Apostolic Succession- JOHN 20:22,23 Can The Church Forgive Sins?
John – Study [In Context|
Can The Church Forgive Sins?
Commentary From a Scholarly Reader
Scholarly defined Open Dictionary
Scripture tells us that God alone can
forgive sin, although it appears for
a while the Apostles could by virtue of the holy spirit. (
John 20:22-23 ) :
Now some churches interpret the above scripture, so that the church believes it takes on the role of the Apostles ( i.e. a proxy role ) , and so believe it has the ability to allow or disallow sin.
This would be a very powerful tool if it existed, and would be dangerous in the wrong hands.
So we ask two questions :
- Can a church take on the apostles roles?
- How do you prove or disprove using scripture?
DO SOME CHURCHES BELIEVE THEMSELVES TO BE THE CURRENT PROXY OF THE APOSTLES....
Yes the Catholic Church does; but lets look at how did the apostles understood and applied this?
There is no record in the Bible of a
single instance in which an apostle listened to a private confession and then
Now the requirements for being forgiven by God are set out in the Bible.
The apostles, under the direction of holy spirit, could discern whether individuals were meeting such requirements and could on this basis declare that God had either forgiven them or not forgiven them.
See Acts 5:1-11, In Context- also 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 [In Context- and 2 Corinthians 2:6-8. [In Context
What Jesus said to his disciples at John , indicates that God granted the apostles special powers in this regard. And Jesus’ statement there may relate to what he said at Matthew 18:18 18:18 about heavenly decisions.
The disciples mentioned were principally the faithful apostles. ( verse 24.) 18:24 By blowing on them and saying, “Receive holy spirit,” Jesus symbolically gave them notice that soon holy spirit would be poured out on them. Jesus went on to say that they would have authority concerning forgiveness of sins. Reasonably, his two statements are linked, one leading to the next.
On the day of Pentecost, Jesus poured out holy spirit. Those who received the spirit were born again as spiritual sons of God with the hope of being co-rulers with Christ in heaven. (John 3:3-5; 3:3- 3:4- 3:5.Romans 8:15-17 8:15- 8:16- 8:17 ; 2 Corinthians 1:22) 1:22. But that outpouring of spirit did more. Some recipients gained miraculous powers. By that means some could speak in foreign tongues that they did not know. Others could prophesy. Yet others could heal the sick or raise the dead to life. See 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. [In Context|
Since Jesus’ words at John 20:22 pointed to this outpouring of holy spirit on the disciples, his connected words about forgiving sins seem to mean that the apostles had divinely provided to them through an operation of the spirit a unique authority to forgive or retain sins.
One memorable case which involved apostolic authority to forgive or retain sins involved Ananias and Sapphira, who played false to the spirit. Peter, who heard Jesus utter what we read at John , 23, exposed Ananias and Sapphira. Peter first addressed Ananias, who died on the spot. When Sapphira later came in and kept up the falsehood, Peter proclaimed her judgment. Peter did not forgive her sin but said: “Look! The feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” She too died on the spot.—Acts 5:1-11. [In Context|
What Jesus said at John , is not in conflict with the rest of the Scriptures, but it indicates that the apostles had a special authorization regarding forgiveness, in line with their special role in the infancy of the Christian congregation. However nowhere does the bible say these “powers” were passed on, but died with the apostles.
Jesus gave his disciples authority to expel from the congregation unrepentant perpetrators of grave sins. At the same time, Christ gave his followers authority to extend mercy and forgive repentant sinners. Jesus certainly was not saying that his disciples should confess every sin to a priest.
BUT SCRIPTURE TELLS US THAT GOD ALONE CAN FORGIVE SIN
This is true. When we also look at Matthew 18:15-18 [In Context|and everything else that the Bible teaches about confession and forgiveness, what must we conclude? That at John 20:22, 23, Jesus gave his disciples authority to expel from the congregation unrepentant perpetrators of grave sins.
THE APOSTLES HAD THE ABILITY TO FORGIVE ( OR
NOT ) PEOPLES' SINS.
God granted the apostles special powers in this regard, yes, but the apostles only and these powers died with them.
The Catholic church base their claim on Apostolic succession, saying the Pope is a direct descendant of the apostle Peter, but there is *no* evidence to back their claim whatsoever.
It is a purely man made tradition, and is definitely not found in the Bible. And God specifically warns us against following man made tradition.
“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
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