The Thomas Pages homepage
The Authority to Forgive Sin
The erroneous Roman Catholic teaching which gives special authority to its ordained priests to forgive sin is based upon a selective interpretation of Holy Scripture. This false assumption has then been perpetuated by the Christian Church's ignorance concerning why Christ frequently used the phrase "son of man" for Himself.
Through the centuries of Christian history, this special prerogative of the priesthood has helped blind the minds of the faithful to the critically important position which each believer holds in the strategy of God toward our present age.
Selective Interpretation  
The error alleges that Christ gave this authority to forgive to His apostles alone, the ten present in the upper room on the evening of the day of His resurrection when He first appeared to them as a group, and that thereafter this authority is passed on only to those in ordained apostolic succession to these first apostles.
Judas Iscariot was dead,
and Thomas was missing.
A comparison of the report in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus gave this authority-to-forgive, with Luke's inspired report on the same situation, makes it plain that more than the apostles were present on that occasion, and therefore they were also the recipients of Christ's authorisation to forgive sin. Cleopas and his friend were there, as well as 'those who were with them' (Lk.24), when the Lord first stood among them in the evening of the day of His resurrection and spoke the words which John reports –
"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
'Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld'.
John 20:22-23.
This authorisation is, in Christ's words, a product, or result of the spiritual life imparted to the believer, every believer, through the Holy Spirit. The resuurection day enacted metaphor of Christ breathing on His disciples before making this statement re-enacts God breathing into Adam through which Adam received life.
The reference to the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with the day of Pentecost act of God. It has to do with the new life which every believer receives, being born of the Spirit (as Adam's spiritual life) – as a direct consequence of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, as is explained to us by the Apostle Paul –
  "...made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved,
and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus...".
Ephesians 2:5-6.
Christ as 'son of man'  
Contrary to the common teaching that 'son of man' is a messianic title (in other words, applicable only to Jesus), the Bible uses the phrase as a poetic synonym for 'human'. It is a Semitic idiom, common in the Old Testament, and was Christ's favourite manner of referring to Himself because it emphasised His humanity. The phrase 'Son of God' was a messianic title drawn from Psalm2, not 'son of man'.
In Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic the phrase "son of..." turns its attached noun into an adjective.
As the channel of God's presence, all Christians through the gift of the Holy Spirit are, as Jesus, to speak God's mind. By the anointing resting upon Him then, Jesus said –
  "'For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know that the son-of-man has authority on earth to forgive sins',
He then said to the paralytic, 'Rise, pick up your bed and go home'."
Matthew 9:5-6.
These words of Jesus, linking His authority to forgive sins to His capacity as 'son of man' (that is, His life 'in our shoes'), are repeated in the parallel accounts of this incident in both Mark (2:10) and Luke (5:24).
•  Mark reports to us the very significant words of the Lord Jesus concerning His authority over the Sabbath –  
"He said to them,  
  'The Sabbath was made for man [humanity],
  not man [humanity] for the Sabbath.
Therefore  the son-of-man [this human] is lord [in charge] even of the Sabbath'."
Christ's humanity
gave Him authority!
Mark 2:27-28.
The words before the 'therefore' or 'so' (in some translations) must add up to the conclusion that follows for Christ's statement to be true. In other words, Christ's human identity, lived as it ought to be, was the basis of His lordship/authority over the Sabbath – that new humanity given to us all through HIs death and resurrection. Hallelujah!
The Lord Jesus said with emphasis –
"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God [the Messiah],
and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.
And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man
[human, as human should be]"
John 5:25-27.

Catholic Church Behaviour
Denominational Raison D'être
Anglican Church Behaviour

Copyright © Lloyd Thomas 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Feel free to copy, as long as this full copyright notice is included.