In John's Gospel, Jesus said: "23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven." Actually, that's not quite what it means in Greek.
First of all the word "forgive" in Greek doesn't quite mean what we mean when we use the English word. The Greek word means to "send away," "remit." Or more simply it means to "remove" sin and it's penalty. It's not saying that you will forget or ignore it. It's more active than that. It means to actually "remove" it, like removing a cancer from your body or the body of another.
That's why the Pharisees were so upset with Jesus for "removing" sins. "Who can remove (pardon) sin but God alone" was not a question of Jesus' authority to do so, but a question of his POWER to do so.
This is SO important to note: Jesus just gave the disciples his breath (Spirit) and then said to them in effect, "now you have the power to remove sin, just like I did while I was with you." That's why the impartation of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sin are so closely linked by Jesus in these verses. One implies the other.
Do you have Jesus' breath? Then you have the power to remove sin!
Secondly, there is no future tense in the above verse, in the Greek. In Greek it is a grammatical structure that doesn't exist in English. To make sense in English the translator uses the future tense. However, that really destroys the meaning of the second part. "But if you don't gain mastery of their sin" Jesus doesn't use the same verb in the second part of the verse. TOTALLY different word. TOTALLY different meaning. "Krateo" means to "take power over something," "grab," etc. It implies a degree of FORCE over something.
And then the next word is spectacular: "he would have already been mastered by it, over powered by it." SAME verb, krateo, passive, perfect tense, subjunctive mood.
So what Jesus is saying here is more like this: "If you remove someone's sin, then that sin is toast, finished, gone forever. But if you don't gain mastery over their sin (by force), then their previous condition would remain, they would have already been mastered by it. The object of these verbs is the person who is mastered by sin, which you have the power to remove.
Jesus is not saying you have two options: forgive sin or not to forgive sin. He is saying that you have an obligation to remove their sin, because if you don't they will be doomed.
That's why Jesus gave his breath to us, so that we could remove sin from others.
At least, that's what it says in Greek. Your English bible might not say the same thing.
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