This short passages poses at least three problems: (1) Why does Jesus say, “For, if you forgive…”? What does the for refer to? (2) Is the Lord putting a condition on God’s forgiving grace? I thought grace came to sinners through faith alone? (3) Is Jesus talking about final forgiveness, at the Last Judgment, or is He only speaking of individual sins which somehow won’t be pardoned in this life? (3) Let’s start with the last question first. Since any and all sins, even the so-called “little” ones, are each sufficient to call down upon us the righteous wrath of God, for Him not to forgive even one of our trespasses is for us to face condemnation and eternal punishment. We are dealing with matters of everlasting life and death here. Furthermore, the Lord really does seem to be saying that we must forgive in other to be forgiven. What could that mean? Forgiveness comes to those who repent of their sins and ask for God’s mercy. Indeed, that is what the Lord’s Prayer has just taught us to seek from God the Father. But repentance involves admitting that are wrong; renouncing our sin; and turning decisively away from our old ways towards God. We do this only through faith, of course, trusting in the kindness of God to pardon our iniquity. And even this faith comes as a gift from God. Now, if the second great command is to love my neighbor as myself; and if I am asking, and trusting, God to forgive my offenses against Him; how can I at the same time withhold from another person that which I am seeking for myself? Is that not the height of hypocrisy, an internal contradiction that calls into question the sincerity of my supposed repentance and faith? As the parable in Matthew 18:21-35 illustrates, how can I be aware of the magnitude of God’s mercy to me compared to the minimal offense my brother has committed against me, and yet fail to forgive the relatively slight debt he owes me? In other words, forgiveness of our fellow offenders is not so much a condition of God’s forgiveness, as a natural consequence of receiving His mercy, and a necessary confirmation that we have truly repented of our pride and resentment and have sought to obey and imitate the one who laid down His life as a ransom for many.