Acts 19 ever used to demonstrate priestly confession?


#1

What do you guys think? I made this on another forum:

There are a number of ways to see that Christ forgives through His priests. Here is one:
[LIST]
*]The Son of Man has authority to forgive sins (Mt. 9:6)
*]As the Father has sent me so I send you…then He breathed on them…whose sins you forgive are forgiven (Jn 20:20-23)
*]And to whom you have pardoned any thing, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned any thing, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ. (2 Cor 2:10)
[/LIST]Also, [edit] Acts 19:9-18 …here’s how it goes:

Paul and 12 disciples (on whom he gave the Spirit by laying his hands on them (v. 6)) were preaching in a certain building called the “hall of Tyrannus” (v. 9). That’s where they preached for 2 years (v. 10). (incidentally, v. 11-12 is an example of relics in Scripture ;)) Signs were performed (v. 11-17) that revealed Christ. This became known to “residents of Ephesus” (v. 17). Then it says many of these new believers “now came” to confess their sins (v. 18). Presumably they “came” to the “hall of Tyrannus” were Paul and his ordained disciples were. But what is important is that these new believers didn’t just confess their sins where they were, straight to God.

Coupled with the authority Christ gave to the apostles in the bullet-points above, this is a very strong case that the sinners came to confess to ordained ministers. :thumbsup:


#2

You have assembled a good argument.


#3

This is a very weak case for “priestly confession”. They confessed their sins, yes, but it does not say to the “ordained ministers”. It just says they confessed their sins. You make an assumption with “presumably” and declare that to prove your point. In the early church confession was public, to the whole church, not private. In Mark 1:5 multitudes confessed their sins; did John have time to hear every single confession? I don’t think so. In James 5:16 we are told to confess our sins to one another, not to an elder (priest), but to “one another”, which might (or might not) include an elder (priest).

Catholicism doesn’t require you to confess every sin to a priest, only “mortal” ones. What is strange to me is that there never seems to be a requirement for any confession of sin to anyone except a priest. Maybe I’m missing something, and part of penance could be confession and restoration of, say, stolen property, or reputation, where appropriate.

Typically I confess sins to God alone. But there are times when I have gone to a pastor and confessed something, usually in conjunction with a mess I have made. But I also have a small group of men to whom I confess not just sins, but habits and patterns and struggles. I haven’t stood in front of the church and confessed a sin, but I have seen people do it. There is a priesthood of all believers that the Church seems to suppress in favor of the hierarchy.

John 20:20-23 can be looked at as applying to the apostles as representatives of the whole church, not just for the hierarchy. Those promises are for all of us, not just for the “priests”. Many regard the development of a Levitical priesthood instead of elders as a historical error in the church. And it does not speak of individual sins, or even the sins of individuals, but can be viewed as speaking, in general, of the sins of classes of people: those forgiven and those not forgiven as the sole criterion - not whether they confessed their sin, but whether they were or were not forgiven. There is nothing here about the confession of sins.

2 Cor 2:10 merely indicates Paul went along with their forgiveness, not that his action was required for their forgiveness to be effective. He did this for the sake of unity, not because they needed him to act. Again this passage has nothing about confession in it.

You have no case here, at least from a Presbyterian perspective. Nothing here demonstrates that confession to a priest is required for forgiveness of sins - something not believed in by Catholics. Not all sins need to be confessed, and you can have “intent to confess” and not confess, and die on your way to Confession, and be ok.


#4

In Joh 20 Christ is not talking to everyone. He is speaking only to the Apostles gathered together, those he made priests on Holy Thursday evening, granting them the power to “Do This…”


#5

Where does it say He made them priests, or that this was restricted to them, or that He gave them power to “Do this”, or that power was required to “Do this”? If it is Him at work, and Him acting, then no change in them was required. I suspect you read too much into the text.

1 Peter 2:5 and 9 state we are all a holy priesthood. This isn’t restricted to an elite in the church, or that there are two classes of priests. What happens with the Eucharist is restricted to elders not because they are priests and the laity aren’t but for governmental reasons. With confession we can use any brother or sister in Christ as a priest - but the examples in Scripture are public, in contrast to the overwhelming practice of the Catholic Church that confession is private.


