The Power of Forgiveness in the Bible

by | Apr 19, 2024

Choosing the Right Online Bible Study Program

Author and theologian Lewis B. Smedes said

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is a central theme throughout the Biblical narrative.

The concept of forgiveness first shows up in the Old Testament, when Joseph’s family asks for his forgiveness after a series of betrayals and mistreatments in Genesis 50.

Thereafter, forgiveness served as a through line in Scripture.

Forgiveness is a foundational piece of the Gospel message.

It’s what Jesus releases through His life, death, and resurrection. And it’s what we are called to release to those around us.

Forgiveness is powerful.

Psalms 103 tells us:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

God forgives us of our sins, casting them infinitely away from us.

But, although forgiveness is powerful and beautiful, it can be difficult to receive.

And even more difficult to release.

In order to see the beauty and power of forgiveness, let’s look at 3 things Jesus said about forgiveness in the New Testament.

3 Things Jesus Said About Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’ 2

In Matthew 18, Jesus teaches about the limitless nature of forgiveness, urging his followers to forgive others not just seven times, but seventy times seven. This phrase 70×7 is a way of explaining how boundless and infinite forgiveness is in God’s kingdom.

In this scripture, Jesus emphasizes the importance of extending mercy and grace repeatedly.

Because God’s forgiveness is limitless, He calls us to the same standard.

In this passage, Peter wants to know the line between releasing and withholding forgiveness. But Jesus responds by erasing the line, instead encouraging His followers to release forgiveness freely and without limit.

On the idea of forgiving 70×7, Charles Spurgeon said:

Boundless is the forgiveness of Christ, so let our forgiveness be. Until seventy times seven, said Christ to Peter. We have not yet reached that, and if we have, let us begin another seventy times seven, for God has forgiven us countless numbers of offenses. 3

In the same way Jesus forgives us of our sins, so we are called to forgive others of their sins against us.

Receive and Release

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 4

In Luke 6, Jesus includes forgiveness as a central part of prayer.

In His teaching on the practice of prayer, Jesus tells His disciples to ask God for forgiveness, while also releasing forgiveness to others. Here, Jesus emphasizes the reciprocal nature of forgiveness and its integral role in cultivating a forgiving heart.

In prayer, we receive forgiveness, and we release forgiveness.

Forgiveness is both for us and for those around us.

And Jesus teaches us that forgiveness should be a consistent practice we engage in through prayer.

The Apostle Paul asserts in his letter to the church in Colossae:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 5

We are called, not only to receive forgiveness, but to release it.

And one of the main ways forgiveness is released is through prayer.

Father Forgive Them

Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ 6

In Luke 23, Jesus exemplifies radical forgiveness by asking God the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him.

Nailed to a tree, Jesus asks for forgiveness to be released to His accusers and murderers.

Jesus releasing forgiveness in the midst of pain and suffering is our example. He reveals to us how we are called to live. He reveals to us how we are called to forgive. Even in the worst moment of His life, Jesus exemplifies the radical love, mercy, and grace that God offers to all.

The forgiveness of God is boundless.

It’s infinite.

And it’s available to all who confess and repent of their sins.

Why Forgiveness is Powerful

1 John 1:9 states:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 7

When we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us of our sins.

When we confess our sins, God is faithful to heal us and restore us.

We can be confident that when God forgives, He forgives completely and infinitely.

And when we receive God’s forgiveness, we are then empowered to release forgiveness to those around us.

Forgiveness is powerful in that it:

1. Heals

When we receive forgiveness, we open ourselves to God for healing.

Healing of our pain.
Healing of our brokenness.
Healing of our bitterness.

And when we release forgiveness, we play a role in offering healing to others.

2. Restores
Forgiveness leads to restoration.

Many things were lost in the Garden of Eden, including our relationship with God and with others.

Forgiveness restores our relationship to God, and it also restores our relationship with the people around us.

3. Grows
Our relationship with Jesus deepens as we engage in the powerful act of forgiveness.

Again, forgiveness isn’t just something we receive. It’s something we release.

And when we release forgiveness, we join in God’s redemptive story.
As we join in God’s redemptive story, our discipleship to Him deepens and our faith in Him grows.

The Evidence of Forgiveness

The power of forgiveness is evident throughout the library of Scripture. And the act of receiving and releasing forgiveness should be evident throughout our entire lives.

When God forgives us, there is evidence of His forgiveness in our lives. His forgiveness changes us. It heals us. It restores us. It releases joy and peace into our lives.

As author Henri Nouwen beautifully framed it:

We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.

The forgiveness of God gives us a fresh start.

The forgiveness of God frees us from the burden of guilt and shame.

And as we walk in God’s forgiveness, we are empowered to release His forgiveness to the world around us.

Ready to Dive Deeper?

Forgiveness is a powerful concept throughout the Bible.

If you’re interested in going deeper in your study of this topic and other vital concepts in Scripture, be sure to check our library of online resources here.

We’ve created a catalog of courses to deepen your understanding of Scripture and grow your faith. At AWKNG School of Theology, we make in-depth Biblical easy and accessible to everyone.

Study the Bible today with our online resources at AWKNG School of Theology.

Search Keywords

Recent Posts

Man writing on notepad with caption "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Mathew 4:4

Donate Today