Luke 7:47

ESV Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
NIV Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.'
NASB For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little, loves little.'
CSB Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that's why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little."
NLT I tell you, her sins — and they are many — have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.'
KJV Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

What does Luke 7:47 mean?

A woman has washed and anointed Jesus' feet during a banquet at the home of a Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7:36–39). Simon and Jesus see the event in vastly different ways.

Simon sees a woman with a dirty reputation touching a man who claims to be a prophet. Simon believes the sinful woman should not attempt to touch a holy man. No holy man should let a sinful woman touch Him, or so Simon would think. In fact, Simon assumes that if Jesus really is a prophet, He should know what kind of woman she is and dismiss her. Simon sees himself as the righteous observer who condescended to invite this "prophet" for a meal. He follows the Mosaic law and the extra Oral Law that the scribes established. He, as was his right, did not extend any unnecessary courtesies to this "prophet" (Luke 7:44–46). Apparently, he was right to do so in his own eyes.

Jesus sees far more than Simon can imagine. He knows the woman has committed many sins, but He also knows that at some point in the past, she repented, and her sins were forgiven. Her display is not about cultural courtesies. It's an expression of love she has for Jesus because her sins are forgiven. Simon, who loves the Law, likely has so few overt sins that he doesn't consider himself in need of forgiveness. He is wrong. If he understood the weight of even the smallest sin, he would repent, receive forgiveness, and love God as he should.

The woman understands who she is. She grasps at least something of who Jesus is, showing her love in humble and expensive ways. Simon does not even greet his Messiah with a friendly kiss.

The preposition "for" in Greek and English can make Jesus words sound like the woman received forgiveness because she loved. The term is meant to show connection through relationship, not by causation: her love is evidence that she knows she's been forgiven. The NIV is clearer: "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

Luke writes approximately thirty years after this event, directing his account to a Greek Christian (Luke 1:1–4). The young church struggled with how to integrate formerly pagan Gentiles with Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah but still feel devotion to the Mosaic law. This story relates to their angst.
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