Lord's Day 50

Week 49 :: Week 50 :: Week 51


There is a story often told of two small churches who decided to try to come together to share their resources and ministry, one a Methodist church, the other a Presbyterian. In a spirit of unity and graciousness the two congregations peaceably determined which property to keep, what missions to support, and even what color the new carpet in the sanctuary should be. On the first morning of their combined worship, everything went beautifully until they came to the Lord’s Prayer when the Methodists said “trespasses” and the Presbyterians said “debts”; no agreement could be made and the churches divided because of their sins. 

Debts, trespasses, sins; every denomination seems to have their tradition regarding the Lord’s Prayer. The Greek word that is used in Matthew implies something that is owed, i.e. a debt or obligation. In Luke’s record of the prayer, he uses the Greek word for “sin,” which can also be translated as “wrongdoing.” The word “trespass,” while not used in the Lord’s Prayer, is synonymous with sin, suggesting a deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right way to live. 

Regardless of the word we use in the prayer, we have sinned, we have transgressed God’s law, we have trespassed the boundaries of right and wrong, and we stand before God with a debt of sinfulness greater than we could ever repay. However, as the Spirit teaches in Colossians 2:13-14 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses… God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” 

In Christ we are forgiven from our sins. The debt has been nailed to the cross. For all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved, our trespass forgiven, and we are made new. The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t teach us that we daily need to seek justification before God, we have been justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Rather, this is a prayer for the restoration of personal fellowship with God when that fellowship has been hindered by sin (Eph 4:30). Those who have received such forgiveness should be so moved with gratitude toward God that they also eagerly forgive those who have sinned against them. 


Gracious God, thank you for forgiving us our sins. May your grace abound in us that we may learn to forgive those who have sinned against us as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Question 105

Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?

A. In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray, that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

Scripture Proofs

Matt. 6:12;

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Ps. 51:1-2;

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

Ps. 51:7;

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Ps. 51:9;

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Dan. 9:17-19;

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

Luke 11:4;

and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.”

Matt. 18:35.

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”