Discourse 18 - Forgiveness: God’s and the Christian’s business?




Forgiveness: God’s and the Christian’s business? / Book, Ernst Panzer 00, page 55ff

The Good Samaritan: is it the man set upon by robbers who determines who his neighbor is? / Reply Dr. Monika v. Sury 00, 2005-09-27

Who is “my neighbor” in the Bible? / Commentary, Doris Höger 00, 2011-01-16

Table: The Ten Commandments of God and these of the Catholic Church.

Forgiveness ‒ even if the guilty person does not want to be forgiven at all? / Commentary Doris Höger 01, 2011-01-16


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Forgiveness: God’s and the Christian’s business? / Book EP00, page 55ff +))

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

I can well imagine that you have been able patiently to accept what I have said so far. But strictly speaking it leaves you with a certain feeling of discomfort. Perhaps you are even inclined to breathe a sigh. Above all because this kind of approach goes against our sense of justice. The gospel has told us that we have to focus on righteousness and on justice. And in this case, it seems, we are expected to put these standards from us again. We ourselves struggle to behave properly. Others do not, and as a result they incur debts in relation to us. And now we are supposed to forgive them, just like that. This means giving over righteousness and justice and letting ourselves be treated unjustly, and even accepting it! And just that is what goes so much against the grain, against our sense of justice. And it is precisely this that for the most part makes it so hard for us to forgive others.

But now, if we want to get over this hurdle, we must proceed to reckon up the debt correctly. So we can ask the question - How is debt actually reckoned, in the eyes of God? How can he forgive, at all?

Now there is one thing that we must be clear about before all others: in the eyes of our God, grace does not come cheap. It is a blatant distortion when preachers tell us that “God’s business is forgiveness”. No, with our God there is no such cheap business. On the contrary, before our God was able to forgive at all, and to make it possible for him to forgive us now, there had first to be a redeeming sacrifice offered for the clearance of all debt and the forgiveness of all sin. As we know, Our Lord and Savior offered this sacrifice on Golgotha. It was only as a result of this sacrifice that the thrice-holy God was able to grant a general amnesty, and that he can forgive us now. But now the Son of God has atoned for the sins of the whole world, that is to say he has paid for them all with his dear blood, and now he can forgive all debts - yes, forgive all sins and debts and be gracious to the sinner.

But then in order to receive personally, in the sight of God, this freely offered gift of grace, the debtor still needs to show understanding on his part, to acknowledge that he has sinned and to ask for forgiveness. As the apostle John tells us in his first epistle: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (Jn1,8+9). So there you are - there must be understanding, acknowledgement and the request for forgiveness! That is the way indicated to us if we wish to attain to forgiveness either in the sight of God or in the sight of men. This is the way in which it is made possible through the redeeming sacrifice of Our Lord on Golgotha.

+) This extract has been taken from the book by E. Panzer: “Jesu Reichsgebet - Das Vaterunser” [“Jesus’ Prayer for the Kingdom - the Our Father”], published by Philadelphia-Verlag [Philadelphia Publishing House].

(Ernst Panzer / http://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)



At the end of his commentary on the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Mr Panzer here points - quite correctly and with great clarity - to a circumstance which many biblical commentators, whether consciously or unconsciously, ignore completely - namely, the simple fact that forgiveness is always a debt the recipient must seek for, if he wishes to have it. It is intrinsic to the nature of forgiveness that it can only be granted in response to the request of the offender. But then it is an obligation incumbent on Christians to forgive, based on the fundamental principle that he who asks for forgiveness, receives forgiveness. Christian believers too must themselves bring their guilt before God in prayer and ask forgiveness for it, and may then accordingly count on its being forgiven.

Just as those dubious preachers whom the above author refers to suppose that it is God’s “business” to forgive, so in some circles we find the widespread view that because of this commandment every Christian is obliged to forgive each and every debt that is owed to him, immediately and without waiting for any kind of utterance on the part of the transgressor. So people get the idea that this is a kind of general charter entitling anybody to do injury to Christian believers and in all cases - as it were automatically - to receive forgiveness for it.

But this completely overlooks the fact that in every case forgiveness can only be a response to a request - namely, to the request for forgiveness. As long as this request finds no expression, forgiveness cannot occur either - in the same way as you cannot give an answer to a question when the question has not once been asked.

And this principle is completely scriptural, as we can see if we look at the relevant biblical passages. There we have first of all that prayer that the Lord himself taught us:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Mt 6,9 Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 6,10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 6,11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 6,12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 6,13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]]’ 6,14 "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 6,15 "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Mt 6, 9-15;


The main point of this, of course, is that we will only have our debts forgiven by God if and to the extent that we likewise forgive our debtors their transgressions against us. But then at all events it must be made unmistakably clear that in praying this prayer we are really giving expression to our request that our debt be forgiven. And thus the same is true for our debtors as well, by analogy with the logical implications just outlined - namely, that we can only forgive them for their transgressions if they explicitly request or ask us to do so.

Let us now take a look at various statements relating to forgiveness that the Lord left for our instruction. First of all there is Peter’s famous question, “How often should I forgive my brother?”

Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?

Mt 18,21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 18,22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Mt 18,21-22;


And here there is no doubt at all that this “up to seventy times seven” does not mean 490 times, but quite simply “always”. Every believing Christian, then, must forgive his brother who sins against him, over and over on repeated occasions. But in what follows after this, the commentators often fail to pay sufficient attention to the parable which the Lord here relates to Peter by way of illustration.

So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me.

