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Part 3 - Bible Verses on Forgiveness

(Showing How it is Normally Understood)

  Carefully examining Bible verses on forgiveness can help us to understand the meanings of the different words translated as forgiveness both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We will look at several Bible verses on forgiveness and at some examples of how they are used. Because it is a two-party transaction as I have already mentioned, we will look at forgiveness one side at a time.

If you haven't yet read it, go back to part 2 (of 6).

Please continue reading this study on Biblical Forgiveness ... but, if you are in a hurry, here is a quick summary. (Opens in new window.) When you see the importance of it, you may want to return later to read the full study or add your own comments/questions or see what others have written. (Opens in new window.)

First, we will consider forgiveness as it applies to the forgivee, the one who is forgiven. The first word we want to look at is the Hebrew word "nasaw" (Strong's number 05375). It is used in the sense of to bear as in a load; to lift up; to take away. Here is the usage and shades of meaning as given by the Online Bible (

Heb - Nasaw 05375 AV-(bare, lift, etc...) up 219, bear 115, take 58, bare 34, carry 30, (take, carry)..away 22, borne 22, armourbearer 18, forgive 16, accept 12, exalt 8, regard 5, obtained 4, respect 3, misc 74; 654
* to lift, bear up, carry, take
* to lift, lift up,
* to bear, carry, support, sustain, endure
* to take, take away, carry off, forgive
* to cause one to bear (iniquity)
* to cause to bring, have brought
Let's look at some examples of the use of the word nasaw:
"Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin." (Psa 85:2)
This seems to have the meaning that we normally associate with Bible verses on forgiveness. God has taken away the sin of the people so they don't have to bear it. Let's look at another example:
"And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear <5375> his iniquity." (Lev 5:17)
Here nasaw is translated "bear" as in to carry a load, bear a burden. What the sinner is really bearing is the result of his iniquity which could include the guilt, the shame and the natural consequences of the sin; a burden that can be largely lifted by forgiveness.
"Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins." (Psa 25:18)
In this verse, the removal of affliction and pain is associated with the forgiveness of sins. What sort of affliction and pain is this talking about? I think it would be mainly a hurting conscience. Although, if we could really know how it works, we would find that there is a considerable connection between sin and a guilty conscience on one hand and physical disease on the other.
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven , whose sin is covered." (Psa 32:1)
The result of "nasaw" forgiveness is that the one forgiven is blessed or happy. There is a good result to the forgivee. These uses include the concept of taking something away from the forgivee. The next Hebrew word is calach:
Heb - Calach 05545 AV-forgive 19, forgiven 13, pardon 13, spare 1; 46
to forgive, pardon
to be forgiven
Let's see how "calach" is used in Bible verses on forgiveness:
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases" (Psa 103:3)
From this verse, all we learn is that it is God who does the forgiving. He is the forgiver. And, interestingly, in that verse, there is that connection between being forgiven and healing.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." <5545> (Isa 55:7)
This verse is like one of the Bible verses on forgiveness that we looked at earlier. It is saying that man first forsakes his way and returns to God, then God will pardon or forgive.
"It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive <5545> their iniquity and their sin." (Jer 36:3)
Again, people return from their evil way and, as a result of that, they are forgiven. (Sounds like something out of the book of Jonah, where this happened to the whole city of Ninevah)
"We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. <5545>" (Lam 3:42)

In this case, since they have transgressed or sinned and have rebelled rather than repented, God has not pardoned. These two words, nasaw and calach, both have the meaning of to take something away. When you receive forgiveness, what is taken away from you? - guilt, shame, debt. Can you see that these words are describing what is happening on the side of the forgivee?

Then we also have two similar New Testament words that are used in Bible verses on forgiveness. The first is aphiemi
GK - aphiemi 863 (to send, to go) AV-leave 52, forgive 47, suffer 14, let 8, forsake 6, let alone 6, misc 13; 146
* to send away [the guilt]
* to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person * to leave, go way from one
Here is an example of the use of that word:
"And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven <863> thee." (Matt 9:2)

Who is the change taking place in, in this case? Is it a change in God or in the sick man? What would be taken away from this man? Remember it is the word aphiemi - shame, guilt etc.

The second Greek word, apoluo <630> means much the same, along the lines of to set free, to release.
"And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go <630>;" (Luke 14:4)

These two Hebrew and two Greek words are all referring to the work God accomplishes in the heart or mind of the believer through the merits of the death of Jesus. This forgiveness deals with the "canceling out" of sins consequences. The Bible verses on forgiveness that we have looked at in this part have described forgiveness from the viewpoint of the forgivee, the one who is forgiven. In the next part, we will examine further Bible verses on forgiveness where we will consider the viewpoint of the forgiver.

For a continuation of this study on Biblical Forgiveness go to Part 4 (of 6).

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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
God always forgives!


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