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I have appreciated the information on this site regarding the meaning of ἄφεσις and I am trying to compare that information to an accurate definition of χαρίζομαι. There may be no significance in the comparison and yet there might be. I have read a lot of non-scholarly information comparing these two words and just want some better help. Thank you.

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  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Please remember to take the tour (link below left) to better understand how this site works. While instance do you want to understand - what verse?
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 4:15
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    The word occurs 23 times in the NT and its meaning varies slightly depending on context. So, in which verse are you interested? The meanings of these two words overlap at times. See biblehub.com/greek/5483.htm
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 4:19
  • See also biblehub.com/greek/859.htm and biblehub.com/greek/863.htm
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 4:24
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    On this site you need to ask a question about a specific text of scripture so that we can conduct hermeneutic analysis. We do not debate or discuss biblical topics, as such.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 10:28
  • @Mark Foster I provided some possible target Scriptures to include in your question if you like.
    – user33515
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 13:08

2 Answers 2

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The short answer is that χαρίζομαι generally emphasizes forgiveness as an act of kindness whereas ἄφεσις is more legalistic.


ἄφεσις (aphesis) is a noun translated from the New Testament variously as forgiveness, remission, deliverance, or liberty, depending on translation. It is used 17 times in the New Testament (Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epistles) and 50 times throughout in the Septuagint.

χαρίζομαι (charizomai) is a verb translated variously as forgive, grant, give up, bestow upon, depending on the translation and context. It is used 23 times in the New Testament (also Luke/Acts and Pauline Epistles), and a dozen times in the Septuagint (mostly in the Books of Maccabees).


The verb form of ἄφεσις is ἀφίημι (apiēmi). The most famous example of ἀφίημι might be from the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:12):

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
And forgive us our debts,

ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·
As we forgive our debtors


An example of χαρίζομαι is in Luke 7:41-43 in the Parable of the Two Debtors:

δύο χρεωφειλέται ἦσαν δανειστῇ τινι· ὁ εἷς ὤφειλε δηνάρια πεντακόσια, ὁ δὲ ἕτερος πεντήκοντα.

There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

μὴ ἐχόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἀποδοῦναι, ἀμφοτέροις ἐχαρίσατο. τίς οὖν αὐτῶν, εἰπέ, πλεῖον αὐτὸν ἀγαπήσει;

And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Σίμων εἶπεν· ὑπολαμβάνω ὅτι ᾧ τὸ πλεῖον ἐχαρίσατο. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὀρθῶς ἔκρινας.

Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.


In verb form, the two words are very similar and have overlapping meanings. In some context they could be used interchangeably. But perhaps one could say that χαρίζομαι emphasizes an act of kindness whereas ἄφεσις is more legalistic. The root of χαρίζομαι is χάρις (charis), wherein we detect our English word "charity". The word ἀφίημι, for example (again, verb form of ἄφεσις), is the word that appears in the Mosaic Law:

καὶ ἐξιλάσεται περὶ αὐτοῦ ὁ ἱερεὺς περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτοῦ, ἧς ἥμαρτεν, ἐφʼ ἑνὸς τούτων, καὶ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ. τὸ δὲ καταλειφθὲν ἔσται τῷ ἱερεῖ ὡς ἡ θυσία τῆς σεμιδάλεως.

And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, which he has sinned in one of these things, and it shall be forgiven him; and that which is left shall be the priest’s, as an offering of fine flour (Leviticus 5:13).

καὶ ὃ ἥμαρτεν ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων, ἀποτείσαι αὐτὸ καὶ τὸ ἐπίπεμπτον προσθήσει ἐπʼ αὐτὸ καὶ δώσει αὐτὸ τῷ ἱερεῖ, καὶ ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐξιλάσεται περὶ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ κριῷ τῆς πλημμελείας, καὶ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ.

And he shall make compensation for that wherein he has sinned in the holy things; and he shall add the fifth part to it, and give it to the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of transgression, and his sin shall be forgiven him (Leviticus 5:16).

The word χαρίζομαι, by contrast, is actually translated by Brenton as "to give alms" - literally to show acts of mercy - in Sirach 12:3

οὐκ ἔσται ἀγαθὰ τῷ ἐνδελεχίζοντι εἰς κακὰ καὶ τῷ ἐλεημοσύνην μὴ χαριζομένῳ.

There can no good come to him that is always occupied in evil, nor to him that giveth no alms.

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The next commandment is that concerning the sacred seventh day, in which are comprehended an infinite number of most important festivals. For instance, there is the release of those men who by nature were free, but who, through some unforeseen necessity of the times, have become slaves, which release takes place every seventh year. Again, there is the humanity of creditors towards their debtors, as they forgive their countrymen their debts every seventh year. Also there is the rest given to the fertile ground, whether it be in the champaign or in the mountainous country, which also takes place every seventh year. Moreover, there are those ordinances which are established respecting the fiftieth year. And of all these things the bare narration (without looking to any inner and figurative signification) is sufficient to lead those who are well disposed to perfect virtue, and to make even those who are obstinate and stubborn in their dispositions more docile and tractable. Philo De specialibus legibus 2:39 I

ἑξῆς ἐστι κεφάλαιον τὸ περὶ τῆς ἱερᾶς ἑβδόμης, ᾧ μυρία καὶ ἀναγκαῖα ἐμφέρεται, τὰ εἴδη τῶν ἑορτῶν, αἱ τῶν φύσει μὲν ἐλευθέρων διὰ δὲ καιροὺς ἀβουλήτους θητευόντων καθ᾽ ἕβδομον ἐνιαυτὸν ἀφέσεις, αἱ πρὸς χρεώστας τῶν συμβαλλόντων φιλοφροσύναι τὰ δάνεια ἑβδόμῳ ἔτει τοῖς ὁμοφύλοις χαριζομένων, αἱ ἀνάπαυλαι τῆς βαθυγείου πεδιάδος τε καὶ ὀρεινῆς, αἳ γίνονται παρ᾽ ἑξαετίαν, τὰ περὶ τοῦ πεντηκοστοῦ ἔτους νομοθετηθέντα· ὧν καὶ ἡ ἄνευ κόπου ψιλὴ διήγησις ἱκανὴ τοὺς μὲν εὐφυεῖς τελειῶσαι πρὸς ἀρετήν, τοὺς δ᾽ ἀφηνιαστὰς καὶ σκληροὺς τὸ ἦθος εὐπειθεστέρους ἀπεργάσασθαι. Philo De specialibus legibus 2:39

The word ἀφέσεις has the sense of liberation, of letting go, of freeing.

The word χαριζομένων has the meaning of blessed, of receiving grace, an undeserved gift.

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