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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a few more questions. The first is about confessing sins to a priest. You gave the Biblical reference of John 20:19-23. I have read this, and all of the Scripture around this, and I'm not entirely sure this is what it means.

It seems to me Jesus is talking only to his disciples in this instance, not to us. He is saying that he has given his disciples the power to let people know that their sins are forgiven, rather than giving them the actual power to forgive. He is, however, giving them the power to say that someone's sins are not forgiven.

I believe what Jesus was really doing is letting the disciples know they have to go and preach the Good News to those who don't know about Him.

Your Brother in Christ,


  { Can you defend the Church's interpretation of John 20:19-23 on confessing your sins to a priest? }

John replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

The Greek for those verses in John about Confession makes your interpretation impossible.

It says literally, whose sins you shall forgive, or will forgive, will be forgiven. Further, it says whose sins you shall, or will retain, will be retained. This is crucial.

This is not just an ability to declare that some sin has been forgiven by Christ's past action.
This gives specific power to judge:

  • if a person is repentant
  • has a purpose to amend their life, and
  • will strive not to commit the given sin or sins in question.

I hope this helps you better understand this passage.


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