Mt 18,23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 18,24 "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 18,25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 18,26 "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 18,27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 18,28 "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 18,29 "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 18,30 "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 18,31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 18,32 "Then summoning him, his lord sad to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.18,33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 18,34 "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 18,35 "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." Mt 18,23-35;


We see that in both cases the debtor pleads with the creditor in the very same words, saying “Have patience with me”. So it emerges here too, without any doubt, that the Lord by no means thought of forgiveness as being based on the watering can principle - on the contrary, forgiveness must always be asked for by the guilty party. This is the one condition - but also the only condition - of forgiveness: it must be asked for.

Now it is perfectly true that this just is not such a simple matter for some Christians. But this is the very point where the realization we arrived at just now can help us to get the better of this problem. Many years of experience have shown that those of our fellow human beings who have done injury to others when acting out of absolutely evil intent can hardly ever bring themselves to utter an apology, let alone a request for forgiveness. At most we may meet with such utterances as “I’ll be a devil and apologize!” as was heard on the lips of a prominent German politician not so long ago. But this means that we are not obliged to forgive them either. With all those who transgress against us and who do not shrink from taking this step, on the other hand, we can be certain in most cases that they regret their act and so are really deserving of our forgiveness.

One last thing remains to be said on this topic: the request “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” might be interpreted in such a way as to suggest that not just a quantitative comparison is meant (God forgives me to the extent that I also forgive), but that a qualitative dimension is to be taken into account as well (God forgives in the same way as I also forgive). And this could also mean, amongst its other implications, that if I forgive only in response to a request, God too will only forgive me in response to my request. But if I forgive without being asked to do so, then God likewise will forgive me without my asking for forgiveness.

This interpretation would admittedly be covered, semantically speaking, by the foregoing passage in Mt 6,10, where we read: “… Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. This is plainly a qualitative comparison: may the will of God be done on earth in the same way as it is in heaven, and the same Greek word is found here (“hos” = as) as occurs in the passage we are considering (as we also…). On this basis the type of God’s forgiveness would depend on the manner in which we forgive - on our being asked, or without our being asked.

But as is shown us by the first epistle of John, we cannot find any substantial scriptural confirmation for this view.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.

1Jn 1,7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1,8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1,9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1,10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.1Jn 1, 7-10;


This is the way the Lord proceeds: he forgives us our sins, if we confess them. The scriptural precondition for forgiveness by God is therefore that we recognize our guilt and confess our guilt - then we can count on receiving forgiveness. And in human interaction the case is similar.

But these days it is in any case only among Christians - if at all - that forgiveness is any longer mutually asked for and granted. Among worldly individuals even quite obvious faults are hushed up, as in their view an apology would be the same as an admission of weakness on their part, and so such a step is not even considered. But as we have already stated, the consequence of this is that they just cannot be forgiven, and so in the last resort they will be held responsible and must bear the guilt before God for this fault, whether it be a major or a minor offence.

And just as the Christian obligation to forgive guilt is often generalized in a way that cannot be justified, so also the Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan, in his teaching about our “neighbor”, is often interpreted back to front, consciously or unconsciously, so that it says the very opposite of what the Lord actually meant to say.

Here now is the full text of the parable:

The good Samaritan

Lk 10,25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 10,26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" 10,27 And he answered, "you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 10,28 And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."

10,29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 10,30 Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.

10,31 "And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 10,32 "Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 10,33 "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 10,34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 10,35 "On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

10,36 "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?" 10,37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same." Lk 10,25-37;


This “Law” of which the Lord speaks here in Lk 10,26 is the Torah, the book of Moses (specifically, Deut 6,5 and Lev 19,18), to which he also refers in Mt 22,37-40.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Mt 22,35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 22,36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 22,37 And He said to him, "‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your.’ 2,38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 22,39 "The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lev 19,18). 22,40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." Mt 22,35-40;


As the Lord here states, on these two commandments - that of loving God, and that of loving our neighbor - depend the whole Law (all the commandments of God) and the Prophets. Consequently it is a matter of the utmost importance that we should interpret these sayings correctly and understand what they mean. And yet this parable of the good Samaritan, with its accompanying statement pointing to the identity of our “neighbor”, is probably the one that has been most frequently misunderstood as a result of the superficial consideration of things so often met with in the world, and it continues to be subject to misunderstanding. This misunderstanding does not - just to rule this out in advance - have anything to do with the recommendation that we should be compassionate and willing to help. This of course is right and proper, and it emerges quite clearly from what the Lord says at the end of the parable in Lk 10,37.

The misunderstanding is rather based on an incorrect interpretation of the answer to the lawyer’s question. And some commentators get tangled up in the text of the parable, and answer at great length the question why the priest and the Levite - by contrast with the Samaritan - did not help the man who had been set upon, without paying the attention that it merits to the actual question of this parable, namely “Who is my neighbor?” or “Whom must I love as myself?”

The common opinion - which is naturally picked up and put about by all kinds of social institutions - is that we are here being urged by God to love all the poor and needy as ourselves, and by acting out this love of ours to take steps to see that the help and support they need be given to them.

But if we look at this passage a little more carefully, we find that its import is actually somewhat different. For here we find, in the concluding question made by the Lord to the lawyer, the following:

”Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

The question being asked, then, is who is to be seen as a neighbor - meaning the neighbor of the man who had fallen among robbers. This should then be the answer to the lawyer’s question in Lk 10,29, “And who is my neighbor?” “

But at the same time this is a specification of the identity of our “neighbors” as referred to in the second commandment - the one following on the command to love God - and for us Christians it points to those people whom we should love as ourselves. And here we can see in the above question of the Lord’s - and in the answer of the lawyer - a certain divergence from the common interpretation.

