Is confession to a priest necessary?


By sicerely confessing and repenting my sins only to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in my personal “prayer closet”, I believe my sins are forgiven by the blood He shed and by His grace and the love He has for me. That is His promise to all of us.

Does anyone believe my sins will not be forgiven?

Can anyone tell me where in the bible, God said I have to confess my sins to a priest ?




Your sins may be forgiven, you may be right, but Jesus specifically gave a way to know, factually, tangibly. The church only rquires that mortal(deadly) sins be confessed. 1 john 5:16-17

Jesus never said to confess our sins directly to God. The bible never says to, it only implies it once.

But, Jesus did have the power to forgive sins and then he transferred that to His apostles in John 20:21-23 and then Paul speaks of it when he says “whosoever sins I forgave when I was among you, I forgave them in the Person of Christ(persona Christi)”

and then we see this again when they specifically call for the priests of the church(presbuteros) in james 5:14 and in the end their sins are forgiven for the prayer of the righteous man availeth much. the only person who prayed in this passage was the priest.

I hope this helps a bit.


If you ask “where in the Bible…” it means you are either a protestant or a person whose way of thinking is tainted by protestantism. Bible doesn’t say “Bible only”, it’s Mr. Luther’s invention. Jesus gave the keys to heaven and the right to bind and loose to Peter who was the first pope. It’s the pope who decides also about the way of confessing sins. In normal conditions we have to confess our sins to a priest, otherwise we cannot receive communion. In case of death it’s enough to confess the sins straight to God.


It may not be in the bible. But so what? Unlike protestants, catholics believe in a Sacred Tradition that stems all the way back to the Apostles. Catholics never believed that the bible is a complete encyclopedia for all times.


I will use the words of Martin Luther, “Confession makes a person a better Christian.” This came out of Drietrich Boenhoeffer book, The Cost of Grace. Boenhoeffer was a Luthern martyred under Hitler. He wrote of confession as a remedy against self-delusion and self-deception. Confession is a remedy against pride because it involves mortifying and humbling yourself. It means dying to self.
Christ spoke about the sick needing a physician. Sin is a sickness. I could misdiagnose my illness and/or cause additional harm to myself by taking the wrong medicine. If I break a limb, I seek professional help to make sure what I have broken is set straight.
A Catholic priest has special graces given to him through the power of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The priest acts in personna of Christ himself. Confessing before a priest requires humility. The priest then becomes the spokesman for God. He may provide guidance for how I might avoid the particular sin in the future. If I am ashamed to confess my sin before another human, how much more shame will I feel when I stand before the Almighty?


Some non Catholics believe that one cannot lose one’s salvation no matter what sin is committed. Some feel that a mental acknowledgement of a sin and a vague request for forgiveness will suffice. Perhaps others fall on their knees and sob while they sincerely beg for forgiveness but share their grief with no one else because of their shame. Some will just “shine it on” as if nothing ever happened and hope for the best.
A practising Catholic will go to their confessor and fully acknowledge the sin they have committed and after expressing contrition, they will hear the words of absolution spoken by a priest of the Church and be assured forgiveness. A sinner has confronted their sin in a straightforward manner and has hidden nothing…hopefully. I for one walk out of the confessional feeling clean and renewed and thankfull for the reassurance provided by this Sacrament of Reconcilliation. Please tell me, if it isn’t neccessary, isn’t it a blessing and a better way?


originally it wasn’t required to confess to a priest. confession was done publicly before the whole church. the priest (actually it would have been the bishop or “president” of the church since each city and town usually had one church) would then pronounce the forgiveness, but it was done by the entire congregation. private confession (just me and God) doesn’t come about until much, much later (reformation). but confession directly to a priest was not the standard from the start either. it was confession to one another, done publicly before the congregation, and forgiveness came from God through everyone corporately.

incidentally, the keys were given to peter, but the power to bind and loose was given to all the apostles and some could interpret it to mean all believers. and when we look at this public confession practice in the early church, i think it confirms that all believers are given this power.


Correct. Private confessions were an off-shoot of monasticism in the Church (although I thought it was a couple hundred years before the Reformation era). Anyway, thank God for private confession!!! After all, would you want to confess in front of everyone? Coincidentally, penances used to be really bad and really public too.

