Forgiveness

Concise Bible Dictionary:

There are three Hebrew words translated to forgive.
3. salach, “to pardon,” used only of the forgiveness that God gives. It is employed for the forgiveness attached to the sacrifices: "it shall be forgiven him" (Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 3520And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. (Leviticus 4:20)
26And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:26)
31And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:31)
35And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:35)
; Lev. 5:10, 13, 16, 1810And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 5:10)
13And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest's, as a meat offering. (Leviticus 5:13)
16And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 5:16)
18And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 5:18)
; &c). It occurs in the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:30, 34, 36, 39, 5030And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive. (1 Kings 8:30)
34Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. (1 Kings 8:34)
36Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. (1 Kings 8:36)
39Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) (1 Kings 8:39)
50And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: (1 Kings 8:50)
. Also in Psa. 103:33Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalm 103:3); Jer. 31:3434And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:34); Jer. 36:33It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. (Jeremiah 36:3); Dan. 9:1919O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. (Daniel 9:19)).
In the N. T. two words are used: ὔφεσις., from ἀφίημι, “to send from, release, remit,” several times translated REMISSION; and χαριξομαι, “to be gracious, bestow freely, forgive.” Both words are applied to the forgiveness granted by God, as well as that between man and his fellow.
There are two aspects in which forgiveness is brought before us in scripture.
1. The mind and thought of God Himself towards the sinner whom He forgives. On the ground of the sacrifice of Christ, God not only ceases to hold those who have faith in Christ's blood as guilty before Him, but His favor is towards them. "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb. 10:1717And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)). Thus all sense of imputation of guilt is gone from the mind of God. "God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" ἐχαρίσυτο, graciously forgiven, (Eph. 4:3232And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)). So in the O.T., "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (Hos. 14:44I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. (Hosea 14:4)).
2. The guilty one is released, forgiven. "That they may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts 26:1818To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)). "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psa. 103:1212As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)). "Your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake" (1 John 2:1212I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (1 John 2:12)). Hence it is true of all Christians, that their sins are forgiven. Another thought is included in the forgiveness of sins, namely, that having redemption by Christ, which brings into a new state, the whole guilty past is forgiven, removed from us, so that there is no hindrance to the enjoyment of that into which redemption brings.
The general principle as to forgiveness is stated in 1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9): "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins;" and to this is added, "and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This involves honesty of heart, whether in a sinner first coming to God, or in a child who has grieved the heart of the Father by sinning. The two aspects above referred to are here also. The faithfulness and righteousness of God in forgiving, and the cleansing us from all unrighteousness. God is faithful to His own blessed character of grace revealed in His Son, and righteous through the propitiation which He has made.

From Anstey’s Doctrinal Definitions:

The underlying meaning conveyed in forgiveness is “to release or to remit someone from a debt.” It is sometimes translated remission to convey that idea. W. Kelly said, “Forgiveness is the remission of sins of those who believe in Jesus through faith in His blood” (The Bible Herald, vol. 1, p. 234).
W. Potter indicated that there are five aspects of forgiveness in Scripture (The Christian, 2006 January):
1) Judicial Or Eternal Forgiveness
This has to do with a pardon that a person receives from God through faith that delivers him from the eternal judgment of his sins. Thus, he has “the remission” of his sins (Matt. 26:2828For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28); Luke 24:4747And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47); Acts 2:38; 10:4338Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
43To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43)
; Heb. 9:2222And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)) or “the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:1831Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)
38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (Acts 13:38)
18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)
; Eph. 1:77In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7); 4:32; Col. 1:1414In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14); 1 John 2:1212I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (1 John 2:12)). In receiving this pardon, the believer’s conscience is purged as to his guilt (Heb. 9:14; 10:2, 2214How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)
2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. (Hebrews 10:2)
22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)
), and thus he has a conscious knowledge that his sins have been divinely forgiven. This blessing is a present possession of every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:77In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7)).
