Timothy White Intro to BibleNew Testament PaperDecember 1st, 2017 Forgiveness”Holding a grudge has been likened to taking poison and hoping the enemy will die (Halter, 2006, p. 6a).” How can we mitigate anger and hatred so that our perceived injuries do not turn towards others or ourselves? In today’s day and age, characteristics of what forgiveness actually is are not easily defined. One view suggests that forgiveness involves a deliberate effort to change how one thinks about the person who had wronged them and to let go of any negative feelings towards that person. By acknowledging the pain that we have suffered, forgiveness allows for resolving the grief process (www.pbs.org). Nelson (2012) describes forgiveness as occurring on a continuum. At one end of the continuum the victim minimizes or denies that they have been hurt, and on the other end of the continuum there is aggression and the need to respond negatively against the perpetrator. In either case, an injustice creates a schism between the parties involved and to be at either end of the continuum is wrong. Research has begun to show that forgiveness is good for interpersonal relationships, social support, and that those individuals who are able to forgive have less physical impairments. Conversely, those who find it difficult to forgive are at risk for increased physical and psychological difficulties. One of the benefits to holding onto past hurts ensures future support against those who have injured us, however in doing so we also hold onto our own suffering (Halter, 2006). Forgiveness in the New Testament can be viewed as a healing and therapeutic agent. It is a tradition that was handed down by Jesus throughout the New Testament and most notably, in the Lord’s Prayer where he instructed on how we are to pray, that we are to ask for God’s forgiveness and in turn forgive those to who are indebted to us. There are three themes of forgiveness in the New Testament that include forgiveness of others, forgiveness from God and forgiveness of self. In an article written by Randy Nelson (n.d.), he reports that when the subject of New Testament forgiveness is probed, comparisons first need to be made of the words used in the original texts. For example, in Greek, language used by Paul in Ephesians and Colossians, the word charizomai was used in the context of forgiveness. Scholars state that this means to give of something freely that may not deserved. The word “forgive,” in Greek, is aphiem, which means to make one free from a debt and from his moral wrongdoing, and this is probably what Jesus had intended in the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:12 (St. Joseph’s Version). As stated by Pettigrove (2007), readers of the New Testament may discover that in the context of forgiveness in terms of from one human to another, there is little mention of feelings but rather actions and relationships. In Luke 6:37 Jesus instructs in relationship with God, it is reciprocal that we should not judge and condemn, and likewise pardon. In Luke 7:42-43 the wrongdoer does not need to earn or deserve forgiveness, but it is something given freely by the other, or excusing someone of a debt. Pettigrove (2007) notes that this means an honest claim against another will be forfeited. He states that it is the gift of love and it is done not in the interests of the self but in the best interests of the other. This explanation is not void of emotion, rather through forgiveness there is an opportunity to let go of something. What is presented is twofold: setting aside the anger and hostility that one feels towards the wrongdoer and inviting love, kindness and reconciliation. As presented by Nelson (2012), we are not in control of others’ actions, but we are in control of how we respond when we espouse forgiveness. The question arises in the New Testament as to whether Jesus intended that a debt be forgiven, or the debtor. Scholars argue that in Luke 6:37, it is the debtor who is to be forgiven, because in order to be forgiven, there is a prerequisite to forgive others. In Mark 11:25, Jesus wants forgiveness to occur where there is anyone that you hold a grievance against (Pettigrove, 2007). There is agreement among biblical scholars that the forgiveness from God is something to be imitated. In Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13, Paul instructs that we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. In Mark 11:25, Jesus asks us to forgive so that God, in turn, can forgive us. This statement shows that forgiveness is an ongoing process, is a prerequisite for prayer and it is reciprocal in nature. There will be a barrier in our relationship with God when we attempt to pray without a sincere attempt to forgive, and that to do otherwise would be hypocritical. There is no mention of what type of offense is forgivable, therefore, there is no offense that should not be forgiven. Those who have a desire to be forgiven, must first forgive others. This process of forgiveness is also mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus is giving instructions to his disciples. In order to be in full relationship with God, it is a requirement to impart forgiveness on others (Nelson, 2012). Throughout the New Testament, Jesus teaches by way of example. Even as he hung on the cross, Jesus asked God to pardon those who were responsible for his crucifixion. There is probably no greater injustice than to be put death after having committed no crime. Pilate had already