The Berean Expositor
Volume 44 - Page 231 of 247
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professing church hesitate before ordaining the prayer as part of the regular worship of
God's people, and any believer who seeks the glory of God must satisfactorily explain
the apparent contradiction with Eph. 4: 32, before accepting the prayer as being for
It may be argued that `debts' rather than `sins' are involved in this forgiveness, and
this is certainly true in Matthew:
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (6: 12),
but in the explanation (verses 14, 15) "trespasses" (paraptoma), translated "sins" in
Eph. 1: 7, is used. Also the Luke account interchanges `debts' with `sins', a fact which
will help in a true understanding of the meaning here intended:
"And forgive us our sins, for we also ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us"
(Luke 11: 4).
All this however does still not get round the conditional nature of the petition which
must not be lightly set aside.  The O.T. background of forgiveness must be first
considered, before any true interpretation can be put on this forgiveness of sins and debts,
but let it not be confused with the present experience of grace.
"In whom we have . . . . . forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace"
(Eph. 1: 7).
pp. 190 196
O.T. background to "debts" and "sins".
Literal renderings of Matt. 6: 12 and Luke 11: 4 are respectively:
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (R.V.).
"And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone that is indebted to
us" (R.V.).
The Greek word involved are, `forgive' aphiemi; `debts' opheilema (with its cognates
opheiletes and opheilo--`debtors' and `indebted'); `sins' hamartia.
A basic passage which throws light on forgiveness of debts in the Old Testament is
Deut. 15: 1-11, of which are given verses 1 and 2 according to the A.V. and LXX
"At the end of every seven years (Companion Bible `when the seventh year has
arrived') thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor
that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his
neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord's release" (A.V.).