This eternal aspect of forgiveness of sins was first announced when the Lord rose from the dead (Luke 24:4747And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)). Prior to that, in Old Testament times and during the Lord’s ministry on earth, forgiveness was granted to persons purely in a governmental sense (Ex. 32:3232Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (Exodus 32:32); Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 3520And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. (Leviticus 4:20)
26And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:26)
31And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:31)
35And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:35)
; 1 Kings 8:34-3934Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. 35When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: 36Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. 37If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; 38What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: 39Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) (1 Kings 8:34‑39); Psa. 86:55For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. (Psalm 86:5); Jer. 36:33It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. (Jeremiah 36:3); Matt. 9:2-6; 6:142And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. (Matthew 9:2‑6)
14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (Matthew 6:14)
; Luke 7:47-48; 23:3447Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. (Luke 7:47‑48)
34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34)
). Thus, Old Testament saints did not know this eternal aspect of forgiveness of sins. Consequently, they lived with uncertainty as to whether their sins would be visited in judgment by God (Psa. 25:77Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord. (Psalm 25:7), etc.). H. E. Hayhoe stated, “Previous to the first advent of Christ, the truth of eternal forgiveness of sins was not made known. Generally speaking, forgiveness as referred to in the Old Testament was governmental—that is, it had to do with this life but not eternity” (Present Truth For Christians, p. 10).
This doesn’t mean that the Old Testament saints aren’t in heaven, but that they didn’t possess a conscious knowledge of their sins being forgiven, as Christians do, because they didn’t know of the finished work of Christ. Their sins were held in abeyance through “the forbearance of God,” waiting for the time when God would place them on the Lord Jesus on the cross, whereby they would be judicially dealt with according to the claims of divine justice (Rom. 3:2525Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:25)). But the Old Testament saints didn’t know that. Thus, their sins were “covered” (Psa. 32:11<<A Psalm of David, Maschil.>> Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psalm 32:1)), but today with the work of Christ having been accomplished and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we have a fuller revelation through the gospel as to what God has done with our sins. We know that our sins are “forgiven” (Acts 13:3838Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (Acts 13:38)) and that they have beenput away” (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)) and “taken away” (1 John 3:55And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (1 John 3:5)).
2) Governmental Forgiveness
This refers to a pardon that God grants to a person whereupon a governmental judgment that He has laid on him on account of his sinful ways (Matt. 18:23-2523Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. (Matthew 18:23‑25); Gal. 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7); 1 Cor. 11:29-3229For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:29‑32); 1 Peter 1:16-17; 3:12; 4:1716Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: (1 Peter 1:16‑17)
12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1 Peter 3:12)
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
; 1 John 5:16-1716If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. (1 John 5:16‑17)) is lifted and forgiven (Psa. 103:10-1110He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. (Psalm 103:10‑11); Matt. 18:26-3526The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:26‑35); John 5:1414Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (John 5:14); James 5:1515And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:15)).
This aspect of forgiveness is conditioned upon two things on the part of the forgiven. Firstly, there must be genuine repentance (Lev. 26:40-4140If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; 41And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: (Leviticus 26:40‑41); 2 Chron. 12:7, 12; 33:11-13, 197And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. (2 Chronicles 12:7)
12And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well. (2 Chronicles 12:12)
11Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God. (2 Chronicles 33:11‑13)
19His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. (2 Chronicles 33:19)
; Jonah 3:5-105So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (Jonah 3:5‑10); 1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)). Secondly, there must be the holding of a forgiving spirit toward others (Matt. 6:12, 14-15; 18:23-3512And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14‑15)
23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:23‑35)
; Mark 11:25-2625And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25‑26); Luke 6:3737Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37)). J. N. Darby pointed out that these two requisites are illustrated in the life of Job. He repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:66Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:6)) and he prayed for his three friends who had accused him unjustly, asking God that he would forgive them (Job 42:1010And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)). When God saw these two things with Job, He lifted his discipline and “turned” his captivity.” A person does not even need to be a real believer to experience this kind of governmental forgiveness from God. This was the case with King Ahab (1 Kings 21:27-2927And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. 28And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house. (1 Kings 21:27‑29)). Hence, it is possible for a person to be governmentally forgiven, but not eternally forgiven! (Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 31, p. 362).
