Matthew 6:12

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

ἄφες/"aphes"/forgive: Why is "aphes" 2nd aorist, imperative?

What meaning does it thus convey?

1 Answer 1


ἀφίημι (aphiemi) Tense

First note that in the clause of Matt 6:12, both occurrences of the verb ἀφίημι are in the same verb tense - aorist active (the first is imperative mood and the second is indicative mood). Many versions try to translate the second as though it is a perfect tense (we have forgiven) or similar.

ἀφίημι (aphiemi) Meaning

BDAG supplies the meaning in this verse:

  1. to release from legal or moral obligation or consequence, cancel, remit, pardon, eg, Luke 7:41, 11:4, 5:20, 23, 1 John 1:9, Matt 6:14, Mark 11:25, etc.

That is, to forgive debts is to cancel the debt. Jesus emphasized the point that God forgives to the extent that we forgive in the parable of Matt 18:21-35 - the unforgiving servant.

  • 2 "forgives" in this verse. What is the first one conveying as an imperative? Something certain? Something about the future? A continuation?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 21:48
  • 1
    Imperative mood is an order like, "Left turn!", "Go home!", etc. The second indicative mood is a simple statement of fact like, "My car is red".
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 21:54
  • Sorry but I am still unsure. What is the effect of the first "forgive" being a 2nd aorist?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 22:02
  • @C.Stroud - aorist is simply a tense denoting an action which is the action generally - it does not refer specifically to past, present or future, it is simply the action. In this way, it encompasses all forgiveness of all sins, past present and future.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 22:06
  • In your answer you don't mention "past present and future" which you do mention in your comment. I am not sure quite how it fits in your answer.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 22:29

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