The Lord asks who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers. And the lawyer answers, “The one who showed mercy toward him”. It follows that it is not the man in need of help who was the neighbor of the Samaritan, but the other way around - by helping the victim, the Samaritan showed himself to be the neighbor of the man who had been set upon.

But from this it follows that here it is not the “Samaritans” - the kind and helpful souls - who are being commanded to love the poor and needy “as themselves”. Certainly they should be compassionate and should help such people. After all, this is the way in which they show proof that they really do love those in need. But it is those same needy people who have been helped who are being urged here, on the basis of this commandment of God’s, to love their helpers “as themselves”.

And here we can also see how this differs from the secularized understanding of this passage. While the latter endeavors - by turning the literal sense back to front - to give the impression that this parable casts the victim of the robbers as the neighbor of the Samaritan, and postulates that the poor of the whole world are the “neighbors” of those who are better off, the Lord here means on the one hand a quite personal form of helpfulness in our immediate environment, and on the other commands those who have been helped to love their helpers “as themselves”.

So according to the words of the Lord in this parable, the commandment that we should love our neighbor comes to this: Love those people who have helped you, and show love to them in the same way as they shown love to you by giving you help. Love of our neighbor, then, is not a category of compassion, but rather one of gratitude.

And it is easy to see that this commandment does not just apply to the poor and needy. It applies to us too, who are not needy, inasmuch as we too should be personally grateful to all those who have helped us in the course of our lives - parents, brothers and sisters, relations, acquaintances, friends and even strangers who may have assisted us in an emergency situation - and should love them as we love ourselves. They are all our neighbors.

Finally we might be inclined to ask the question what “loving (…) as you love yourself” is actually supposed to mean. But the answer to this should not be too hard to find: everything which I allow myself - from the material things which I provide for myself to the faults that I tolerate - all this must I allow to my neighbor either in a material or in an ideal sense. And this at the same time gives us an answer to the question that has to do with proportionality: what I cannot afford or do not wish to allow to myself, on the basis of this definition I do not have to accept in my neighbor either. .

With his final admonition in the above passage, in Lk 10,37, “Go and do the same”, the Lord is at the same time making it plain to the lawyer that his question was incorrect. It should not be the question “Who is my neighbor?” - rather the question should be, “To whom can I be a neighbor?”

As we can see, this law is the commandment to us human beings that we should love one another. First of all, by helping the needy and so showing them clearly that we are their neighbors; and then again, when someone has helped us, by our seeing this compassionate helper as our neighbor and so loving him in return, also and especially because of the fact that he has helped us.

This is what Paul yet again makes plain to us in the epistle to the Romans.

Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Rom 13,9 For this, "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet," (Ex 20,13-17) and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev 19,18) 13,10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Rom 13, 9-10;


And here the circle closes again, returning once more to the first commandment, that of the love of God. For if we love the person who treats us mercifully, then it follows automatically that we will also love him who from the very beginning has been merciful to us, in that he has created us and shows new mercies to us every day by letting the sun continue to shine on the just and on the unjust.

And this is the very thing which ever since the time of Adam and Eve humanity has paid little heed to. If the first human beings when faced with the choice whether to believe in God or in the devil had asked themselves who was actually their “neighbor”, who it was who had directly created them and placed all that was around them on earth for their benefit, then they would of necessity have realized that it was God who had the best intentions towards them and not Satan, who himself is only a creature of God and up to that point in time had not stirred a finger to help them.

And so we can also understand what lies behind this statement of the Lord’s in Mt 22,39, where he tells us that these two commandments, of loving God and loving our neighbor, are “like” one another, and that on them depends the whole of the Law and the Prophets.




Forgiveness.

Like love of our neighbor, forgiveness is another of those commandments of the Lord which have been taught to people by the Catholic church for centuries in a completely incorrect form. The Lord tells us in Mt 18:21-22 that we must forgive our brother 490 times a day. And this has been interpreted – and continues to be so – as meaning that a Christian must forgive all other human beings for everything, always and everywhere.

But if we look more closely at this statement of the Lord’s, we can recognize a twofold mistake in this Catholic doctrine. First of all, the Lord does not speak here of "all human beings", but of our brother (Mt 12:50) – in other words, a correctly believing Christian like ourselves, whom we are obliged to forgive. Which means that all the godless people and idol worshipers of this world are excluded from this commandment!

The second, and very much more insidious misinterpretation is the reversal of the significance of the act of forgiveness. An act of forgiveness is like a request: it must be pronounced, if it is to be possible for it to be fulfilled. But the teaching of the Catholic church is that we should forgive everybody for everything unrequested.

And yet our Lord Jesus Christ explains this very point in Lk 17:4, where he says: “If he returns to you… saying, ‘I repent’, forgive him”. And this is something we are hardly likely to experience in the godless world of today. Even among Christians it tends to be the exception rather than the rule when a brother returns to us, repents and asks for our forgiveness.




