Did the Apostles go to Confession


A person who is struggling with the Catholic faith, especially Confession, to asked me why the apostles received the first Eucharist at the the last Supper but did not go to Confession first. I didn’t have an answer.

I know that they were Baptized as adults and that took away all possible Mortal sins but I’m still at a loss for a full explanation. Can anyone help me?


Your friend seems to be under the impression that everything the Apostles and Jesus did and said is recorded in the bible.

It does not record their baptism specifically, nor their confession specifically, nor personal details about them such as their families, etc.

We have what we need from Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture for our salvation. Christ gave the apostles the power to bind and loose through confession when he instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper.

So from that point on, yes, they would have gone to sacramental confession to a fellow priest or bishop.

Prior to that, when Christ was alive, he had not yet established his Church so we do not know how he interacted with his disciples on sacramental matters.


Thank you Ike,

My personal opinion on this matter is based on the complete trust (&faith) that Jesus administered the Sacrament according to His perfect law. My friend is seeing this as a loophole and hoping to find a flaw in Church teachings.

I was hoping to give him a solid explanation that would shut this “I got you” question down.


You know, that last line bothers me. If my friend was challenging me with questions just to “get me” and prove himself right, I would not continue the conversation. I would tell him I would be happy to answer any questions he had about the faith, or find the answers, but not in a challenging or competitive or confrontational manner. That is not how apologetics should be approached, and the insincerity is disrespectful. This is the Almighty God we are talking about and trying to seek the truth about, it is not a contest.


You know, that last line bothers me. If my friend was challenging me with questions just to “get me” and prove himself right, I would not continue the conversation. I would tell him I would be happy to answer any questions he had about the faith, or find the answers, but not in a challenging or competitive or confrontational manner. That is not how apologetics should be approached, and the insincerity is disrespectful. This is the Almighty God we are talking about and trying to seek the truth about, it is not a contest.


Because there was no confession yet. And it is arguable that the apostles were even baptized during the Last Supper. Jesus had not yet died and risen for our sins, he was still in “teaching mode” and establishing the sacraments. The salvation came after the last supper. So while we teach that indeed the last supper was His Body and blood, it had not been fulfilled yet. He laid the groundwork for the sacraments, he instituted them but at the Last Supper it was the baptism of John that was the baptism that they probably had. It was not until St Longinus’s lance pierced his side that the Church was born in a baptizing salvific institution.

Simply put it was because Jesus allowed it. Not only that but then Jesus gave those same apostles power to establish His Church and it’s binding and loosing of rules.


The person is someone I feel great duty to help. I have few people in my life that I pray and sacrifice for specifically, this is one of them. I’m not surprised he is like this. I’m not a smart apologist so whenever I am challenged I pray, wait for inspiration, ask questions,research then I respond. This is the process. I don’t always get answers but a lot of the time I do.


John 13. The last supper. Washing the feet. It’s easy to read this as just Jesus lowering himself beneath the disciples and telling us we must do the same. Look at the language, though.

John 13:3-10

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean

We can have no part in Him unless this is done. He is absolving their sin. They don’t realize it yet - but they will! And Jesus isn’t referring to baptism here. No, we are baptized once in the Holy Spirit, and yet at times we must still be cleansed. And so Jesus does this for the disciples. But wait, there’s more!

John 13:14-18

14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.** 18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen**

We are to also periodically cleanse each other, so that we may be with the Lord. But not everyone is to do this! Only those Jesus has chosen. Well… He chose everyone to follow Him, so this must mean not all of us have this ability. As Catholics, we know He is referring to those He has chosen to carry out this action on His behalf. In persona Christi! So yes, the Lord absolutely absolved the disciples of their sins before the Last Supper.

And of course, scripture tells us to confess our sins to one another so we may be healed.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

And yet we know that only some are to absolve us of our sins from the Last Supper. So, we make a confession to those who have the power to heal us from our sin. And we do this before we receive Jesus Christ as He commanded!


As touched on above, the Old Law was still in force, it was not until the Passion Death and Resurrection of our Lord that the New Law was in force.

Now under the Old Law, sins were forgiven and the Sacrifices of Bulls and Sheep (etc) were acceptable in anticipation of the One Sacrifice of Jesus. God found them acceptable because of the coming of Christ, who restored all things. So the Apostles would have been worthy to receive the first Eucharist if they were ritually clean, and therefore in a state of Grace. Now in completing the Old Law and instituting the New Testament, Jesus gave us the Sacraments replacing the provisional rites. The reality is the action of the Sacraments, is an act of Christ. He works through them, just as He worked through the provisional rites of the Old Testament, empowered through the anticipation of His work as the Incarnate Savior,

While He gave us the Eucharist and the Priesthood prior to the founding of the Church, He did so all would be ready when the time of the foundation of the Church.


Looking at these scriptural passages, not only do I understand that a spiritual cleansing took place but also I understand that there is a very strong augment in these passages for the need for sins to be taken to a priest for absolution.

Boy! I can’t wait to show this to my friend and also to someone else who has been quoting the"confess your sins to one and other" as proof that he doesn’t need to go to a priest for absolution.

Thank you so much!


Christ told His Apostles, “whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:23). The importance of the “forgiven” part is equal to that of the “retained” part. If that person believes that, by confessing his/her sins to ANYONE, not just to a Priest, is enough to have his/her sins absolved…then he/she must also admit that ANYONE can likewise retain/withold absolution of those same sins. I am willing to bet that this person would not be willing to agree that you or I can retain that person’s sins if we choose…that it would take a Priest of Christ to do that.


Happy to look into that. Another thing to reflect on, if you haven’t already. We see something interesting in James. Once again, the language is key.

James 5:13-16

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

If you have trouble, pray for yourself. If you are happy, sing songs of praise. But what happens when one is sick? There is a shift here. Instead of praying for yourself, or just getting anyone in general to pray for you - get the elders of the church. From what I understand, the word here is actually presbyter, which is referenced elsewhere in the early church as being on a level between the laity and the bishops. Here we see as early as the time of Paul, there was a clear distinction between the common priesthood we are all a part of as followers of Christ and this sacramental form of the priesthood - which was solely responsible for carrying out certain duties for the faith community.

As a side note on celebrating the mass…

Excerpt: The Unchanging Heart of the Priesthood by Fr. Thomas Acklin, O.S.B.

In the second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch insists in his letter to the people of Philadelphia that the Eucharist was not valid unless celebrated by a bishop or someone he appoints: “One is the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with his Blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the presbytery and deacons, my fellow servants.”

Note that this could not have been late second century, as St. Ignatius of Antioch lived somewhere between 35 and 107 AD. So, if the Church really did lose its way, it did so absurdly early in its history!


Some terrific arguments for the Sacrament of Penance as administered though a priest.
I am very grateful.
I have a question about the word presbyter. Does it simply mean one who professes Christ? This is what I have been told by my son.


Presbyter is either translated as priest or elder. I have never once heard it translated so generically as one who professes Christ. I checked with a couple friends in other denominations and they have also never heard it translated in any way other than priest or elder. I would say your son is mistaken or is trying to mislead you.


Thank you all for great answers. This information should give them something to think about for a while.


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