"Forgive us our debts"


From an Orthodox perspective, “debts” may be a better English translation of the term in the Our Father than the “trespasses” used in some Orthodox jurisdictions (as well as by Catholics). The original Greek text and Holy Tradition allow either approach, but I think “debts” commends itself because, in the Orthodox approach to sin, our “debts” infinitely outnumber our actual “trespasses.” This is because since the Fall, we are in the proverbial situation that compared to infinity, any imaginable number is equivalent to zero: compared to God’s Holiness, we are all “the chief of sinners.” And it’s not just our trespasses for which we desire God’s forgiveness, but all our sinfulness. Remember that in Orthodoxy sinfulness isn’t just legalistically about certain misdeeds, as in the Western Church, but about the whole way/all the ways in which we “fall short of the Glory {Energies, Attributes} of God” (Romans 3:23). That is to say, our debts!


  1. Ruth

    “…as we forgive our debtors.” I also prefer the translation “debts” instead of “trespasses.” God will forgive us as we forgive others and when we forgive the debts of other people it means they owe us nothing — not even an apology! So many Christians refuse to truly forgive, because the offender never apologized. Jesus never waited for an apology. He said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We must not allow someone’s “debt” of an apology keep us from forgiving them.

  2. Leo Peter O'Filon

    A good reminder, Ruth. Thanks for your contribution!

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