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Original King James Version 1611 text

This is an in-depth textual examination of the meaning of the Greek text behind the word that is translated “for” in Luke 7:47. The word “for”, in “for she loved much” is the part that we will focus on. This study gets into the Greek a little bit, but not more than necessary. Most Believers should be able to read it without too much trouble, so don’t let that scare you off.

Here is the original Greek for that sentence (7:47): "ου χαριν λεγω σοι αφεωνται αι αμαρτιαι αυτης αι πολλαι οτι ηγαπησεν πολυ ω δε ολιγον αφιεται ολιγον αγαπα”

 

 

Almost every modern and Reformation translation agrees with the KJV in using “for” for “oti” except for the “New Living Translation”, which translates “for” as “so”; the Kingdom Bible translation uses “therefore”, which is similar to “so”.

In the Greek Grammars, oti, pronounced “hoti” is said to have several different meanings depending on how it is used:

1) “Hoti” can be thought of as quotation marks, such as Mark 14:14 “And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, [hoti] The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?”

2) “Hoti” can also be used in a “causitive” manner, such as Acts 10:38 “who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for [hoti) [or because] God was with him”.

3) And so on.

The point here is not to give a complete exposition of all of the many ways the Greek word “hoti” can be translated, but rather to show that translation of this particular Greek word “hoti” is not set in stone; the context of the surrounding text is what determines how it should be translated. And I will argue here that the word should be translated “therefore” or “so” rather than “for”. Here are the reasons why: 1) If you believe that the word “for” is correct, then you have to follow the logic to see where it takes you. “For” is a causitive word, very similar to “because”. So now let’s reword the KJV text to read it that way: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, because she loved much”.

Now let’s think about this for a minute: the woman gave a gift to Jesus (expensive oil), wept, and loved Jesus; therefore Jesus had compassion on her and forgave her for her sins against Him. Let’s make it even clearer: Jesus forgave the woman BECAUSE she offered Him an expensive gift and cried and loved Him.

Uh-oh! Do you see the clear implications of the word “because” or “for”? The Bible is absolutely clear about how a person may be forgiven their sins: it is only through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ that one may be saved, not by offering expensive gifts and doing penance!!!! That is a Roman Catholic doctrine which has no foundation in Scripture.

You see, a pet doctrine of Roman Catholicism is that all a person has to do to be forgiven is to spend hours weeping and doing penance and loving Christ (or Mary) and then you will be forgiven (or rather the Catholic will supposedly be forgiven). The idea is to just “Love” Jesus (or Mary) and all will be well; but is that the Gospel of Christ from the Bible? It is certainly not the Gospel, and therefore “for” or “because” could not possibly be the true translation of “hoti” in this passage. 2) Let’s try the alternative “so” or (my preference) “therefore”: “Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven [Greek perfect passive participle]; therefore she loved much.”

In other words, the love of this woman did not come as an INCENTIVE to Jesus so that He might forgive her; but rather the actions of the woman demonstrated her GRATITUDE to Christ for having ALREADY forgiven her, probably just prior to Him going to supper with Simon. Her weeping and gift of oil and her washing his feet with tears were demonstrations of her love for Christ AS A RESULT OF her having already received the forgiveness of God prior to the event described in the passage.

This makes far more sense in the context. Love for God comes only AFTER one has repented of their sins and has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, not before. Before salvation, the sinner knows only the fear and dread of God’s Judgment and punishment for their sins, or at least, they SHOULD. The sinner by nature knows nothing about God except as a vague concept that someone else taught them. Now we can understand that when Jesus said, “Your sins have been forgiven”: He wasn’t actually forgiving her sins at that moment, but rather He was giving the woman ASSURANCE of her salvation. The passage simply relates the thinking of the other guests who thought “Who is this that forgives sins also?” It doesn’t mean that Jesus was actually doing any forgiving at that time; they only thought that He was.

 Of course, Jesus can forgive sin and did many times in the Gospels, and did for me on August 31st, 1982, thank God. I am not denying that Jesus can forgive sin, but rather I am pointing out that IN THIS SITUATION (which is important for understanding the context), Jesus was not forgiving the sins of the woman at that moment, but only giving her the assurance of her salvation, which had occurred not long before. She was a brand-new Believer and was rejoicing in her new-found faith in Christ. I had a similar experience when I trusted Christ. I also had lived a life of wickedness prior to my salvation; and when I repented and received Jesus Christ as my Savior, my entire life and outlook was totally transformed into something truly wonderful. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God for what He had done for me, and I wanted to serve Him. This is what the woman was doing also, although she had the privilege of actually seeing Christ in Person, which I could not.

