Since there were disagreements between some of the disciples, Jesus taught a lesson on forgiveness between brethren. The offended person is to discuss the offence between the two of them. If the offender repents of his offense, a brother has been gained.
When the offender will not change, the offended person is to return with one or two others to be witnesses to establish every word. If he refuses to listen to the witnesses, the matter is then to be brought before the church.
A person is to be counted as an outsider when he will not listen to the church. Even when withdrawing from a brother, the church is to continue to admonish him as a brother, instead of counting him as an enemy.
The power of the church is so important that even two or three gathered together in the name of Christ will be blessed by His presence. Whenever the church withdraws from a person or reconciles with him, this action is recognized in heaven.
Jewish culture accepted the number seven as complete. Peter asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Seven times?”
Jesus wanted Peter to understand that there was no limit to the number of times a person could be forgiven. He said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
The importance of forgiving others was also illustrated in a parable Jesus taught about two servants. One of the servants owed his master an enormous debt of about sixty million denarii, which was impossible to repay. A denarius was worth about a day’s wages.
After the master, moved with compassion had forgiven the debt of the first servant, this first servant without mercy, threw a fellow servant into prison because he could not repay him a much smaller debt of a hundred denarii.
When this revengeful spirit was reported to the master, he had the first servant thrown into prison until he should pay all that was due him. A child of God who has had his impossible debt of sin forgiven by a compassionate Master, is expected to have a forgiving spirit toward his brothers.