Unforgiven?

Jan Antonsson

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

June 2, 2018

Neosho, MO

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9, ESV).

Last week’s essay was called Rapprochement, which means, to bring together, a re-establishment of cordial reconciliation, increased understanding, detente, restoration of harmony, agreement, cooperation, harmonization, softening.” 

A discussion sprang up between a few of us, which included Jonathan Mitchell’s study of the Greek words translated into English as “forgive” in the new Testament.   Here are the Greek words and their meanings:

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

primary meanings are:

a) apoluō: to loose away;

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. “

While you may not remember these words, I hope their meanings will stick with you.  Jonathan’s work on this topic is so valuable, that I’m attaching both parts of it to this e-mail for your consideration.  Like so many things Christians think they know about what the Bible says, the words “forgive” and “forgiveness” have been bound up in rules, regulations, obligations, and fear, fear that if we don’t get it right, we’ll miss God’s grace in this life and heaven in the one to come.

What I’m pondering in this essay, is the question, if our sins are loosed away; if we have been given grace, and shown His favor, if our sins (missing the mark) have been sent off or away, caused to flow away, let go, divorced from us, left or abandoned, as the Bible declares, then why do so many people go around feeling guilty about things for which they have asked forgiveness? If you are one of these folks, I must ask, what does it buy you to hang on to sins that were forgiven long ago?

In Jonathan’s study, he uses Luke 23:34, to show the semantic range of the verb aphiemi:” “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.” End Quote.

There’s no doubt that the men who had nailed Jesus to the cross were forgiven their heinous actions, not just because they didn’t know what they were doing, but because God is love and forgiveness.  Did they feel guilty when the one they crucified was resurrected? Since guilt is endemic, I would guess they did.

Luke 6:37 is a troubling verse, used by some to hold our lack of forgiveness of others over our heads as a paid up ticket for hell.  In the ESV, it reads, ‘‘Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  Though that sounds like we’re doomed if we cannot forgive someone else, Jonathan makes the following suggestion:

“There is only one place in the NT where apoluō (to loose away), 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.”

“Perhaps 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 (I Corinthians 12:26).”  End Quote.

Seriously though, if we are to be habitually unbinding and releasing so that we will be loosed away and repeatedly released, exactly how are we to accomplish that?

Back when I was doing the Sunday Service at Medicalodge, a young man was brought into the service in a fancy, motorized wheel chair which reclined when he wanted to rest, or lifted his weak and broken body up if he wished to sit upright.  I had been speaking about forgiveness that day, and after the service was over, he asked if I could help him with something.

His heart breaking story was that his former girl friend had introduced him to drugs, which left him the way he was, and would be for the rest of his life if God didn’t intervene.  He was probably no more than 20 years old at the time.  He said he knew he had to forgive her or he would not be forgiven.  He lamented, “I’ve tried so hard.  I really have, but I just can’t forgive her for what she did to me.”

I shared with him what I say to God when there’s someone I can’t forgive, which is, simply put, “I can’t do it Lord, but You in me can.  I ask You to forgive him (or her) in the name of Christ.”  I prayed with him, and asked the Lord to show him that he was forgiven for his inability to forgive.

I’ve known people who hold on to their sins, wringing their hands and beating their breasts over them for years afterward. The problem here, it seems to me, is not that God has not forgiven them, but that they have not forgiven themselves.  Clearly, they have never heard the Gospel in all its power and fiery glory.  If we ask Him to forgive us our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.  Hallelujah!  Our abject ignorance about the great and precious promises, not to mention the power in the blood of the Lamb have left us blind and lame and captives of our own humanity.  Christ came to set the captives free, cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the sinner to rejoice. We believe, Lord, help us with our unbelief.

Jonathan’s study is an important work because of the misunderstanding among Christians about the meaning of forgiveness and also the word sin.  The church world has used these words to frighten and manipulate the flock, in so many cases, to the point that some folks just throw up their hands and walk away saying, they can’t keep the commandments or obey the rules.   As an aside, that was the position of my grandmother’s brother, my great uncle Patrick, who refused to be baptized, saying, it wouldn’t do any good to be baptized because he couldn’t live the life afterward.  Talk about missing the mark.

Father, thank You for the promise that once we see You as You are, we shall be like You, and all our presuppositions, the bad translations which colored our thinking, and our fears and neurotic stuff which caused us to miss the mark, will flow away in a river of Your continuous love.  We love You and will proclaim Your great love for us all with exceeding joy as we join “the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 until the present are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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