Luke 7:41

ESV “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
NIV Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
NASB A moneylender had two debtors: the one owed five hundred denarii, and the other, fifty.
CSB "A creditor had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
NLT Then Jesus told him this story: 'A man loaned money to two people — 500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other.
KJV There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

What does Luke 7:41 mean?

Jesus is telling Simon the Pharisee a parable. This counters Simon's mental judgment of Jesus and His acceptance of honor from a repentant woman (Luke 7:36–39). Jesus uses this story to explain the connection between God's forgiveness of someone and their love for Him. The story is straightforward: a moneylender forgives two debtors; the man who owed more loves the moneylender more (Luke 7:42).

One denarius was roughly the daily wage of a laborer or soldier. The lesser debtor would have owed about two months' wages and the greater owed nearly two years' wages. Simon the Pharisee, rich enough to afford a banquet, would understand that forgiving loans implied something far deeper than mere money. Roman culture was caste-based: arranged in relatively strict layers without much ability to move upwards. By forgiving debt—almost surely for those poorer and of lower class than himself—the moneylender was dishonoring his higher caste. If too many lenders did this, the patronage-client system would fall apart.

An echo of this attitude remains in theologies teaching that salvation can be lost. Such teachers fear that Christians who fully understood their sins to be forgiven forever will disrespect their debt to Christ and rush into sin. That attitude not only conflicts with how the concept of "eternal security" is taught, but it also ignores passages such as this. Those who believe true salvation can be undone fail to understand the point of Jesus' parable: the release of great debt leads to love and a deeper commitment, not a desire to take advantage of the benefactor. Those who are truly saved don't sneer at Jesus' willingness to humble Himself for us.
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