This is called the parable of the unmerciful servant. It is only found here and was spoken by Jesus in response to Peter's question concerning forgiveness in V21-22 (CP V21-22). What Jesus is teaching us here is that forgiveness must be a constant attitude with believers. When Jesus told Peter that he had to forgive someone who sinned against him 490 times Jesus was simply underlining the fact that believers cannot ever afford not to forgive others, irrespective of how many times they sin against them. We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us (CP Psa 103:10-12; Mt 6:14-15). Forgiving also means forgetting (CP He 8:12). We are to behave toward others as God behaves towards us. If we claim to be His then we must have His disposition to forgive, even our enemies (CP Mt 5:7; Lu 6:35-36).
Forgiveness is a matter of life or death for believers. If we do not forgive others neither will God forgive us. Jesus teaches us in the parable of the unmerciful servant that the forgiveness of God, though freely given to repentant sinners, nevertheless remains conditional according to their willingness to forgive others (CP Mk 11:25-26). The judgement the king pronounced on the unforgiving servant in the parable of the unmerciful servant is the equivalent of eternal damnation upon unforgiving believers, because just as the servant could never repay his debt to the king, believers can never repay their debt to God. Forgiveness is a kingdom principle, and it is incumbent upon Christians to live out this principle in their Christian life. Christians have had all their sins forgiven by God, so they must forgive others in return.
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