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Greek Word devos: Aphiēmi

In our Greek Word Devotional series, we discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. Coming out of Easter, let’s look at one of Jesus’s famous parables, found in Matthew 18:27:

“Then the master of that servant had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.”

The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:

Greek pronunciation: ah FEE ay mee
CSB translation: forgive
Uses in Matthew: 47 (Mk, 34; Lk, 31; Jn, 15)
Uses in the NT: 143
Focus passage: Matthew 18:27

Aphiēmi exhibits a broad range of nuances in the NT. It can mean to send away/dismiss (Mt 13:36) and in a legal sense to leave/divorce (1Co 7:11-13). It may also mean to leave/depart (Mk 1:20,31) or to tolerate (Rv 2:20). Another important meaning is to pardon/forgive. In this sense, aphiēmi may describe the cancellation of a loan or debt (Mt 18:27,32), but it more commonly means to forgive sins (Mt 6:12,14-15; Mk 2:5,7,9-10; 3:28; Lk 7:47-49; Jn 20:23; Rm 4:7). The related noun aphesis almost always refers to God’s forgiveness of human sins. The resurrected Lord told the disciples that this forgiveness would be preached in his name, and the apostles were the first to do exactly that (Ac 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18). Paul employed aphiēmi and aphesis to describe the cancellation of sin’s infinite debt to God (Rm 4:7; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14).

With Easter now behind us, the CSB wants to encourage you to remember the forgiveness shown to us in Christ’s death and resurrection. One way to do this is to think through how we can forgive others, as well as ourselves. In our meditations during Lent, holy week, Good Friday, and Easter, we may have reflected on the sins that Christ has forgiven us.

But when was the last time we reflected on the sins we’ve forgiven?

Sometimes we unintentionally look like the master in Jesus’s parable. A great debt – the greatest, in fact – has been forgiven us. Yet we hold the smallest slights against others. What does it look like to live in the light of Jesus, forgiving both the harshest and most minute of transgressions against us?

We would feel closer to Jesus, for one. We would also feel a stronger kinship with our community. Our self-identity and self-esteem would probably be stronger, as well, as when we walk in love and truth rather than bitterness and defeat we are able to better feel the grip Jesus has on our hearts.

As we think through what it means to pick up the Bible and do, let us think on the power of picking up our Bible and forgiving.

If you’re interested in these kinds of studies, be sure to get a copy of the CSB Study Bible, full of helpful articles and study tools. For those who want a deeper, perhaps more academic Bible, the brand new CSB Inter-Linear Greek Text Bible is for you. The original Greek language is provided in full, alongside CSB-translated text, allowing readers to read the New Testament in its original language. Get your copies now!