The Trinitarian Claim
Trinitarians claim that only God can forgive sins. In this passage, the Pharisees declare that only God can forgive sins. But here Jesus forgives sins and therefore it is claimed he must be God.
Examination of the Claim
Trinitarians are Missing the Very Point of this Narrative
Who can forgive sins? Answer: The human being whom God gave authority to forgive sins. The man Jesus of Nazareth that's who! And not only Jesus of Nazareth but since his resurrection there are others as well. At times, Trinitarian promotions of their favorite doctrine clearly reveal their total disregard for the real message in deference to promoting their creedal traditions. Trinitarians here make the very same mistake as the Pharisees made in this account. It is the Pharisees who insisted only God can forgive sins. The very point of this account is to illustrate how Jesus demonstrated the Pharisees were dead wrong.
Let's note what Jesus says in the same account written by the hand of Matthew:
"But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, take up your bed and go home" (Matthew 9:6).
Notice what Jesus does here. The Pharisees charge that only God can forgive sins. But Jesus tells them that the Son of man has authority to forgive sins on earth and he is healing the paralytic to prove to these Pharisees with this sign that he has this authority. He asks, "Which is easier?" Is it easier to do a miracle or forgive a man's sins? Obviously, it is the latter. So Jesus does the more difficult to prove that he has the authority to do the easier thing. Man was given this authority and Jesus is demonstrating to the Pharisees that their notion that God alone can forgive sins is in error. Trinitarians should take note.
Now let us carefully note what Matthew has to say in his parallel account of Mark's account:
"When the crowds saw it, they were awestruck, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:8).
Yes, the crowds were quite amazed by the fact that God had given such authority to men to forgive sins. Jesus had proven the Pharisees to be completely wrong. Notice how we are told that God gave this authority to men, clearly showing us that Jesus as a man was given this authority by his God. So, what more do we need to say here? The Trinitarian abuse of Mark 2:7 to promote their doctrine is an absolutely apalling example of their errors. The passage demonstrates that the Pharisaical notion that only God could forgive sins was wrong and Matthew writes that the crowds were amazed that God had given such authority to forgive sins to men. We should also take note here that God is distinguished from the man Jesus in this passage. Perhaps, one could make up a little story here that the crowds didn't realize Jesus was God yet. Well, that wouldn't make any difference at all. Matthew wrote this passage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he said that God had indeed given such authority to men, and the man who had been given this authority, happened to be Jesus the Nazarene.
Let's look at Mark's parallel passage and we will insert the phrase Matthew left out of the same account in his Gospel.
And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed, and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son. Your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming. [Who can forgive sins but God alone?]" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, "Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, "Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins," he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, take up your bed and go home." And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were in awe, and they glorified God who had given such authority to MEN." (Matthew 9:2-8; Mk 2:7).
If anything this passage militates heavily against Trinitarianism because it illustrates that God gave authority to men in the giving of this authority to the man Jesus. It not only distinguishes God from the man Jesus but it also shows us that if Jesus was God, why would he need to be given this authority from God in the first place? After all, Trinitarians claim Jesus assumed humanity and did not leave behind his divinity. But here we see God had given him that authority. Now that we have demonstrated these facts, the Trinitarian has no alternative but to claim God gave this to Jesus "in his humanity." But what will do that for him? One minute he claims that Jesus can do certain things "because he is God" and the next minute is insisting God had to give him this authority "became he was a man." So which is it? God did not give authority to a human nature; God gave authority to a person because that person was himself a man.
The Trinitarian apologetic is once again is shown to be extremely disingenuous. The passages themselves tell us that the reason Jesus was forgiving this man's sins was that he as a man who was given authority to do so by God, not because he was "God," and so the Trinitarian finds himself not serving the teaching of Jesus but falling down flat on the side of the Pharisees.
Jesus gives this same authority to his apostles. After he rose from the dead, he breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and told them that if they forgave the sins of any they were forgiven and if they retained the sins of any they were retained. Before Jesus said this he said, "As the Father sent me, I also send you" and breathed the Spirit into them. When Jesus was baptized at the Jordan, he was given authority in the same way by the Spirit to forgive sins. And later, he sent his Apostles to do the very same thing. God has granted this authority to men through His Holy Spirit that lives in these men who do forgive sins in his name. And the Father sent Jesus, now he also sent his Apostles. This is why they baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. They had the authority given to them to do these things in the name of Jesus by the Spirit he gave them just as Jesus did these things in the name of his God and Father. As he himself said on this occasion, "Just as the Father sent me, I now send you."
The teaching in this gospel is that God had given authority to forgive sins to men. To prove he had this authority, he asked which was greater, to forgive sins, or to heal a crippled man. And so he healed a crippled man to prove he was given the authority to forgive sins. We are plainly told by Peter that God had anointed him with such authority (Acts 2:22; 10:38; cf. Luke 4:18). Who can forgive sins but God alone? Those who have been given that authority in the Holy Spirit. And the man Jesus was given that authority by God at the Jordan. Indeed it is by God dwelling in Jesus in the Spirit that sins were forgiven.
The very point of this narrative is to demonstrate that God had given authority to a man, the man Jesus, to forgive sins. And Jesus demonstrates to the Pharisees that he had been given this authority by doing the greater miracle, healing the paralytic.
"They glorified God, who had given such authority to men."
Last Updated: March 24, 2011