Debating with a baptist about john 20:21-23


OK so I am a catholic, he is a baptist. He states that we don’t need to confess to a priest. I quote John 20:21-23 and he comes back with ‘well Thomas was not there therefore the Holy Spirit must not of acted yet. He acts later on with Paul’. I am very very very new to apologetics. Not sure why he would deny what Jesus said when ‘He breathed on them.’ Thank you!


He is completely making it up. Thomas being there or not has nothing to do with the fact that Jesus gave the 12 authority to forgive sins.

But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" – he then said to the paralytic – “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:6-8)

God gave authority to men (plural), human beings on earth.

Even so, the Baptist will not believe. I would not engage in apologetics with him. I would demonstrate my faith by the way I live my life.

If peace and joy are demonstrable in your life then he will be attracted to you like a moth to a flame and will ask you how you stay so calm and peaceful while the world rages. Then it is time to talk about Jesus and the sacraments.



Hi, Happy!
Sadly, (in my experience) most non-Catholic Christians will refuse to accept even Scriptures as proof against their particular religiosity.

They may claim Scriptures as their foundation, yet, when Scriptures prove them wrong they will claim improper interpretation (just try giving a Jehovah Witness any tracts or book–they will not even accept a list of Scriptures!) or just plainly refuse to accept that Scriptures state what Scriptures state.

What is truly dumbfounding is their ability to strip Omnipotence and Divinity from God as they argue against Catholic Doctrine.

Is Jesus God? Is the Holy Spirit God? Then, how can it be that Thomas’ absence would hinder Jesus’ delegation of Power and Authority.

…yet, Scriptures are Wiser than the most able mind of man (1 Corinthians 1:19-21, 25-29; 3:18-20) and prior to this issue being risen (Thomas’ absence) we are given to understand that God’s Spirit is not limited to man’s physical experience:

24 Moses therefore came, and told the people the words of the Lord, and assembled seventy men of the ancients of Israel, and made them to stand about the tabernacle. 25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke to him, taking away of the spirit that was in Moses, and giving to the seventy men. And when the spirit had rested on them they prophesied, nor did they cease afterwards. 26 Now there remained in the camp two of the men, of whom one was called Eldad, and the other Medad, upon whom the spirit rested; for they also had been enrolled, but were not gone forth to the tabernacle. 27 And when they prophesied in the camp, there ran a young man, and told Moses, saying: Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp. 28 Forthwith Josue the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, and chosen out of many, said: My lord Moses forbid them. 29 But he said: Why hast thou emulation for me? O that all the people might prophesy, and that the Lord would give them his spirit! (Numbers 11:24-29)

Thomas was one of the Chosen (Twelve) and would receive the same portion of the Holy Spirit as the others in order to enter into the Priestly Service (St. John 20:21-23).

We can surmise that the same would take place for the disciple that would replace Juda and Paul–otherwise Jesus would have had to make the same delegation four times! :bigyikes:

Further, we have Scriptures that demonstrate that Confession has been established as a practice in the Church’s inception:

14 Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests 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 shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. (St. James 5:14-16)

…we find that the Apostles Believed Jesus and Believed in Jesus’ Word!

…you may get an argument about the Priesthood… here’s what Scriptures say about the Priesthood:

6 And hath made us a kingdom, and priests to God and his Father, to him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen. (Apocalypse 1:6)

10 And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.(Apocalypse 5:10)

Now, since Christ is Officiating in Heaven, where are these human priests officiating if not on earth? :whistle:

Maran atha!



In every case in the Gospels - every case - where Jesus forgave sin (Luke 5:20, 7:48 and others), He told the sinner that their sins were forgiven. They had undeniable assurance of their forgiveness, just like Catholics and Orthodox do. Ask your Baptist friend what he hears in his ears, when his sins are forgiven. And if he hears nothing, isn’t he dangerously presuming that they are forgiven, since that is not how Christ taught it?

OK, Saint Paul should strike a chord with him.

2 Corinthians 2:10 “What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, for your sakes, has been in the person of Christ.” KJV, D-R, Knox and other good translations.

“In persona Christi” - is exactly how Orthodox and Catholic Priests have forgiven sins for 2,000 years now. Ask him what the Baptist convention was doing 2,000 years ago. :wink:

2 Corinthians 5 “Be reconciled to God” “Given us this ministry of reconciliation”

James 5:16? “Therefore, confess your sins to one another” - I’ll bet he doesn’t even do that! Altar calls do not count, as they are not bibical.

However, Baptists are indoctrinated in anti-Catholicism. You are probably wasting your time, as only the Holy Spirit will convict him of error. Do you pray before the Blessed Sacrament? Go there, and pray for him - that will do more than 1,000 conversations.


Here’s a link to my blog articles that might help you with him.
Catholic Confession
Scriptures About Penance


Good advice. I would tell your friend something like “well, I know we disagree on many things, but we do have one thing in common, we both love the Lord”

And unless you’re comfortable discussing apologetics, I would stay away from it. Especially heated discussions–they do little but harm–especially to non-believers who might be listening.


Lots of great information so far. Thanks for all the great replies.

Just jumping on board so I don’t miss anything else. :thumbsup:


Baptists completely reject the idea of Apostolic succession, so this particular passage means nothing to them in the context of which you are speaking.


Thank you so much for all your wonderful responses and advice. I will love it. Thank you thank you thank you!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit