In this article, we will be exploring 4 stories of forgiveness from the Bible. Each story will help you see the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dig in…
One of the top things that God wants us to do as Christians are to forgive. And to be honest this can be easier said than done. But the power of forgiveness is evident in those who choose to forgive their offenders. When we forgive others, we free ourselves from the power others have over us and release us spiritually as well.
The Word is clear that God expects us to forgive as many times as we need to…
One time, Peter asked Jesus how many times he was to forgive others who sin against him. Jesus told him, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22) This shows that there is no limit to how many times we need to forgive others.
We are able to extend forgiveness to others because God gives us the grace to do so. It is not easy to forgive some offenses, especially those that cost us dearly and can even cause us trauma. But our God is BIG and He can bring healing to our broken hearts. We just need to be willing to continue to go to Him and ask for His healing touch.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29 (NKJV)
Bible Stories About Forgiveness
Now, in this article, we will look at some Bible stories of forgiveness. These examples are a great way to learn how individuals in scripture were able to forgive, reconcile, and extend love even after being betrayed and hurt by others. It’s pretty incredible.
The story of Joseph is one of my favorites in scripture. It’s powerful and Joseph himself was a foreshadow of Christ.
Now, Joseph was the son of Jacob, and one time, he told his brothers about two dreams he had (More on his dreams here). His brothers hated him because they thought he was telling them that he would rule over them (Genesis 5-11). Even his parents didn’t appreciate what the dreams were telling him. This led Joseph’s brothers to plot to kill him but opted to sell him to merchants headed to Egypt. There they sold him, and Joseph ended up as a slave under Potiphar.
And when you think things couldn’t get worse…Potiphar throws him in prison because his wife falsely accuses Joseph of rape.
Eventually, God elevated Joseph to become the second in command to Pharaoh. Joseph met his brothers many years later when they came looking for food in Egypt during a famine. He recognized them but they did not know him until he identified himself as their brother. Joseph was reconciled to his brothers and did not hold anything against them. He embraced them and told them that God had sent him ahead of them to ensure that he saved many from hunger (Genesis 45:5).
From Joseph’s story of forgiveness, we learn that it is possible to forgive those who have wronged us in the worst way. Joseph was a godly man and knew that God wanted him to forgive his brothers and rescue them. By the grace of God, he forgave them and put the past behind him.
The Prodigal Son
The story of the prodigal son is one that shows us the power of forgiveness. It is a parable that Jesus gave about a father who had two sons. The younger son of the man asked for his share of the inheritance and the father willingly gave it to him. The son went to a faraway land had squandered his wealth in wild living.
A famine came on the land and the young man found himself suffering since he blew his inheritance. He could not afford to eat and he got a job as a farmhand charged with feeding pigs. The only food available to him was the one the pigs ate. At that point, he decided to go back home and ask his father if he could be like one of the servants.
Now, most fathers would reprimand their sons for making such foolish decisions and blowing all that money. But his father instead welcomed him with open arms, gave him a ring, and threw a party in his honor. WOW! Honestly, mind-blowing when you think about what his son did.
I personally love the part when the father sees his son from a far-off and ran to meet him. That’s a love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). What we learn from the father is that forgiveness opens the door for reconciliation of relationships. It is not possible for a relationship to be reconciled without those involved forgiving each other and willing to accept each other back into each other’s life.
You can read the story in Luke 15:11-31.
Stephen was a godly man who preached the gospel fearlessly. Some who did not want to hear the good news of Jesus Christ falsely accused him, and he was taken to the council to give an answer to the charges against him. Those who were not happy with him dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death.
Before Stephen died, he looked up to heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He knelt down and with a loud voice said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died (Acts 7:60).
While in the midst of being killed, Stephen forgave those who stoned him to death. He did not hold a grudge against them because he knew that God’s will was for him to forgive them. He could have cursed them, but he didn’t. He was actually concerned for them and prayed that God wouldn’t hold this action against them. That’s powerful and eye-opening. We get offended by the smallest things and hold grudges. And here is Stephen willing to forgive and intercede while having rocks thrown at him.
Stephen shows us that it is possible to forgive others even when they are not remorseful for what they have done to us. Remember not all who offend us will bother to ask for our forgiveness and we cannot wait for them to do so. We are to forgive others and let God move.
Our greatest example of forgiveness comes from Jesus!
Jesus taught us the importance and power of forgiveness and He too had to forgive those who mistreated him and those who crucified Him. At the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). By saying this, He was choosing not to hold anything against those who crucified Him. Kind of the same thing we see in Stephan’s story in the book of Acts.
