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EverestoSama
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Joined: 2010/5/17
Posts: 1175


 John 20:23

John 20:23

"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.(NASB)

Brothers, the last few days I've been trying to get my mind around this verse. I'm still trying to figure it out and have not come to any solid conclusion. What are some of the views on what's fully being implied and being given here? If some of you could provide some good exegesis I'd love to read it.

Don't be shy.

 2010/7/5 9:30Profile
TrueWitness
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Joined: 2006/8/10
Posts: 535


 Re: John 20:23

The question is about the last part of that verse. Is he suggesting that there are times in which we should retain someone's sins? The answer is NO.
We should always forgive no matter what.
Mat 6:15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
So every time you read John 20:23, remember Mat 6:15
That clause "if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained" is given as a WARNING so that you WON'T do it.

 2010/7/5 14:20Profile









 Re: John 20:23

Everesto, I take this literally.

Let me back up a verse to give it a little more context.

"And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:22-23)

1) Jesus uttered these words after the resurrection.

2) The gospel of John doesn't have the kind of "Great Commission" other gospels have, coming after the resurrection.

3) The authority to forgive people's sins is given immediately after the disciples receive the Holy Spirit.

4) Three of the chief results of receiving the Holy Spirit are a) the authority to forgive people's sins, b) the inclination to forgive people's sins, and c) the willingness to forgive people's sins.

5) The authority and willingness to forgive sins is not reserved to priests or ordained clergy. It is given to all of Christ's followers.

6) In context, no mention is made of repentance. Christ gave us awesome authority in this regard.

7) Jesus forgave people apart from their personal repentance. On two occasions, Jesus forgave people their sins with no word of repentance coming from the person forgiven.

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'" (Matthew 9:1-2)

"And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:19-21)

8) Notice the Pharisees upset at what they viewed Jesus' arrogance and presumption--forgiving sins. They didn't realize that Jesus had all authority, including the authority to forgive sins.

9) We have a difficult time realizing that God gave us the same authority to forgive sins--even in the absence of people's repentance.

10) If I am interacting with someone living in sin, I forgive them, and focus on loving them. I don't focus on "getting them to repent."

11) Don't get me wrong. Repentance is important. But I leave the timing and the content of people's sanctification to God. I don't determine the timing and the content of people's sanctification.

12) I find I have my hands full with my own sanctification and repentance, without taking responsibility for other people's sanctification and repentance.

13) God may give other people the ministry of calling people to repentance. Remember, there is a diversity of gifts and callings. Not all of us are called to do the same thing.

So, I believe Jesus gave us the authority to forgive sins, and he also gave us examples of how he did it.

"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

Remember, Jesus was accused of blasphemy because the Pharisees did not realize the authority he possessed. Jesus gave us that same authority, and we will probably be accused of blasphemy, too.

 2010/7/5 14:47









 Re: True Witness and Retaining Sins

I absolutely agree with you, True Witness. We should never "retain" people's sins, but always forgive.

This is related to the Jeremiah 31 passage being discussed elsewhere.

"No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:34)

Under the new covant described by Jeremiah, "no longer will a man teach his neighbor...because they will all know me...because I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

To minister under the new covenant, we must follow God's example.

We must forgive people's wickedness.

We must no more remember their sins.

Forgive and forget. Everyone's sins.

This is how ministry is done under the New Covenant as described by Jeremiah, as lived out by Christ, and as commanded by Christ in John 20:22-23.

 2010/7/5 14:58
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: John 20:23

Classically the Roman Catholic church has claimed that this is priestly authority which was given originally to the apostles and then passed on in 'apostolic succession' by the laying of hands of people in a direct line from Peter.

The Episcopalians tend to 'pronounce the absolution' rather than take the authority themselves. They 'declare' forgiveness for those who fulfil the conditions for forgiveness.

I have some thoughts but I do think this is a difficult verse. It may be helpful to remember that this was written some 60 years after the event by John who also has this statement in his letter...

