Scholarly Comments on the One Who Forgives

April 17, 2011

This post compiles some scholarly comments about Jesus as the One who forgives our sins:

The Pharisees’ attitude is probably like that expressed in [Luke] 5:21: ‘Who can forgive sins but God?’ In Luke-Acts, the right of Jesus to judge and thus forgive sins is one of Luke’s major claims, which shows one must deal with Jesus in order to be accepted by God (Luke 24:47; Acts 10:42; 17:31; on the Son of Man’s authority, see Luke 22:69; Acts 7:55-56). Here is raw eschatological authority, and the Pharisees know it. It is not the claim of a mere prophet. —Comments on Luke 7:49 by Darrell L. Bock, Luke 1:1-9:50 in BECNT, 707; bold added.

The term [Son of Man] is eschatological in Daniel; Jesus uses it in the same way in Matt. 24:30 and 26:64, and this is done also in the Revelation passages. But this Judge at the great consummation cannot be the judge only then, his work must reach back through the entire process of redemption, the consummation of which is the final judgment. [In Luke 5:24,] Jesus very properly thus expands the title and applies it to his person in the days of his humiliation. . . . Authority . . . to remit sins ‘on the earth’ during the era of grace comports with ‘the Son of man.’ To bring to us and to make our own this remission Jesus had to come on his great mission as ‘the Son of man.’ —Comments on Luke 5:24 by R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, 303; bold added.

The resurrected Jesus is announced to be the Judge-designate. . . . Without this point, we might be tempted to think of the resurrection as something tremendous that happened to him but which has no relation to us at all. Without this statement that the resurrected Lord is the Judge-designate, we might believe the story of Easter and comment, ‘Terrific! But after all, that was Jesus. What has that got to do with us?’ Verse 42 [of Acts 10] answers this question by linking our destiny to that of Jesus, for it tells us that Jesus is every man’s Judge. This statement says that the man whom God designated to judge us is the man executed on Golgotha and raised on Easter. If, then, our destiny depends on the verdict of this Judge, we must recognize that the story of Jesus is the story of the one who will be the arbiter of our status before God. Suddenly for each individual, the story of Jesus is transformed from a piece of interesting ancient history to the disclosure of ‘where my destiny hangs.’ This change makes the story of Jesus real news. But it still does not show why this is good news; it could just as well be bad news. . . . These words [v. 43] transform the information about Jesus into the good news for all mankind. According to this early sketch of the gospel, the good news consists of the headline that the Judge forgives those who believe on his name. That is, he forgives those who believe he is really the Judge. Here is the heart of the good news in this sermon: The Judge forgives. —Leander E. Keck, Mandate to Witness: Studies in the Book of Acts, 68-69; bold added.

Here [Acts 10:43] Peter underscores that it is faith in the Jesus he has just described that brings the forgiveness. So the way of salvation is through the judge of the living and the dead, by appealing to him to forgive sin, which leads into the way of peace through the gospel (v. 35). —Comments on Acts 10:42-43 by Darrell L. Bock, Acts, 400; bold added.

In agreement with Keck and Bock, Schnabel regards Acts 10:43 as an ”exhortation to turn in faith to this judge in order to receive [the] forgiveness of sins.” Eckhard J. Schnabel, Jesus and the Twelve, vol. 1 of Early Christian Mission, 713; bold added.

What do you think about these scholarly comments? Do you agree with their saying that Jesus is the Judge who forgives sin?

Rajesh

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