Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, especially those involving renunciations of demands for punishment or restitution. Forgiveness is often distinguished from condoning (failing to see an action as wrong or in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning from normal consequences of such actions (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (loss of awareness of the offense from consciousness), or reconciliation (restoration of a relationship, with or without forgiveness).
- Alphabetized by author or source
- A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · External links
- Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly? … Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, who am but dust and ashes. Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous; wilt Thou destroy all the city for lack of five? … Oh, let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there?
- Put from you the belief that "I have been wronged", and with it will go the feeling. Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears.
- Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations, as cited to a 1995 translation, p. 19, in The Future of Counselling and Psychotherapy (1997) by Stephen Palmer and Ved P. Varma, Ch. 6, p. 84
- Variant translations:
- Let opinion be taken away, and no man will think himself wronged. If no man shall think himself wronged, then is there no more any such thing as wrong. That which makes not man himself the worse, cannot make his life the worse, neither can it hurt him either inwardly or outwardly. It was expedient in nature that it should be so, and therefore necessary.
- Book IV, § 7, as translated by Meric Causubon (1906)
- They who forgive most shall be most forgiven.
- Philip James Bailey, Festus
- Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.
- Paul Lewis Boese, in Quote : The Weekly Digest, Vol. 53, No. 8, p. 146 (19 February 1967)
- The gospel comes to the sinner at once with nothing short of complete forgiveness as the starting-point of all his efforts to be holy. It does not say, "Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn thee." It says at once, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."
- Horatius Bonar, as quoted in The Peasant Preacher, Memorials of C. Richardson (1866) Edited by John Edmund Coulson, Ch. VII
- I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. Everything in our life should be based on love.
- Good, to forgive;
Best to forget.
- Robert Browning, La Saisiaz, Prologue
- He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me' -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.
- Life, that ever needs forgiveness, has, for its first duty, to forgive.
- The fairest action of our human life
Is scorning to revenge an injury;
For who forgives without a further strife,
His adversary's heart to him doth tie:
And 'tis a firmer conquest, truly said,
To win the heart than overthrow the head.
- Lady Elizabeth Carew, chorus from "Maxiam"
- It is certainly a good thing always to forgive with generosity, but it is no doubt just never to forget the wrongs received: they belong to the route that leads to inner maturity.
- Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 21
- Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.
- Edwin Hubbell Chapin, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 251
- "Forgive and forget" goes the expression, and for our idealized magnanimous selves, that was all you needed. But for our actual selves the relationship between those two actions wasn’t so straightforward. In most cases we had to forget a little bit before we could forgive; when we no longer experienced the pain as fresh, the insult was easier to forgive, which in turn made it less memorable, and so on.
- Krishna said in the Gita that forgiveness is one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state. It is noteworthy that he distinguishes those good traits from those he considered to be demoniac, such as pride, self-conceit and anger (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 16, verse 3).
- B. Bruce Cook, in Redeeming the Wounded : A Prison Chaplain's Journey Into Crime Victims Advocacy (2010), p. 107
- Qui pardonne aisément invite à l'offenser.
- He who forgives readily only invites offense.
- Corneille, Cinna, IV. 4
- He who forgives readily only invites offense.
- We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.
- Attributed to Cosmus, Duke of Florence, in Apothegms by Francis Bacon, No. 206
- Alas! if my best Friend, who laid down His life for me, were to remember all the instances in which I have neglected Him, and to plead them against me in judgment, where should I hide my guilty head in the day of recompense? I will pray, therefore, for blessings on my friends, even though they cease to be so, and upon my enemies, though they continue such.
- William Cowper, in a letter to Mrs. Cowper, wife of a Major Cowper (4 April 1766), in The Works Of William Cowper His Life, Letters, And Poems (1835) by T. S. Grimshawe, p. 70
- Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn't develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence — the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn't solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that's the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.
- The Dalai Lama, The Wisdom of Forgiveness (2004) by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan, p. 234
- Thou whom avenging pow'rs obey,
Cancel my debt (too great to pay)
Before the sad accounting day.
- Wentworth Dillon, On the Day of Judgment, Stanza 11
- Forgiveness to the injured does belong,
But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong.
- John Dryden, Conquest of Granada, Part II, Act I, scene 2
- She hugged the offender, and forgave the offense,
Sex to the last.
- John Dryden, Cymon and Iphigenia (1700), line 367
- Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget.
- Maria Edgeworth, "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification"; Tales and Novels, Vol. 1, p. 213
- His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876), Greatness
- Behold affronts and indignities which the world thinks it right never to pardon, which the Son of God endures with a Divine meekness! Let us cast at the feet of Jesus that false honor, that quick sense of affronts, which exaggerates every thing, and pardons nothing, and, above all, that devilish determination in resenting injuries.
- Elizabeth I of England, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 252
- Bear and forbear.
- Epictetus. See Gellius, Book XVII. 6
- While a man was walking along a road, he became very thirsty and found a well. He lowered himself into the well, drank, and came out. Then [he saw] a dog protruding its tongue out with thirst. The man said: "This dog has become exhausted from thirst in the same way as I." He lowered himself into the well again and filled his shoe with water. He gave the dog some water to drink. He thanked God, and [his sins were] forgiven. The Prophet was then asked: "Is there a reward for us in our animals?" He said: "There is a reward in every living thing.
- Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Vol. 3, No. 104
- Meekness is the grace which, from beneath God's footstool, lifts up a candid and confiding eye, accepting God's smile of Fatherly affection, and adoring those perfections which it cannot comprehend.
- James Hamilton, as reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 407
- When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
- I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore.
- That he that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man had need to be forgiven.
- Lord Herbert, The Life of Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury
- The offender never pardons.
- George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651). No. 563
- It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.
- Æquum est
Peccatis veniam poscentem reddere rursus.
- It is right for him who asks forgiveness for his offenses to grant it to others.
- Horace, Satires, I. 3. 74
- It is right for him who asks forgiveness for his offenses to grant it to others.
- "Again Jesus said [to the disciples], "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
- John 20:21-23 (NIV)
- Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
- If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.
- Jesus, in Matthew 6:14
- Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (or seventy times seven)."
- In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
- Ex humili magna ad fastigia rerum
Extollit, quoties voluit fortuna jocari.
- Whenever fortune wishes to joke, she lifts people from what is humble to the highest extremity of affairs.
- Juvenal, Satires, III. 39
- Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
- Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev'n with Paradise devise the snake;
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blackened — Man's forgiveness give and take!
- Oh, it is not really true that one always get a reply according to what one asks. This saying Christianity has also rendered false, like all the saying of human sagacity! When one overcome asks, “Have you forgiven me now?” the one who loves answers, “Do you truly love me now?” but then he certainly is not replying to what is asked. No, that he does not do; he is too loving for that. He does not even want to answer the question about forgiveness, because this word, especially if emphasis is laid on it, could easily make the matter too earnest in a damaging sense. What a wonderful conversation! There seems to be no sense to it; they seem to be speaking at cross-purposes, and yet they are speaking about the same thing, as love indeed understands. But the one who loves has the last word. For some time they will exchange remarks, and the one will say, “Have you now really forgiven me?” And the other will answer, “Do you now really love me?” but see, no one, no one can hold out against one who loves, not even the one who begs forgiveness. Finally he will be broken of the habit of asking about forgiveness. Thus he, the one who loves, has conquered, because he won the one overcome.
- Soren Kierkegaard Works of Love (1847) as translated by Hong (1995) p. 343-344
- From forgiveness anew life will spring in the believer, and as a consequence forgiveness cannot be forgotten. No longer is the Law the only disciplinarian [to lead us] to Christ, but forgiveness through Christ is the gentle disciplinarian who does not have the heart to remind us of what has been forgotten but still reminds us of it to the extent of saying: Just remember that it is forgiven. It is not forgotten but is forgotten in forgiveness. Every time you recollect the forgiveness, it is forgotten; but when you forget the forgiveness, it is not forgotten, but then the forgiveness is wasted.
- Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (1847), as translated by Hong, p. 247
- God's way of forgiving is thorough and hearty,— both to forgive and to forget; and if thine be not so, thou hast no portion of His.
- Robert Leighton, in "Exposition of The Lord's Prayer" in The Select Works of Archbishop Leighton (1832), edited by George B. Cheever, p. 456
- For 'tis sweet to stammer one letter
Of the Eternal's language; — on earth it is called Forgiveness!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Children of the Lord's Supper, line 214
- In what a delightful communion with God does that man live who habitually seeketh love! With the same mantle thrown over him from the cross — with the same act of amnesty, by which we hope to be saved — injuries the most provoked, and transgressions the most aggravated, are covered in eternal forgetfulness.
- Elias Lyman Magoon, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 252
- There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness.
- Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII, as translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli; Vidura addressing Dhritarashtra, as translated in Redeeming the Wounded : A Prison Chaplain's Journey Into Crime Victims Advocacy (2010) by B. Bruce Cook, p. 107
- These evils I deserve, and more
* * * * * *
Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon,
Whose ear is ever open, and his eye
Gracious to re-admit the suppliant.
- It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased. On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit. … forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel.
- If one who has been wronged by another does not wish to rebuke or speak to the offender because the latter is a very common person or mentally defective, and if he has sincerely forgiven him, and neither bears him ill-will nor rebukes him — he acts according to the standard of the saints. All that the Torah objects to his harboring ill-will.
- Mishnah Torah, Deot 6:9, as translated in A Maimonides Reader (1972), edited by Isadore Twersky
- Variant translation:
- If one who has been wronged by another does not wish to rebuke or speak to the offender — because the offender is simple or confused — then if he sincerely forgives him, neither bearing him ill-will nor administering a reprimand, he acts according to the standard of the pious.
- Surely the recitation of the Qur’an is an atonement for the sins, a covering (protection) from the Hell Fire, and a safety from the punishment. Mercy will descend upon the reciter, the Angels will seek forgiveness for him, Heaven will long for that person, and his Master (Allah) will be pleased with him.
- A person who circumambulates this House (the Ka’bah) seven times and performs the two Rak’at Salat (of Tawaaf) in the best form possible will have his sins forgiven.
