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As you read the Lord’s Prayer in its two scriptural versions you read  the expressions forgive us our debts and forgive us our sins.  A traditional variation of this is forgive us our trespasses. In the stream of Christianity that I been formed by we use the term debts.  With all due respect to the King James Version which has shaped the spiritual memory of many English-speaking Christians, I have definite preference for debts over trespasses.  And although Luke was inspired to use sins, for discipling purposes I find it to be too vague.  An excellent comparison of all three is found in a 2010 sermon by Presbyterian pastor, Randall Bush and I would encourage you to read it for more detail and a better explanation than I can provide. READ NOW

The word debt here in the Greek has this meaning according to Strong, “1) that which is owed 1a) that which is justly or legally due, a debt 2) metaph. offense, sin.  In  rabbinic teachings and parables, a person’s sin before God was often symbolized by debt owed to a king, landowner, or other person. Jesus, as we know, was functioning in many ways from a rabbinical tradition.  Debts is the literal translation of the Greek.  Translators, however, are not inaccurate if the use the other words if they understand this expression to be in the metaphorical sense.

But in one of the most potent descriptions of this prayer found in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18:21-35 about the Unmerciful Servant, we read these words:”So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’  “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” The word debt here is the same word in Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.

1. So here’s the reflection question, “What do we say about our spiritual state and what are we asking God to do when we pray forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors>

I’ll share my thoughts in the next post.


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