Q. As a former Catholic it was such a revelation to find out I did not need a middleman (priest) to go to the Father to confess my sins and be forgiven. But in reading John 20:19-23 where Jesus states “if you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven and if you do not, they are not forgiven”. My question is, how can a man, even someone as close to Jesus as an apostle, forgive sins? Is not that only for the Father to do?
A. John 20:19-23 doesn’t say what you think it does. In effect Jesus was delegating the authority to accept a person into the church. From that day forward the disciples (and through them us) would be authorized to grant membership in the church to everyone who admitted to being a sinner in need of a Savior and asked the Lord to forgive their sins. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that He gave them this authority when He did. They had just received the Holy Spirit, who gives us the discernment to know when a person is being sincere.