Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The symbolic meaning of seventy times seven

I was looking for the meaning of the following scripture:
Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) - Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

The interesting thing about this verse is that Jesus is not saying that we should forgive 490 times or simply a lot of times for that matter. I came to understand recently that there is a very specific meaning when we look behind the symbolism of those numbers.

In the Bible, the number "7" symbolises completeness or a finished work, while the number "70" signifies 'perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance' (E.W.Bullinger, Number in Scripture, Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, 1921, p.235).

Therefore, 490, being the product of 70 x 7, signifies spiritual perfection of perfect order and completeness. Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive someone and eagerly offered an answer to his own question. He thought that forgiving completely would suffice. But Jesus responded by saying that it wasn't good enough to just forgive completely but to forgive to the point of spiritual perfection!


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