Do we have authority to forgive sins?
"My son, I have always loved, accepted and forgiven you---now, come join the party." The Parable of the Prodigal Son by Guercino (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) I'm often asked about something Jesus said to his disciples following his resurrection: ...“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. ” (John 20:21-23 emphasis added) Is Jesus declaring that his followers have authority to forgive sin or to withhold forgiveness? Some think so, but note the context here---John is giving his account of the commissioning of Jesus' disciples (the Synoptic Gospels give another account). When Jesus says to his disciples, "I am sending you" (John 20:21) John likely intends that we recall what Jesus had earlier prayed to the Father: “As you sent me into the wo