[quote="ErricFiggy, post:1, topic:312412"]
Hello all :)
I was reading up on Confession in order to highlight and make notes in my new Bible, and I came across something I hadn't noticed before. In Matthew 9:8, it says
"8*When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men."
So then the question occurred to me: who were the men in the passage if the Apostles hadn't been granted the authority to forgive sins until later?
It seems that the crowd in this situation simply used the term "men" in a general way (i.e., "mankind"), and that Jesus was the only person they were specifically considering. As far as the crowd could tell, the paralytic had not done anything to offend Jesus, and yet Jesus told him his sins were forgiven. In other words, Jesus was behaving in the manner of God (i.e., Jesus behaved as if he were the one that this man had ultimately sinned against, and he behaved as if he had the right and authority to forgive sins). Normally, Jews would have considered Jesus' actions to be either insane or blasphemous, but a miraculous healing accompanied the act of Jesus declaring the man's sins to be forgiven (and therefore signifying divine approval of the situation).
The crowd did not have a developed understanding of exactly who Jesus was, and many thought that he may at best be a prophet. But, ordinarily, even prophets cannot forgive sins, because only God can forgive sins. To the crowd, the situation described by Matthew seemed to be a reversal of this, because God the Father had given the ability to forgive sins to this man (Jesus), and therefore (generally speaking) it was a divine privilege that God had decided to bestow upon mankind (even if it only happened to be limited to this one instance, which, of course, it was not). Hence, Matthew tells us that they glorified God because they saw that God "had given such authority to men" (a.k.a., "to mankind"). But the context does not seem to suggest that the crowd was thinking about the Apostles as well as Jesus. Moreover, as you pointed out, the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is generally understood to have taken place at a later time.