Power to forgive to disciples?


#1

Something I’ve been wondering about… From our readings last weekend is this part from John 20:

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
**and whose sins you retain are retained." **

Was the power to forgive or retain sins granted to all of the disciples? Considering this verse, how do we support that only the Apostles, and hence Apostolic successors, have the power to forgive or retain?

Thanks!


#2

what is the difference between apostle and disciple?

Pio


#3

[quote=Sola] Something I’ve been wondering about… From our readings last weekend is this part from John 20:

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
**And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,****“Receive the Holy Spirit.****Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,****and whose sins you retain are retained.” **Was the power to forgive or retain sins granted to all of the disciples? Considering this verse, how do we support that only the Apostles, and hence Apostolic successors, have the power to forgive or retain?
Thanks!
[/quote]

Perhaps some help from John’s friends might help?

[quote=] Matthew 28:16 And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And seeing them they adored: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

18 “All power”… See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ’s church. He received from his Father all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power, he sends them (even as his Father sent him, St. John 20. 21) to teach and disciple, not one, but all nations; and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, not for three or four hundred years only, but all days, even to the consummation of the world. How then could the Catholic Church ever go astray; having always with her pastors, as is here promised, Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life. St. John 14.
[/quote]

[quote=] Mark 16:14 At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. 15 And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
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[quote=] Luke 24:33 And rising up, the same hour, they went back to Jerusalem: and they found the eleven gathered together, and those that were staying with them, 34 Saying: The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread. 36 Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.
[/quote]

It was the 11 Apostles that Jesus appeared to NOT all of His disciples.

May the peace and love of our Lord, Jesus the Christ, be with you
Tom


#4

Pio: in my understanding, a disciple is a follower (in this case, of Jesus) and an apostle a person chosen (by Jesus) for closer teaching.

Tom: do you think, at times, the terms “disciple” and "apostle’ are used interchangeably? So, even though the text in John 20 says “disciples”, it really meant the Eleven, the apostles?

I really appreciate your time.


#5

[quote=Sola]So, even though the text in John 20 says “disciples”, it really meant the Eleven, the apostles?
[/quote]

Check out verse 24 - " Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came."

Also, this early after the crucifixion, didn’t all the disciples but the Twelve disperse out of loss of faith and/or fear? I get the impression that Jesus is appearing to the apostles, who have regrouped and are hiding together.


#6

[quote=Sola] Tom: do you think, at times, the terms “disciple” and "apostle’ are used interchangeably? So, even though the text in John 20 says “disciples”, it really meant the Eleven, the apostles?
[/quote]

Absolutely, there are many instances where the Apostles are called disciples, they are in fact His disciples. In cases such as this seek the fuller meaning from other Books which represent the same story, this is why I quoted Matthew, Luke, and Mark, all three are speaking of the same occurance and each of them state it was the 11 Apostles. There is a lot of confusion when we take a verse such as in John and imply He was speaking to all of His disciples (more than the original 11), the other synoptic gospels expand the meaning of “disciples”. When you read Scripture you must be careful to note the audience addressed. You’ll note such as Matthew 5 where He speaks to the general populace, John 6 where He speaks to His disciples, then when the majority of His disciples leave Him He teaches His original Apostles. There are actually three different levels of teaching shown here. Read with me John 6 and notice (the changes in audience (also notice that His Apostles are called His disciples here)

[quote=] John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
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Notice how He performs miracles for the multitudes then removes Himself from the multitudes, to teach His disciples, yet weren’t all who followed Him His disciples? The intent here is clear, He is referring to the 12.


#7

[quote=] John 6:4 Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. 5 When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to try him; for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: 9 There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many? 10 Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.

11 And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. 12 And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. 13 They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. 14 Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world.
[/quote]

Again His miracles are done in the presence of the multitudes, then He leaves the multitudes, the next miracle is to His Apostles in the boat.

[quote=] 15 Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.
[/quote]

He retires by Himself here to perform His next miracle, this miracle is solely for the strength of His Apostles.

[quote=] 16 And when evening was come, his disciples went down to the sea. 17 And when they had gone up into a ship, they went over the sea to Capharnaum; and it was now dark, and Jesus was not come unto them. 18 And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 When they had rowed therefore about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking upon the sea, and drawing nigh to the ship, and they were afraid. 20 But he saith to them: It is I; be not afraid.
21 They were willing therefore to take him into the ship; and presently the ship was at the land to which they were going.
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#8

[quote=] 22 The next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea, saw that there was no other ship there but one, and that Jesus had not entered into the ship with his disciples, but that his disciples were gone away alone. 23 But other ships came in from Tiberias; nigh unto the place where they had eaten the bread, the Lord giving thanks. 24 When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they took shipping, and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus. 25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him: Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
26 Jesus answered them, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed. 28 They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent. 30 They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work?
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. 34 They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread. 35 And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.
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Here He teaches the multitudes about the coming Eucharist.