There is something very releiving about confessing your sins. Admiting to someone that does not judge you that you have done wrong and what that wrong was is a good feeling. It is not bragging about it, but it eases the weight on my soul


i meant private confessing in the “all i need to do is say it straight to God”. private confession to a priest did arise out of monasticism and the desert fathers and mothers. they weren’t in large communities so they confessed to each other individually. also, as the churches grew, they moved to confession just to the priest for logistics.

i actually think it would be the scariest (and is the scariest in my experience) to publicly confess, but i would say that it would be much more healing and much less likely for the sin to be repeated.

it is definitely something that protestants could learn (and are learning in a lot of places) from our catholic and orthodox brothers and sisters.


This makes a lot of sense to me in the context of us being the body of Christ.


True to all of it.


This is certainly tougher than the current method.

when we look at this public confession practice in the early church, i think it confirms that all believers are given this power.

Are you still talking “everyone corporately” here or each individual believer?


your first statement is inconsistent with your description of early church practice. you say that origionally confession to a priest wasnt required, but then you say that origionally a person confessed to the entire gathering of people (which includes the priest or bishop) and then you mention that the priest/bishop (who was joined by the faithful) pronounced the absolution.

you identify the congregation as a whole as the primary agent that God works through to dispense forgiveness, however i find it unlikely that the rarly church agreed with that as they evidently identified the ordained cleric as the primary agent when the church decided to cease the practice of public confession.

if someone wants to interpret the apostles as representing all believers, then they need to be able to explain why Jesus chose apostles in the first place. he had many more followers/disciples than the twelve, and if he dosent intend to set certain people apart from the crowd why do it with the twelve?


HI justinthemartyr


Jesus never said to confess our sins directly to God. The bible never says to, it only implies it once.

I agree. However the bible only “implies” that after the apostles have received the Holy Spirit, in John 20:21-23, they have the power to forgive sins which is quoted a lot by Roman catholics.

The question was addressed at the following web page

This is some of the text

Question: Since it was Jesus who established the sacrament of Penance, why is it that Protestants do not confess
their sins to a priest?

Answer: Confession to a priest is not a biblical practice; it is not even a custom of the early church.

Our Lord taught us to confess our sins directly to God the Father.
He told us to pray, “Our Father in heaven…forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Reading the New Testament we do not find a single instance of the apostles hearing private confession; nor do we find the disciples confessing to a priest.

Looking at John 20:21-23

21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Do the apostles have the power to forgive sins or don’t they?

Anyone can receive the Holy Spirit. Once one does, the evidence will be apparent to all.

The bible says in Galatians 5…

Life by the Spirit

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.
They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 **But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. **
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

I believe the apostles received the Holy Spirit and Jesus was encouraging them to be a witness to that fact and to forgive anyone who sinned against them and not to hold grudges. They were not given the power to forgive sins.

The Lord’s Prayer says… “as we forgive those who trespass against us”…similiar theme

example…Someone steals from me and never return the goods. One day he may sincerely apologize to me. As a Christian, Jesus would want me to accept his apology and not hold any grudges whether or not he returned the goods to me.

Mark 11:25.26

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.

My acceptance of his apology does not absolve him from the sin he comitted against God and His commandment; I do not have that power, only God does.
After apologizing to me, the sinner still needs to make a personal confession to Jesus to be totally forgiven.


This theme is repeated in scripture many of time

Luke 6:37
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 17:3
So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
Matthew 6:12
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:14
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:15
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins
Luke 11:4
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
Matthew 6:15
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 18:21
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?“
Luke 17:4
If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”?“
Matthew 18:35
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

All the verses above are encouraging people to forgive others with their heart, in no case does anyone have the power
of complete absolution

The following verses tell us who is the only one that has the power to forgive sins, so that we may have eternal live.

Matthew 9:6
But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…"
Mark 2:10
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins …“
Luke 5:24
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”

Why do you believe Jesus repeated this three times in scripture?

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Acts 2:38
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The following verses let us know we are forgiven only by the blood of Jesus, No apostle bled for me, and I would not expect them to.

Matthew 26:28
This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Colossians 1:14
in whom we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 9:22
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Here is where Jesus directly forgives

Luke 5:20
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
Mark 2:5
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
Hebrews 8:12
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
Luke 23:34 (Whole Chapter)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

After all this, do you still believe that a priest has the power to forgive you of your sins?

justinthemartyr, I encourage you, do not give an answer based on tradition or other resource materials, but seek the answer, the truth from God himself one on one.

I do not believe he will give you a different answer than He gave me.

May we all agree on His truth,



Hi angelusm and charlie,

Bible doesn’t say “Bible only”, it’s Mr. Luther’s invention.

Invention??? Interesting you believe that. Look at it this way.

Angelusm, lets say you right an auto-biography.Someone who is the same age as you had a way to witness your life and writes a biography on you. If I wanted to get the most accurate information of your life, I would go to your auto-biography not to the biography.


