Governmental Forgiveness

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Q. “A. L. O. C.” What is the meaning of the parable of the debtor who was forgiven, and then put in prison until he paid to the uttermost? Is it Jewish? and what is the application to us?
A. I presume you allude to Matthew 18:23-3523Therefore 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). The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the Son of Abraham and Son of David, presented to the Jews and rejected; then the consequences to the Gentiles in two ways, namely, a new form to the kingdom of the heavens, and the bringing in of the Church, announced as replacing Israel. Consequently, you find, as in connection with the kingdom of heaven, the governmental dealings of God strongly marked. Primarily, you find God’s dealings with the Jew. He, as a servant, owed the debt of ten thousand talents, and could not pay. All God’s culture of him, culminating in His sending the Lord Jesus, only enhanced the debt. The Lord on His cross, in the name of that sinful people, pleaded for them in the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” They were governmentally pardoned, and vengeance for the blood of Messiah was not demanded at the moment. (I mean governmentally in contrast to that forgiveness which has reference to eternal things). The answer to that prayer of the Lord was the offer of national pardon in Acts 3:1414But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; (Acts 3:14), etc., by the Spirit of God sent down from heaven, by Peter’s mouth: “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Thus judgment was delayed for the time, through the compassion of God, although nationally they did not respond to the offer. Then came the free dealings of the grace of God to the Gentiles, through Saul of Tarsus. They owed, in comparison with the Jew, but “an hundred pence”; still, what they owed, they owed to them, for “salvation was of the Jews.” Thus, the same servant — forgetting the gracious forgiveness extended to him — went out and took his fellow servant by the throat, and demanded the debt. So, you find in 1 Thess. 2:14-1614For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. (1 Thessalonians 2:14‑16), the attitude of the Jew to his Gentile brother; so with Paul’s defense (Acts 22) where the Jews gave him audience to the words, “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles,” and then they took the one who announced it, as it were, by the throat, and would not hear another word. Wrath came upon them then to the uttermost. God delivered them up nationally to judgment by the Gentiles under the Roman armies, and they have remained in bondage and ruin ever since under His righteous government, till they shall pay in suffering and sorrow, all that was due — until Jerusalem shall have received double for all her sins, and the word “comfort ye, my people,” is pronounced (see Isa. 40).
This is the direct thought in the parable; but, as is usual in Matthew, you find not only dispensational teaching, but personal lessons as well as moral principles. So here you learn the principles by which we should live as those who owed ten thousand talents, and whom grace has pardoned. We must go and imitate God, who has so dealt with us. Alas, how solemn to find that so many having taken up Christianity as a profession, have failed in grace to others, and thus proved the insincerity of their profession; surely they will not escape. The kingdom of heaven always assumes that there may have come in profession under the name of Christ, and that such will solemnly meet its end in judgment where no life is. Life is known by practice, characterized by grace that bestowed it, and thus its teaching is applicable to us.
Words of Truth 5:199, 200.