It is important to understand that both governmental judgment and governmental forgiveness have to do with God’s dealing with men while they live on earth; these dealings do not affect their eternal destiny. God’s governmental dealings with believers concerns their fellowship with Him, not their relationship with Him.
3) Restorative Forgiveness
J. N. Darby treats this as a subset of governmental forgiveness (Synopsis of the Books of the Bible on 1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) – footnote). It has to do with God’s lifting of His governmental discipline which has been felt by one of His erring children in the way of having his or her communion severed through their own carelessness and sin, whereby communion is once again enjoyed. It is lifted because there has been self-judgment and the confession of sins (1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)). Mr. Darby explains this form of governmental action by God as follows: “If we speak rashly to our brother, or walk abroad carelessly through the streets and see some vanity, we shall find the effect of it in our own souls at the end of the day with God. If any angry word escapes me, I feel the effect at the end of the day with God; but grace will restore us” (Nine Lectures on the First Epistle of John, p. 15). Thus, even something as simple as having wrong thoughts or uttering angry words will cause the interruption of communion. God allows us to feel this loss as a governmental dealing with us. When we judge it and it is confessed, communion is restored.
While this could be taken to be part of governmental forgiveness, it is slightly different in the sense that communion may be restored to a person, but he still may have to carry the consequences of his actions governmentally. This was the case with David. God told him that because of his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, the sword would not depart out of his house forever (2 Sam. 12:9-109Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. (2 Samuel 12:9‑10)). This judgment went with David all his days. But the Lord said that He had put away David’s sin because of his repentance, and thus David was restored to fellowship and communion with the Lord (2 Sam. 12:1313And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (2 Samuel 12:13)). This is evident by the fact that he wrote many psalms of praise and worship after his restoration to fellowship with God.
4) Brotherly Forgiveness
This has to do with forgiving our brother if he has wronged us (Matt. 18:21-2221Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21‑22); Eph. 4:3232And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)). There are two things here that mustn’t be confused. Firstly, we are to forgive the person who has done us wrong from our hearts (Matt. 18:3535So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:35)). That is, we are to hold a forgiving spirit toward him, even if there is no sign of repentance in him. This is important because if we don’t do this, bad feelings could arise in our hearts toward that person. And then, secondly, when the person who has wronged us repents and apologizes for what he has done, then we are to forgive him by expressing it to him audibly or formally (Luke 17:3-43Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:3‑4)).
Luke 17:3-43Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:3‑4) has been used to justify the holding of a unforgiving spirit toward a person, because the person has not apologized. The offended party will say, “I’m not going to forgive him until he repents, because that’s what Scripture says I am to do.” However, Matthew 18:3535So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:35) shows that regardless of whether the person has apologized or not, we are to hold a forgiving spirit toward him. Scripture warns that those who will not forgive their brother from their hearts will have the Lord’s governmental forgiveness withheld from them in the wrongs that they have done (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:23-3514For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14‑15)
23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:23‑35)
; Mark 11:25-2625And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25‑26)).
5) Administrative Forgiveness
This refers to the assembly acting administratively in matters of discipline toward erring individuals. The apostles were given this authority from the Lord to act administratively for Him in matters of retaining a person’s sins and the remitting of them (John 20:2323Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:23)). Assemblies gathered to the Lord’s name have this power too (Matt. 18:18-2018Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18‑20); 1 Cor. 5:4). If they act to “put away” a person from the fellowship of the saints (1 Cor. 5), and if that person is repentant, they are to lift the censure placed on him and “forgive” him (2 Cor. 2:6-116Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:6‑11)). (See Judgment, Administrative.)