Jesus' words: Father, forgive them, for they no not what they do"--in regard to unrepentant sinners

I was having this discussion today:

The first was-That Jesus did not offer His personal forgiveness to His crucifiers. He asked God the Father t forgive then…

The second was that Jesus said-“They know not what they do.”

So–if this is the case how do we reconcile this with forgiveness in our lives–with people who clearly know what they are doing and not repentant?

Also, it was mentioned that there is not one scripture in the bible that states that we have to forgive unrepentant sinners.

There are 2 ways to look at this verse, Jesus says “they know not what they do”, implying, if they knew he truly was the son of God, they would definitely not be treating him like this. but on the other hand, if they knew that by crucifying Jesus, he was dying for every person to ever lives, sins, thus the new covenant…well, I still doubt they would kill him due to him being the true son of God, but his death saving EVERYONE…if they knew this and were able to comprehend it…IDK.

In many ways people today that commit sin are like the roman soldiers, they dont know what they are doing, these are people who are not religious or do not believe in God, but they are still sinning in Gods eyes, so they truly do not know what they are doing, but anyone who KNOWS what sin is and does believe in God, sort of seem like it would not apply them, or they may not know the extent their sins offend God.

this is one of my favorite subjects.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the deposit of faith which we all must hold, says

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

Jesus’ words from the cross are the prooftext for the “ignorance” word in this paragraph.

Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN fame, answered my question about this paragraph on live TV, and the only example that he gave was of the case of someone who was criminally insane. He said that one may have a habit, which diminishes his responsibility, but that person is still responsible for developing the habit.

In the Old Testament, someplace, there is an example of a slave woman (married) who is forced into sexual relations. And, it says that she is not guilty of adultery because of the circumstances.

That’s all I can squeeze out of anybody on this question, and I have posed this to the priest who is presenting the series “Grab Your Catechism” on EWTN, but he has not replied to me about it.

the complications with 1735, to me, are numerous. First, “inadvertence” implies that we sometimes stumble into sin unintentionally. Whoa! Does that mean that the rest of 1735 applies to sins we do intentionally? Is our responsibility diminished by those other conditions? and what exactly are those “other” conditions?

Can a woman have an abortion if she is pressured into by “social” pressure, by her husband, let’s say? That pressure reduces her freedom, which is the section of the Catechism that this is contained in. Is her responsibility diminished by guilt (which is not even mention explicity, but which you might consider a psychological factor)?

I submitted my question to a priest who wrote a column in our local Catholic newspaper, but he dodged the question. I had asked that if our sin fell into the category of mortal sin, but then our responsibility was diminished by one of these factors, do we even have to confess it? The usual answer I get is “it won’t hurt to confess it” but when I have confessed mortal sin, the priest has never asked if any of the conditions of 1735 applied to me. So, what is the purpose of 1735? What is the point of 1735? and is there any practical use of 1735?

I have tried to “help” these priests, by pointing out that I think 1735 is about God’s mercy, not legalism.

This is a difficult area for discussion. We are responsible for our sinful actions, but, when do they slide over the line into the realm of 1735, where we have diminished responsibility or even none at all? Paragraphs 1736 to 1738 expand on this somewhat, with examples, none as severe as Fr. Pacwa’s demand of criminal insanity, as a standard.

In post #3, I didn’t actually answer your question, I may have been way off from your question. Sorry about that.

How about this: (Lord’s prayer) “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Pretty good reason to be forgiving, whether people are repentant or not. We are told, OT and NT, to be repentant, for sure. Yeah, it’s very hard to do. These people often MEAN to do such and such to us. Repentance does not even cross their minds.

Of anything that could have happened after the resurrection, Christ could have gone to Pilate and forgiven him. That would have been impressive. The example we do have after the resurrection is Jesus forgiving Peter, without visible repentance on Peter’s part.

There’s a reason why it’s a good idea to ask for forgiveness for all things that are grave matter, regardless of whether they’re mortal sins or not. Why? Because, in truth, all we know for sure when confessing many sins that may or may not be mortal is that they are grave matter. And we, as humans, are very good at attempting to justify an action or trying to deceive ourselves, so we can convince ourselves that a given sin was venial (or not even a sin) when it was actually a mortal sin. Hell is full of people who have attempted to self-justify their mortal sins and people who deceived themselves.

Jesus is not separated from His Father. He and the Father are One.

Jesus died to redeem the whole world from sin, but not all will take advantage of that redemption.

God always forgives. He stands waiting for us to enter His forgiveness. For those who refuse to repent, His forgiveness does not benefit, for they die in their sins.

The Lord’s prayer, and HIs teaching around it is clear that, if we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven. Can you show me anything in the Lord’s prayer that pre-supposes those who have trespassed against us need to repent before we forgive?

There is no distinction in Scripture about forgiving those who trespass because their repentance is irrelevant. We forgive them because He has commanded it, so that we can be freed from holding resentment.

Jesus knew Peter’s heart as HE did others he forgave. Didn’t HE say, “Your faith has saved thee” to those HE forgave? Go and sin NO more." The “good” thief is a great example of Jesus forgiving a “repentant” sinner and the “bad” thief is an example of NOT forgiving an unrepentant sinner. God is perfectly just as well as perfectly merciful. We are often our own worst enemy! God Bless, Memaw

God is waiting to forgive, he’s already ready to forgive before we ever repent. Two things come to mind to back it up scripturally. The first is the one of the few feminine images we have of God.

