Luke 23:34, Forgiveness of Sins

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

//One of the big arguments in the early centuries of the Church was this matter of whether God would forgive. Marcion, for example, felt that the Old Testament God of hatred should be stricken from the Bible. He wanted to pare the Bible down to a few books which portrayed a loving God.

Tertullian violently opposed Marcion and blasted the notions of an all-loving and forgiving God. There is no such God, he insisted, who never grows angry, never inflicts punishment, prepared no fired in hell, does not cause men to gnash their teeth in outer darkness.

But Origen wondered whether even Satan would one day be forgiven. Origen cited Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15:28 that God brought everything into being with love, and in the end all would be restored to love. By implication, God would eventually win even the Devil back to His love.

Demetrius of Alexandria grew so disgusted with Origen’s idea that God would forgive His enemies that he threw Origen out of the Egyptian church.

Everlasting fiery torment seemed to win the day, which brings us to today’s verse. Some copyists of the New Testament began to delete the line from Luke, lest we begin to think our God was a forgiving God.

The debate continues even today.

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