The real problem is with the translation of “hoti” by “For” as almost all translations do in Luke 7:47. This is clearly not a correct translation, because it gives credence to a false Roman Catholic idea that one can earn salvation by gifts and weeping. I can easily believe that this very passage is quoted often in support of such Roman Catholic teachings, but it is a false doctrine that is not found in Scripture; therefore we need to correct this in Bible translations so that sinners will not be misled into false doctrines that will end with them in Hell. “Therefore” or “so” are the only words that are acceptable in this passage. The Kingdom Bible translation relies heavily upon the KJV translation; and in the vast majority of cases, I found the KJV text to be very, very good and needed little updating, except to update the grammar to modern standards (punctuation, spelling, and so on). This is one of the very few cases where I could not follow the KJV text, because I do not believe that the KJV translators did a good job here. Whether it was deliberate on their part is something only God knows.

I do know that the Anglican Denomination came out from the Roman Catholic religion, but retained practically everything except for who was the head of their “church”; Henry VIII decided that he should be the head of the Anglican “Church” rather than the pope, and so the Anglican “Church” came to be. The KJV translators were mostly Puritans of Protestant doctrinal persuasion, as far as I can tell, but they were still carrying a lot of Catholic baggage with priests, nuns, and the like; so I believe that it is very possible that their choice of “for” in this case was influenced by their sponsoring “church”.

We also can’t forget that almost all Bible versions to date (except the Kingdom Bible) have been sponsored by Protestant Denominations who also carry a lot of Catholic baggage, because they came out from Roman Catholicism, but didn’t leave it all behind. So that could also explain their choice of “for” in this passage also. In any case, the Kingdom Bible translation, I believe, gives the true sense of Jesus’ words; and unfortunately is one of the very few that does.

Here is a brief selection of quotes from various well-known translations of Luke 7:47:

The Complete Jewish Bible: “because she loved much.”

Young’s Literal Translation: “because she did love much”

The New KJV: “for she loved much.”

1599 Geneva Bible: “for she loved much.”

The Voice: “and she is showing much love.”

English Standard Version: “for she loved much.”

1995 New ASV: “for she loved much”

2011 NIV: “as her great love has shown.”

There are a very few that are somewhere in the ballpark, but not many. I don’t recommend any of those other versions at all; primarily because they use or are heavily influenced by the Aleph and B manuscripts (i.e. the Critical texts).

The point is to show that most prefer the bad translation of “for”, rather than “so” or “therefore” (JHS Publishing KBV). My feeling is that this preference is caused by the liberal Protestant and Catholic translators on the translation committees, and by the same groups who fund the new Bible versions. It supports Mariolatry (the worship of Mary as a god), which fits right into Roman Catholic dogma.

This is a terrible error, which leads people away from the all-sufficiency of Christ’s salvation on the cross of Calvary toward trust in their own works in order to attain salvation; and the end of this effort to save yourself by your own works will end with you in the Lake of Fire.

 The Bible makes it absolutely clear that you cannot be saved in this manner:

“For by grace you have been permanently saved through faith; and that faith is not out of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of our own works, lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8-9

“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us; by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6)

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6)

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1)

Here are some excepts from well-known commentaries on this passage which back up my conclusions (borrowed from http://biblehub.com/luke/7-47.htm):

Geneva Study Bible

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; {f} for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

(f) That is, says Theophylact, she has shown her faith abundantly: and Basil in his Sermon of Baptism says, He that owes much has much forgiven him, that he may love much more. And therefore Christ's saying is so plain in light of this that it is a wonder to see the enemies of the truth so badly distort and misinterpret this place in such a thorough manner in order to establish their meritorious works: for the greater sum a man has forgiven him, the more he loves him that has been so gracious to him. And this woman shows by deeds of love how great the benefit was she had received: and therefore the charity that is here spoken of is not to be taken as the cause of her forgiveness, but as a sign of it: for Christ does not say as the Pharisees did that she was a sinner, but bears her witness that the sins of her past life are forgiven her.

Wesley's Notes

7:47 Those many sins of hers are forgiven; therefore she loveth much - The fruit of her having had much forgiven. It should carefully be observed here, that her love is mentioned as the effect and evidence, not the cause of her pardon. She knew that much had been forgiven her, and therefore she loved much.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

47. Her sins which are many-"Those many sins of hers," our Lord, who admitted how much more she owed than the Pharisee, now proclaims in naked terms the forgiveness of her guilt.

for: not because, as if love were the cause of forgiveness, but "inasmuch as," or "in proof of which." The latter clause of the verse, and the whole structure of the parable, plainly show this to be the meaning.

little forgiven: loveth little-delicately ironical intimation of no love and no forgiveness in the present case.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Wherefore I say unto thee - As the result of this, or because she has done this; meaning by this that she had given "evidence" that her sins had been forgiven. The inquiry with Simon was whether it was proper for Jesus to "touch her" or to allow her to touch him, because she was such a sinner, Luke 7:39. Jesus said, in substance, to Simon, "Grant that she has been as great a sinner as you affirm, and even grant that if she had "continued so" it might be improper to suffer her to touch me, yet "her conduct" shows that her sins have been forgiven. She has evinced so much love for me as to show that she is no longer "such a sinner" as you suppose, and it is not, therefore, "improper" that she should be suffered to come near me."

