REMISSION OF SINS
John 20:23 "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."
This is the promise Jesus made to his apostles. This passage is sometimes used to prove that a Catholic priest today has the power to remit or absolve one from his sins inasmuch as the priests are the successors of the apostles.
First, how was this power to be administered? This was not a promise that gave the apostles personal pardoning power. They would be given words by the Holy Spirit by which those who heard would receive remission of sins. We hear Peter on Pentecost accusing the Jewish audience of crucifying the Son of God. In answer to their question, "what shall we do?" he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). His message was one of salvation or remission. 3000 people were granted remission of sins by Peter's message on that occasion.
Later on, he used the other part of the promise when he told Simon "... thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:21-23). Simon learned that his sins would be retained, lest he repent.
We have no scripture that promises that anyone would be successors of the apostles. Their's was a unique office. They were personally called by the Lord and were witnesses of the resurrected Christ. No one today has the qualifications of apostleship and, also, there is no promise of such, therefore there are no successors to the apostolic office.
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