Now, Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, betrayed Him with a kiss to those who were to capture and crucify Him (Luke 22:48). This was a close friend of Jesus who ate with Him daily. He walked with Jesus… He saw miracles and experienced pure love. Yet, Judas chose 30 pieces of silver over Jesus. He rejected the Lord!
Judas didn’t repent and ask for forgiveness. He did experience remorse, but feelings of feeling bad for what you did is not the same as repentance and forgiveness.
What we do know is that Jesus remained pure, blameless, and sinless… (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, Hebrews 4:15)
This means Jesus didn’t harbor anger or bitterness towards Judas!
Those close to us can hurt us, and we will have to forgive them. It usually hurts more when it is those who are close to us. From Jesus, we learn that we should forgive every time someone offends us. To keep our hearts soft and not fall into bitterness.
I have always liked this quote. Not sure who the original author of it but it speaks a lot of truth on how bitterness works.
Stories of Forgiveness From the Bible Conclusion
If you find that you struggle to forgive others when they offend or hurt you, ask God to help you do so. It’s not always easy to forgive but God gives us the grace (the supernatural ability) we need to forgive others. And if the wound is deep…keep asking daily for God to heal your heart and to forgive the individual(s). Stay persistent. God will help you through this. Remember we must walk the journey of forgiveness daily as our Savior Jesus Christ did.
I sure hope that these stories of forgiveness in the Bible have encouraged you in your walk with God. These are only 4 stories, but the Bible is filled with stories, parables, psalms, and proverbs about forgiveness from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
Here are just a few more for you to check out in the Bible:
- The Parable of Two Debtors
- The Woman Caught Adultry
- The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
If you would like to leave me a comment you can do so below. I would love to hear from you and what you are learning about the Lord.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…
Tuesday 14th of February 2023
I ask God help me to forgive the people who hurt me i did to be setfree this is is a help thank you
Wednesday 23rd of March 2022
I loved your article. Thank you. I’m looking for things in the Bible regarding forgiving myself.
Bro. Kermit Tyrone
Thursday 17th of February 2022
Forgiveness has the ability to free us from the weight of pain, anger, revenge, and anxiety. I am certain I could find more but what is important for the maturing believer of ‘The Way’ is the revelation that God is the provider of solace and protection. If we are to hold a loving spirit as the fuel that is used as a beacon to reflect God then we in fact confirm our trust in Him who is the final judge. (ie., the Apostle’s creed) This releases us and heals the mind body and spirit. Their are somatic consequences on harboring these things too. We hear and read about fear induced high blood pressure, ulcers, depression, and other ailments that we incur. Love conquers all, it’s healing properties assists us in our reconciling with the trespassers. But it also reconciles us with God. We can return our focus and pursuit of being a reflection of our loving God even though our trials and tribulations. Forgiveness gives us a glance in comparing ‘Grace’ from ‘cheap Grace’ (Bonhoeffer)
Chris B Morris
Saturday 30th of October 2021
Absolutely amazing! This is something I have been struggling with and your article helped in ways you couldn't imagine. Thank you and God bless.
Sunday 15th of August 2021
I love your ministry and I hope to one day be half as spiritually mature as you, so I hope to share this Scripture with good intentions not a bickering heart, but in multiple places in the Bible it says Judas wasn't saved and that it would have been better for him to not have been born by Jesus himself & WOE to him. (Matthew 26:23-24).
linking to Acts 1:16-20 = Psalms 69:25, Psalms 109:8 "Both of these Psalms go on to describe this individual as one who will not share in God’s salvation.
Psalm 65:27-28 says, “Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous." Psalm 109:15 states, “May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth.” - from https://jashow.org/articles/was-judas-saved/ (no affiliation)
If I misunderstood what you meant over semantics, my apologies!
I also love God/Jesus speaking through Hosea for teaching forgiveness and how much He has forgiven us.
Thank you for feeding me Sister! I don't comment much but I've gotten happy tears reading your work. Keep going!
Monday 16th of August 2021
Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for leaving a comment. I just went through and reread that part of my post. I realized I left it vague and should have brought more clarity to it. As it can be taken many ways. Sometimes you write something knowing what you meant by it but not realizing other people might not! My bad. I will update that. What I meant is that Jesus went to the cross not carrying unforgiveness or sin (1 Peter 2:22). As for Judas...he rejected Jesus and chose his lot. Even though he had remorse it wasn't repentance. He never went before the Lord and asked for forgiveness. God extends forgiveness but we have to come before Him and receive it. I sure hope that makes more sense. And thank you for sharing scriptures and links! It's great for everyone to see them and grow more in the Lord. :)