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The Good Samaritan: is it the man set upon by robbers who determines who his neighbor is? / Reply MvS00, 2005-09-27)

I read the text in the following way: it is not the person who helps who determines who he is a neighbor to - rather it is the person who is helped who determines whom he regards as a neighbor. 2. An important point here is that it is a SAMARITAN who helps (or so I assume) a Jew - “Go and do the same” was I would guess a slap in the face for the scribe, not just because a Samaritan was being held up to him as an example, but because he was being told to the same - to come to the help of people with whom he had nothing in common. We are not automatically “neighbors”, we become neighbors as a result of our concrete actions (1 Joh 3,18). We may well suppose that the man set upon by robbers came to a radically different opinion of Samaritans as a result of this incident. Both have learned a lesson. The scribe, that a person in need - whoever he may be - is my neighbor. The man set upon by robbers, that a stranger can be closer to me than one of my own people.

Dr. Monika von Sury - Royal Line info@royalline.ch / http://www.royalline.ch/d/traduction.asp



I am happy to find that we are here in complete agreement on the fact that the Samaritan in this story is the “neighbor”, and not the man set upon by robbers, as the Catholic church, some other official churches and of course too all social welfare organizations - out of not entirely unbiased motives - would like to persuade us.

In interpreting this passage people often get caught up in philosophical disquisition. Why did the priest and the Levite pass by, why was it the Samaritan, of all people, who rendered help, what did the victim think or not think and so on. This is all very interesting, and of course we can spin out arguments on these lines and it will all certainly contribute to the background to this parable.

But as you confirm in your remarks above, the parable is first and foremost concerned with the second commandment, and the question which the scribe addressed to the Lord at the start of the discussion: “And who is my neighbor?” - and the Lord’s answer to this question:

Lk 10,36 "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?" 10,37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same." Lk 10,36-37;


The implication may also be inferred from your argument above (“it is the person who is helped who determines whom he regards as a neighbor”) that it is the person who is helped who, in accordance with the second commandment, must love his neighbor (i.e. the Samaritan) as himself - as opposed to the opposite position, that helpers should love the needy (incorrectly designated as their “neighbors”), which has so many advocates worldwide.

All the same, I do not see, as you do, the needy person as an active party who is able to determine who is the neighbor he should love and who is not. This would mean, after all, that an ungrateful contemporary of ours could ask for all the help that he can receive without being compelled to see anyone as his neighbor. And just this is the situation with which we are presently confronted, as a result of this commandment’s having been promulgated through the world in an inverted sense. In some countries of the Third World all the help that the West can offer will be snapped up, but these people do not feel in the least bit obligated by this. On the contrary, the helpers are actually robbed or even murdered, like the missionaries in the Sudan, the monasteries in South Africa and Indonesia and the members of aid organizations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So it cannot lie in the power of decision of the needy to determine who their neighbor is - rather it is the decision of the helper to grant support to these people which fulfills this commandment of the Lord’s, and so makes him the neighbor of the person in need.

So your formulation

it is the person who is helped who determines whom he regards as a neighbor

should actually read:

the person who renders help as a result becomes the neighbor of the man set upon by robbers”.


So it is the Samaritan who, by actively providing help, becomes the neighbor of the man who fell among thieves. And when we are told in the second commandment that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”, this means in consequence that you should love as yourself those who have become your neighbors because of the way in which they have helped you.


Love of our neighbor.

Like the incorrect interpretation of the "least of my brothers" in Mat 25,40, the complete reversal of the biblical concept of "love of our neighbor" by churches, preachers and aid organizations is one of the biggest deceptions, practiced with a view to stimulating compassion in credulous contemporaries and accumulating funds from donations with minimum effort.

Based on the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the commandment to love one␁s neighbor does not amount to loving and supporting persons in need (as the hypocritical Catholic church keeps trying to persuade us), but means – on the contrary – showing love toward those people who have helped us.

In this biblical passage the Lord is asked by a listener who this "neighbor" is whom we are enjoined to love. And the Lord tells him this parable, in which a man is attacked and robbed and left lying injured on the road. Two Jewish clerics went past without paying him any attention, and only a man from Samaria, who was the third to come along, gave him help.

And from this parable the Lord now derives (in Luc 10,36-37) the answer to the question who is a person␁s neighbor:

"Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?" And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

The Samaritan, then, is the "neighbor" of the injured man. And so, too, this injured man must love the Samaritan – his neighbor (Mat 22,39) – because the latter has helped and looked after him. Consequently the commandment that we should love our neighbors means – Love those people who have helped you, and show them your love, in just the same way as they have shown their love to you in their helping you.

Love of our neighbor, then, is not a category of compassion but rather one of gratitude.

So that is what this parable of the Lord Jesus tells us. And it also says – if some one comes to you personally or you meet them personally and they ask you personally for your help or you see that they are personally in need of help, then, as a correctly believing Christian, you should personally help them. And they should then love you (based on Mt 22,39) personally out of gratitude, in the same way as they love themselves.

Anyone who doesn’t take this to heart is supporting the godless, idol worshipers, criminals and terrorists!
(Lk 7:60)

Now this is something quite different from those charity campaigns for refugees whom we never get to know, and who do not have any idea who has helped them. And in this context most of the money is not spent on the refugees themselves, but goes to the salaries, logistical operations and other expenses of these "aid organizations".

In the past the Catholic church set itself up as a big helper of humanity, using third party funds (donations) for the purpose, and people accepted the idolatrous Catholic faith (cf."Mary" and the cult of the dead "saints") out of gratitude.

In future the Moslem refugees – and their numerous progeny! – will be more likely to do the opposite. Rather in the same way as the Catholic church in South America forced the indios to accept the Catholic faith on pain of death, having become the democratically legitimated majority in parliaments Moslems may well compel Catholics by law to convert to Islam.