- The greatest sin of a person who goes to ‘Arafat and then leaves is to think that he has not been forgiven of his sins.
- It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.
- Muhammad, in Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1011
- A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.
- Muhammad, as quoted in Bukhari 4:538
- Say "Amen" when the Imam says "Ghair-il-maghdubi 'alaihim wala-ddal-lin; not the path of those who earn Your Anger (such as Jews) nor of those who go astray (such as Christians); all the past sins of the person whose saying (of Amin) coincides with that of the angels, will be forgiven.
- Muhammad, as reported by Abu Huraira, in Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 12, Number 749
- No man pardons an oppression seeking thereby the pleasure of Allah but Allah will increase his honor therewith on the Day of Resurrection.
- Muhammad, as reported Hadith of Abu Kabsha 'Ameri
- You shall keep relationship with one who cut it off from you, you shall give one who disappointed you, and you shall pardon on who oppressed you.
- Muhammad, as reported Hadith of Oqbah Ibn 'Amer
- Moses son of 'Imran had asked: O my Lord! Who is the best honorable of Thy servants to Thee? He [Allah] said: He who pardons when he is in a position of power.
- Muhammad, as reported Hadith of Abu Hurayrah
- While wiping the blood from the face he prayed: "O Allah! Forgive my people because they do not know."
- Muhammad, narrating the account of one of the prophets who was assaulted and wounded by his people; as reported Hadith of Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud
- The sword is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven, and at the day of judgment his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim.
- Muhammad, as quoted in History of the Christian Church (1997) by Philip Schaff
- There comes a day when, for someone who has persecuted us, we feel only indifference, a weariness at his stupidity. Then we forgive him.
- Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living, 1942-09-06
- Forgiveness is better than revenge.
- Pittacus of Mytilene, justifying his release of his captured enemy Alcaeus, as quoted by Diogenes Laërtius in Life of Pittacus, i. 76, citing Heraclitus as his source.
- Forgiveness is better than punishment; for the one is proof of a gentle, the other of a savage, nature.
- Pittacus, as quoted by Epictetus, citing Heraclitus
- If errors were what you watch, O Jah,
- Then who, O Jehovah, could stand?
- For with you there is true forgiveness,
- So that you may be held in awe.
- I hope in Jehovah, my whole being hopes in him; I wait for his word.
- Indeed! God does not forgive the sin of ascribing partners to Him, but He forgives anything else to whom He pleases, and whoever takes partners with God has gone astray into far error.
- Qur'an 4:116
- The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah.
- Qur'an 42:40
- O You who believe! Behold, among your spouses and your children are enemies unto you: so beware of them! But if you pardon [their faults], and forbear, and forgive- then, behold, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
- Qur'an 64:14
- By experience; by a sense of human frailty; by a perception of "the soul of goodness in things evil;" by a cheerful trust in human nature; by a strong sense of God's love; by long and disciplined realization of the atoning love of Christ; only thus can we get a free, manly, large, princely spirit of forgiveness.
- F. W. Robertson, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 252
- Turn the other cheek too often and you get a razor through it.
- Johnny Rotten, in: Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 303. CN 5585.
- There's always going to be a part of me that's sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself fucker? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?
- To do evil for good is human corruption; to do good for good is civil retribution; but to do good for evil is Christian perfection. Though this be not the grace of nature, it is the nature of grace.
- Thomas Secker, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 251
- What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heaves
To wash it white as snow?
- I pardon him, as God shall pardon me.
- Tout comprendre rend tres-indulgent.
- The brave only know how to forgive.
- Laurence Sterne, sermon Joseph's History Considered
- God forgives; forgives not capriciously, but with wise, definite, Divine prearrangement; forgives universally, on the ground of an atonement, and on the condition of repentance and faith.
- Richard Salter Storrs, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 440
- Ignoscito sæpe alter, nunquam tibi.
- Forgive others often, yourself never.
- Syrus, Maxims
- Forgive others often, yourself never.
- Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand.
- Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4
- Pardon, not wrath, is God's best attribute.
- Bayard Taylor, Poems of the Orient, Temptation of Hassan Ben Khaled, Stanza 11, line 31
- The sin
That neither God nor man can well forgive.
- Alfred Tennyson, Sea Dreams
- A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man than this, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.
- John Tillotson, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 252
- Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.
- Desmond Tutu, as quoted in Pastoral Care for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Healing the Shattered Soul (2002) by Dalene Fuller Rogers and Harold G Koenig, p. 31
- Everything in existence prays for the forgiveness of the person who teaches the Qur’an — even the fish in the sea.
- Usulul Kafi, Vol. 3, p. 301
- I also am other than what I imagine myself to be. To know this is forgiveness.
- Simone Weil, in "Void and Compensation" in Gravity and Grace (1947)
- For still in mutual sufferance lies
The secret of true living;
Love scarce is love that never knows
The sweetness of forgiving.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 252
- Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.
- Oscar Wilde, quoted in The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958) by Fritz Heider, p. 269
- Menschlich ist es bloss zu strafen
Aber göttlich zu verzeihn.
- It is manlike to punish but godlike to forgive.