In the Lord's Prayer


when Jesus said: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, was it just a prayer or also a promise?


It is a prayer but it is not a promise - it is a condition.

When we pray this, we ask God to forgive our sins AS (meaning “in the same manner in which”) we forgive our transgressors. We are asking God to show us the same mercy as we show others. This petition is rather counter-productive (for us) if we have refused to offer any measure of forgiveness to our transgressors.

Jesus elaborates on this idea in the parable of the servant whose master forgave his (large) debt, but then the servant demanded payment (of a trivial debt) from his fellow servant. The servant’s attitude did not work well for him.


I agree. The counter-productive part IMO does make it a promise of sorts. IMO Jesus might be saying that we will be judged as we judge others, no better or harsher.

That might sound redundant to many, but to me it is highly significant. It is what unslefish love is all about.

Anyone disagree??


You should get Pope Benedict XVI’s book called Jesus of Nazareth. He gives his interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer line by line.


I shall.

Until then, could you please summarize this point for me?


The Pope wrote four pages on this one line.
However I’ll quote something he said which stuck in my mind:

“With this petition, the Lord is telling us that guilt can be overcome by only by forgiveness, not by retaliation. God is a God who forgives, because he loves his creatures; but forgiveness can only penetrate and become effective in one who is himself forgiving.”


How beautiful!!

I think that gets to my feelings, too.

Isn’t Jesus not only advising us to petition for this but also promising us that response?

I fear there might still be a little ‘‘selfishness’’ in the raison d’etre of to ‘‘get out of my guilt’’ I must forgive. Rather, perhaps we can learn to be happiest when we make others happier.


Happy reading if you get the book. The Pope has written 36 pages just on the Lord’s Prayer.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit