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Matthew 6:12

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” Is this necessary except in this life? For in the other we shall have no debts. For what are debts but sins? See, ye are on the point of being baptized; then all your sins will be blotted out: none whatever will remain. Whatever evil ye have done, in deed, or word, or desire, or thought, all will be blotted out. And yet if in the life which is after baptism there were security from sin, we should not learn such a prayer as this, “Forgive us our debts.” Only let us by all means do what comes next, “As we forgive our debtors.” ...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
It is certainly a bargain to be reckoned with when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We can be sure that we have violated that rule if we do not forgive those who ask our pardon, since we too want to be forgiven by our most generous Father with respect to those who seek pardon from us. Now, as to that commandment by which we are ordered to pray for our enemies, we are not ordered to pray for those who seek forgiveness. For such persons are not enemies. In no way, however, can someone really say that he is praying for a person he does not know. Therefore it must be said that we should forgive all sins committed against us if we want the Father to forgive what we have committed. . ...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
De Don. Pers., 5: With this weapon the Pelagian heretics received their deathblow, who dare to say that a righteous man is free altogether from sin in this life, and that of such is at this present time composed a Church, “having neither spot nor wrinkle.”. Serm. in Mont., ii, 8: This is not said of debts of money only, but of all things in which any sins against us, and among these also of money, because that he sins against you, who does not return money due to you, when he has whence he can return it. Unless you forgive this sin you cannot say, “Forgiveus our debts, as we forgive our debtors. "How foolish! First, because he who does not pray in the manner Christ taught, is not Christ’s disciple; and secondly, because the Father does not readily hear any prayer which the Son has not dictated; for the Father knows the intention and the words of the Son, nor will He entertain such petitions as human presumption has suggested, but only those which Christ’s wisdom has set forth. Enchir.,...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
The fifth petition follows: And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. It is manifest that by debts are meant sins, either from that statement which the Lord Himself makes, You shall by no means come out thence, till you have paid the uttermost farthing; or from the fact that He called those men debtors who were reported to Him as having been killed, either those on whom the tower fell, or those whose blood Herod had mingled with the sacrifice. For He said that men supposed it was because they were debtors above measure, i.e. sinners, and added I tell you, Nay: but, unless you repent, you shall all likewise die. Here, therefore, it is not a money claim that one is pressed to remit, but whatever sins another may have committed against him. For we are enjoined to remit a money claim by that precept rather which has been given above, If any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also; nor is it necessary to remit a debt to every money ...

Cyprian of Carthage

AD 258
How necessary, providential and expedient it is for us to be reminded that we are sinners and must ask pardon for our sins. And while we ask for God’s forgiveness, our minds retain an awareness of those sins! Lest anyone become complacent and suffer the fate of flattering himself, he is instructed and reminded that he sins daily, while he is ordered to ask pardon for his sins. Thus John advises us in his epistle, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” In his epistle there is a twofold connection. We must ask pardon for our sins and obtain forgiveness when we ask pardon. Moreover, he said that the Lord is faithful in pardoning sins and loyal to his promise, for he who taught us to ask forgiveness for our trespasses and sins promised paternal mercy and subsequent pardon. He added and clearly imparted a law that binds us by a definite condition and guarantee. We sh...

Cyprian of Carthage

AD 258
He then who taught us to pray for our sins, has promised us that His fatherly mercy and pardon shall ensue. But He has added a rule besides, binding us under the fixed condition and responsibility, that we are to ask for our sins to be forgiven in such sort as we forgive them that are in debt to us. ...
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Cyprian of Carthage

AD 258
After this we also entreat for our sins, saying, And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. After the supply of food, pardon of sin is also asked for, that he who is fed by God may live in God, and that not only the present and temporal life may be provided for, but the eternal also, to which we may come if our sins are forgiven; and these the Lord calls debts, as He says in His Gospel, I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me. Matthew 18:32 And how necessarily, how providently and salutarily, are we admonished that we are sinners, since we are compelled to entreat for our sins, and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its own consciousness of sin! Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins. Thus, moreover, John also in his epistle warns us, and says, If we say that we have no sin, w...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Of all the petitions this alone is repeated twice. God puts our judgment in our own hands, that none might complain, being the author of his own sentence. He could have forgiven us our sins without this condition, but he consulted our good, in affording us opportunities of practising daily the virtues of piety and mildness. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xx.) These debts signify not only mortal but venial sins, as St. Augustine often teaches. Therefore every man, be he ever so just, yet because he cannot live without venial sin, ought to say this prayer. (Cont. 2 epis. Pelag. lib. i. chap. 14.) (lib. xxi. de civit. Dei. chap. xxvii.) (Bristow) ...

Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
Mor., x, 15: That good which in our penitence we ask of God, we should first turn and bestow on our neighbour.
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
That this prayer is meant for the faithful, both the laws of the Church teach, and the beginning of the prayer which instructs us to call God Father. In thus bidding the faithful pray for forgiveness of sin, He shows that even after baptism sin can be remitted (against the Novatians.)
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
Then forasmuch as it comes to pass that we sin even after the washing of regeneration, He, showing His love to man to be great even in this case, commands us for the remission of our sins to come unto God who loves man, and thus to say, Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. Do you see surpassing mercy? After taking away so great evils, and after the unspeakable greatness of His gift, if men sin again, He counts them such as may be forgiven. For that this prayer belongs to believers, is taught us both by the laws of the church, and by the beginning of the prayer. For the uninitiated could not call God Father. If then the prayer belongs to believers, and they pray, entreating that sins may be forgiven them, it is clear that not even after the laver is the profit of repentance taken away. Since, had He not meant to signify this, He would not have made a law that we should so pray. Now He who both brings sins to remembrance, and bids us ask forgiveness, and teaches ho...
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
This prayer for forgiveness belongs to believers. For the uninitiated could not call God Father. We discover forgiveness within the nurturing pedagogy of the church. If then the prayer belongs to believers and they pray, entreating that sins may be forgiven them, it is clear that even after baptism the profit of repentance is not taken away. If he had not meant to signify this, why would he have instructed us to pray for forgiveness? He asks us to bring our sins to remembrance and ask for forgiveness, and he teaches us how to obtain remission. He makes the way uncomplicated. By this rule of supplication it is clear that it is possible even after the font of baptism that our offenses may still be washed away. He thereby persuades us to be modest, commands us to forgive others, sets us free from vengeful obsessions, promises pardon, and holds before us good hopes and a high view of the unspeakable mercy of God. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily ...

Tertullian of Carthage

AD 220
Having considered God's generosity, we pray next for His indulgence.  For, of what benefit is food if, in reality, we are bent on it like a bull on his victim? Our Lord knew that He alone was without sin. Therefore, He taught us to say in prayer: 'Forgive us our trespasses.' A prayer for pardon is an acknowledgment of sin, since one who asks for pardon confesses his guilt. Thus, too, repentance is shown to be acceptable to God, because God wills this rather than the death of the sinner. Now, in Scripture, 'debt' is used figuratively to mean sin, because of this analogy: When a man owes something to a judge and payment is exacted from him, he does not escape the just demand unless excused from the payment of the debt, just as the master forgave the debt to that servant.  Now, this is the point of the whole parable: Just as the servant was freed by his lord, but failed in turn to be merciful to his debtor and therefore, when brought before his lord, was handed over to the torturer unti...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
Because we sin even after our baptism, we beseech Him to forgive us. But forgive us as we forgive others: if we remember wrongs, God will not forgive us. God takes me as the pattern He will follow: what I do to another, He does to me.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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