handed down the judgment for Jesus to be crucified and the soldiers were merely carrying out their orders. If we consider this scene as an example of how, whom as why we are to forgive, it should be much easier to forgive and love our enemies (Nelson, 2012). To promote forgiveness, it might be wise to attend to our own failings first before focusing on the failings of others. Luke 6:41-42 tells that we may recognize the shortcomings in others but before we are capable of pointing this out, we must first take note of our own shortcomings and deal with our flaws. This parable reminds the reader that we are not in a position to judge, yet sometimes in anger we are inclined to believe we have the right to do so. When we understand ourselves, we are in a better position to understand the other person. There is a relationship between forgiving and understanding (Pettigrove, 2007). There is a question of repentance in the New Testament, and whether or not forgiveness should be given without it, particularly in Luke 17:3-4. This passage reads “If your brother does wrong, correct him; if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day turns back to you saying, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him (St. Joseph’s Version, p. 90).” Jesus is not insinuating that forgiveness should be held back, but rather puts the responsibility of repentance on the perpetrator while the responsibility of forgiveness falls on the victim (Nelson, 2012).The above passage may cause confusion as to whether or not repentance is necessary in order to forgive. There is no other requirement other than the perpetrator to state that he repents. Sometimes, as a result of the human condition, there are no amount of explanation that appears to warrant forgiveness. However, in the context of all of Jesus’ teachings, he made it conditional that in order for us to be forgiven by God, we must first forgive others. Jesus taught unconditional forgiveness which he demonstrates when he forgave the soldiers who were charged with crucifying him (Nelson, 2012).Despite the many references throughout the New Testament about forgiving others, forgiving ourselves is not overtly discussed. Forgiving ourselves is an aspect of forgiveness which can occur when we have either hurt others or ourselves. 1 John 3:20 states “No matter what our consciences may charge us with; for God is greater than our hearts and all is known to him (St. Joseph’s Version, p. 293).” When our conscience is filled with guilt, an obstacle is presented where transformation needs consideration. The inability to forgive oneself is a common issue and can result in the deterioration of spiritual and psychological wellness. The forgiveness of self changes the direction of the negative view of oneself, shifting the belief into a more positive perspective (Szablowinski, 2012). When the inability to forgive the self is an obstacle, we are not capable of fully loving ourselves and in turn, cannot love another as presented in the New Testament. The barriers of shame and guilt are associated with the inability to forgive ourselves. Guilt is typically associated with acknowledging that a morally unjust act has been committed, versus shame, which involves the conscious belief that we are not lovable and may actually be evil within our character. If this assumption becomes too painful, there may be a tendency to blame others for the way we feel (Szablowinski, 2012), thus placing blame where it does not belong.There are similarities to forgiveness of others and forgiveness of self. In both cases, as wrong must be acknowledged without excuses so that reparation can take place. The difference between the two is who is granting the forgiveness. The person who has been victimized is the one who grants the forgiveness, versus forgiveness of the self which comes from the wrongdoer (Szablowinski, 2012).To forgive does not imply that there is a weakness in the victim or that there is a need to forget or appease the wrongdoer. It is a means to reject things the way they are and transform emotions and psychological states that have been damaged and to promote healing and spiritual growth, all of which are seen in the culture of Christianity (Finch, 2006).The themes of forgiveness in the New Testament are most frequently referred to in forgiveness that comes from God. The next frequently written about is the forgiveness between one another within the community of Jesus’ followers. Little information is given with regard to the order in which forgiveness is to occur and whether or not reconciliation is a requirement in order to be forgiven, but it is clear that in order to receive, one must freely give. Forgiveness in the New Testament might best be understood by following the examples given by Jesus through deed and the parables. ?Works CitedFinch, R.J. (2006). Trauma and forgiveness: A spiritual inquiry. Journal of Spiritualityin Mental Health, 9(2), 27-42.Halter, D. (2005, December 16). Many learn forgiveness transforms. National CatholicReporter, 42(8), 6a, 7a.Nelson, R. (2012). Exegeting forgiveness. American Theological Inquiry, 5(2), 33-58.PBS.org. (2011). This Emotional Life. Understanding forgiveness. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/forgiveness/understanding-forgiveness.Pettigrove, G. (2007). Forgiveness and interpretation. Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc.(35)3,429-452.Szablowinski, Z. (2012). Self-forgiveness and forgiveness. The Heythrop Journal. 678-689.