Can only God forgive sins?

by André Piet
February 20th, 2013


Does Mark 2:7 prove that Jesus is God?


In Mark 2 we read that Jesus said to a paralytic: "your sins are forgiven" (2:5). Some scribes who heard this, felt:

Blaspheming is he! Who is able to pardon sins except One–God? (2:7). (CLV)

Does this text prove, as is being claimed by traditional Christian theology, that Jesus, here indeed, asserted Himself to be God? When one would rely on the conclusion of these Bible scholars, then certainly, such He would be. But is it not much wiser to listen to what Jesus, Himself, said? That He could forgive sins, was not because He was God, but because He, as the Son of Mankind, had received this power.

10 "Now, that you may be perceiving that the Son of Mankind has authority on earth to pardon sins" (He is saying to the paralytic), 11 "To you am I saying, Rouse, and pick up your pallet and go into your house." (CLV)

The word "power" here (Gr. exousia) is literally, "proxy", i.e., a delegated authority (see e.g. Mark 13:34). It is true that only God can forgive sins, but what Jesus declares here is that He, as "the Son of man" (= Ben Adam, Psalm 8:5), was authorized by God to forgive sins. This authorization He proves by healing the paralytic, right there and then. Jesus disproves the charge of the scribes, not by confirming that He was indeed God, but on the contrary, by stating that He, as "the Son of man", was authorized to do what He did. Would Jesus really have asserted to be God, He would, here, not have spoken as "the Son of Man". Neither about having "proxy power" ("delegated authority").


Translation: Peter Feddema

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