But this trend is already making itself evident at the present day, when godless "do‒gooders" and politically correct persons try to force Christians by law to remove the symbol of Christianity – the cross – from their public environment.




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Who is “my neighbor” in the Bible? / Commentary, Doris Höger 00, 2011-01-16)

I have read your website with great interest. A few questions suggested themselves, which I would like to discuss with you, if you have the time and inclination.

I cannot agree with your interpretation of the love of one’s neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus Christ repeatedly stressed in his teaching that we should “love one another”. Love all your brothers and sisters, do good to all your fellow human beings! HE definitely did not ever say, love only those who have done good to you, because they are your neighbors.

In his Commandments God tells us as follows:
The 8th Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (You shall not lie).
The 9th Commandment: "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;”
The 10th Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife… or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Ex 20/1-17)

Is this “neighbor” a different person, or is it the same neighbor who is meant with reference to the love of one’s neighbor? If it is the same neighbor, then I wonder ‒ according to your interpretation, I suppose this would have to be understood as saying: You shall not bear false witness against people who have done good to you. It follows that it would be OK to tell lies to anyone else… And you would be allowed, then, to covet all married women who are not married to your friends or to men who have done good to you.

How does this interpretation fit in with the following words of Jesus Christ?: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will ask him: “Lord, when did we do this for you?” Jesus’ answer was as follows: “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them (of your fellow human beings), you did it to me.”

But then he will also say to the many other people on his left: “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” And they too will ask him: “When is this supposed to have happened?” And he will answer them and say, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”


doris@hoeger-healing.at   /  Höger-Healing




Thank you for your visit to Immanuel.at and for your interesting comments.

First of all let us get one thing straight. When you write, “Jesus Christ repeatedly stressed in his teaching that we should ‘love one another’. Love all your brothers and sisters,” here we are in complete agreement. These are all statements made by the Lord. But your following conclusion ‒ “Do good to all your fellow human beings!” ‒ is in my view not a statement of the Lord’s, so you would have to refer me to the biblical passage where you have found these words.

This equation of the brothers and sisters of the Lord with “all human beings” is based on a superficial consideration of the text in question. The Lord tells us in quite concrete terms who, out of all human beings, he regards as his brothers and sisters:

Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister.

Mt 12,49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! 12,50 "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." Mt 12,49-50;


Here I surely do not need to adduce proof of the fact that about 95% of humanity ‒ which is to say some 6.5 billion people ‒ fail to fulfill this criterion. As our Lord Jesus Christ has already said:

The gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Mt 7,13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7,14 "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.Mt 7,13-14;


So only those people should be seen as brothers and sisters of the Lord who do the will of His Father who is in heaven. That means we are concerned here with correctly believing Christians. These are the people whom our Lord urges to love one another ‒ not, by any means, “all their fellow human beings”.

(See also Discourse 99: “The Last Judgment: who are “these brothers of Mine, even the least of them” in Mt 25,40?”)


This incorrect view of things ‒ “all human beings are brothers in Christ” ‒ has been largely disseminated in recent years by the Catholic church. In the first instance this was surely an unintentional error, because the church at the time, like many Catholics today, had failed to understand the background to this text. Later, though, it was a matter of calculation ‒ with a view to acquiring more members. People would then make a hefty cash donation for the sake of this “brotherhood”, which would immediately make them “brothers of the Lord”.

Nowadays the Catholic church has switched to a different approach. Under the banner of interreligious ecumenism, they try to get control of people by way of their religion. Here the Catholic church opens itself to all religions, so that they can all then be received into the bosom of the “one unique Catholic church”.

(See also Discourse 91: “Interreligious Ecumenism: Are the Religions Merely Different Paths to Salvation?”)


Ms. Höger then writes:

“HE definitely did not ever say, Love only those who have done good to you, because they are your neighbors.”

I am afraid you have evidently not read my explanations of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) in Discourse 18 above with sufficient attention to detail. Nothing is said there to the effect that Christians should “only” love those who have done good to them.

This parable is not concerned with love as such, but rather with a particular quality of love. Here the scribe asks the Lord whom we should identify as being our “neighbor” in the commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). And now, as has also been shown above, it emerges that in this parable the Samaritan, the helper (not the man in need of help!), is the one who the Lord’s statement points to as being our neighbor.

And when we now bring these two statements together, we find it made mandatory for Christians ‒ and only for Christians!! ‒ to see those people who have helped them as their neighbor, so in accordance with God’s commandment they are obliged to love this neighbor as they love themselves. And this “loving as you love yourself” is not just the run-of-the-mill “love” of today which covers and dumbs down everything from sex to family relationships to the “love” of money, power or fame. It is rather that special kind of “love of oneself” which individual human beings treat themselves to, in a quite personal and exclusively personal way. According to this commandment of God’s, this is the very love that we must also extend to our neighbor ‒ to those who help us.

And then Ms. Höger goes on to advance a highly interesting argument. She quotes the Ten Commandments from Ex 20,1-17:

In his Commandments God tells us as follows:
The 8th Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (You shall not lie).
The 9th Commandment: "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;”
The 10th Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife… or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Ex 20/1-17)


And here again there is a connection with the Catholic church. For centuries this church has kept one commandment from its members. Right up to the present ‒ as the table shown below reveals ‒ the second commandment, forbidding idols and the worship of idols, has been deleted by the Catholic church from the Decalogue, for reasons that are easily understood; and then ‒ because this had after all reduced the number of the commandments to nine ‒ the tenth commandment was broken up into two separate injunctions.

