Schnabel on Forgiveness of Sins through Jesus as the Judge

November 1, 2013

What is the content of the message that brings forgiveness of sins to any sinner? Are you sure that your sins are forgiven?

At the climax of his gospel message to many lost people in Caesarea, the apostle Peter proclaimed how they could have their sins forgiven:

Act 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Why did Peter end his gospel message with these words, which to many people seem an odd way to climax a message about the good news through Jesus Christ?

In his commentary on Acts, Schnabel helpfully explains these verses:

The content of the proclamation is “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ” (v. 36) and Jesus’ role as “judge” (κριτής) of “the living and the dead” (v. 42c-d), i.e., of all people. This is the role of the heavenly Son of Man of Daniel’s vision, to whom God gave the authority to execute judgment (Dan. 7:13-14; Luke 12:8). Presiding at the last judgment is a divine function. The reference to Jesus’ role as judge may at first sight seem surprising, but note the connection with the beginning of Peter’s speech (which began with a reference to God’s impartiality, v. 34) and with its center (in which Jesus was described as “Lord of all,” v. 36). The universal scope of Jesus’ role as judge is tied to the universal scope of his status as Lord, which in turn is connected with the fact that forgiveness of sins—the decisive factor for the divine verdict on the day of judgment—is found only through Jesus Christ. This is the emphasis of the next verse. . . . 

At the end of his explanation of the message of Jesus and its significance, Peter emphasizes that forgiveness can be obtained by everyone who believes in Jesus. God grants forgiveness of sins “through” (διά) Jesus (cf. 2:38), God’s appointed judge of all people (v. 42). If the Judge himself is involved in forgiving sins, the accused will certainly go free since the sins that have been committed will not affect the outcome of the trial. 

However, people must receive (λαβεῖν) forgiveness of sins; it is not simply “declared” as a reality that affects all people. It can and will be received by “all people,” whether they are Jews, Greeks, or Romans (note the context of the speech), who believe in Jesus (πιστεύοντα εἰς αὐτόν), i.e., who acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all and as Judge of all and as the one through whom God makes forgiveness of sins possible.

—Eckhard J. Schnabel, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts, 503-504; bold added

Based on what Peter preached at the climax of his gospel message, have you believed in Jesus properly to receive the forgiveness of your sins?


For more help with this all-important matter, please see The Gospel of God and His Christ and The Good News for All.

For other scholarly comments about this vital passage, see Scholarly Comments on the One Who Forgives

Rajesh

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