If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
This verse drives me insane. I tried to look some things up, trying to find a decent Protestant explanation of this verse. It probably deserves much more serious research than the brief looking around that I did, but I did what I could for right now.
*From the little commentary in my Bible: *The disciples are to preach both the way of salvation and the way of damnation explaining how sinners can be forgiven and the danger of rejecting the gospel. Whether or not the hearers’ sins are forgiven depends on their acceptance or rejection of Christ.
Oh my. Isn’t that stretching it a bit?
The second and third will be a copy/paste from a website.
First, these words, spoken by the Lord after His resurrection, can be understood as merely conveying to the Apostles who were going forth to evangelize the world their commission. In this sense the words of Jesus authorize the Apostles to admit those whom they judged fit into the kingdom of grace and forgiveness, and to refuse admission into it to those whom they judged unfit. This is the Patristic understanding of the text as may be seen by the comment of Cyril of Alexandria (A.D. 412444) on it.
However, there is a second interpretation of John 20:23. As persons in Scripture are said to do that which they were commissioned to announce would he done (see, for example, 1 Kings 19:17; Jer. 1:10; Hos. 6:5), our Lords words in John may he paraphrased: You are commissioned to go forth and preach that My blood has been shed to take away sin, and whosoever believes your message and accepts the Gospel offered will be freely forgiven (see Luke 24:47). It is important to note that the Lord is speaking to the whole body of disciples, and not the Apostles only. This fact is proved from a comparison of the accounts given by Mark, Luke, and John. Thus the words of Jesus in John 20:23 are a commission to the whole Church, not just to the Apostles. Furthermore, as the word whosesoever (plural in the original Greek) proves, it is classes of men and not individuals which are referred to, in other words, those who repent and believe the Gospel.
Whichever interpretation is taken it is clear that the text has nothing whatever to do with an ordinance of Confession and Absolution.
I was at another website that looked okay for a minute, but I was so put off by the term “Romish” that I just quit there. I’m not in a great mood right now anyway. :mad:
And from the quote I quoted above, those interpretations are stretches too.
Lords words in John may he paraphrased: You are commissioned to go forth and preach that My blood has been shed to take away sin, and whosoever believes your message and accepts the Gospel offered will be freely forgiven
No, they may not be paraphrased that way because that’s not even paraphrasing. That’s utterly, unabashedly adding stuff. Isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that just a stretch? Is it something that’s been interpreted “in light of other scriptures?”
I have asked around, just a few fellow Bible thumpers. Most of them give me a variation of the stuff I’ve quoted above.
Either there is no satisfactory Protestant explanation for this verse or I am not looking hard enough.