Table: The Ten Commandments

The manifesto “Dominus Jesus” of the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith postulates that

the Catholic Church is the one unique church that makes salvation possible”



As is shown below, however, it is just this church which has falsified God’s commandments, so as to deceive the congregation of the faithful. It suppressed the second commandment, so as to hush up the fact that worship paid to idols made of stone and wood (the saints and madonnas) is expressly forbidden in the second of these Ten Commandments given by God.

Seeing that, as a result of the suppression of the second commandment, only nine commandments were left, the Catholic Church supplemented this act of heresy with another act of betrayal, by splitting up the tenth commandment given by God into two separate commandments.


The Ten Commandments
as given by God*)


1. I am the LORD your God, (…) you shall have no other gods before Me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them (…).

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain (. ..).

4. Remember the sabbath day (Saturday), to keep it holy (…).

5. Honor your father and your mother (…).

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife (…) or anything that belongs to your neighbor.





*) Source: Holy Scripture Exodus,
chapter 20, verses 1‒17



The Ten Commandments
of the Catholic Church**)


1. I am the LORD your God, you shall not worship strange gods.

 
 
 
 

2. You shall not abuse the name of God, or
curse.

3. Remember the sabbath day, respectively the Sunday, to keep it holy.

4. You shall honor father and mother.

5. You shall not murder.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not make false declarations against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10. You shall not covet anything that
belongs to your neighbor.
 
 
 

**) Source: Catholic essay by the
General Superior for the Holy Land.
Responsible for the contents:
Dik. St. Bertagnolli OFM
General Superior for the Holy Land



(See also Discourse 32: “Commentary on the manifesto “Dominus Jesus” of the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”)


The Apostolic Succession of the Catholic church?

Catholic priests who in thousands of cases worldwide have dispensed the "transformed" eucharist with their hands in the Mass have proceeded, with those same hands, to abuse and violate children (1Cor,6:9). Catholic bishops who earlier had blessed the "sheep" of their flock, have gone on to be arrested for corruption (Vatican Bank, see report in Der Spiegel of 6.28.2013).

Bishop blessing

Of course it is true that you find black sheep everywhere. But when the "very reverend" violators are shielded and hidden in the ranks of the church for decades, and even corrupt "shepherds" holding office as bishops have to be unmasked by the police, this shows up the organization itself as being altogether without conscience, depraved and corrupt (Mt 7:16-20).

Having the face to speak of the "Apostolic Succession", in the light of these facts, is the most egregious insult to the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.



And when we now look at the passages quoted by Ms. Höger above, they are an exact reflection of this distorted Catholic sequence. Whereas, in the original text of the Bible, the tenth commandment covers the coveting both of the property and of the wife of a man’s neighbor in a single commandment (Ex 20,17), Ms. Höger is clearly quoting from a Catholic Bible, where these two criteria are split up into two commandments, the ninth and the tenth ‒ by reason of the fact that the Catholic Bible suppresses the 2nd commandment with its ban on the worship of idols and omits it entirely.

But now our commentator argues, in connection with the last two (or in the eyes of the Catholic church, the last three) commandments and with a view to clarifying the identity of the “neighbor” referred to here:

“Is this “neighbor” a different person, or is it the same neighbor who is meant with reference to the love of one’s neighbor? If it is the same neighbor, then I wonder ‒ according to your interpretation, I suppose this would have to be understood as saying: You shall not bear false witness against people who have done good to you. It follows that it would be OK to tell lies to anyone else… And you would be allowed, then, to covet all married women who are not married to your friends or to men who have done good to you.”


To understand better what is going on here, we must take a quick look at the history of the Ten Commandments. They were handed over to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, and constituted a code of behavioral rules for the people of Israel in its 40 years of wandering in the desert and thereafter. The Israelites were at that time already a people of several thousand families, and envy and greed were not foreign to them either, as we can read in the Bible.

These commandments applied exclusively to God’s people of Israel ‒ not by any means to any of the peoples of the heathen. We can see this in the fact that God gave his people the land of Canaan (the Israel of today) for their own at the end of their wanderings in the desert. But this country had already been long occupied by various other peoples, and the Israelites were first obliged to conquer and drive out these peoples in order to take possession of the land (Ex 23:20-33). And that, now, would be a direct contradiction of the 10th commandment ‒ “You shall not covet… anything that belongs to your neighbor.” ‒ if this “neighbor” were to be understood as meaning “all your fellow human beings”.

He shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, From a foreigner you may exact it

Deut 15,1 "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. 15,2 "This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed. 15,3 "From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother. 15,4 "However, there will be no poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, 15,5 if only you listen obediently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. Deut 16, 1- 5;

But in his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus now showed the Jews that for the Jews ‒ that is, for all the descendants of Jacob, to whom God gave the name “Israel” ‒ this Old Testament “neighbor” has been given a more precise definition as a result of the incarnation of the Son of God. From this time on, our neighbor is no longer one who belongs to the people of Israel but rather any person who acts as a helper towards one of the body of true believers.

The Lord always made it clear to the Jews that true faith is not to be found in those persons who make a great song and dance about it and who, like the scribes, present themselves in the sight of men as being particularly “holy” ‒ with the help of long robes, special head coverings and other such fripperies. These people were actually described by the Lord as “serpents” and a “brood of vipers”. 

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Mt 23,27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 23,28 "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 23,29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 23,30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 23,31 "So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 23,32 "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 23,33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Mt 23,27-33;


Those people have true faith, on the other hand, who love God and pray to God in their hearts, without any kind of publicity.