**O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Luke 13:34

That’s a powerful image. God did not say you must repent so that I could long to gather you, but rather I long to gather you. I want you to be reconciled with me. Another powerful image is that of the prodigal son.

But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Just a couple thoughts on it that might bring some insight, and you may already know these. First, notice the boy is still at a distance. The Father doesn’t wait for perfect contrition to begin forgiving… he’s ready to forgive… he’s already forgiving… he has already offered his forgiveness before we even begin to accept. That grace is already there. He’s running towards us. Second, notice he doesn’t wait for the boy to clean up? This is a Jewish story right? The boy has been working with pigs… slopping them. Here is this dirty boy, covered in filth, unclean. He’s got pig manure on him. He’s got slop on him. He’s as unclean as a Jew can get… yet the Father doesn’t say go take a bath then we’ll talk. He doesn’t say get away, unclean! He instead runs out to him and embraces him in his filth,in his sin… and he says Here, wear my robe! Here wear my ring! Then brings him into the party. The Father cleans us up, we don’t clean ourselves.

Another image that should also be considered is that of the one lost sheep. God will leave all the others behind to find that one who is lost. Do we think that the lost sheep is a repentant sinner? That God only leaves the flock to search out those who have already turned away from their sin? Or does he go off to search for every lost sheep, regardless of their state. If God is not offering us grace during our dark times, before we repent, then we won’t be able to. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

*Another thought that just occurred to me is the parable of the Good Samaritan. How many of those people who passed the injured man by probably thought the same thing? This man is the other, they, the unrepentant… the sinner, the unclean. I don’t owe him my charity, my love. The Good Samaritan did not wait for him to wake and say “I am sorry for my sins.” He rather took care of him, nursed him to health, and went on his way. That’s our challenge isn’t it? Too offer love, charity, agape… without regards to if they are Christian at all, but to even love our enemy as we would ourselves.

You forgot to mention that the “lost” son was very repentant and quickly told his father so. And how do you know he didn’t clean up before he approached his father??? And yes, Jesus looks for the “lost” sheep but HE doesn’t force the “lost” one home! God’s forgiveness and Mercy is always there waiting for us to repent and HE will give offer us the Grace to do so. The choice is ours!! . God Bless, Memaw

Because we are talking first century Jewish audience. Taking a bath wouldn’t have done it. He would have had to go to the temple to ‘clean up’. He didn’t, he went straight home.

Yes, I can give you an example-

So with the Lord’s prayer-
Are we given a pass to not confess or be sorry— if we forgive people who are unrepentant towards us and forgive them? “Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us” can be thought of this way too

Iow-if we forgive unrepentant people-God forgives us when we too are unrepentant towards Him? I don’t think so.

We are commanded to shake the dust from our feet and move on–not forgive unrepentant sinners. It states to move on…not hold resentment, or bitterness but it does not say forgive the unrepentant.

Christ may have been addressing their ignorance in this way:
His killers may have known what they were doing in a worldly sense, but as he is addressing his father, Jesus may have been petitioning in regard to their ignorance of his full identity as the Son of God.
The hideous evil is not merely that a man was intentionally killed for blasphemy, but that they reject God himself.

Does this scripture mean we turn situations regarding unrepentant people and reprobates to God? Do we have to personally forgive the minions of satan- those who reject God and do repeated evil time after time- and get pleasure from it–even after rebuking?

Some reprobates have been foreshadowed to go to hell-are we to forgive them? This is a difficult concept for me to understand.

How do you know that for sure either? I don’t believe I said’ Take a bath"!! It is a parable!! God Bless, Memaw

I simply take what it says, not what might have happened outside or added to it.

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father.

It does not say he arose and went to the temple, or to the river, or to anywhere else. It says he went to his father, directly from the field where he was keeping the pigs.

Why does it seem like you just want to argue?

I’m not the one adding to it. I doubt he arose and flew to his father. He did have to travel so who knows what happened on the way! I think the important lesson is that he was repentant and the father forgave him. We don’t need to embellish it. I am not trying to argue, I like the truth. God Bless, Memaw

If one sins against you then the same one has sinned against God.
Two souls are now in the breach.
The sinner’s charity – his friendship with God – is diminished.
God, the sinless and holy One, requires repentance from the sinner to regain His friendship.
But what of you, also a sinner? Can you make the same demands of the sinner that God does?
If your affection, attitude and behavior toward the sinner become and remain negative, i.e. disaffection, resentment and excommunication; are you permitted to no longer follow the command – love your neighbor as yourself?
Forgiveness is for the forgiver.

Wow-awesome answer. Thank you.:slight_smile:

***Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. *(Matthew 18:21-22)


For the one who says that we should not forgive unless someone is repentant, remember, in truth, only God knows whether a person is truly repentant or not. Many times, a person is repentant, but doesn’t apologize for various reasons. Sometimes, the person doesn’t believe that anyone could ever forgive him/her. Sometimes, the person is too timid to apologize. Sometimes, the person knows he/she was wrong and is sorry for it, but is prevented from doing so.

Other times, a person was taught from a young age that a given crime/sin was actually the right thing to do (there are many instances of parents teaching their children to shoplift). Or a mental illness prevents the person from truly discerning right from wrong at least part of the time.

Of course, much of the time when someone is waiting for an apology (especially due to something that was said or not said), no sin actually occured. Instead, misunderstandings run wild, when the way the message was received by the person demanding an apology is completely different from the meaning intended by the person from whom an apology is demanded.

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