"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." 1 John 5:16

I think this reflects the era in which John writes, at the end of the apostolic age. There is no hint inJohn's letter of special powers for apostles or anyone else. Most evangelical commentators link this with the 'sending' of the previous verse and then see the effective 'releasing or retaining' of sins as being the result of the hearers' response to that gospel.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2010/7/5 15:02Profile
InTheLight
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Joined: 2003/7/31
Posts: 2772
Phoenix, Arizona USA

 Re:

Quote:
I have some thoughts but I do think this is a difficult verse...There is no hint here of special powers for apostles or anyone else.



I agree that this passage is difficult and it has been debated over for a long, long time. However, I do believe that Jesus here commissioned His Apostles to go preach the gospel as He had preached it. I believe that He also is giving them a peculiar authority and power to [i]declare[/i] who's sins are forgiven and who's are not forgiven.

I believe that is exactly what the Apostles did as a simple reading of the Book of Acts will reveal. When Peter said, "repent ye, and be converted..." and Paul said, "to you is the word of salvation sent" and "through this man is preached forgiveness of sins, and by him all that beleieve are justified" , they were opening with authority the door of salvation so that sinners would enter in.

On the other hand, I do not believe that this passage sanctions absolution or private confession as some might believe it does. I beleieve that kind of thinking robs Christ of his authority as sole Mediator between God and men.

Whatever you believe this passage teaches, I think it is clear that every minister should tremble at the deep sense of importance that comes with his office.

In Christ,

Ron


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Ron Halverson

 2010/7/5 15:29Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Thanks Ron, I am with you on this.

I have wondered too at the significance of this event only recorded by John.

"Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
John 20:20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”" John 20:19–23 NKJV

This event seems to synchronise with Luke 24:36. At that time he specifically opened the understanding of the apostles so that they could understand the scriptures. Luke 24:45. I have long associated this special enduement of the Spirit with this authoritative interpretation of the scripture which was given to the apostles. This would then link strongly with the 'loosing and retaining' mentioned in Matt 18:18. Scribes had authority to fix a meaning of scripture and thereby they defined orthodoxy and righteousness. I think in the context of Matt 18 this really has nothing to so with the contemporary understanding of 'binding spirits' but does convey authority of interpretation. In that sense to have authority to interpret scripture authoritatively would effectively define 'sin' in some circumstances.

I think we sometimes forgot the unique role that the apostles had in faithfully expounding scripture with a special inspiration which is unlike that of a contemporary preacher. This enduement of the Spirit would then not be a pointer to Pentecost as is sometimes suggested but a distinct and unique empowering of the apostles for their unique role as witnesses.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2010/7/5 15:46Profile









 Re: The "Difficulty" of John 20:23

"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

I believe this verse is "difficult" for us for the same reason it was "difficult" for the Pharisees to accept it when Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

The Pharisees replied, "This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!"

We feel it is blasphemous to think that we Christians have the authority to forgive sins, for the very same reason the Pharisees did.

If Jesus gave us the authority to forgive sins, and we don't believe it, well, there it is. We don't believe what Jesus said.

We must not allow our formulas to interfere with the words of God the Messiah.

If Jesus shared his authority with me, then I am not robbing God of anything when I exercise that authority.

I am not robbing God of his authority if he gave that authority to me.

 2010/7/5 15:47
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I am not robbing God of his authority if he gave that authority to me.



That is certainly true but unless you were in the upper room this authority has not been given to you.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2010/7/5 15:52Profile









 Re: The Upper Room

"That is certainly true but unless you were in the upper room this authority has not been given to you."

It sounds as though you're saying that this scripture doesn't apply to us today. I'm doing my best to hear Christ's words and obey them, building my house on a rock.

With the multitude of scriptures dealing with forgiveness, it is interesting that you believe this one does not apply to us.

That seems rather arbitrary to me. Very selective.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ." (Ephesians 4:32)


 2010/7/5 17:31





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