#9

[quote=] John 6:41 The Jews therefore murmured at him, because he had said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then saith he, I came down from heaven? 43 Jesus therefore answered, and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me.
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[quote=] 44 “Draw him”… Not by compulsion, nor by laying the free will under any necessity, but by the strong and sweet motions of his heavenly grace.
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[quote=] John 6:46 Not that any man hath seen the Father; but he who is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. 52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. 53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
[/quote]

[quote=] 54 “Eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood”… To receive the body and blood of Christ, is a divine precept, insinuated in this text; which the faithful fulfil, though they receive but in one kind; because in one kind they receive both body and blood, which cannot be separated from each other. Hence, life eternal is here promised to the worthy receiving, though but in one kind. Ver. 52. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world. Ver. 58. He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. Ver. 59. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.
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[quote=] John 6:56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 59 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. 60 These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum.
[/quote]

He is teaching the broader group of disciples about His Holy Eucharist. Next note that the disciples leave Him, but His original Apostles remain. They cannot accept the teaching of His true presence in the Eucharist. See that His Apostles do not understand either, but they know He is God and have faith in Him


#10

[quote=] 61 Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? 62 But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? 63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. 65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.
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[quote=] 63 “If then you shall see”… Christ by mentioning his ascension, by this instance of his power and divinity, would confirm the truth of what he had before asserted; and at the same time correct their gross apprehension of eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, in a vulgar and carnal manner, by letting them know he should take his whole body living with him to heaven; and consequently not suffer it to be as they supposed, divided, mangled, and consumed upon earth.
64 “The flesh profiteth nothing”… Dead flesh separated from the spirit, in the gross manner they supposed they were to eat his flesh, would profit nothing. Neither doth man’s flesh, that is to say, man’s natural and carnal apprehension, (which refuses to be subject to the spirit, and words of Christ,) profit any thing. But it would be the height of blasphemy, to say the living flesh of Christ (which we receive in the blessed sacarament, with his spirit, that is, with his soul and divinity) profiteth nothing. For if Christ’s flesh had profited us nothing, he would never have taken flesh for us, nor died in the flesh for us.
64 “Are spirit and life”… By proposing to you a heavenly sacrament, in which you shall receive, in a wonderful manner, spirit, grace, and life, in its very fountain.
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[quote=] John 6:66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. 67 After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.
[/quote]

Back to His original Apostles.

[quote=] 68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? 69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 70 And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. 71 Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? 72 Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve.
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#11

[quote=Sola]Something I’ve been wondering about… From our readings last weekend is this part from John 20:
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
**and whose sins you retain are retained." **
Was the power to forgive or retain sins granted to all of the disciples? Considering this verse, how do we support that only the Apostles, and hence Apostolic successors, have the power to forgive or retain?
Thanks!
[/quote]

Now, back to the original question, who was the audience that these verses speak to? Matthew, Mark, and Luke all concur that it is the original 11 Apostles. The power to forgive sins was given to them alone, not the broader disciples, not the whole Church, not the multitudes. The same reasoning goes for the leaders of the Church having the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead them to all truth. This charism is guaranteed only to the Apostles and their successors. Does everyone enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit? Of course, but, we are not assured that we will be led to all truth outside of the Catholic Church.


#12

[quote=Tom]Now, back to the original question, who was the audience that these verses speak to? Matthew, Mark, and Luke all concur that it is the original 11 Apostles. The power to forgive sins was given to them alone, not the broader disciples, not the whole Church, not the multitudes. The same reasoning goes for the leaders of the Church having the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead them to all truth. This charism is guaranteed only to the Apostles and their successors. Does everyone enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit? Of course, but, we are not assured that we will be led to all truth outside of the Catholic Church.
[/quote]

Thanks Tom - great job!! :yup:

Phil


#13

[quote=Sola]Was the power to forgive or retain sins granted to all of the disciples? Considering this verse, how do we support that only the Apostles, and hence Apostolic successors, have the power to forgive or retain?

Thanks!
[/quote]

Sola,

This question also came up in another thread, in the Scripture forum I think. The word “Apostles” never appears in John’s Gospel. So when John says “disciples,” it frequently means the Twelve.

  • Liberian

#14

Tom, thank you very much for your work and time in responding to me. The verses that you have quoted to illustrate the use of “disciples” really helps and definitely gives a broader picture of the meaning. Also, comparing the same event in the other Gospels clarifies the John version. Thank you!

I would’ve responded sooner but our home computer died on Friday.

Liberian, if true, that is a good point. I’ll check that out.

:blessyou:


#15

[quote=Sola]Something I’ve been wondering about… From our readings last weekend is this part from John 20:

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
**and whose sins you retain are retained." **

Was the power to forgive or retain sins granted to all of the disciples? Considering this verse, how do we support that only the Apostles, and hence Apostolic successors, have the power to forgive or retain?

Thanks!
[/quote]

John was in the habit of refering to The Twelve as the desciples.


#16

SOLA,

Based on your answer and understanding about the meaning of the passage, you are saying you too have the power to forgive and retain sins (if you consider to be a disciple)? Or can any follower of CHrist, literally any Christian have this authority to forgive and retain sins?

Pio


#17

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