«Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘l do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:2 1, 22).
The theory of the «magical number seven» was introduced by the psychologist George Miller in his article «The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information,» published in 1956 in the magazine Psychological Review. The theory basically argues that the human being is capable of remembering, in short-term, å limited number of unrelated objects (words, symbols, images, etc.). This number, which varies from person to person, has been identified as seven, plus or minus two.
In theBible, thenumbersevenfrequentlyreflectsthefulfillmentof a progress; in the same cases, God perfection. For example, God finished His work on the seventh day: He blessed it and sanctified it (Gen. 2:2-3) And as a deliberate exaggeration, the phrase appears in the Scriptures is when it is uttered by Lamech, the seventh descent from Adam on Cain’s lineage. «For I havekilled a manforwounding me, even a youngmanforhurting me. IfCainshall be avengedsevenfold, thenLamechseventy-sevenfold» (Gen. 4:23-24).
He exaggeratedlyspeaksaboutrevengefor a minoroffense and aboutkillingtheoffender.
In the Bible, the phrase «seventy sevenfold» is once again brought forward and associated with forgiveness. «Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? ‘Jesus said to him, ‘1 do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’.» The Teacher from Galilee recommends forgiveness to replace revenge. An exaggerated and limitless forgiveness puts a stop to the scolding.
Coming back to Adam’s genealogy, on Seth’s lineage, the seventh descendant was Enoch, a faithful man and a friend of God. He lived during the same period as Lamech, but unlike him, he «walked with God» (Gen. 5:22, 24), fully trusting the divine judgment (Jude 1: 14-15). «Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your right judgments!» (Ps. 119: 164) —exclaimed David, Enoch’s descendant. Now meditate on this: « are you vengeful or forgiving? From which lineage are you? Remember that only by imitating Christ can you be recognized as a son of God (Eph. 5:1).