Jesus’ Debt Warnings, Pt. 6: Jesus Makes Debt Forgiveness Central To Prayer

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Posted: Feb 27, 2019 10:05 AM
Jesus’ Debt Warnings, Pt. 6: Jesus Makes Debt Forgiveness Central To Prayer

Jesus' Sermon on the Mount also included his only presentation of a model prayer, which includes the following:

"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

(Matt. 6:12 NAS) 

There is a strong tendency to spirtualize this message, to treat it as referring to something different from the Torah treatment. The problem with this is that Jesus' word choice is reminiscent of the language of the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The highlighted words in English below, for forgiveness (or release) of debts parallel the words used in the debt forgiveness/Shemitah passage in Deuteronomy 15.

YLT Matthew 6:12 'And forgive us our debts, as also we forgive our debtors.

YLT Deuteronomy 15:2 and this is the matter of the release: Every owner of a loan is to release his hand which he doth lift up against his neighbour, he doth not exact of his neighbour and of his brother, but hath proclaimed a release to Jehovah;


Jesus knew that Israel had ignored this rule (well, paid just enough attention to figure out legal loopholes to go back to ignoring it again), and that this carried with it a warning from God, the presence of a permanent underclass.