#6

In John 20:21 when Jesus said to them…Peace be with you (our modern day apostles, (our Bishops) always say that at Mass.
By means of this sending, the Eleven were made apostles, that is, those sent. (As the Father has sent me, so I send you.) then in John 20:22…and when He said this He breathed on them and said…"Receive the Holy Spirit…whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained (this actions recalls Gn 2:7 where God breathed on the first man and gave him life, just as Adam’s life came from God, so now their new spiritual life comes from Jesus.


#7

Truth…you seems to have forgotten to type in the “therefore” in the passage from James. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another…”

Everytime you see a “therefore” it makes a connection between what was just said and what is going to be said. What just happened before the “therefore?” James says if anyone is sick call the elders/presbyters/priests (depending on ur translation) and have them annoint the guy with oil and pray…and because of this the guys sins are forgiven.

Connection is that the elders…not just anyone…are called to annoint with oil and pray…the result…sins are forgiven…so confess your sins to/ in prescence of the elders…not just anyone. If ALL have the authority to forgive sins, why does James specifically call for the elders…not just have a group of believers do the “prayer of faith?”

I do agree that in the early church confession was a public act. But is was not just in the middle of town square or yelling outside ur window or telling your neighbor. It has always been to or in the prescence of elders/priests etc of the church. We can thank the Irish monks for making it more of a private issue.


#8

It does not say “confess your sins to the elders” - it says “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another” - the therefore is there for encouraging us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. The elders are to come if someone is sick, if you notice verse 14, not sinful but sick. James calls for the elders to come regarding sickness, not sin.
The elders are to anoint the sick and pray in faith; the rest of us are exhorted therefore to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other.

Private confession, and confession to priests alone, were historical developments that I am not at all convinced can be shown to be provable from the BIble alone. I think you have to show magisterial certification of these points rather than going Sola Scriptura. I think the fundamental mistake of the OP is assuming that the sacrament of reconciliation can be strictly derived from the Bible without assistance from Oral Tradition.

Not that I want to get into another SS thread. Please! I am just trying to look at the argument on its own merits.


#9

TS, I think you have this all messed up. Let’s actually look at that passage in James 5 for context.
[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”]
[14] Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
[15] and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
[16] Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

That entire passage is dealing with what to do if someone is sick. Elders are the priests, where overseers, are bishops, that’s just the way the church grew. Look at the letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the church at Smyrna (the bishop of Antioch) and see what he says about priests.

CHAP. VIII.–LET NOTHING BE DONE WITHOUT THE BISHOP.

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles

. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out[through their office] the appointment of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper(18) Eucharist, which is[administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude[of the people] also be; by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude[of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.(2) even as where Christ is, there does all the heavenly host stand by, waiting upon Him as the Chief Captain of the Lord’s might, and the Governor of every intelligent nature. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to offer, or to present sacrifice, or to celebrate a love-feast.(1) But that which seems good to him, is also well-pleasing to God, that everything ye do may be secure and valid.It’s pretty clear from that message that the early church not only had bishops, priests, and deacons, but that we are told that they “follow the…presbytery as ye would the apostles”.

It’s true that private auricular confession developed later on, but that doesn’t in any way invalidate the priest hearing confessions and forgiving sins as prescribed in John 20. In fact, the passage in John 20 only makes sense if it was meant to pass down, and again, St. Ignatius makes it plain that it did.

I have an article on this on my blog if you are interested.
[/FONT]


#10

CM,

What exactly is in dispute?

I agree we are to confess our sins to each other.
I agree that the church has authority to forgive sins.
I agree that the church has more authority than I do as a believer on my own.
I agree there were elders/overseers (presbyters/episcopos, who later developed into priests and bishops).

I even agree that Ignatius was representative of the church he knew of and is one of the few sources we have of his day, so he has special weight.

We can confess sins to elders (priests). It would be odd if they were the only ones we are not supposed to confess to. That is not at all what I am saying. We are exhorted here to confess to each other, not just to the elder/overseers.

The immediate 3 verses deal with sickness, but look in the larger context of James 5. Taking the interpretation that verse 16 is the rite of Confession makes verse 17 and on nonsensical. But I think this partly depends on one’s presuppositions on reading the passage.

