21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23″Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Observations & Commentary
The term for servant used in this passage is from the word Greek word “doulos”, which means “bond servant” or “slave”.
During Jesus’s ministry, one talent was roughly equivalent to 6,000 denarii, and one denarius was equivalent to one day’s wages. This means the servant would need to work for roughly 200,000 years in order to pay off his debt. This was an insurmountable sum considering that much money didn’t even exist in the entire region!
The word used for “Jailers” in verse 34 is “basanistēs” in Greek, which translates to “torturers”. The ungrateful servant wasn’t just thrown into jail, but was turned over to be tormented. It was common for jails to have someone to torture prisoners during this era.
It is worth noting that during this era it was well understood that if your debt was canceled, then you canceled the debt of all those that owed you debt. This can be seen in the distress of the servants and the outrage of the king.
The king in some ways could be considered foolish because of the astronomical level of debt he lets his servant accumulate, but it demonstrates the unsurpassed grace that God continually pours out on our lives. Despite the debt being astronomical it is still a fixed, measurable, finite sum. Our God is infinite. Though our debt is large, our God is larger still!
1. What does this passage show about the character of God? How should you reflect that in your life?
2. Does God put any preconditions on forgiveness? Do any of us deserve to be forgiven of the debt we owe for our sins? What debt has God forgiven you of?
3. Are there people in your life who you feel have wronged you? Christ has forgiven your “debt”… your transgressions. If you are to become more like Christ, how should you act to those people who have sinned against you?
Devotional Author: Greg Hoffmam