Forgive

I’ve been increasingly interested in words as I’ve studied the Bible.

Being that English is my second language I’ve been aware of the challenged of translating one language to another and this is especially critical as pertains to God’s words.

The Dutch word, "aardappelen," which is similar to the French word, "pommes de terre," is literally translated, "earth apples" or "apples of earth," respectively. After we have seen, held, or tasted an "aardappel" we can interpret the word to mean to "potato." We have experience.

When dealing with other languages we always face this issue. Translation is easier. Interpretation requires experience. We have to know from experience the particular object or colloquialism to which the word refers. If the Dutch or the French did not show us an earth apple could we be sure what it is—a radish, a beet, a turnip?

In my personal Statement of Faith I’ve written, “I believe the Bible, in its original text, to be divinely inspired, infallible, and trustworthy. I therefore suggest that all translations be used with caution since they are the work of fallible men/women.

Only the original text is inspired and to the degree the those who copied the original were diligent, and I believe they were for the most part, the original language copies would be inspired or at least very accurate.

Between translation and interpretation we can introduce inaccuracies.

This is not an attack on the word of God rather it is an attempt at “accurately handling the word of truth (2Ti 2:15 NAU).”

I recently listened to an online message from an out of town pastor. His whole message was based on an inaccurate translation/interpretation of a single word. He, in my opinion, did not handle the word of truth well.

With that background I’d like to review the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek words that are translated “Forgive.”

In my counselling past, I’ve experienced that people have a very difficult time in forgiving someone in that they never seem to be free of the hurt feelings and resentment. Rather than being a one time act it became a repetitive act.

Why is this?

In the OT the words used for forgive are: 

     * selichah - a sending away, letting go

     * salash - to send away, let go

     * nasa - to lift up or away

     * kaphar - to cover

In the NT the words used are:

     * apoluo - to loose away

     * charizomai - to be gracious to (better translated as gracious)

     * aphiemi - to send, abandon, leave behind, walk away

I believe that interpreting these words as forgive is a poor choice.

Forgive in English means “Stop feeling angry or resentful,” “No longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake),” “Cancel (a debt).”

In English, forgive is very much associated with a feeling. In the Hebrew and Greek culture the definitions seem very much to be tied to an action—send away, lift away, cover—rather than a feeling.

Our sin was removed—not forgivenafter it was paid for by the blood sacrifice of Yeshua. It was an action, not a feeling, although love motivated the action (read God Cannot Forgive Sin). Sin cannot be forgiven, it must be paid for.

Actions and feelings are much like a horse and cart. The cart always follows the actions of the horse. Perhaps God is not so much concerned about our feelings as He is about our actions.

Has someone done you wrong? Forget forgiving them, and decide to drop it, to walk away from it, leave it behind, throw it away but don’t get all caught up in your feelings—it will follow your actions. Do something that evidences that forgiveness.

Too often are we hurt when someone acts toward us in a way which we do not expect them to act.

I had a sister who could say things to us or others and we would not be offended. We all knew her to say what first came to mind. Our expectations were never contradicted and it was easy to "get over it" and return to liking her since "that's just Liz!"

Wouldn't we be better off to carry no expectations of others, or to refuse to find offence in their words or actions?

Without Prejudice. © 2012, Steven., house of bij de Leij., of man.