present situation of Mat. 12:24, and what the Pharisees said – that Jesus was working with Beelzebub, the prince of demons.  Judgment came to those Pharisees in AD 70.


We find our verb used in a different context in Mat. 13:30, “'Allow (or: Leave) both to continue growing side by side until the harvest.”  Here, it obviously meant “allow,” or “leave.”  And six verses later, we read, “At that time, after leaving the crowds, He went into the house.”  Now this verse could also read, as most translations do, “Then, after sending off the crowds, He came into the house.”  There is a good deal of flexibility and ambiguity in this verb which can mean either “went” or “came.”  This verb is often used to speak of Jesus either “coming” or “going,” in eschatological contexts.


In Mat. 15:14a we are presented with a number of choices:

Abandon them at once! (other choices: Divorce them; Let them flow away; Leave them; Leave them [alone]; Send them away; Let them go; Forgive them)  They exist being blind guides of the Path (or: blind leaders of the Way).”

The context does not really guide us, here.  All these renderings make sense for this verb; it can be read from different perspectives.  Verse 13 spoke of their being “rooted up,” and once more spoke about the Pharisees (vs. 12), indicating their being removed from their place of leadership in the kingdom.  This happened in AD 70.


Well, what about Mat. 18?  Let us review four of the verses where the verb is used in this chapter:

12.  "What do you men normally think or suppose (or: How does [it] usually seem to you)?  If it should come to be with any person [having] one hundred sheep, [that] even one of them should be led astray and caused to wander (thus: be deceived), will he not leave (or: let go; abandon; send-away) the ninety-nine sheep on the hill country (or: mountain) and, going from place to place, continue trying to find the one continuing in being led astray?”


I actually considered adding “divorce” to the parenthetical expansion, considering the context, but it did not seem to fit the parable.


21.  Then, approaching, Peter said to Him, "Master (or: Lord), how many times shall my brother be habitually wronging me (or: failing to do or perform unto me as he rightfully should; committing a sin [which penetrates] into me [like being hit with an arrow]), and I shall continue to let it pass away for him (or: let it go off from him; forgive him)?  Until seven times?"


27.  "So, being moved with compassion in the pit of his stomach, the owner of that slave released him and canceled (let flow away; divorced; forgave) the debt for him.”

Notice the correlation between the two verbs: “released… canceled (let flow away; etc.).”  Verse 32 basically repeats the second verb, when the king addresses the “worthless and wicked slave.”  But vs. 35 brings the challenge to our thinking…


35.  "My heavenly Father (or: My Father, Who inhabits, and can be compared to, the atmosphere) will be progressively dealing with you folks in this same way (or: will continue doing to you men in like manner), too, if each person does not release and forgive his brother (and let things flow away for him), from your hearts." [cf 5:7; 6:12, above; Eccl. 28:2ff]


Now in this parable of the kingdom (that begins in vs. 23), the slave who owed the king an enormous debt is obviously a part of his kingdom.  But this slave whom the king calls “worthless and wicked” is not demonstrating kingdom Love by “dispensing mercy to [his] fellow slave” (vs. 33).  Verse 34 is hyperbole, and is similar to Mat. 25:41, 46a, which speaks of corrective measures (pruning) in order for them to bear the fruit of Love for others (in contrast to what was not done in vss. 42-43, in that parable).


The verb is used three times in Mat. 19:

14.  However, Jesus said, "Let this event flow on!  Stop preventing them and allow the young children to come toward Me

27.  At that time Peter, making a considered response, said to Him, "Look at our [situation].  We, ourselves, abandoned all, letting everything flow away, and we follow You

29.  "And further, everyone – whoever, on account of My Name, abandons or lets flow away houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields – will continually receive many times more [other MSS: a hundred times as much], and he will be progressively inheriting, and enjoying an allotment of, eonian life.”


We will skip ahead to Mat. 23:23,

you habitually give away a tenth (or: tithe back) from the mint and the dill and the cumin, and yet you abandon and let flow away the weightier matters of the Law…”

And then, in Mat. 23:38, “Your House is progressively left [to be] a wilderness (desert; desolate place) for you people (or: is now abandoned to you).”


We should not forget Mat. 24:

2.  Yet He, giving a decided response, says to them, "You are not looking at all these things, are you (or: Do you not observe all this)?  Truly I am now saying to you folks, there can under no circumstances be a stone left or allowed to be upon [another] stone which will not be progressively loosed down to bring utter destruction."


40.  "At that time two folks will continue being within the midst of the field: one man is being taken in hand (seized) and drawn to the side, and yet one man is repeatedly left alone to flow on his way (or: continues on pardoned [with his debts] forgiven; or: is being sent away, allowed to continue relaxing while permitted to depart).