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret.

Mt 6,5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6,6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Mt 6, 5- 6;


And in the same way the Lord spelled it out to the Jews in the parable of the Good Samaritan that a person’s being outwardly a priest or a Levite, one who speaks a lot and gives himself airs in the assembled congregation, does not necessarily mean that he is merciful and a person of right belief in his heart. And that applies to the Christians of today as well. As Gottfried Daniel Pomacher, an Awakening preacher from Wuppertal, once said:

“Christianity does not consist in words but rather in the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer. The pillars of the temple are not those who attract the admiration of their hearers with their public utterances of ‘Lord, Lord’, but rather those who - at home, in the stillness of their own room, and without any audience - address their prayers to the Lord: these are the ones who really support the congregation.”


Which of course is why the Lord in fact tells us:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 7,21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Mt 7,21;


At the same time this parable also demonstrates that our neighbor is not to be identified as “all our fellow human beings”. Our neighbors are always those persons who prove to be helpers in relation to correctly believing Christians. Whether Christians or non-Christians, they are our neighbors because they have stood by us. All other fellow human beings are not our neighbors!! But we cannot automatically infer, either, that these neighbors of a Christian are themselves true believers and are saved.

This is because as Paul writes, in 1Cor 3,11-15 below, on the day of the Last Judgment it is not the work of a person which is the important thing for the verdict, but rather the “foundation” on which he has built these works. And this foundation is purely and solely faith in Jesus Christ and his vicarious sacrifice on the cross for our sins. If anyone has this foundation, his works will be rated. And even if he should prove not to have any works at all, he will still be saved, “yet so as through fire”.

But all others who do not have this foundation “which is Jesus Christ” can point to whole heaps of works, but they will all be burned up as useless, and the Lord will say to them: “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1Cor 3,11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3,12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 3,13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 3,14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 3,15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1Cor 3,11-15;

(See also Chapter 13: “The Last Judgment”)


At the end of her commentary above, Doris Höger also refers to the text about the Last Judgment in Mt 25,35-45.

“How does this interpretation fit in with the following words of Jesus Christ?

’For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will ask him, ’Lord, when did we do this for you?

Jesus’ answer was as follows:

’To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them (of your fellow human beings), you did it to Me.’”


And as we can see from her interpolation in the biblical text, in the brackets in the last line, Ms. Höger is actually well aware of the weak link in her interpretation. Here again what is happening is a generalization of the terms, with the Christian faithful being put on an equal footing with godless persons. When the Lord says in the above-quoted passage (Mt 12,50), “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother,” then of course that applies here as well.

So it is the least of his brothers ‒ the rightly believing Christians of the whole world who do the will of the Father ‒ who are being talked about here, and not “your fellow human beings”, including all godless persons, idol-worshipers, dangerous criminals and mass murderers worldwide.

And that also applies, of course, to the second part of this biblical passage which Ms. Höger quotes:

“But then he will say to the many other people on his left:

‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

And they too will ask him: ’When is this supposed to have happened?’

Then he will answer and say to them:

’Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”


With “one of the least of these” in the last line the Lord is referring back to the first passage (Mt 25,40) where he identifies these “least” persons as his brothers who do the Will of the Father. On repeated occasions it is a matter of interest to see how “selectively” some people read their Bible. Although the statements are there in black and white, they will be overlooked, suppressed, reinterpreted or purely and simply denied and deleted.  



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Forgiveness ‒ even if the guilty person does not want to be forgiven at all? / Commentary, Doris Höger 01, 2011-01-16)

On the matter of “forgiveness”. Here your website gives the following interpretation: we human beings ought first of all to ask for forgiveness, and only then will forgiveness be granted. (to another human being, not to our heavenly Father, for that is, in my opinion, a big difference)

Here again I take a different view: “He who conceals a transgression (one who can overlook faults) seeks love…” (Prov 17/9). “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression (faults of other people)” (Prov 19/11). Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things that can be asked of us human beings.

But Jesus Christ gave us an example of how we have to behave. When he was crucified, he asked God to forgive the tormentors who had put him to the torture: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23/34). These people hadn’t asked Jesus for forgiveness beforehand!!! Other examples: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7/60). Paul too forgave his fellow human beings when they abandoned him out of cowardice. He said, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them (2.Tim 4/16).

”So, as those who have been chosen of God (God has chosen you too ‒ he wants you for his Kingdom), … put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other…” (Col 3/12).

I would be very pleased if we could get into a good dialog, from which we might both, being led by God’s hand, benefit for the salvation of our souls.

0


doris@hoeger-healing.at   /  Höger-Healing


We do not have to forgive our Father in heaven for anything. He forgives us in his grace. But we have to ask him to do so, in the Lord’s Prayer. Someone who doesn’t ask God for forgiveness of his sins quite simply does not receive forgiveness. And when the Lord’s Prayer then goes on to say, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” this means that we too must forgive if those who are in debt to us ask us to do so. That is to say that any person who wants to obtain forgiveness must actually request it.

But I would still like to engage here with the first part of your sentence, where you quote me as concluding that we human beings ought first of all to ask for forgiveness, and only then will forgiveness be granted. And you state:

“Here again I take a different view…”


Now here we must first of all expressly point out that the injunction that we should mutually forgive one another applies exclusively to correctly believing Christians. The godless would first of all have to ask God to be forgiven for their not having believed in him. And here we can also recognize that we should always ask for forgiveness from that person towards whom we have acquired a debt. From God, if we have sinned against God; from human beings, if we have sinned against human beings. 