For she loved much - In our translation this would seem to be given as a reason why her sins had been forgiven - that she had loved much "before" they were pardoned; but this is clearly not the meaning. This would be contrary to the whole New Testament, which supposes that love "succeeds," not "precedes" forgiveness; and which nowhere supposes that sins are forgiven "because" we love God. It would be also contrary to the design of the Saviour here. It was not to show "why" her sins had been forgiven, but to show that she had given evidence that they actually "had" been, and that it was proper, therefore, that she should come near to him and manifest this love. The meaning may be thus expressed: "That her sins, so many and aggravated, have been forgiven - that she is no longer such a sinner as you suppose, is manifest from her conduct. She shows deep gratitude, penitence, love. Her conduct is the "proper expression" of that love. While you have shown comparatively little evidence that you felt that "your sins" were great, and comparatively little love at their being forgiven, "she" has shown that she "felt" hers to be great, and has loved much."

To whom little is forgiven - He who feels that little has been forgiven - that his sins were not as great as those of others. A man's love to God will be in proportion to the obligation he "feels" to him for forgiveness. God is to be "loved" for his perfections, apart from what he has "done" for us. But still it is proper that our love should be increased by a consideration of his goodness; and they who feel - as Christians do - that they are the "chief of sinners," will feel under infinite obligation to love God and their Redeemer, and that no "expression" of attachment to him can be "beyond" what is due.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

For she loved much - Or, Therefore she loved much. It appears to have been a consciousness of God's forgiving love that brought her at this time to the Pharisee's house. In the common translation her forgiveness is represented to be the consequence of her loving much, which is causing the tree to produce the root, and not the root the tree. I have considered ὁτι here as having the sense of διοτι, therefore; because, to make this sentence suit with the foregoing parable, Luke 7:42, Luke 7:43, and with what immediately follows here, but he to whom little is forgiven loveth little, we must suppose her love was the effect of her being pardoned, not the cause of it. Ὁτι seems to have the sense of therefore in Matthew 13:13; John 8:44; 1 Corinthians 10:17; and in the Septuagint, in Deuteronomy 33:52; Isaiah 49:19; Hosea 9:15; and Ecclesiastes 5:6. Both these particles are often interchanged in the New Testament.

Loved much - loveth little - That is, A man's love to God will be in proportion to the obligations he feels himself under to the bounty of his Maker.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Wherefore I say unto thee,.... Not "for this that she hath done", as the Persic version very wrongly renders it; not because she had washed Christ's feet with tears, and wiped them with her hairs, and kissed and anointed them, therefore her sins were forgiven; nor upon this account, and for those reasons did Christ say, or declare, that they were forgiven; but , "for this cause", or reason, he said this to Simon the Pharisee, to remove his objections, to rectify his mistakes, and stop his murmuring and complaining, by observing, that though she had been a great sinner, yet she was now not such an one as he took her to be; she was a pardoned sinner, and not that guilty and filthy creature he imagined; the guilt of all her sins was removed, and she was cleansed from all her filthiness:

her sins, which are many, are forgiven; though she was like the largest debtor in the parable, which owed five hundred pence, yet the whole score was cleared; though her sins were numerous, and attended with very aggravating circumstances, which denominated her a sinner in a very emphatic sense, a notorious one, yet they were all fully, and freely forgiven:

for she loved much; or "therefore she loved much": her great love was not the cause of the remission of her sins, but the full and free remission of her many sins, which had been, manifested to her, was the cause of her great love, and of her showing it in the manner she had done: that this is the sense of the words, is clear from the parable, and the accommodation of it to the present case, otherwise there would be no agreement. Upon relating the parable of the two debtors, Christ puts the question to Simon, which of the two it was most reasonable to think would love most? his answer is and which Christ approved of, he to whom most was forgiven; where, it is plain, that according to our Lord's sense, and even Simon's opinion of the case, that forgiveness is the cause, and love the effect; and that according as the forgiveness is of more or less, love is proportionate; and which is applied to the case in hand: this poor woman had been a great sinner; her many sins were pardoned; and therefore she expressed much love to him, from whom she had received her pardon by the above actions, and much more than Simon had done:

but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little; this is an accommodation of the other part of the parable, and has a very special respect to Simon, the Pharisee, whose debts, in his own opinion, were few or none, at least ten times less than this woman's; and he had little or no sense of the forgiveness of them, or of any obligation to Christ on that account; and therefore was very sparing of his love and respect, and even of common civilities to him.