Ps 130:3-4 – If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But [there is] forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

The forgiveness takes its rightful place among the greatest themes of the Bible.  Whether we are speaking of God forgiving the sin of man, or man forgiving the sins of other men, forgiveness is one of the highest, most noble graces that can be exercised this side of heaven.  The importance of a proper understanding of forgiveness cannot be over-emphasized.

Let’s take a few moments to study the Biblical meaning of “forgiveness”.


Psalm 130:3-4


One of the easiest ways to understand the idea of forgiveness is by studying the six different words that are translated “forgive” or “forgiveness” in the Word of God.  Of these six words, three are found in the Old Testament and three are found in the New Testament…

3 Hebrew words for forgiveness

  1. Kafar – to cover, appease, disannul (Jer 18:23)
  2. Nasa – to take away, hold up, carry, burn, cast away (Gen 50:17, Exo 10:17, Exo 32:32 etc)
  3. Salach – to pardon, spare (Lev 4:20, Lev 4:26, Lev 4:31 etc)

3 Greek words for forgiveness

  1. Apoleuien – to release, loose, set at liberty (Luke 6:37)
  2. Charizomai – grace, deliver, grant (2 Cor 2:7, 2:10, 2:13 etc)
  3. Aphesis – to send away, lay aside, put away (Matt 6:12, 14, 15 etc.)

(In addition to these words, the Greek word “paresis” is used to imply forgiveness in Roms 3:25.  It is translated “remission” and carries with it the meaning of “to purchase, possess, or obtain”)

What can we learn about forgiveness from the above vocabulary?

Kafar – Forgiveness involves covering up sin, motivated by love.

Rom 4:6-8 – Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [Saying], Blessed [are] they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed [is] the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

1Pet 4:8 – And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Ps 51:1-3 – To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me.

Nasa – Forgiveness involves casting the offense behind us never to act upon it again.

Isa 38:17 – Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul [delivered it] from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

Mic 7:19 – He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Heb 10:17 – And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Salach  – Forgiveness involves declaring innocent (justifying) those who have committed the offense.   Many times this involves willingly accepting suffering on behalf of the guilty party.

Isa 53:10-12 – Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.  He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

1John 1:5-10 – This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Apoleuien – Forgiveness involves releasing the offender from the continuing bondage, or debt, of the sin they have committed.

Rom 6:6-9 – Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Gal 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Rom 5:8-9 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Luke 11:4 – And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Charizomai – Forgiveness is undeserved by the offender, in other words… it is an act of grace.

Eph 1:7 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Rom 3:23-24 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Aphesis  – Forgiveness involves laying aside grudges, and feelings of anger, allowing the possiblility of reconciliation to those truly repentant.

Rom 5:10 – For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Eph 2:14-16 – For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:


For those who have trusted in Christ.

Our text: Ps 130:3-4 – If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But [there is] forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

The above verses help to remind us of the great responsibilities we have ….

First of all, let us remember that apart from God’s gracious forgiveness, we too would be unable to stand before Him on the last judgment day. We would rightfully deserve eternity in the Lake of Fire.  May we all have a thankful, reverent spirit toward the Lord for His gracious forgiveness to us.

Secondly, without God’s forgiveness, those around us will be facing eternal judgment as well.  Our need?  We must tell others of their need of Christ, His love, grace and forgiveness, so that they can come to a saving knowledge of Him.

Thirdly, we are to be ready to forgive others, giving to those around us a living example of our Gracious, Forgiving Lord, who can forgive the greatest of their sins.

For those who have never trusted in Christ.

Our text: Ps 130:3-4 – If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But [there is] forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

As these above verses clearly declare…. Anyone who has not found forgiveness in the shed blood of Jesus Christ will be unable to stand before the Righteous Lord on the Day of Judgment.  Won’t you look to Him for forgiveness today?  Please recognize your sinful condition and nned of forgiveness.  Look to Christ realizing that you can do nothing to gain salvation of your own ability or works.  Trust in the work of Christ (His death and resurrection) as the basis of your forgiveness.  And look to Him as the Lord of your life… being willing to do whatever He may ask of you.

This is the true way of salvation… this is the true path to forgiveness.  May the Lord bless you as you seek His face.


About Rob Barkman

A retired pastor, Bible teacher and author of 20 years, he is currently ministering through Settled In Heaven Ministries. SIH Ministries is an on-line Bible teaching ministry that was founded by Bro Barkman in 2010. Settled In Heaven’s mission is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by fulfilling two different roles... rendering encouragement and Biblical knowledge to the saints in an effort to enhance their service to Christ; and proclaiming the gospel message to those who are in need of salvation, explaining to them their urgent need to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

2 Responses to Forgiveness

  1. Another great (complete) explanation of an important topic.

    I think the mercy, grace and forgiveness of God is something that is never far from the Christian’s mind. In our human nature, we are constantly in need of these, and praise Him, there is a never ending supply.

    Knowing the blessedness of His forgiveness and the new life of victory He gives, we should desire that everyone we know – and those we don’t yet know – will come to know Him too . . . and our desire should be to SHOW those attributes to others, that they will see Christ us.

    What an amazing God!

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