Skip to main content

Which came first -- the love or the forgiveness?

I recently received this question about Luke 7:47 from a student in our Greek class,
I know this is a bit beyond where we're at but its there away to tell from the Greek if her love or being forgiven came first? "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

There are a few questions that may help us answer this question:

1. What are the verb tenses? Do these tip us off to the timing?
2. What is the meaning of the conjunction "for"?
3. What seems to be the logic of Jesus' statement?

To answer question 1, we would definitely be getting ahead of ourselves in our Greek class, but the short answer is - there is nothing I can see that dictates that love came after or before the forgiveness. "Loved" is a simple, aorist verb that is undefined in time; it is just a generic past tense idea.

Regarding question 2, the Greek word is "oti" (or "hoti" with the rough breathing mark). Mounce defines this conjunction as "that, since, because." This might suggest the woman was forgiven BECAUSE she loved God so much. Most translations simply say "for."

However, notice these two translations:
Holman Christian Standard Bible Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; THAT'S WHY she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.

NET Bible Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, THUS she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.

These two translations see her love as the RESULT rather than the CAUSE. This is one legitimate use of "hoti." Daniel Wallace in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics says this about result conjunctions: "This use gives the outcome or consequence of an action. The focus is on the outcome of the action rather than on its intention. Major conjunctions used this way are: ὥστε, ὡς, ὅτι, and less frequently, ἵνα. This use can be translated that, so that, or with the result that. By far the most common is ὥστε."

When we come to question 3 (Jesus' logic), I think the idea clearly is that the woman kissed and anointed Jesus' feet BECAUSE she loved Him so much, and she loved Him so much BECAUSE she knew her many sins had been forgiven by God.

Thus, from both a logical and a grammatical standpoint, it seems best to see love as the result to forgiveness. May all of us be equally grateful to Christ for the forgiveness He bought for us with His blood.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Herod who??

I must admit, I still get confused by all those Herods mentioned in the New Testament. To keep them straight, I find it helpful to read the biblical text with a genealogy of Herod's family at my side (here's one from the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible).


Well, so much for simplicity. Even this chart looks more like an engineering schematic than a family tree. To boil it all down, there are four key members of Herod's family mentioned in the Gospels...

Herod the Great. This is the original Herod of them all. The very name sent shivers up the spine of ancient Jews. Son of Antipater, he was a cunning politician, ruthless dictator, and brilliant architect. He was responsible for constructing the temple mount in Jerusalem, fortress palaces at Herodium and Masada, and a harbor at Caesarea -- all which continue to astound archaeologists and engineers today. In addition to killing several kin who threatened his throne, Herod murdered all the young boys in Bethlehem at the news that…

A review of the HCSB Study Bible

Today, I finally had a chance to browse through a copy of the new HCSB Study Bible.

The HCSB Study Bible is 2272 pages long (plus a few maps). As expected, the translation is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) version. It ranks well and rivals the ESV in both exegetical accuracy and literary quality. Some of its unique features are:
Its translation of yahweh as "Yahweh" (instead of LORD) in the OT when referring to the personal name of God (e.g. Ex. 3:15)The translation of doulos as "slave" instead of "servant" or "bondservant" in the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 1:1)The translation of christos as "Messiah" in the New Testament, whenever referring to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah (e.g. Matt. 16:16)Capitalized pronouns when referring to GodThe use of contractions in direct discourse (e.g. "let's go" in Mark 1:38)A wonderful feature called bullet notes (small bullets next to key words that may be unfamiliar, poin…

Restoring old photos of Israel

In his latest newsletter, Todd Bolen explains the painstaking process of restoring old photos to create the 8-volume American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. It’s a fascinating project that really makes you appreciate the end result. Here’s his full article…Shortly after producing a collection of modern-day photographs in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (initially released in January 2000), I began work on a supplementary collection that would peel back the recent layers of time to reveal the sites of the Holy Land before the changes brought by modernization.  The initial fruit of this work was the release of 8 volumes of Historic Views of the Holy Land in November 2004.About that same time, I learned that the Library of Congress was digitizing the G. Eric and Edith Matson Negatives.  Between 1966 and 1981, Eric Matson and his beneficiary donated this collection to the Library of Congress. But public access was limited and costly until 2004, when the first negatives were scann…