“How is it you do not understand?”
The point of the parable is that those who have been forgiven (by God) ought also to forgive one another (Matt. 18:33, which is the climax of the parable proper). In light of the great mercy given by God, it is completely unthinkable to withhold forgiveness from a fellow believer for any sin (or any number of sins). The application of the parable by Jesus is a warning for those who would withhold forgiveness from their Christian brother or sister (18:35). Jesus uses this parable to teach a very different perspective on forgiveness than the one revealed in Peter’s question. The expectation of lavish forgiveness toward one another in the Christian community is based on God’s prior grace and forgiveness. In the end, this kind of forgiveness is not an option but an expectation of all those who set the kingdom as their priority. It is an expectation like those expectations already spelled out in Matt.18:1-20, rooted in self-denial and predicated on Jesus’ continued presence with his community.
author: Jeannine K. Brown
title: The Disciples in Narrative Perspective