Good morning, Sister.
Apologies for the delay. I trust you are well.
Concerning John 20:19-23:
‘In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you,” and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord, and he said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained.”’
You have written:
‘I'm not too sure what Jesus meant by this statement in John. It sure does sound like Jesus meant that the Apostles could forgive sin.’
I'm trying to put different thoughts together and it always seems complicated to me.
Here they are:
Jesus was acting as God.
Only God could forgive sins of man.
The Apostles were men...how could they possibly forgive sin?
Jesus also could not have meant for them to forgive personally those that sin against them (apostles) personally because that would deny Jesus' teaching about forgiving others....We must forgive, not retain the forgiveness.
I don't see how we could be sure what Jesus meant.
The letters were written first and the gospels many years later.
Jesus might have meant something we cannot fathom.
As Mungo posted above, even the ECFs taught that we must confess our sins...
but they do not state how this is to be done.
In fact, confession changed from the beginning and so this leads me to question the practice.
The notion that the ‘authority to either forgive people's sins or to retain them was given only to the disciples by Christ after he had died and risen, before he ascended into heaven, and before Pentecost’ (reference Post 123; my emphasis) makes sense only if we assume that Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) was simply an apocalyptic prophet – one of many in his day – who did not expect the world to survive the lifetime of his contemporaries.
You and I are agreed that Yeshua intended the Church – however we define that term – to endure through the ages.
I don't understand what this has to do with the question at hand.
Jesus was Jesus, no matter when He spoke, He spoke with authority.
And it's obvious, as you state below, that this particular command (and some others) was given only to the Apostles.
Knowing that he would not be always be with his Church – visibly – Yeshua delegated his power to the Apostles; a power that could – and indeed must have – be passed on to their successors and agents, to be exercised for as long as sinning is a way of life. This is the meaning that the Church has always given to this pericope.
I must say that not all priests are in agreement with purgatory but they're all in agreement regarding confession as is practiced in the CC. (at least the few priests I know).
OK.Please see my post in the thread ‘Development of Doctrine’. It concerns the need for confession, and follows on from this post.