You are my boss amd you tell me to do a project and say to me “if you have any questions ask me.” In the midst of the project, I need a question answered and instead of going to you,
I go to a “seasoned” 25 year dedicated employee. Only to find out that I made a mistake in the project. Reason…either I misunderstood the employee or the employee gave me the wronf indstruction.

Angelusm, my biggest mistake was not listening to you in the first place and going to you for the answer to my question.

I believe Luther recognized that the bible is

God’s “auto-biography” and our heavenly Father’s instructions to follow Him and for all to seek His advice first.

2 Timothy 3:15-17

Paul’s Charge to Timothy
15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

you said

Jesus gave the keys to heaven and the right to bind and loose to
Peter who was the first pope.

From the following web page…

It is evident that Christ gave authority to the apostle Peter. “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). At issue is whether this authority was unique to Peter. Evidently it was not, for soon afterwards Jesus gave exactly the same authority to all the apostles, “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Hence Peter had an authority similar to the other apostles, and not an authority over them.

you said

In normal conditions we have to confess our sins to a priest, In case of death it’s enough to confess the sins straight to God.

Angelusm, is it your belief God will not forgive a sinner if they confess only to Him under, as you said, “normal conditions”?
Is it your belief God will only forgive a sinner if they confess to Him as you said, “in case of death”?

Charlie Zeaiter

catholics believe in a Sacred Tradition

from web page…

“But,” the Catholic apologist protests, “Sacred Tradition should not be confused with mere traditions of men.
Jesus condemned traditions if they were contrary to God’s commands, but He never condemned Sacred Tradition.”

He never commended Sacred Tradition either! Jesus often referred to the Scriptures as the Word of God,
but He never promoted tradition of any sort to an equal status of the written Word. If effect the Roman Catholic
magisterium is repeating the same error of the Pharisees; they have exalted certain doctrines and practices
which had their origin in the post-apostolic period, and pronounced them as authoritative and binding on all believers.

you said

Catholics never believed that the bible is a complete encyclopedia for all times.

It would be a very thick book if it did. However, I believe what is contained in the bible is the raw truth right from our Heavenly Father.

the following gives info on the bible

The Bible is a unique book; it contains the mind of God, reveals our sinful condition, the way of salvation, the doom of the unrepentant and the happiness of believers. Its precepts and promises are true, guiding and comforting the faithful. Read it slowly, daily, prayerfully.
Know, believe and obey the Bible because it is the voice of the Lord to you.

Let us all agree on His truth



1 John 2:1 “But if anyone does sin we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous”

So while technically there may be no reason, humanly speaking we were designed not to carry the burden of sin (seperating ourselves from God) and confessing to another trusted person has great therapeutic benefit.




Hi SteveLy,


You’re only about half right here, which would make your theology completely wrong.

Yes, Christ is the source of all forgiveness of sins, but in your thinking you have either downplayed of forgotten some important and relevant passages of the Word of God.

III. Confession (LINK)

A. Confess your sins to men
	~ Leviticus 5:5-6 (All scripture: 2 Tim 3:16)
	      (Law is a shadow: Hebrews 10:1)
	~ 1 John 1:9
	~ James 5:16

B. Can men forgive sins?
	~ Only God has the power to forgive sins but He exercises this power through men.
	~ Mark 2:7
	~ Matthew 9:1-8

C. Instituted by Christ
	~ John 20:21-23

When the crowds saw it, they were afraid , and the glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
- Matthew 9:8[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”]2nd Corinthians 5:18 But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation. 20 For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.

That’s what John 20:21-23 is all about…otherwise it becomes nonsense, and it is certainly not that at all. 21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

The most a priest can do, like you said be a "therapeutic benefit"or be an accountability partner.

Here again you are only partly right and hence your theology (based upon the actual Word of God) is completely in error.

There is obviously these two aspects of sacramental confession, but it is errant to assert that these are the only benefits, especially in view of what the Word of God actually says.

IMO, one cannot tell others that they are basing their beliefs upon the Bible, (especially “the Bible alone”), and then turn around and make statements such as yours which clearly contradict the scriptures.[/FONT]:shrug:


If your church doesn’t have apostolic succession, your sins can’t be forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation.

By the way, confession is necessary only for mortal sins. We like to have a priest present when we come back into a state of grace. We also like to have a priest handy when we baptize, confirm, marry. . . . . .

Confession is not punishment, meant to humiliate you, or to beat a bigger tithe out of you. It is a humbling, sacramental way of presenting and acknowledging who we are and who God is.

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