What does it mean to 'forgive?'

Did you know…


…that the Greek word we translate in this week's teaching from Jesus as "forgive" actually has a much more literal meaning? As you might know, the New Testament was written in Greek (specifically a kind of Greek called koine, or common, Greek). When we read the bible in English, we are reading a translation from that original language, and as you might have noticed, there are a lot of different translations (in fact we feature a different one every week in our email). Sometimes words are translated literally and sometimes they are translated into English words that best grasp the general feeling of the Greek word, as not all Greek words have a direct translation into English. In this week's gospel, Jesus is teaching in his Sermon on the Plain about forgiveness, telling those assembled before him to "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." The word we translate as forgive is the Greek word ἀπολύω (pronounced apo-loo-oh). The interesting things about this word is that the more literal translation of it would be "to let go" or "to send away" or "to release." We have a certain cultural understanding of what it means to forgive, but the writer of Luke's gospel used this word that means "to release" to sum up what Jesus meant when he taught people to forgive. Does the literal meaning of this Greek word "to release" change your ideas about forgiveness? If so, how? If not, why not? Does it change how you read Jesus' teaching this week to say, instead of forgive, "Release, and you will be released?"

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