Wednesday, September 26, 2007

God and the Priest: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my debate with "kobe" on the meaning of Jn 20:21-23. I seem to be making some progress here, so I feel good about the direction of this debate so far.

See Part 1 here.

Pax Christi,
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ah, alot to respond to. :-)
1. Sorry if I gave you the impression I was judging you. By no means my friend!! I said what I did about you probably looking forward to me responding with Scripture and such so you could because it seems like you LOVE your Scripture and know it well! And because you have long posts. ;-)
Oh, well good! I try to keep my posts short, but sometimes I just can't help it.
2. Yes, of course I believe in being God's instrument, when it comes to ministry. Forgiveness of sins is totally different, IMHO.
This is progress! Now that we have established that God can and does use men to accomplish his Will, we can move on to asking whether or not God uses man to accomplish this particular task of forgiving sin.

Jn 20:21-23 is a clear "Yes" to that question:

21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

When Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon them, he gave them the Power to forgive sin. This power to forgive that Jesus possessed in virtue of his relationship to the Father is now being passed on to the Apostles. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

Note also that the only other time the Greek word for this "breathing" (emphusao) is used is when the Septuagint translates the Hebrew of Gen 2:7, where God breathes life into Adam. Thus, the Apostles are being made a new creation and being sent out with the mission of the New Adam: to reconcile men to God. "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18).

Now, I have no doubt that, in a sense, this is done by preaching the Gospel. But it is also done, in a most profound way, by "forgiving the sins of any" as Jesus gives the Apostles the power to do.
3. as for the other Scriptures from your first post. I thought they were interesting how you interpreted them, but I don't see any of them having to do with Jn 20:23, except maybe the 2 Cor 2 Scripture, which I just looked up.
Mt 9:2-8 is relavent b/c it says that "Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (vs. 6) and that God has given the authority to forgive sins to men (vs. 8). Of course, the authority on earth was first that of Jesus himself. But, by passing this authority on the apostles (in Jn 20:21-23) the Son of man insures that he will always have authority on earth to forgive sins, and he validates the astonishment of the crowd, who could not believe that God gave such authority to men.

James 5:14-15 is relavent b/c it shows the elders of the Church doing exactly what Jesus did in Mt 9:2-8. They are healing a man of his infirmity and forgiving him of his sin.
Man, it's been a LONG time since I dived into the NT, I barely remember studying this chapter, but... I still that see that reference basically as Paul encouraging his church to be more forgiving and accepting of the sinner and not to worry about what he thinks. That they should forgive him and comfort him, so as not to give way to satan and unforgiveness in their hearts or hold the sinner in bondage.
My point in using that passage was to show that when a priest forgives someone of their sin, he does it in persona Christi, "in the person of Christ," just as Paul did when he forgave others. When the priest acts in the person of Christ, it is as if Christ is truly present, forgiving us of our sin. The priest makes God present in God's act of forgiveness. He, the priest, is able to do this b/c of the power first given to the Apostles.

I hope that helps

Pax Christi,

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