But if we now take Christian faith as our point of departure ‒ and I think I can infer from your statements that you too are a Christian ‒ why should a Christian be so reluctant, if he has incurred a debt to a person, to ask this person for forgiveness??

Doesn’t this also cast a certain light on the prayer life of this Christian? Our daily prayer, after all, necessarily includes our asking for forgiveness for our sins. Or do you not have any sins for which you would need to ask the Lord for forgiveness? But wouldn’t that show a certain lack of humility? 

The view that forgiveness should happen quietly and in secret, and without the knowledge or the will of the guilty party, does however suggest a quite different suspicion. Namely that what is at stake here is not forgiveness, but on the contrary, the request for forgiveness. It is not the unrequested forgiveness of guilt which is here the father of the thought, but rather the unwillingness of the guilty person for his part to ask for forgiveness, because he does not want to face up to his guilt, and so he makes use of this trick ‒ based on the idea that the damaged party’s forgiveness should in any case be a “blank check”, so to speak ‒ with a view to soothing his conscience.

And seeing it in this light, we can correct the assertion contained in the commentary above:

“Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things that can be asked of us human beings”

in as much as it is evidently not forgiveness, but the request for forgiveness, which some people find to be the most difficult thing that can be expected of them.

As already explained in an earlier part of this Discourse, we as Christians have a mandatory obligation to forgive our brothers (our Christian brothers!). The Lord himself tells us in Mt 18,21-22;

Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?

Mt 18,21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 18,22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Mt 18,21-22;


And here we can have no doubt that this “up to seventy times seven” means not 490 times, but purely and simply “always”. So every believing Christian must forgive his brother who sins against him over and over again. But there is no way that the Lord means a forgiveness “in secret”, for which the guilty person has not even asked ‒ as we can recognize from the parable which is appended to this commandment of the Lord’s: 

So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me’

Mt 18,23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 18,24 "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 18,25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 

18,26 "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 18,27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 18,28 "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

18,29 "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 18,30 "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 18,31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 18,32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 18,33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 18,34 "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 18,35 "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." Mt 18,23-35;


We see that in both cases the person in debt “…fell to the ground… saying ‘Have patience with me’”. So here again it emerges plainly from the context that the Lord was in no way thinking of forgiveness based on the watering can principle, but rather insisting that forgiveness must always be requested by the guilty party. This is the one, but also the only condition for forgiveness: it must be requested.

How in the name of everything in the world do some Christians evidently find it so difficult to ask for forgiveness when they have made themselves guilty in relation to a brother or sister? ‒ The more so in view of the fact that the Lord has given them an assurance that they will be forgiven.

And then we find the most peculiar comparisons advanced, as in the above commentary by Ms. Höger:

“He who conceals a transgression seeks love (who can overlook faults)” (Prov 17/9)

He who “conceals a transgression” may possibly seek affection. But in some Catholic monastery schools where the children have been subjected to abuse by the “Fathers”, people may well have concealed transgression so as to “seek affection” towards those pedophile priests, but this only prevented the matter’s being cleared up ‒ while continuing to expose the children for years to the perverse lusts of these so-called “men of God”.


A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression (of other people).” (Prov 19/11)

And when a person overlooks a transgression, it may well redound to his glory. But if an error of treatment of this kind results in the father of a family having his leg amputated, so destroying the entire family’s means of support, this “glory” is not going to be a whole lot of use to the persons involved.  


“But Jesus Christ gave us an example of how we have to behave. When he was crucified, he asked God to forgive the tormentors who had put him to the torture: ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23/34). These people hadn’t asked Jesus for forgiveness beforehand!!!


This biblical passage too is repeatedly brought forward by people who have not read the text properly. Our Lord did not himself forgive his murderers (any more than Stephen did in Acts 7:60); rather, he prayed to the Father that he would forgive them. First of all because murder is not a sin that human beings are able to forgive. The life of a every human being belongs not to him but to God. It is God who has given it.

And on the other hand, too, because these Roman soldiers who crucified the Lord were innocent. These people had absolutely no idea that they had just crucified the Son of God. They were simply carrying out orders. The real guilty parties, though, were the scribes of the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas their High Priest, who had condemned Jesus to death and handed him over to the Romans (Jn 19:11). And these people were most certainly not forgiven by the Lord, when he said to them:

Mt 23,33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Jn 8,44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.


Probably Ms. Höger, with her Catholic doctrine of “universal forgiveness”, would have been inclined to forgive these people as well? And then she goes on to quote another biblical passage:

So, as those who have been chosen of God (God has chosen you too ‒ he wants you for his Kingdom), holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, …” (Colossians 3/12-13).


Yes ‒ “and forgiving each other” ‒ that means, “ask each other for forgiveness and forgive each other mutually”. For we have to forgive ‒ the Lord has already enjoined us to do so, after all, in Mt 18,22, so there isn’t any question about that. It follows that Paul’s injunction here refers rather to the request for forgiveness!

The Lord himself gave us instructions as to how we should behave toward a brother who has sinned.

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private.

Mt 18,15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 18,16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 18,17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Mt 18,15-17;


If he faces up to his guilt and repents what he has done, then he will be forgiven; if not, “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”.

As the late lamented Ernst Panzer wrote in his first commentary in this Discourse:

“Insight, acknowledgement and asking for forgiveness! That, then, is the path indicated to us,
if we are to receive forgiveness either from God or from human beings.


(See also Discourse 75: “Must Christians love their enemies?”)