Can priest forgive sins?

A Protestants friend sent me this from CARM.

"Does John 20:23 mean that Catholic priests can forgive sins? No, it does not.

“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:23).

Context is king when interpreting scripture, and this is no exception. Let’s take a look.

"When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:19-23).

The context of John 20:23 is that Jesus was speaking to the disciples (v. 19). He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit (v. 22). There is nothing in here about priests having the authority to forgive sins. There is nothing here (or anywhere else in the New Testament) about apostolic succession that says priests have the authority to forgive sins and that it is passed down. The Bible does mention appointing elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and that the disciples of Jesus had special authority (Matt. 16:18). It speaks of the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:19) as well as ordaining men to the ministry (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Titus 1:5). At best, the laying on of hands deals with ordination–not apostolic authority being passed down. After all, they were ordaining elders and not apostles; and it was the apostles who were given the authority by Christ to do miracles and write scripture. Nothing is said here about apostolic authority being passed down.

Have been forgiven

In John 20:23 the words “have been forgiven” is the single Greek word aphiami. It is the perfect passive. The perfect tense is “I have been.” The pluperfect is “I had been.” The perfect tense designates an action that occurs in the past and continues into the present, i.e., “I have been eating.” The disciples were not doing the forgiving but pronouncing the sins that “have been” forgiven by God. We find that the Psalmist says, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us, and forgive our sins, for Your name’s sake.” (Psalm 79:9). Also, consider the following:

"Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? 9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’? 10 “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (Mark 2:5-12).

Jesus forgave sins; and the Scribes, students of the Law, rightly stated that only God forgives sins. If they were wrong about that, then why didn’t Jesus correct them? Instead, he affirms their claim, states he has the authority to forgive sins, and then heals the paralytic. It should be clear that only God forgives sins; and Christians, as representatives of Christ, pronounce to people what has already been forgiven them by God.

So, John 20:23 is not saying that Catholic priests have the authority to forgive sins. It is saying that Christian disciples have the authority to pronounce what sins ‘have been forgiven.’"

It is not the priest who forgives sins but the Holy Spirit working through them.

:thumbsup:

The priest does not have the power himself to forgive sins. Only God forgives sins. But God acts through the priest to forgive sins, just like he acts through the priest to consecrate the Host at Mass.

whoisdiss: So, John 20:23 is not saying that Catholic priests have the authority to forgive sins. It is saying that Christian disciples have the authority to pronounce what sins ‘have been forgiven.’"

Interesting!

The priest is not able to hear confession, determine if the sinner is properly penitent, and pronounce that the sins have been forgiven because he does not have the authority, but…

He can read the penitent’s mind and know which sins have been committed and then read God’s mind and pronounce that the sins “have been forgiven”? :confused:

How silly! :rolleyes:

"Does John 20:23 mean that Catholic priests can forgive sins? No, it does not.

“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:23).

Context is king when interpreting scripture, this is no exception.

"When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:19-23).

So far, so good.

The context of John 20:23 is that Jesus was speaking to the disciples (v. 19). He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit (v. 22). There is nothing in here about priests having the authority to forgive sins. There is nothing here (or anywhere else in the New Testament) about apostolic succession that says priests have the authority to forgive sins and that it is passed down. The Bible does mention appointing elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and that the disciples of Jesus had special authority (Matt. 16:18).

Acts 14:23 They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

From Mirriam Webster:
1: a member of the governing body of an early Christian church
2: a member of the order of priests in churches having episcopal hierarchies that include bishops, priests, and deacons
3: elder

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you

The word “presbyter” or in greek “presbyteros” is where we get the word “PRIEST”. Of course; CARM and other like-minded anti-Catholics prefer the word “elders”.

The “Keys to the Kingdom” represent a TRANSFERRABLE AUTHORITY.

Matt. 16:19 - Jesus gives Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” While most Protestants argue that the kingdom of heaven Jesus was talking about is the eternal state of glory (as if Peter is up in heaven letting people in), the kingdom of heaven Jesus is speaking of actually refers to the Church on earth. In using the term “keys,” Jesus was referencing Isaiah 22 (which is the only place in the Bible where keys are used in the context of a kingdom).

Isaiah 22:22 - in the old Davidic kingdom, there were royal ministers who conducted the liturgical worship and bound the people in teaching and doctrine. But there was also a Prime Minister or chief steward of the kingdom who held the keys. Jesus gives Peter these keys to His earthly kingdom, the Church. This representative has decision-making authority over the people - when he shuts, no one opens. See also Job 12:14.

Rev. 1:18; 3:7; 9:1; 20:1 - Jesus’ “keys” undeniably represent authority. By using the word “keys,” Jesus gives Peter authority on earth over the new Davidic kingdom, and this was not seriously questioned by anyone until the Protestant reformation 1,500 years later after Peter’s investiture.

Matt. 16:19 - whatever Peter binds or looses on earth is bound or loosed in heaven / when the Prime Minister to the King opens, no one shuts. This “binding and loosing” authority allows the keeper of the keys to establish “halakah,” or rules of conduct for the members of the kingdom he serves. Peter’s “keys” fit into the “gates” of Hades which also represent Peter’s pastoral authority over souls.

