help our congregation if I used this Newsletter to comment
on a very strong and difficult to interpret statement Jesus
makes in Matthew 18:21-35. This is a critical
passage on forgiveness that we will be studying this
34 of this text, Jesus says something that seems to
suggest a believer could lose his or her salvation.
lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers
until he should repay all that was owed
text is a parable in which Jesus teaches that we are to
forgive one another because God has forgiven us
of sin so immense we could never repay it back to God.
Therefore, when another believer sins against
sin which is miniscule in comparison to God’s forgiveness at
salvation, we should welcome each and
opportunity to forgive our fellow Christians.
34 of the parable Christ states that the first slave
will be handed over to torturers until he repays all that
to his king if he does not forgive the debts of his fellow
slave. An inference from this verse could be
that we would lose our salvation because of a failure to
forgive other Christians. This interpretation
be proper for two primary reasons.
would contradict the clear teaching of Scripture that if we
are truly saved then we cannot lose our salvation – [1 Jn
5:13; Jn 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 6:39-40,
54, 58; 1 Pet 1:3-5; Jn 10:26-29].
clarifies in the next verse  what he means in v.34
when he states, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to
you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from
your heart.” [Emphasis added.]
true that if a professing believer is unwilling to forgive
another Christian such a lack of forgiveness is radically
contrary Christian behavior. Therefore, in light of Matt
18:21-35, that individual should wisely follow Paul’s
instructions in 2 Cor 13:5:
yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine
yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves,
that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the
IS CHRIST NOT TEACHING IN THIS PASSAGE?
salvation is temporary and can be lost by subsequent
salvation is conditional upon our subsequent behavior.
IS CHRIST TEACHING IN THIS PASSAGE?
we have been forgiven by God at salvation we are to extend
forgiveness for far lesser sins committed against us by
we are unwilling to forgive another believer, we should not
be surprised if God disciplines us even severely disciplines
– described symbolically in Matt 18:34 as torture and
in Heb 11:6 as scourging.
we are unwilling to forgive another believer, such behavior
is so contrary to the experience of true salvation that we
should examine our hearts to make sure that Jesus Christ
dwells within us.