I Am Having Trouble Understanding John 20:20-23: Did Jesus Give the Apostles and the Church the Power to Forgive Sin?
John 20:23 is the specific verse in question:
“‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
This statement by Jesus firmly establishes the fact that the Church of God is to be administered, but only in the context of God’s laws. Note in verse 21, Jesus states, “‘…As the Father has sent Me, I also send you’” (compare John 17:18). Of Himself, Jesus emphatically stated that His role was to fulfill the Father’s Will:
“‘I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me’” (John 5:30; compare John 5:19; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10).
Likewise, the Church is to act in accordance with the Will of God. Jesus said that only he “‘who does the will of My Father in heaven’” would enter God’s Kingdom (Matthew 7:21). Paul emphasized that Christians must live “doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6). He prayed that the brethren might “be filled with the knowledge of His (God’s) will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). Both Peter (1…