Saturday, September 28, 2013


Beloved Husband has several construction stories that boggle my mind. One has to do with resurfacing a highway just south of Bartlesville,  Oklahoma. Back then there were signs “Call . . . Enterprise 9800” along the right-of-way reminding people to call and get underground structures spotted before digging. His company did, resulting in several companies sending spotters for electrical lines, gas lines and telephone cables. Each company put out flags where their lines were spotted, equipment operators kept that in mind so nothing would be broken.

As the telephone representative completed flag insertion, they ended up right at one of those “Call …” signs. “Let me get this out of your way,” she said as she moved it back and forth, pulled it out of the ground – and cut through no less than three lengths of cable where their contractor had wrapped a large circle of excess cable instead of continuing in a straight line connecting the next one. The job was delayed while that error was fixed.

I was reminded of that this last weekend during a congregational recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. We did just fine until we got down to “forgive us our . . .”, then there was a disconnect.

You see, I memorized Bible verses from childhood. I use many of them on a regular basis. This is one that comes easily:

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

So, why then did I sound disconnected? Everyone else was saying “forgive us our trespasses …”

Continue in Matthew:

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 KJV)

Compare “debts” and “trespasses” in the Greek, Strong’s G3783:
ὀφείλημα (opheilēma) pronounced: of-i'-lay-mah
From (the alternate of) G3784; something owed, that is, (figuratively) a due.; morally a fault: - debt.
And take a look also at Strong’s G3784:
figuratively to be under obligation (ought, must, should); morally to fail in duty: - behove, be bound, (be) debt (-or), (be) due (-ty), be guilty (indebted), (must) need (-s), ought, owe, should.
Then the G3900 for trespasses:
παράπτωμα (paraptōma) pronounced: par-ap'-to-mah
From G3895; a side slip (lapse or deviation), that is, (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression: - fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass.
And what about that G3895?
to fall aside, that is, (figuratively) to apostatize: - fall away.
To me, there are small differences between the “debts” of the prayer and the “trespasses” of Christ’s comment. Both indicate a deviation from God’s will – one as a failure in what is owed God, the other as a fall from God’s plan. Both would require recognition, correction and a need for forgiveness.

So – why does one congregation recite the scripture in Matthew and another congregation insert trespasses?  Check the alphabet soup of versions (ASV, ESV, KJV, NASV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV) and you’ll find debts/debtors. Not until we get back to the mid-sixteenth century do we find trespasses and its incorporation into the Book of Common Prayer in 1549, which most likely came from the Tyndale Bible of 1526.

How does that connect to the construction story? They are both a story of accepting what is seen, thought to be correct, without understanding what is underneath.

Take time to understand what is being said/read. Learn the source of differences.

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