Matt. 23:2-4 - the “binding and loosing” terminology used by Jesus was understood by the Jewish people. For example, Jesus said that the Pharisees “bind” heavy burdens but won’t move (“loose”) them with their fingers. Peter and the apostles have the new binding and loosing authority over the Church of the New Covenant.

It speaks of the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:19) as well as ordaining men to the ministry (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Titus 1:5). At best, the laying on of hands deals with ordination–not apostolic authority being passed down.

What these people don’t understand is that ORDINATION IS the passing on of authority!!! The BISHOPS ordain priests because the bishops can’t be everywhere! When a Catholic priest is ordained; he is given authority and swears loyalty to the bishop and his valid successors.

After all, they were ordaining elders

See how they keep using that mis-translated word? When the NT was written, the word “presbyteros” was used. Protestants can’t be using the ancient word for “priest” can they?

and not apostles; and it was the apostles who were given the authority by Christ to do miracles and write scripture. Nothing is said here about apostolic authority being passed down.

However, there IS something said in Acts 1:23-26 about apostolic authority being passed down…
So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Sure looks like APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION to me…

All I have time for tonight…

Completely ignoring retaining of sins. The website also says Catholics Resacrifice Christ. I emailed them that we are taken to the cross in that moment in time. All I got was an email saying thanks and there will be a reply, still waiting.

Well what about this then? Every time I have went for reconciliation the priest has never said. “The holy spirit within me forgives your sins.” He has always said “I forgive your sins.” Very plainly.

Is any of this saying that the church can decide that something is now a sin and they have the power to make it such? When Bishops could marry or course it wasn’t sin. Now they can’t; can the church say if you marry it’s now declared a sin?

When the op quotes Matthew, Jesus is still alive and had not yet given the power and authority to forgive sins to the apostles. So he is correct in saying that. In John he is resurrected and THEN gives then the authority.

CCC 1441 Only God forgives sins.39 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: "Your sins are forgiven."40 **Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.**41

Actually the statement continues, “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

CCC 1449 The formula of absolution used in the Latin Church expresses the essential elements of this sacrament: the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness. He effects the reconciliation of sinners through the Passover of his Son and the gift of his Spirit, through the prayer and ministry of the Church:

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins **in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.**48

Short answer…yes!

Priests marrying is a whole different matter. They take a vow of chastity. They also take a vow if obedience. Their sin would have to do with their lack of fidelity to their vows.

Then why does the priest say “I absolve” if this wasn’t passed down? And §1456 I see mentions “Decalogue” What’s that mean?

What if the Church decided TV has gotten to bad. Could the Pope declare as Peter’s successor to the laypeople “Well TV has gotten to sinful. Having TV are now a sin.” And that sin could stick and keep you from heaven?

Because he is the mediator of Christ. He is speaking the words of Christ. This happens at every mass when the priest says, “This is My Body.”

The Decalogue is the 10 Commandments. It is from the Greek, deka = 10, Logos = Word, literally the "Ten “Sayings” of God.

In theory, I suppose he could, but this wouldn’t happen. There would be no reason for it.

We are already forbidden to watch shows that are opposed to Catholic morality. The “owning” of a television isn’t at the heart of any sin. The sin lies in watching immoral programming. If a person can’t keep from doing that, he would be better off not owning one.

Generally “new sins” develop out of existing doctrine and are a a response to new technologies. For instance, cyber-bullying would be sinful even though there was no “cyber” anything when the Ten Commandments were given. Medical discoveries are often cause for the Church defining sin. And so on…

Just as an aside. CARM is far from it’s former self and Matt Slick is less and less relevant.

Technically yes. However the reasons for that may vary across the board. For example, it would not be a sin to have marriage and relations along the collateral line (siblings, cousins) in Genesis in the time of Adam and Eve. Only marriage along the direct line (father, daughter) is intrinsically sinful. However, it would be a sin now as extrinsically sinful because God has commanded so (so sin of disobedience) and the other problems brought on in this day and age (such as likely increase of genetic disorders).

Similarly it might not be intrinsically evil such as a priest having a family (I believe Eastern Catholics differ somewhat in this regard), but it is now a sin because then it is disobedience to the Church.
Same thing with the TV. It is not intrinsically evil to own a TV, but it may become sinful should the church declare that no one should own one because then owning one willfully would be in defiance and disobedience to the Church. And this would be so because Christ promised the Church would be led in truth, and it is the bride of Christ.

**And please take my explanation with a grain of salt, I’m no theologian

Huh?

If you go back and re-read what I posted; you will notice that I did NOT say anything about the Church or a priest “making” anything anything a sin.

Things that the Church tells us are sinful come from the Scriptures and Ten Commandments. The Church just interprets it. For example… there is NOTHING in the Bible that says abortion is a sin. The word abortion isn’t even IN the Bible! :eek: If it’s not in the Bible; how can the Church say it’s a sin? Easy. The Church says that abortion is murder. The taking of a defenseless life in cold blood. The Church says that abortion is a direct violation of the FIFTH COMMANDMENT. Know what I’m saying?

Priestly celibacy is a DISCIPLINE; not a DOCTRINE. By “discipline”, they mean it is a Church-instituted REQUIREMENT for the SACRAMENT of Holy Orders. The Priests take a VOW before GOD. When ANYONE makes a vow before God, it is a sin to break that vow. Got it? No matter what the vow is…

What about the greek word at the end?

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