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Background Considerations

  • Definitions (a good Bible dictionary would be useful here)
    • love (divine) – what words, phrases, metaphors, stories in the Bible illustrate God’s love for people?
    • love (human toward God) – in what ways can humans love God? What words, metaphors and stories illustrate our love?
    • sin (Old Testament) – actions which miss the mark
    • iniquity – actions which should not have been done and inaction which should have; accompanying guilt
    • transgression – attitude of revolt and rebellion
    • sin (New Testament) – lawlessness (in 1 John = lovelessness)

Relevant Biblical Passages

  • Exodus 34:5-7 – A divine self-portrait in which the following characteristics of God are highlighted: mercy (rahum, related to the word for “womb”) as only a mother can have for a child; graciousness (hanun); hesitancy to get angry; abounding in loyalty (hesed) and faithfulness or firm stability and truth (emet); forgiving; but still unwilling to compromise on responsibility.
  • Hosea 1-3 – Use of marriage metaphor and new wedding vows to illustrate God’s love and righteousness – God takes the initiative to search for reconciliation (even in the face of laws concerning unfaithfulness) by means of various approaches, the final one involving the warmth of renewed courtship and new marriage vows.
  • 1 John 4 – Elements of confessing Jesus as God; loving one another since God loved us and stays with us; confidence in the day of judgment because of God’s love for us and our’s for others.

Contributions to the Study of Forgiveness

  • Any notion or practice of forgiveness appears flawed without an underlying sense of God’s love and compassion for human beings.

Lessons for Life

  • It is divine compassion that gives us permission to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven.

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