John 20 can be taken as regarding the preaching of the gospel and not concerning the forgiveness of the specific sins of a specific individual. It is a convincing verse for the Catholic point of view only if one looks at it from that point of view. And again, the John 20 passage has NOTHING about the confession of sins. That is not the focus of the passage.

What happened to Acts 19? Are we off topic?


#11

In James 5:14 the priest(presbyter) not only anoints the sick(physically and spiritually) and prays for them and heals them, specifically, but then if they have sinned their sins will be forgiven them, for the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. the only person to have prayed in this entire passage is the priest of the church, not just anyone. the fact that it goes on to say that we should confess our sins to one another is something different here. You must remember that this is how this passage was interpreted and practiced by the only church in existence for the first 1000+ years of christianity.

John did not necessarily need time to hear the sins of those confessing them. There could have been many men there that were laid hands upon by the apostles and other bishops ordained who had become priests of the church, higher than the laypersons priesthood. we are all priests, but only ordained priests have the power to forgive sins, or not forgive the sins of others. We as laypersons MUST forgive the sins done against us or we will not be forgiven, the apsotles, bishops and ordained priests can actually forgive the sins of others or not forgive the sins of others. A power we do not have and never will. jesus specifically gave them this power when he(God) breathed on them, the second and last time that God breathed His life into man on this earth, the first being at creation.

As far as Paul forgiving sins, yes, he did and had the power to as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Whosever sins(plural) I forgave when i was among you, I forgave them(plural) in the person of Christ.(persona Christi) Paul was Christ for them on this earth, he represented christ for them, to offer the actual forgiveness of sins, he was IN the Person of Christ, not just in Christ as we are in the Body of Christ. he was their servant and their leader, wherever he was. Who is the leader among you? The leader among you is the greatest servant among you.

Priestly authority to forgive sin is not only biblical, but historical. There was no church teaching anything different until the 16th century.

Scripture never tells us to confess directly to God, even though this is able to be done as the exception in cases of mortal sins, the normative way of seeking forgiveness is through the Priests Jesus gave us.


#12

None I guess but you seemed a bit unsure. :shrug:

We can confess sins to elders (priests). It would be odd if they were the only ones we are not supposed to confess to. That is not at all what I am saying. We are exhorted here to confess to each other, not just to the elder/overseers.

Well… I think they are the ones that we confess to in order to obtain the promised forgiveness of sins. I don’t see that anywhere in the admonition to confess sins to one another. I suspect that is actually a function of community and humility.

The immediate 3 verses deal with sickness, but look in the larger context of James 5. Taking the interpretation that verse 16 is the rite of Confession makes verse 17 and on nonsensical. But I think this partly depends on one’s presuppositions on reading the passage.

Okay, that is good so far. Now, what you have to remember here is that confession is also part of the Sacrament of the Sick context, right?

John 20 can be taken as regarding the preaching of the gospel and not concerning the forgiveness of the specific sins of a specific individual.

I have to disagree with you here though. John 20, (and I’m looking at it as I write this.) says nothing, even by implication, about “the preaching of the gospel”, so I’d be interested to hear where you find it. :confused: :shrug:

It is a convincing verse for the Catholic point of view only if one looks at it from that point of view. And again, the John 20 passage has NOTHING about the confession of sins. That is not the focus of the passage.

Here again, I have to disagree. It is implicit in the passage that these priests are to either retain or forgive sins. How are they to accomplish that if they don’t know those sins, and how will they know them unless they’re verbally confessed to them?

You mentioned earlier about making nonsense of verses and I think if you try to infer that this has nothing to do with confessing sins then that is where you will wind up. :shrug:

What happened to Acts 19? Are we off topic?

No…It’s still there…
[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][18] Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. [19] And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.

I see some confession going on here and since they were doing so to Paul, I would expect that that is where they were absolved, but there is also a good example of repentance. Even so, since that is a requisite for remission of sins anyway. This, no doubt is another case of auricular confession.

I wouldn’t use it as proof text, though I guess you could.[/FONT]


#13

In John 20:21 Jesus sent them as He was sent by the Father. Verse 23 must be understood in this context. We see Jesus in the Gospels preaching the Gospel. Not hearing confessions. Look at the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20, mark 16:15:20, Luke 24:46-49, John 20:3). Look at Peter’s direction in Acts 2:38 - they were to be baptized. Peter didn’t mention confessing their sins.