41.  "Two women are continuing to grind grain into meal and flour, within the mill (or: in the midst [of working] the millstone): one woman is being taken in hand (seized) and drawn to the side, and yet one woman is repeatedly left alone to continue [in her work] (or: pardoned; sent away; forgiven; etc., as in vs. 40).


Take note of the alternate, parenthetical renderings in vss. 40 and 41.  Now our last verse from the Gospel of Matthew that we will offer is Mat. 27:50,

Now Jesus, again at one point loudly crying out with a loud (or: great) voice (or: sound), dismissed the Spirit (or: lets the breath-effect flow away; divorced [His] spirit; lets [His] breath go; abandoned the Spirit; or: set aside and rejected this attitude).”


By comparison to its use in the Gospels, this verb is only used a few times in the Epistles.  Here are some samples:

1 Cor. 7:11, “a husband is not to proceed in divorcing (or: leaving, or sending away) [his] wife.”  Verses 12 and 13 make similar uses of the verb.

Heb. 6:1, “leaving behind (or: letting flow away) the word from the beginning, in regard to the Christ…”

1 Jn. 1:9, “He is constantly faithful and just (fair; in accord with the Way pointed out and in right relationship; rightwised), to the end that He would at once send away for us (or: dismiss or pardon and cause to flow away in us) the errors ([some MSS add: our] failures, mistakes and deviations) and then would cleanse [other MSS: He will cleanse] us from all injustice.”

Rev. 2:4, “you sent away (or: left; abandoned; divorced) your first love (urge toward reunion;    

              unambiguous acceptance of others as being on the same ground; participating in the

              others; movement toward overcoming existential separation from another being - Tillich)." 


These many examples should be sufficient to demonstrate the wide semantic range of aphiēmi.  It is used similarly in Mark and Luke.  In Luke we will quote one very important verse, Lu. 23:34,

Now Jesus kept on saying, "O Father, let it flow away in them (or: send it away for them; forgive them), for they have not seen, so they do not know or perceive, what they are now doing.”

This clearly demonstrates what “forgive them” originally would have conveyed: “let it flow away IN them; send it away FOR them.”  In other words, “Take this sin away FROM them; cleanse them.”


Next we will consider the uses of charizomai.  This is the verb from which we get the noun “grace; favor.”  The KJV renders this verb “forgive” nine times.  We will only offer a few examples:


This verb is not used as by Matthew, and is only used three times in Luke:

7:21b “Also, He BY GRACE GRANTED FAVOR for many blind people to be constantly seeing.”

7:42 (43 is similar) “At their continuing to not having [anything with which] to pay [him] back, he GAVE GRACE to both (or: he deals graciously and favorably with both; or: = he freely cancelled the debts for both).”


Eph. 4:32 uses this verb twice, and without the renderings “forgiving” and “has forgiven,” as in KJV, it reads a bit differently:

and keep on becoming kind folks (or: So progressively come to be {or: be birthed to be} useful and obliging ones) unto one another – people [who are] tenderly compassionate – folks constantly DEALING GRACIOUSLY, EXTENDING FAVOR among yourselves (or: forgiving yourselves), according as God also, within and in union with the Christ, was and IS GRACIOUS (or: deals favorably) to and with (or: freely forgives) you folks [other MSS: us].”


Next is Col. 2:13,

And you folks – continuously being dead ones within [other MSS: by] the results and effects of falls to the side, and in (or: by) the uncircumcision of your flesh (= physical bodies or national heritage; or: = estranged human nature and alienated self) – He makes (or: made) alive together: you [other MSS: us] jointly together with Him, GRACING us, granting joyous FAVOR to us [for; in] all the effects of the falls and stumbling to the side (= false steps).”


The last place where the KJV renders this verb as “forgiving/forgiven” is in Col. 3:13 which is parallel to Eph. 4:32.


There is only one place in the NT where apoluō is used as “forgive,” in the KJV, in Lu. 6:37b,

Be habitually unbinding and releasing, and you will proceed being loosed-away and repeatedly released.”


We suggest that the point of this verse is not quid pro quo, but rather a psychological and spiritual fact, that as we unbind other people and cause release in them it is actually releasing and loosing-away us at the same time.  We are all members of one body; we are joined.  What happens with one member affects all the other members (1 Cor. 12:26).


We trust that this sample review, of the uses of this Greek noun and these three Greek verbs, will enlighten our readers and be a catalyst for rethinking the concept of “forgiveness,” that, because of the KJV renderings, have resulted in the traditional church doctrines of this theological idea.

            [“Doctrines that do not embody the fullness of the more accurate renderings, and therefore

            more powerful and profound implications of the original Greek text.” – Joshua Mitchell]


May God's goodness overwhelm you,


Jonathan Mitchell

[with added insights and editing by Joshua Mitchell]




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