A re‐establishment of personal relations after a rupture. Although in the OT God does not forgive automatically, as though that is what he exists for, he is described as always ready to forgive when the right conditions are in place (Neh. 9: 17). To a penitent sinner God's forgiveness is complete (Isa. 43: 25). The OT system of sacrifices was designed as a concrete expression of repentance enabling God's forgiveness to be bestowed and guilt expiated.
In the NT there is the same emphasis on God's forgiveness, sometimes activated by Jesus himself (Mark 2: 5–6), and in the Church there is to be provision for members forgiving each other (John 20: 23; Jas. 5: 13–16) and the Lord's Prayer anticipates God's forgiveness of our sins only when we have forgiven the sins of others (Matt. 6: 12). The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11–32) could be more appropriately entitled the Forgiving Father. That of the two debtors (Matt. 18: 21–35) ends with a stern warning: the unforgiving servant will be tortured until his debt should be repaid in toto. Possibly there were members of Matthew's Church who were not showing a forgiveness to others expected from those who had been forgiven so much by God. The ending has almost certainly been attached to Jesus' parable by the evangelist himself to accord with common contemporary practice of torturing a debtor by way of putting pressure on his relatives to contribute to his repayment. But it is incongruous. The meaning of the parable is straightforward enough: that God's free forgiveness should be imitated in our own relationships.
Subjects: Biblical Studies.