The apostles DIDN’T need to know their individual sins, as I posted above. They were proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, not a laundry list of things people need to confess. Jesus is the one who forgives sins, not the church.
The church proclaims the forgiveness of sins, or it doesn’t, in a general way. Confession and forgiveness of sins as you envision is in the John 20 passage only if you approach it with a mindset that says it is talking about the sacrament of reconciliation. The actual passage is not about it. To insist that it is is to dramatically narrow the meaning of what Jesus was telling them.


#14

I was talking about John the Baptist. Your argument falls flat.

David gives numerous examples of confession directly to God (psalm 51, for example). You cannot possibly confess all your venial sin to a priest. I doubt you can confess all your mortal sin.

Since you brought it up, there were church fathers, such as Cyprian, who did not believe that confession to a priest was ever necessary. I’ve got the flu, and I’m losing steam, or I would go find some quotes.


#15

Where does the Bible tell you this?


#16

John 20:20-23.


#17

Excuse me, but scripture is clear that Jesus was able to forgive sins. jesus conferred his authority first thing, post resurrection to the apostles, including the forgiveness of sins.
easy


#18

This wasn’t in dispute.:confused:


#19

Maybe this will help:
This sacrament **(Confession) **is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of man on earth to go and forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6). Thus, the crowds who witnessed this new power “glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (Matt. 9:8; note the plural “men”). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” **(John 20:21–23). **

Since it is not possible to confess all of our many daily faults, we know that sacramental reconciliation is required only for grave or mortal sins—but it is required, or Christ would not have commanded it.

Over time, the forms in which the sacrament has been administered have changed. In the early Church, publicly known sins (such as apostasy) were often confessed openly in church, though private confession to a priest was always an option for privately committed sins. Still, confession was not just something done in silence to God alone, but something done “in church,” as the Didache (A.D. 70) indicates.

catholic.com/library/Confession.asp


#20

You are drawing a conclusion that isn’t actually said in the passage, while also ignoring other aspects of the passage. The fact is that Our Lord is talking about the retention and forgiveness of sins, not preaching the Gospel.

It is MHO that you are forcing an interpretation onto the text instead of simply accepting what the passage says and hence what it actually mean. IMO it is an fairly extreme stretch to get to the position you hold.

The apostles DIDN’T need to know their individual sins, as I posted above. They were proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, not a laundry list of things people need to confess.

That is not exactly what the passage in Acts says,. Again, you are inferring things that are not in evidence in the passage and forcing your own (or someone else’s) interpretation onto the text. The confessions that occurred in the event in Acts are a part of their initial repentance and not a sacramental confession, though there is nothing in there that says that these people were all new believers and so this could indeed be a Biblical example of general absolution.

Jesus is the one who forgives sins, not the church.

Really? I have to disagree again because we have already established the New Testament fact that Jesus gave that capacity and authority to His Church, and that is indeed the church forgiving sins by command and authority of Christ Himself.

The church proclaims the forgiveness of sins, or it doesn’t, in a general way.

This is only partially true. The Gospel is proclaimed by the church and all are called to repentance and share in that.

However, in the Sacrament of Confession, it does not proclaim forgiveness of sins but dispenses it as it was commissioned to do.

Confession and forgiveness of sins as you envision is in the John 20 passage only if you approach it with a mindset that says it is talking about the sacrament of reconciliation. The actual passage is not about it.

Your opinion…and your error.

You need also note that you disagree with the earliest of the ECF concerning this. Confession (Fathers*)

[size=3]The Didache

“Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure” (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas

“You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light” (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]).

Ignatius of Antioch

“For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ” (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).

[/size]So I’d rethink your position.

To insist that it is is to dramatically narrow the meaning of what Jesus was telling them.

Hate to break it to you, but the FACT is that this is the same “dramatically narrow … meaning” that the New Testament states, and that the early church held, so with a choice between the Word of God & the early church and your own modern belief, I can assure you that yours will not be the one that I accept.

Yet I have already shown that you are forcing an interpretation onto the passage while ignoring what it actually says, so that is not true.:shrug:

Considering that you come from a Presbyterian faith community, and to the best of my knowledge they assert to be a Bible only community that takes the Word of God literally, I am somewhat surprised at your remarks.


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